Monday, January 14, 2013

KBO: Man on the Edge Edges Out Competition (01/11-01/13, 2012)

Man on the Edge Edges Out Competition

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 Man on the Edge 13/01/09 30.10% 796,748 1,029,672 599
2 The Tower 12/25/12 19.10% 512,677 4,455,084 482
3 Les Miserables (uk/us) 12/19/12 13.20% 351,246 4,825,497 410
4 Life of Pie (us) 13/01/01 12.80% 246,741 1,019,831 312
5 Cloud Atlas (us) 13/01/09 8.40% 213,580 299,644 382
6 The Reef 2: High Tide (us/kr) 13/01/10 4.60% 129,992 151,226 298
7 My Little Hero 13/01/09 3.10% 85,624 121,372 324
8 Love 911 12/19/12 3.20% 84,309 2,414,195 257
9 Wreck-it Ralph (us) 12/19/12 1.70% 48,509 893,331 220
10 Zambezi (us) 12/25/12 1.10% 31,011 454,896 141

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Company Man (회사원, Huisawon) 2012

(By Rex Baylon)

There is no archetype in film that is more hip than the lone hitman. From a laconic Alan Ladd in This Gun For Hire (1942) to the Gallic cool of Alain Delon in Le Samourai (1967) or the neurotic hipster played by Jean Reno in Leon: The Professional (1994), cinema has helped to elevate the occupation of murderer into not merely a tragic figure, as gangsters have been, but as something akin to warrior poets. Becoming a hitman, cinematically speaking, means more than just donning on the right costume and learning how to aim a gun though. The hitman figure in films must adopt a philosophy and lifestyle that is wholly alien to the average moviegoer but would not be all that unusual to an Ancient Spartan or Samurai in the Tokugawa era. To live as a hitman means ultimately to be intimate with death in all its forms.

Of course, with all that said there is a certain level of ludicrousness to the whole mythology of the hitman. First of all, to be in such an isolated state for such a prolonged period of time does not breed calm collected assassins but rather emotionally unstable psychopaths; people are social creatures and thus self-imposed social isolation goes against the grain of human nature. And then of course, there is the obvious fact that hitmen are the equivalent of ghosts; whether they succeed or fail, live or die, their personality is subsumed by the identity that they have taken upon themselves to adopt. To be a hitman means giving up not just your identity but also your humanity.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New Korean Films: Raising Social Issues With A Musical (2013 Week 2)

(by Fabien Schneider) 

After a first week which left the field open to independent productions, CJ Entertainment and Showbox enter into the dance with two medium-budget films that should have difficulty unseating The Tower from its box office perch.

My Little Hero (마이 리틀 히어로)

A music director opportunistically accepts to lead the rehearsal of a troupe for the musical adaptation of King Jungjo’s life. To cast the main role, he organizes a competition on a national TV channel in which applicants are auditioned blindly and thus selected solely on the basis of their voices. He is completely taken aback when he realizes that the chosen boy, Young-kwang, is actually a mestizo. While teaching him the choreography, the music director begins to become more interested in his Philippine origins.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Top 10 Korean Films of 2012

2013 has just gotten underway and what better way for MKC to ring in the new year than to reflect on what has simply been a gargantuan year for Korean cinema. The vaunted 10 million admissions club welcomed two new members as The Thieves and Masquerade rode their way into the top three of the all time Korean box office chart. Indeed commercial cinema across the board enjoyed spectacular success as well over 100 million tickets were sold to domestic films at the Korean box office, a first for the industry. As of this writing seven films have crossed 4 million admissions (with an eighth on the way in the form of The Tower). What's more Kim Ki-duk became the first Korean filmmaker to prevail at one of the big three European film festivals as he took home the Golden Lion from Venice for his 18th feature Pieta. Elsewhere on the festival circuit a flurry of Korean films took home big awards, including Juvenile Offender, Barbie, The Weight, Circle Line, and many more.

Monday, January 7, 2013

KBO: The Tower Repeats to Ring in the New Year (01/04-01/06, 2013)

The Tower Repeats to Ring in the New Year

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 Tower 12/25/12 32.80% 812,841 3,539,879 638
2 Les Miserables (uk/us) 12/19/12 21.40% 525,258 4,207,834 587
3 Life of Pi (us) 1/1/13 17.70% 345,807 610,835 392
4 Love 911 12/19/12 10.00% 246,937 2,221,828 374
5 Wreck-It Ralph (us) 12/13/12 3.60% 92,471 802,151 279
6 The Hobbit (us) 12/13/12 3.50% 79,246 2,776,058 262
7 Zambezi (de) 12/25/12 2.90% 78,403 390,759 238
8 Niko 2: Little Brother (gr) 12/25/12 2.20% 60,030 371,661 226
9 Marrying the Mafia 5 12/19/12 2.00% 50,052 1,133,216 210
10 The Nutcrack 3D (us) 1/3/13 1.00% 26,933 34,821 132

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Tower (타워, Taweo) 2012

Following the biggest ever year for Korean cinema, it is perhaps fitting that the very last work to be released in 2012 was a spectacle-driven disaster film highlighting the industry’s technical proficiency. Likened to previous blockbuster failures such as Sector 7 (2011), My Way (2011) and this year’s R2B: Return to Base, there was a danger that The Tower could have made for a sour note to conclude Korean cinema’s fortuitous year. Any such qualms were quickly dispelled however as the film registered the industry’s all time second-biggest opening day and is well on its way to an enormous finish.

It’s Christmas Eve and the brand new Tower Sky complex, a brilliant pair of skyscrapers soaring over Seoul’s skyline, is busily preparing for its glitzy holiday party. During the festivities, a helicopter dropping artificial snow crashes into the building and ignites a fierce blaze, threatening the lives of hundreds. Now, a building technician, his daughter, a restaurant manager and a legendary firefighter must brave the flames.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Korean Films: Indie Filmmakers Celebrate the New Year (2013 Week 1)

(by Fabien Schneider)

Each week on Modern Korean Cinema you may carefully follow the evolution of the Korean box office, and you certainly see many film titles as you scroll through but they may not be very evocative. To remedy this and to allow for a better monitoring of the current releases in Korean theatres we have decided to establish a new weekly feature for the new year, presenting each new Korean film as it makes its way into theaters, accompanied by a commentary on my expectations for their success and quality, all with a full dose of subjectivity of course. I hope I can keep the pace, but moreover that it will be worthy of your interest in the long term.

This year begins quietly with no big releases but under the best auspices, since a few independent productions will perhaps give us an opportunity to discover some new talents. Two feature films and a medium-length film are in the program for the opening of this new column.

Sister (누나)

A woman, Yoon-hee, has suffered since childhood from a dramatic event that happened then. In order to save her from a flooding river, her younger brother paid with his life. Her ailment keeps her from improving from her precarious situation, as she cannot set foot outside her home during heavy rains and therefore is regularly getting fired from every part-time job she manages to find. She also undergoes the systematic wrath of her husband who beats her. While working as a waitress in a cafeteria of a high school, she comes face to face with Jin-ho, a teenager who earlier stole her wallet. Each one suddenly realizes their need for the other to overcome their demons.

Coming from the prolific Korean Academy of Film Arts, Lee Won-sik signs a first feature film that appears to run on several dramatic situations, which in my opinion may run the risk of doing just too much. The film owes its achievement in the supporting fund for the preproduction that was awarded by the Seoul Christian Film Festival in 2009. It was also during this festival that the guest of honor and actress Seong Yoo-ri, known as a former singer of the pop band Fin.K.L and then for her dramas, decided to provide crucial support by accepting without asking any fee to endorse the lead role, giving some much-needed exposure to a film that would have otherwise no chance of scoring high in the box-office. Filmed during the fall of 2010, the film seems to have encountered difficulties to find a distributor until now. The early opinions from the Korean media are for the moment quite positive.

Watch the trailer here

Moksha : The World or I, How Does That Work? (모크샤) 

A man in his forties wakes up one morning in the middle of a small public park, with his ankle attached to a steel chain. He has absolutely no idea how nor why he has ended up in this situation. However much he calls for help, there seems to be no one around there to help him. A saw innocently placed near him is getting more and more appealing.

Here is exactly the kind of original idea that stings my interest. Koo Seong-joo had hitherto realized as the dispensable Long and Winding Road in 2005, a road-movie following the long march of a mother to a far city only to attend the wedding of her daughter. But with what seems to be a sour metaphor for life, the director seems to be trying an experimental way to convey his message. Although it will likely be welcomed only with limited success in theaters, it is should be shown in several festivals around the world.

Watch the trailer here

Ohayo Sapporo (오하이오 삿포로) 

A young woman with hearing loss, Mo-re, meets a Japanese man, Hiro, on a dating website with whom she soon gets in the habit of talking to every evening after returning from her modest job in a factory. In order to meet him in real life, she strives to raise the money needed to pay for her trip to Sapporo.

With its 40 minutes, this film is positioning itself in a niche particularly dangerous financially, as it’s too long to be screened prior to a feature film, but also considered too short to justify for the general public a trip to the movies. But on the other hand, it’s a very appreciated move that the production has avoided to artificially lengthen the duration of the film like too many Korean movies that try to fill the regular two hours of running time. Director Kim Seong-joon debuted in 2009 with his feature film Audition, which already featured a hearing impaired woman seeking contact away from her comfort zone, by embarking that time in the break-dance scene. It will be interesting to see the similarities and differences between the two stories, the first film having been criticized by some critics for its lack of depth in the exploration and depiction of a handicapped person.

No direct link to the trailer of the movie, but here is the musical video using some of the film's footage.

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. 

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.

Monday, December 31, 2012

KBO: The Tower Rises to First in Powerful Xmas Weekend (12/28-12/30, 2013)

The Tower Rises to First in Powerful Xmas Weekend

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 Tower 12/25/12 30.70% 873,155 1,694,650 617
2 Les Miserables (uk/us) 12/19/12 26.70% 751,684 2,955,910 621
3 Love 911 12/19/12 13.00% 370,787 1,596,902 427
4 The Hobbit (us) 12/13/12 8.40% 204,958 2,533,231 383
5 Marrying the Mafia 5 12/19/12 5.00% 144,316 961,275 338
6 Wreck-It Ralph (us) 12/13/12 3.90% 113,083 570,142 320
7 Niko 2: Little Brother (de) 12/25/12 3.20% 95,513 207,057 284
8 Zambezi (us) 12/25/12 3.00% 86,922 205,150 273
9 My P.S. Partner 12/6/12 2.20% 57,345 1,767,310 157
10 Pokemon (jp) 12/19/12 0.70% 38,781 316,515 164

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

500 Articles + Holiday Posting Schedule

Xmas at MKC's HQ ;)
I hope everyone's been enjoying the holidays and as 2012 winds down I just wanted to let you know what to expect on the site during the festivities.

We'll be taking a break on regular posting until shortly after New Year's but in the meantime you can expect some end-of-year wrap-ups such as the year's Top 10 films and news stories. Perhaps even a brief post of my time in Korea six months in to make up for slacking off on the 'Korea Blog' posts.

Remarkably this is the 500th post to appear on MKC so along with season's greetings I'd also like to extend my sincere thanks for allowing the site the grow and continue for so long. With new contributors and more plans for 2013, there's also plenty more to come.

Here's to the next 500!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

KBO: Les Miserables Tunes Into First Place (12/21-12/23, 2012)

Les Miserables Tunes Into First Place

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 Les Miserables (uk/us) 12/19/12 30.80% 788,836 1,265,703 670
2 Love 911 12/19/12 16.00% 416,818 703,159 426
3 The Hobbit (us) 12/13/12 17.40% 396,913 1,988,600 585
4 Marrying the Mafia 5 12/19/12 12.00% 312,681 528,802 447
5 Wreck-It Ralph (us) 12/13/12 5.70% 148,804 289,468 361
6 My P.S. Partner 12/6/12 5.70% 134,911 1,584,404 245
7 26 Years 11/29/12 4.20% 110,130 2,874,679 293
8 Pokemon (jp) 12/19/12 1.90% 93,510 191,011 273
9 Pokemon (jp) 12/19/12 1.40% 79,331 159,450 227
10 Rise of the Guardians (us) 11/29/12 1.70% 48,584 1,001,379 175

Friday, December 21, 2012

WKR: Jiseul, Masquerade and Melo Lead the Pack (12/15-12/21, 2012)

With Christmas upon us things are slowly winding down on the review front but still plenty to check out this week.


(Film Business Asia, December 15, 2012)

(Film Business Asia, December 17, 2012)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

KCN: Korean Cinema to Invade Berlin and Rotterdam (12/13-12/19, 2012)

Numerous festival announcements this week as Korean films pick up more prizes at international film festivals and a number of prestigious events gorge on Korean cinema.

In addition to everything below, a few more fresh festival selections lacking full writeups:

Jiseul, Sleepless Night, The Russian Novel and Sunshine Boys heading to the Rotterdam International

Behind the Camera and Jury to officially take part in Berlin's Panorama section


Berlin Invites Pluto to Generation Section
Next February’s Berlin International Film Festival is taking shape as a major discovery grounds for Korean cinema as a fourth Korean film has been invited to the prestigious event. Shin Su-won’s Pluto, one of the most talked about films at this year’s Busan International Film Festival, will have its international premiere during Berlin’s Generation programme. (KoBiz, December 18, 2012)