Showing posts with label ha ji-won. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ha ji-won. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Review: CHRONICLE OF A BLOOD MERCHANT Favors Strong Cast Over Plot

By Pierce Conran

Outside of indie cinema, actors directing themselves in leading roles are quite rare in Korean films,  making Ha Jung-woo’s Chronicle of a Blood Merchant something of an oddity. One of the country’s biggest stars, Ha surrounds himself with a wealth of acting talent in an unassuming period-set comedy-drama that ultimately steers into histrionics. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

News: Ha Ji-won Cast in Ha Jung-woo's CHRONICLE OF A BLOOD MERCHANT

By Pierce Conran

Before he makes a decision on his offer to potentially star alongside Lee Jung-jae and Jun Ji-hyun in Choi Dong-hoon's 30s-set blockbuster thriller Assassination, Ha Jung-woo is going to spend some time both before and behind the camera with his sophomore directing gig Chronicle a of Blood Merchant. Joining him in this adaptation of a 1995 novel by Chinese writer Yu Hua will be Ha Ji-won, the actress known for her spunky action roles in Duelist (2005) and Sector 7 (2011).

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Review: THE HUNTRESSES Misfire in Poorly-Plotted Blunder

By Pierce Conran

Following the recent hits Masquerade (2012) and last year’s The Face Reader, period films are set to make a big push into the Korean market in 2014 with at least six big Joseon era films poised to flood the market. Getting the ball rolling in the new year is the action comedy The Huntresses, a film initially set to debut last spring but rescheduled by distributor Showbox when the project needed more time to complete digital work in post-production. Entering a crowded Lunar New Year field alongside Miss Granny, Man in Love and Hot Young Bloods, the film is hoping to draw in family crowds with its fun premise and trio of female stars.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Korean Cinema News (08/02-08/08, 2012)

Finally settling back into the run of things following PiFan. Korean Cinema News is now back to its weekly status.

Not an enormous amount of news this week but The Thieves is still obliterating records at the local box office and there are few festival tidbits in the news.


Korean American Film Festival Commemorates the L.A. Riots
The Korean American Film Festival Los Angeles launches this week, and while it imports several titles from its New York sister festival (including Magic and Loss, with indie star Kiki Sugino, and the portentous-sounding Ultimate Christian Wrestling), its centerpiece is a program of documentaries that focus on the 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots. (L.A. Weekly, August 9, 2012)

Actress Ha Becomes Mentor for Future Filmmakers
Renowned actress Ha Ji-won and director Kim Ji-hoon will serve as mentors for the Korea-China youth cultural exchange program “Beijing Toto Laboratory,” scheduled to be held in Beijing’s Kwanggeomun Middle School, Aug. 13 -17. Forty teenagers from Korea and China will participate in making eight films during the five-day program jointly sponsored by CJ CGV and Boys Vanguard of the Chinese Communist Youth Association. (The Korea Herald, August 8, 2012)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Korean Cinema News (05/17-05/23, 2012)

Some sales in Cannes this week but not too much else to report though there are some great interviews and a new trailer for incoming summer zombie feature Deranged.  Next week should yield some more Cannes news and hopefully a Korean film will pick up a prize though at this point I don't think they'll get anything in the main competition unless The Taste of Money suddenly received a better welcome than in Korea where it opened last week.


Korean Movies Sell at Cannes
A number of high-profile pics have sold at Cannes, including the hotly anticipated The Thieves which was bought by firms in China, Hong Kong and Thailand.  The year's biggest local hit to date, Nameless Gangster, also secured distribution in some territories such as Japan, China and Hong Kong in Asia as well as Eastern Europe, Spain and the French-speaking portion of Europe.  So Ji-sub's hitman film A Company Man, which is scheduled to open next month, was sold to Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, and French and German-speaking Europe.  The Scent was also taken by a few Asian markets, including Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore.  Lastly, Love On-Air, the first wide Korean release of 2012, was sold to Thailand.  (Modern Korean Cinema, May 23, 2012)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Korean Cinema News Turns 1! (03/29-04/04, 2012)

This week's Korean Cinema News marks the feature's one-year anniversary!  Thank you all so much for visiting the site, I really appreciate your continued support.

Unfortunately this is a rather slow week for Korean cinema news, bar the rumours of big new films premiering at Cannes and a very exciting trailer for Im Sang-soo's latest.

I'm sure there will be much more to chew on next week as the Udine Far East Film Festival (which MKC will be covering on site) lineup is announced and we learn more about these tantalizing Cannes selections.

Thanks again and as always, enjoy!


Son Ye Jin's Next Project is Upcoming Film, Accomplice
After her successful film, Chilling Romance, actress Son Ye Jin has chosen her next project, Accomplice, which will be directed by a rookie director.  While Chilling Romance was also shot by a rookie director, Accomplice will be Son Ye Jin's third straight project with a rookie director.  People are wondering whether this is mere coincidence or if Son Ye Jin has certain preferences.  (soompi, March 28, 2012)

New Hong Sang-soo and Park Chan-wook Films Set For Cannes?
A list has been leaked which purports to be the official selection for the upcoming Cannes Film Festival and features the new oeuvres from both Hong Sang-soo (In Another Country) and Park Chan-wook (Stoker), both Cannes stalwarts.  The rest of the picks are equally impressive, all we need now is official confirmation.  (cinema-licious, April 2, 2012)

Bollywood Invasion Coming to Seoul
Three Bollywood films are opening in local theaters this month, only about a month after the Indian Film Festival in Seoul, expanding Indian films’ presence in Korea’s movie market.  The release of the three films – Stanley’s Tiffin Box, God’s Own Child, and The Robot – comes after a surprisingly successful year for Bollywood pictures in Korea.  (The Korea Herald, April 3, 2012)

Hyun Jung Hwa Requested Ha Ji Won to Portray Her for Korea
The table tennis coach and gold medalist, Hyun Jung Hwa (who is being portrayed in the upcoming Korea) revealed that she requested to be portrayed by Ha Ji Won.  She joined the actresses Ha Ji Won and Bae Doo Na for a Korea press conference.  (soompi, April 3, 2012)


Matthew Goode Talks Chan-wook Park’s Stoker
There’s little doubt that Chan-wook Park’s first foray into English-language filmmaking will be of great interest to the many fans the South Korean director has attracted over the years, not least for his brutal and brilliant Vengeance trilogy, and there’s a distinct air of mystery around Stoker.  (, March 6, 2012)

Huh Jong-ho Interview
Last Friday morning, during my coverage of the Fribourg International Film Festival, I had the opportunity to sit down with Huh Jong-ho, the director of Countdown, which was screening in the main competition of the festival.  His film was awarded the FIPRESCI award during Saturday's closing ceremony.  We covered a range of topics in our long discussion, including film schools, first time directors in Korea, the future of the industry, plans for his next project and much more.  (Modern Korean Cinema, April 3, 2012)


The Taste of Money


(Modern Korean Cinema, April 2, 2012)

Korean Cinema News is a weekly feature which provides wide-ranging news coverage on Korean cinema, including but not limited to: features; festival news; interviews; industry news; trailers; posters; and box office. It appears every Wednesday morning (GMT+1) on Modern Korean Cinema. For other weekly features, take a look at the Korean Box Office Update and the Weekly Review Round-upReviews and features on Korean film also appear regularly on the site. 

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sector 7 (7-gwang-goo) 2011

Straight off the bat I can say that the most anticipated Korean blockbuster of 2011, aside from Christmas’ war epic My Way from Jang Je-gyu, is easily the worst film I’ve seen all year, no matter how you look at it.  It’s very easy to see what went wrong, one bad decision was made after another, with barely any right ones in between.  What is not so easy to understand is how things went wrong.  Though I would not label Sector 7’s filmmakers as the cream of the crop, they normally seem to know what they’re doing and consistently deliver solid, if overly sentimental fare.  They are endowed with a keen ability to whet Korea’s insatiable appetite for melodrama.

Oil rig bonding
Curiously, there is little to no melodrama in Sector 7.  It hints at it a few times but seems to abandon it in favor of concocting a copycat medley of rehashed Hollywood plot devices and production techniques.  It is truly a triumph of expectation over delivery as I cannot imagine any producer seeing a cut of this expensive bomb and proclaiming “We have a hit on our hands!”  The film’s pre-release exposure was enormous, everyone (at least in Korea and on the internet) knew about it being the first Korean 3D IMAX film, numerous posters and trailers were available, and the entertainment rags were all talking up Ha Ji-won’s arduous workout regimen.  When the day came, it opened very strong before the poisonous word of mouth pulled it right back out of theaters within weeks.

Clearly it was the intent of Yoon Je-kyoon (producer/writer) and Kim Ji-hoon (director) to copy every similar film that had met with a lot of success in the hope that their synthetic product would also be a big hit.  Ha Ji-won is basically an Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver’s iconic character in the Alien franchsie) stand-in, the oil rig is from Armageddon (1998), a major character’s death and resurrection is lifted from the first Lord of the Rings, the genesis of the monster is not dissimilar to Korea’s own The Host (2006), and the list goes on.

Ha Ji-won, tough as nails... apparently
In fact, the film is a veritable cornucopia of metanarratives.  Curiously, aside from lifting all of its plot elements, characters, set-pieces, and effects from other movies, it also has a link to the popular K-Drama Secret Garden (2010) which ends with Ha Ji-won’s stuntwoman character being given the script of Sector 7.  Clever synergy?  I suppose so.  Even stranger is that her characters in both the show and the film are identical.  Women that are physically strong but emotionally weak and incapable of making decisions.  Stranger still is that her tragically deceased father is incarnated by Jeong In-gi in both.  Everything about Sector 7 is constructed, even the sets aren’t real as most of it was shot on green screen.  As a result it barely feels like a film and the chief cause of this is just how badly it is made. 

Unlike Yoon’s previous blockbuster, the tsunami-themed Haeundae (2009), Sector 7 spares little time for scene-setting and character development. A brief underwater intro features a pair of oil drillers setting in place a pipe.  A couple of little glowing creatures swim around them, suddenly they attack and one of the men falls to his death.  Fast forward to the present where we are directly introduced to the hardy (but strangely Spartan) crew of an oil rig.  They are battling with a malfunctioning pipe and being doused in brute petroleum, no doubt reinforcing the intrinsic bond between them.  Cha Hae-joon (Ha Ji-won) is pretty but tough as nails and shows grit alongside the men.  A couple of scenes explore the relationships between the rig’s crewmen (and woman), which is to say that nothing happens.  One of those glowing creatures is found and then Anh Suh-kee (Hae-joon’s mentor) comes aboard to aid the exploration of the new underwater oil fields.  Of course he knows more than he lets on and blah blah blah blah blah…

The first of many oil rig bike scenes
What is it that can make a film go oh so wrong?  B-movies, as I’ve explored in my I Am a Dad review, benefit from lowered expectations.  Conversely, when you suffocate the nation’s media outlets for a month, touting your bigger-than-anything-you’ve-ever-seen-before-it blockbuster, you suffer from heightened expectations.  When you go down the latter route but produce a film on par (or below, as is the case) with the former course, you’re left with a big problem that is pretty much irreparable.  You’ve promised something spectacular and eventful but have completely failed to deliver.  Worse than a bad filmmaker, this makes you a liar.

More than anything else, and there’s a lot, two things bothered me the most about Sector 7.  One is the incomprehensibly bad rear-projection technique used in the bike sequences, of which there are four… on an oil rig.  The quality is what you would expect from the 30s or 40s not 2011, worse still is watching Ha Ji-won madly rev the bike and swoop down to her left and right sides, she actually looks like a little 6-year-old boy pretending to ride in a Grand Prix. Yoon, who also produced this summer’s Quick, seems to have a bike fetish.

Sacrifice: LOTR style
The second, and perhaps more upsetting point, is the film’s latent mysoginy.  Hae-joon embodies both male and female traits, the problem is that the male traits are the hero ones, and the female traits are all ugly stereotypes.  Additionally, for a film that attempts to make Ha Ji-won a consummate action star by pitting her as a conquering heroine against a vicious antagonist, the heroics are mostly reserved for the men.  Throughout the film, they are repeatedly sacrificing themselves, one of the characters does so twice! Another does so to save his friend, in what I’m assuming is supposed to be an emotional scene (no such luck).  After he does so, his friend remains rooted to the spot, whimpering, not trying to escape and is then quickly impaled.  In more able hands this might have been a clever send-up but no such attempt is made here, which begs the question, what was the point?

If you decide to get on board Sector 7, here’s what you can expect: wild lapses in logic, rampant misogyny, numerous laughably atrocious rear-projection motorcycle sequences, complete disregard for the natural laws of physiques, risible dialogue and matching delivery, an ugly monster that is never hidden from view, and perpetual references to superior films that it could never hope to match.  Your choice…

Reviews and features on Korean film appear regularly on Modern Korean Cinema.  For film news, external reviews, and box office analysis, take a look at the Korean Box Office UpdateKorean Cinema News and the Weekly Review Round-up, which appear weekly on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings (GMT+1).

To keep up with the best in Korean film you can sign up to our RSS Feed, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.