Monday, November 2, 2020

Busan 2020 Review: STEEL RAIN 2: SUMMIT Dives into Thrilling and Surprisingly Funny Geopolitical Waters



Part of MKC's coverage of the 25th Busan International Film Festival.

By Pierce Conran

Released three years, ago, the geopolitical action-thriller Steel Rain (2017) was a solid success on the charts but one that was completely overshadowed by two films that hit theaters within a fortnight of its release, Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds and 1987: When the Day Comes. Given its closed narrative and what was a positive but muted reception, it hardly seemed a likely candidate for the sequel treatment, still a rarity in the Korean film industry. Yet, three years later that’s exactly what we got, but what’s even more surprising is that despite returning with the same director, stars and theme, Steel Rain 2: Summit completely reinvents itself and manages to surpass its predecessor in almost every way.

Busan 2020 Review: SELF-PORTRAIT 2020, Long yet Riveting Odyssey of a Drunk Savant

Part of MKC's coverage of the 25th Busan International Film Festival.

By Pierce Conran

I’ll admit I went into Self-Portrait 2020 with a fair amount of trepidation. Here is a nearly three-hour documentary that follows a man who has given up on life, turned to the bottle and now roams the streets of Central Seoul, drunkenly rambling about whatever strikes his fancy. Little did I know what a fascinating journey I was about to embark upon. This sophomore feature effort from young non-fiction filmmaker Lee Dong-woo is overlong to be sure, but it’s also a rich portrait of a confounding individual and the surprising and alarming path his life has taken.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Busan 2020 Review: LIMECRIME Tunes Up Coming-of-Age Drama with Sick Beats


Part of MKC's coverage of the 25th Busan International Film Festival.

By Pierce Conran

Sometimes all you need is a beat and a rhyme. Based on the past experiences of its first time directors, Limecrime is a winning coming-of-age drama that largely sticks to the basics as it confidently explores a youth underground hip hop scene. Measured performances and rhythmic rap scenes allow it to overcome its more prosaic elements, such as a tepidly explored class divide.

Busan 2020 Review: SNOWBALL Gently Strikes with Familiar but Well-Told Tale


Part of MKC's coverage of the 25th Busan International Film Festival.

By Pierce Conran

A wide variety of films find their way to the Busan Film Festival every year but one thing you can always count on is the polished, youth-driven social indie that has become the de facto Korean indie template, at least on this side of Hong Sang-soo. Joining the likes of Bleak Night (2010), Han Gong-ju (2013), House of Hummingbird (2018) and countless others is Snowball, the teen runaway drama debut of director Lee Won-jung, which is screening in the New Currents competition this year.

Busan 2020 Review: DELIVER US FROM EVIL, A Slick and Undemanding Action-Thriller Romp



Part of MKC's coverage of the 25th Busan International Film Festival.

By Pierce Conran

It’s hard being an assassin, especially when you take your work home with you. Even more so when that work turns out to be the psycho brother of your last target, who’s chased you to a foreign country where you’re trying to retrieve your ex-lover’s kidnapped daughter. This concept, which combines elements of Leon, Taken and Korea’s The Man from Nowhere (2010), itself a mashup of those earlier Hollywood films, is about all the plot you need to known about the slick Korean action-thriller Deliver Us from Evil. If that’s not much to go on, tough, cause that’s really all there is to it.