Showing posts with label pacemaker. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pacemaker. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pacemaker (페이스메이커, Peiseumeikeo) 2012

The marathon, the pinnacle of athletic achievement, that most glorious sporting edifice to the strength, tenacity and persistence of mankind, of all popular sports, it is viewed as the grandest testament of endurance and it is only fitting that, following in its subject’s footsteps, Pacemaker should proudly take on that mantle by becoming the year-to-date’s greatest cinematic endurance test.

Sports movies are rarely too fixated on the physical activities they depict, they are merely gateways into their characters, sometimes they can be metaphors and they always hope to add some entertainment value.  Korean cinema is particularly astute in its appropriation of generic tropes and it should come as no surprise that the sports film has become prevalent in the local industry.  Rather than exploit a sport for it aesthetic or escapist potential however, Korean hitmakers have long seized on their melodramatic potential.  So thoroughly has this line been pursued that any sport is fair game, local popularity doesn’t really factor into it.  The results speak for themselves: how else could the country’s most successful sports movie be about South Korea’s ski-jumping team (Take Off, 2008)?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Korean Box Office Update (01/27-01/29, 2012)

Unbowed Shoots to the Top During Big Weekend for Korean Film 

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 Unbowed 1/18/12 28.0 % 717,580 1,874,338 528
2 Dancing Queen 1/18/12 23.0 % 598,192 2,100,968 543
3 Tarbosaurus 1/26/12 15.6 % 330,411 366,523 454
4 Puss in Boots (us) 1/11/12 10.7 % 260,898 1,852,530 375
5 Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (us) 1/19/12 9.2 % 216,196 1,029,499 369
6 Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (us) 12/15/11 3.7 % 92,673 7,490,425 259
7 Pacemaker 1/18/12 2.3 % 60,634 429,413 309
8 We Bought a Zoo (us) 1/18/12 1.8 % 47,485 252,149 197
9 Never Ending Story 1/18/12 1.2 % 30,886 264,891 229
10 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (us) 1/11/12 1.2 % 27,326 422,390 109

Local business finally found itself back in the driver's seat this past weekend as its market share soared to 71%.  That on top of the fact that total admissions were 2.56 million, 30% higher than last year's comparable weekend, and suddenly things are starting to look a lot rosier for Korean films in early 2012.

After a very strong start, Unbowed has taken over first place by jumping nearly 100% to 716,945.  Though it is not the only Lunar New Year's release on the path to success, it looks like the first major hit of the year.  It looks to continue the trend of strong small releases outperforming expectations that we saw so much of last year.

Meanwhile, Dancing Queen built on its successful opening by rising slightly to 597,666 and has now crossed the 2 million mark.  Competition from Unbowed and next week's opener Nameless Gangster will be tough, but it's already a hit.

The highest opener this week was another local release, the animated dinosaur feature Tarbosaurus 3D which wound up with an decent 329,625.  Though this film has managed to generate some buzz and has been presold to a number of markets, this probably wasn't the best time to release it.  The market has been flooded with children's fare recently and after the holidays, it's hard to imagine that this will pick up steam in February.

Puss in Boots remained steady at number 4 with 260,898 and looks to cross the 2 million mark before the end of its run.  Journey 2: The Mysterious Island dropped three places to number 5 but was able to hang on to nearly two thirds of its business as it finished the weekend with 216,196.  Mission Impossible 4 fell one spot to number 6 with 92,673.  It has now crossed War of the Arrows to become the second highest grossing film of 2011 and its total, which is inches from 7.5 million may come excruciatingly close to Transformers 3's chart topping tally, which stands at 7,790,434.

The other two Korean Lunar New Year's releases did not fare so well.  Pacemaker has simply failed to impress as it has receded 50% after a lackluster opening, its most recent take was 60,634. The marketing team behind the film desperately tried to increase awareness in interest in the film last week with a number of promotional tactics but these seem to have fallen flat.

Meanwhile, The Neverending Story, which no one seems to be talking about, finished at number 9 with 30,886 after losing 65% of its business.  It has barely managed to scrabble together a quarter million admissions to date and looks likely to finish with less than 500,000.

We Bought a Zoo stayed at number 8 as it added 47,485 to its paltry total while The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo rounded out the top 10 with 27,326.

Next week sees the release of the much anticipated Nameless Gangster starring Choi Min-sik and Ha Jung-woo but I am starting to wonder if it may fall short of expectations.  It will be hard enough to unseat Unbowed, which has taken over the public consciousness, but I'm wondering wether the film itself will fail to live up to the hype.  Papa will also be opening and will likely do so in the top 5 while the major US release will be Happy Feet 2 but after so much kids fare of late, I think this may be one too many.


The Korean Box Office Update is a weekly feature which provides detailed analysis of film box office sales over the Friday to Sunday period in Korea. It appears every Sunday evening or Monday morning (GMT+1) on Modern Korean Cinema. For other weekly features, take a look at Korean Cinema News and the Weekly Review Round-upReviews and features on Korean film also appear regularly on the site. 

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.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Korean Box Office Update (01/20-01/22, 2012)

Dancing Queen Waltzes to First Place During Busy Lunar New Year Weekend

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 Dancing Queen 1/18/12 23.30% 508,463 632,457 520
2 Unbowed 1/18/12 17.60% 384,102 477,465 399
3 Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (us) 1/19/12 16.70% 327,053 373,288 392
4 Puss in Boots (us) 1/11/12 14.40% 287,000 1,199,347 450
5 Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (us) 12/15/11 7.20% 151,106 7,186,748 276
6 Pacemaker 1/18/12 5.70% 126,629 193,025 418
7 The Neverending Story 1/18/12 3.90% 88,741 139,138 267
8 We Bought a Zoo (us) 1/18/12 3.40% 77,834 106,745 236
9 The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (us) 1/11/12 2.30% 47,509 349,206 151
10 Love On-Air 1/5/12 1.40% 31,095 891,921 150

Business came back in a big way over the Lunar New Year weekend after a bit of a slump for local releases of late but besides the holiday bump how did the frame fare?   Despite a strong 1-2 finish from local films, the results were decidedly mixed.  The total amount of tickets sold came in at 2.18 million, up over 20% from last weekend, but down nearly 25% from last year's Lunar New Year, which fell on the first weekend of February.   The market share for local releases jumped up to 53% but with four big new films this should come as a bit of a disappointment, not to mention that the last Lunar New Year boasted a commanding 72%.

The number one movie over the holiday was the Uhm Jeong-hwa and Hwang Jeong-min film Dancing Queen which had a strong 508,463 debut amid the crowded field.  Reviews have been on the positive side but it remains to be seen how it performs in subsequent weekends.

Opening at number two was the Ahn Sung-ki starring Unbowed with 384,102.  The film opened in Busan and has received strong notices.   It's second place finish is very encouraging as it was not expected to place so high, also good news is that its total is less than 25,000 away from breakeven point already.  It will be interesting to see how this performs further down the line, specifically wether it could unseat Dancing Queen in its sophomore run.

Journey 2, a Dwayne Johnson kids vehicle from the US had a strong opening at number with a surprisingly healthy 327,053.   Holiday weekends are always a good time for family fare and in truth there wasn't much else to choose from so perhaps this should come as no surprise.

Puss in Boots, dropped three spots to number four but nevertheless managed to retain a healthy amount of its audience as it ended the weekend with 287,000 admissions which puts it comfortably over the one million mark.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol saw its biggest drop to date as it garnered an additional 151,106 admissions but no one will be laughing as it easily leapt over the seven million mark, the fourth film of 2011 to do so.  I believe this makes last year the first to reach that milestone.

Pacemaker was the next new Korean release to open wide but with only 126,629 tickets sold it was quite disappointing.   Given its big marketing push and positive reviews a lot more was expected of it, of course it could grow over the coming weeks but I would be surprised if this were to be the case.

The last new Korean release was romcom The Neverending Story which came in at number 7 with 88,741.  Another lacklustre result, even if this film was not the most anticipated of the weekend's new offerings.   I expect this particular film to swiftly exits theaters.

We Bought a Zoo also opened this weekend but could only muster a paltry 77,834.  The Matt Damon family film has not impressed in any of its markets to date so this just adds to its disappointing result.   Meanwhile The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo crumbled, losing three quarters of its business and winding up with only 47,509, this after a mediocre start.

Rounding out the Top 10 was Love On-Air in its third week with 31,095 which was a calamitous 85% drop from last weekend.   Clearly it couldn't cope with the new competition.   It's total stands at 891,921 but it will now be no small task to push it past the one million milestone.

It's early days for 2012 as this is only the third weekend but it's safe to say that January has not been a good month for Korean films. Hopefully a portion of the quartet of new releases will remain strong presences in theaters over the coming weeks but we may have to wait until February when we see some big new releases, specifically the Choi Min-sik and Ha Jung-woo gangster film Nameless Gangster and the Ha Yu directed, Song Kang-ho starring thriller Howling both of which could prove substantial hits. Meanwhile, next wek sees the release of Tarbosaurus 3D, though I'm not sure wether or not it will be opening wide.


The Korean Box Office Update is a weekly feature which provides detailed analysis of film box office sales over the Friday to Sunday period in Korea. It appears every Sunday evening or Monday morning (GMT+1) on Modern Korean Cinema. For other weekly features, take a look at Korean Cinema News and the Weekly Review Round-upReviews and features on Korean film also appear regularly on the site. 

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.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Weekly Review Round-up (12/31, 2011 - 01/06, 2012)

For the first WEEKLY REVIEW ROUND-UP of 2012, a few reviews for new releases in Korea and a lot of pieces on older Korean films which is always nice to see.


(The Korea Times, January 4, 2012)


(The Korea Times, December 29, 2011)


(, January 4, 2012)

(Modern Korean Cinema, January 5, 2012)

(Modern Korean Cinema, January 3, 2012)

(Rainy Day Movies, January 3, 2012)

(Init_Scenes, January 4, 2012)

(Asian Movie Web, January 2, 2012)

(Init_Scenes, January 3, 2012)

(New Korean Cinema, January 4, 2012)


(Asian Movie Pulse, January 3, 2012)

(Hanguk Yeonghwa, January 4, 2012)


(Init_Scenes, December 31, 2011)

(UnitedKpop, December 31, 2011)

Death Bell, 2008
(Twitch, January 4, 2012)

(Hanguk Yeonghwa, January 2, 2012)

(North Korean Films, January 3, 2012)

(, January 1, 2012)

Silmido, 2003
(, January 3, 2012)

Taegugki, 2004
(Nerdlocker, January 5, 2012)

(Rainy Day Movies, January 4, 2012)

The Host, 2006
(Film in Asian, January 4, 2012)

(Hanguk Yeonghwa, January 5, 2012)

The Weekly Review Round-up is a weekly feature which brings together all available reviews of Korean films in the English language (and sometimes French) that have recently appeared on the internet. It is by no means a comprehensive feature and additions are welcome (email pierceconran [at] gmail [dot] com). It appears every Friday morning (GMT+1) on Modern Korean Cinema. For other weekly features, take a look at Korean Cinema News, and the Korean Box Office UpdateReviews and features on Korean film also appear regularly on the site. 

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.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Upcoming Releases: January 2012

MKC's Upcoming Releases page has been getting a little big lately and rather than delete what has taken a long time to compile, I'm going to start a monthly breakaway.  A few days before each month, I will preview it's coming Korean attractions in a dedicated article and two months later the month will be deleted from the main Upcoming Releases page.  Each month will still be available in an archive on the page, which will assemble these breakaway posts.

So here is the first post for January 2012.  It's a few months old but I will catch up until I April by the end of the week.

January 5

Love On-Air

January 12

Jesus Hospital

January 18/19

Dancing Queen
The Neverending Story

January 26


Love On-Air aka Wonderful Radio

Director: Kwon Chil-in
Cast:  Lee Min-jeong, Lee Jeong-jin
Synopsis:  Gina (Lee Min-jeong) was once a popular singer, she now hosts her own radio show.  Suffering from low ratings, the show's producer is sacked and replaced by Jae-ik (Lee Jeong-jin).  The irritable Jae-ik and the conceited Gina get on each other’s nerves but soon grow closer.
Release date: January 5

Love On-Air was the first platform Korean release of 2012 and had a decent opening but reviews have not been kind.  The romcom seems to be a motley collection of kpop references and cameos with a good dose of melodrama stirred in for good measure.  The film is Kwon Chil-in's fifth, following such works as Singles (2003) and Hellcats (2008).  

Jesus Hospital

Director:  Shin A-gaLee Sang-cheol
Screenwriter:  Shin A-ga
Cast:  Hwang Jung-min Han Song-hee
Synopsis:  Hyun-Soon (Hwang Jung-min) harbors a secret which only her mother, who is in a coma, and her pregnant daughter know about.  When Hyun-Soon's siblings plan to pull the plug on the respirator that is keeping their mother alive at the hospital, she becomes very angry.
Release date:  January 12

Jesus Hospital, the debut film from Shin A-ga and Lee Sang-cheol, who have previously worked as assistant directors for Lee Suk-hoon and Lee Myung-se respectively, has triumphed at recent Korean film festivals.  It had its world premier at Busan in October, where it scooped up acting prizes for its leading women Hwang Jung-min and Han Song-hee as well as the Citizen Reviewer's Award.  It was also screened in last December's Seoul Independent film festival where it scooped up the Grand Prize.  The pair of first-time helmers look to be a solid addition to the already thriving independent Korean film scene.

Dancing Queen

Director:  Lee Suk-hoon
Screenwriter:  Lee Suk-hoon
Cast:  Uhm Jeong-hwa, Hwang Jeong-min
Synopsis:  A poor lawyer turned politician (Hwang Jeong-min) becomes a Seoul mayoral candidate while his wife (Uhn Jeong-hwa) makes an attempt at singing without him knowing at first.
Release date:  January 19

Dancing Queen, led by its star power and song and dance premise prevailed as the no. 1 new movie during the crowded Lunar Day holiday weekend.  Notices have been mixed but generally positive.  Uhm Jeong-hwa goes back to what she knows best as she initially scaled to fame as a singer and Hwang Jeong-min, a great character actor with superb comic timing, plays her husband.


Neverending Story

Director:  Jung Jong-joo
Cast:  Uhm Tae-woong, Jeong Ryeo-won
Synopsis:  Dong-joo (Uhm Tae-woong) is an easygoing romantic while Song-kyun (Jeong Ryeo-won) organizes her life meticulously.  They both develop terminal illnesses and soon they meet.  Though they are polar opposites, they go out on a date.
Release date:  January 18

A double dose of terminal illness leaves little to the imagination as to what kind of a film this will be like.  Neverending Story is Jung Jong-joo's first feature, he was previously a co-writer and assistant director on Princess Aurora (2005).  The presence of the very talented Jeong Ryeo-won (Castaway on the Moon, 2009; Pain, 2011) does show some promise however.  Against tough competition during the Lunar Day holiday weekend, the film was unable to draw in significant crowds, landing at number 7.


Director:  Chung Ji-young
Screenwriter:  Chung Ji-young
Cast:  Ahn Seong-ki, Park Won-sang, Na Young-hee, Kim Ji-ho
Synopsis:  The true story of Kim Myung-ho (Ahn Seong-Gi), a professor who was denied tenure by his university after he questioned the validity of a math question in its entrance exam in 1995.  After years of litigation against the university, Kim lost and shot a crossbow at the judge who handled his case.
Release date:  January 18

Based on controversial true events, Unbowed is Chung Ji-young first film in 14 years.  He was previously for making socially-conscious films such as White Badge (1992).  Unbowed features a big performance from one fo the most respected actors in the industry  Ahn Sung-kee has starred in films for over 50 years, going all the way back to the original The Housemaid (1960).  The film received a lot of positive attention after its screening at last year's Busan Film Festival.  The Wall Street Journal even ranked it in its top 10 Asian films of 2011.  Unbowed opened strong and was a close second to Dancing Queen during the busy Lunar New Years weekend.

MKC review


Director:  Kim Dal-joong
Cast:  Kim Myung-min, Go Ara, Ahn Sung-ki
Synopsis:  Former Olympic pacemaker Man-Ho (Kim Myung-min) is now retired.  He then attempts to run 30km to complete a 42.195km marathon for the first time in his life.
Release date:  January 19

The first film from veteran musical director Kim Dal-joong stars Kim Kyung-min who has come into his own as a leading man of late with starring in recents hits Detective K (2011) and Man of Vendetta (2010).  The film released a lot of pre-release buzz but despite a few positive notices it opened at number 6 during the Lunar New Years weekend.

Tarbosaurus 3D

Director:  Han Sang-ho
Writer:  Lee Yong-gyu
Synopsis:  70 million years ago dinosaurs ruled the Korean Peninsula the same way they ruled the rest of the earth. At that time the part of the land now known as Jeonnam Yeosu was the forest habitat of numerous dinosaur species: Tarbosaurus.  The youngest of a family of Tarbosaurs, Spotty is a curious and playful child.  Along with his mother and siblings, he lives happily in the forest, waiting patiently to learn to hunt.  When that day arrives, it marks the beginning of a long and painful journey into adulthood for Spotty.
Release date:  January 26

This 3D dinosaur animation began to generate some buzz last May as CJ was able to presell it to a number of territories during the Cannes film market, including Russia, India, Germany, Thailand, Portugal, Turkey, the Middle East, Singapore, Benelux, Malaysia/Indonesia.  In September Well Go USA purchased the American rights, adding to the film's prospects.

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.