Saturday, April 13, 2013

New Korean Films: Punching Bags and Mannequins (2013 Week 15)

(by Fabien Schneider)

Fists of Legend
(전설 의 주먹)


A producer of a television fighting contest, Kyu-Min, is seeking amateurs to compete against professional athletes. She tries to persuade Lim Duk-Kyu, the tenant of a noodle restaurant, but he only agrees reluctantly because he needs the prize money to compensate the hospitalization of a girl her daughter beat up. He doesn't know yet that Kyu-Min has also fetched two of his high school friends for the competition.

This film is an adaptation of a popular webcomic of the same name that was published between 2010 and 2011 on the Daum web portal, and its main targeted audience is male but not limited to teenagers and instead could be extended to 40-somethings. Kang Woo-suk is helming, who has been successful in the past with Two Cops (1993), Two Cops 2 (1996), and later in the 2000s the Public Enemy trilogy. This is already the third Hwang Jung-min film this year, after New Word and In My End is My Beginning, and in case you've forgotten, I’m talking of this very good actor we've seen before in A Man ​​who was Superman (2008) and The Unjust (2010). Another familiar face is that of Yu Jun-Sang, from In Another Country (2012), for which he will forever be remembered as the awkward yet charming lifeguard. The film's release is wide and should cover all multiplex theaters in the country, with an equally important marketing campaign, and the bookings seem to reflect this. The film therefore has the potential for excellent start in its first week, but I still doubt its long term prospects: the subject is not very popular, but also it is always difficult to attract a young male audience that isn't in the habit of going to the movies in groups. Moreover, it is not highly anticipated, as it figured only in 12th position of the most popular films on Daum last week, which is usually not a good start for the long run.

Watch the Korean trailer here.

Self-Referential Traverse
(철 의 여인)

A mannequin, who intends to kidnap someone for money, is trying to sew new clothes, but gets upset because someone in the basement is always stopping her. She ends up angry at the person while ignoring their identity.

Here is another short film by the Kim brothers (Kim Gok and Kim Sun) which has not yet had a theatrical release despite its completion in 2008. The Kim brothers are the founders of a small group of independent filmmakers called Goksa, which regularly produces “trashy” short films, with political content and rather extreme aesthetic choices. My first encounter with their style was with Suicidal Variations (2007), a physically challenging film because of its epileptical pictures, but they are best known for their independent feature film Anti-Gas Skin and their rapid incursion in CJ Entertainment, which gave birth (in pain) to White: the Melody of the Curse in 2011. Note that one of their feature films made ​​in 2010 has the same international title as this one (a literal translation of the title of this film would be rather The Iron Lady), while designed in exactly the same way as a social and political metaphor represented by mannequins, it was quite successful in its diversion of popular icons. It seems that there is unfortunately only the independent operator Indiespace in Seoul that will offer this film, though also through their VOD platform Indieplug, which should condemn this film to a minor role this week.

There is no trailer for this film.

New Korean Films is a weekly feature which provide an in-depth look at new local releases in Korea. For film news, external reviews, and box office analysis, take a look at the Korean Box Office UpdateKorean Cinema News and the Weekly Korean Reviews, which appear weekly on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings (Korean Standard Time). Reviews and features on Korean film also appear regularly on the site. 

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