Showing posts with label revenge thriller. Show all posts
Showing posts with label revenge thriller. Show all posts

Friday, October 9, 2015

Busan 2015 Review: COIN LOCKER GIRL Offers New Perspectives on Standard Thrills

Part of MKC's coverage of the 20th Busan International Film Festival.

By Pierce Conran

Against a parking lot bursting with saturated colors, a person lies on the ground, at the mercy of another standing above them who wields a sashimi knife still dripping red from its last kill. Dark, bloody and stylish, this could be the beginning of just about any Korean noir. But Coin Locker Girl is trying something new, as these two characters are played by none other than Kim Hye-su, one of Korea's most glamorous leading ladies, and Kim Go-eun, its latest fresh-faced starlet.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Coming Attractions: THE DEAL Offers Familiar Thrills

By Rex Baylon

First-time director Son Yong-ho will debut his film The Deal in March of this year. The film stars Kim Sang-kyung, Park Sung-woong, Kim Sung-kyun and Yoon Seung-ah in a story that revolves around a detective and a civilian who have had no prior connection to each other except for the fact that both men have lost loved ones at the hands of serial killer Kang-cheon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Review: Tone-deaf MONSTER Exhibits Unusual Cruelty Towards Women

Ingenue Kim Go-eun gets her first top billing in director Hwang In-ho’s uneven and sadistic revenge thriller Monster. Exhibiting the same irreverence towards genre as in his previous film Spellbound (2011) but with none of the panache, Hwang fails to keep things on track with a slow to start narrative, a young star out of her depth and a disturbing streak of misogyny.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Review: One-Stop Korean Revenge Shop THE FIVES Is a Bloody Good Time

By Pierce Conran

Aside from the greats of Korean cinema - the Bong Joon-hos, Lee Chang-dongs, Im Kwon-taeks and Kim Ki-youngs - years ago, after I first immersed myself in the country's cinema, there were few things that I preferred doing than putting on a mid-level Korean genre film after a long day. Their thrillers, in particular, weren't always great (in fact a number were bad) but their production values and hard-boiled style were always a wonderful escape for me, even, strangely, a source of comfort. These days the industry still churns out a great number of thrillers, and though many are very strong, they're a different breed from those I would wile away my time with back in those days.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Get Ready for 'Revenge Week' on MKC!

UPDATE: Some unexpected plans have forced me to move REVENGE WEEK on MKC back two weeks. It will now take place July 8-14. Sorry for the delay but this does give everyone more time to contribute! We have already received some great stuff and plenty more is on the way. Please don't be shy and contact us if you would like to take part!

A while back we held a 'Jopok Week' on MKC, focusing on Korea's colorful output of gangster cinema. With reviews, features and guests galore, it was the most fun and engaging week we ever had. It's high time we put on a new event so I'm thrilled to announce that at the end of this month (June 24-30) it'll be 'Revenge Week' here on MKC.

Perhaps more than any other genre, the revenge thriller or drama is ubiquitous with Korean cinema, particularly in the eyes of foreign viewers, many of whom were introduced to the nation's output through classic vengeful fare such Oldboy (2003) and A Bittersweet Life (2005). From Park Chan-wook's highly stylized Vengeance Trilogy and commercial films such as The Man From Nowhere (2010) to independent films such as the austere Bedevilled (2010), there's never been a shortage of revenge-themed films in South Korean cinema.

So why does Korea produce so many revenge narratives? Many theories exist and we hope to explore these during 'Revenge Week' and maybe even throw in a few of our own.

Just like 'Jopok Week' I would like extend an invitation to anyone who would like to contribute a piece on Korean revenge films. Feel free to drop me a line at pierceconran [at] gmail [dot] com.

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 Korean Reviews, which appear weekly on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings (Korean Standard Time).

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.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

BIFF 2012: Azooma (공정사회, Gongjeongsahwi) 2012

Part of MKC's coverage of the 17th Busan International Film Festival.

When exploring Korean cinema, you can’t go very far without bumping into a revenge thriller. Park Chan-wook’s ‘Vengeance’ trilogy and Kim Jee-woon’s A Bittersweet Life (2005) are just a few of the more high profile examples. However, of late, this sub-genre has become increasingly popular among independent filmmakers looking to make their mark in the industry. The format seems to supersede horror, sci-fi and other genres as the low-budget debut of choice. The results, however, have been very mixed.

From a narrative standpoint, revenge flicks are rather easy to construct though putting together one that stands out becomes a more complicated task. Azooma, a new offering featuring a female protagonist, doesn’t take great pains to present us with an original story. Instead, it experiments with structure by cutting up a very standard revenge plot and rearranging it. A potentially interesting idea, the execution is sadly undermined by the underdeveloped story, which no matter what way it is sequenced, is bereft of any surprises. Any attempt to feed us new information through a fractured chronology falls flat, as we can already assume it all ahead of its revelation.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I Am a Dad (Na-neun Abba-da) 2011

Different films come with different expectations. Depending on the pedigree attached, the budget afforded, or the genre/subjects mined, our preconceptions vary accordingly. B-movies have been popular since the early days of cinema, they have entertained us with their cheap thrills and delighted us with their far-fetched plots. Due to the nature of the production of these films, low budgets and short shoot times are a necessity, and consequently nuance and high production values are ill-afforded extravagances. Things tend to be exaggerated and excessively stylized, since when the actions on screen deliberately eschew realism, it is much easier to get away with things. Hence our expectations are very different for a glossy film with a high-budget, which we tend scrutizine, and a dime-a-dozen B-movie, which we are more likely to accept for what it is, cheap and simple entertainment.

Gritty B-movie
B-movies are mainly considered an American form of filmmaking but in other countries the rules of engagement are necessarily different. In Korea there has been a small number of 'authentic' B-movies including this year's Invasion of Alien Bikini and The Neighbor Zombie (2010), both from the same group of filmmakers. There are, however, a great many low-budget, generic studio features churned out in Chungmuro every year. I Am a Dad is not quite a B-movie, but it comes close and for me, before watching it, I had similar preconceptions. That is to say it looked cheap, gritty, exaggerated, generic, and featured a second-tier Korean star.

The story is simple and deliberately channels popular Korean exports of the 'Asia Extreme' variety. It features a revenge plotline, a very violent and corrupt detective, and illegal organ donors. Kim Seung-woo plays Detective Han Jong-sik, the corrupt investigator who has framed people for crimes to further his own ends. One of these victims exacted his revenge by killing his wife and injuring his daughter (Kim Sae-ron), who is now in desperate need of a new heart. In order to pay for his daughter’s condition, he goes on the take for some gangsters. Meanwhile another innocent man, Na Sang-man (Son Byeong-ho), that he put away from murder, is released, but not before his daughter dies and his wife winds up in a coma. Just like this year’s Heartbeat, it turns out that Na’s wife, who is considered clinically dead, is the only heart transplant available that could save Han’s daughter.

Kim Sae-ron, in need of a heart
The concept isn’t bad, even if it is quite contrived, but it loses its impact as a result of its excessive foreshadowing. Detective Han and Sang-man are tied via their parrallel fates, or rather that of their wives and daughters. Indeed, most of the narrative is played off of repetition, which inevitably means that a lot of time is wasted over the development of story and characters that has already been presaged. Having the ability to see ahead of time how the broad strokes will play out takes away much of the fun and leaves little to the imagination.

Kim Seung-woo, who is known mostly for starring in lesser Korean films like Spring Breeze (2003) and The Unbearable Lightness of Dating (2006) and has recently taken co-starring roles in more significant works like the K-Drama Iris (2009) and John H. Lee’s war epic 71: Into the Fire (2010), works best in measured, stoic parts, playing military or law enforcement figures. In I Am a Dad, he hams it up as an investigator prone to excessive bouts of violence. Kim plays Detective Han with a straight face, his portrayal of Detective Han is humorless and unironic. Normally I would take issue with a performance such as this one but given my expectations, which I have already outlined, it fits quite well with the style of the film.

Son Byeong-ho as the innocent family man
Son Byeong-ho does his best in the role he inhabits, but his best scenes are early on as clown/family man. For the rest of the film he displays two emotions: rage; and uncertainty. Unfortunately, child star Kim Sae-ron isn’t given much to do but I find it extraordinary that, in what seems like a pernicious bit of typecasting, for the third time in a row, following A Brand New Life (2009) and The Man From Nowhere (2010), she plays a girl who has lost her mother.

Im Ha-ryong, as the over-the-hill Detective Kim, is the standout performance, an affable. He is a positive presence on screen, it is unfortunate that some of the lines he is fed do not do him justice. Im has toiled away in minor roles in major films for years, such as Arahan (2003), Welcome to Dongmakgol (2005), Insadong Scandal (2009), and Good Morning President (2009) and is familiar to most who have an even limited exposure to Korean cinema.

Kim Seung-woo as Detective Han
The main indicators of the film’s lowly standing are its production values, sadly they are also one of its weakest assets. The camera is constantly shaking, the colours are washed out, the editing is fast-paced and slapdash, and even the sound tends to spike in the film’s loudest moments. There is no visual flair and the framing is all easy to set-up mid-shots. It seems to me that the haphazard manner of the production is a by-product of its meager finances and quick schedule.

The final sequences are a bit of a departure from what is an otherwise standard and unstylized narrative. I’m not quite sure they worked but I appreciated the effort nonetheless. The filmmakers took a little poetic license and were more florid in their mise-en-scene. Despite all its flaws I Am a Dad is never less than watchable and as long as you don’t expect much from it, it amounts to a pleasant enough way to distract oneself for 100 minutes.

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.