Wednesday, July 31, 2013

New Korean Films: Showbox Is Going All Bananas (2013 Week 29)

Mr. Go
(미스터 고)

A director of a circus troupe in China dies leaving all his inheritance to his daughter, Weiwei, 15. Among the menagerie is a gorilla named Ling Ling with which the director often played baseball and who seems to possess great playing abilities. A South Korean recruiter hears the rumor and rushes to China to hire the gorilla along with Weiwei as a coach in a team of the South Korean professional league. Very soon, Ling Ling becomes a celebrity in the sporting world, which does not take long to attract the lusts of several opposing teams.

Showbox sends their biggest film of the year, which benefits from the enormous attention both from the public but also from the whole South Korean film industry. In fact, after the recent failures of commercial blockbusters in 2012, everyone is waiting to see the fate of this huge tank with an estimated 200 billion won budget, the most expensive Korean film ever produced. It is also a technological showcase for Korea that seeks to position itself more and more in the international market of special effects, the film being the first Korean production filmed entirely with stereoscopic cameras, and also the first in which the CGI was entirely made locally by Dexter films studio based in Paju. This studio, which clearly shows its intention to compete with Hollywood, was founded for the occasion by the director, Kim Yong-hwa, who is known for being the author of the disaster that was 200 Pounds Beauty (2006) and the better Take Off (2009), two films that managed to grab the interest of the general audience. With this adaptation of a popular comic published between 1985 and 1987, no doubt it has the potentiality to repeat that success. The film features the actor Seong Dong-il, who played the trainer in Take Off, and also the young Chinese actress Xu Jiao appears, who had been discovered in the guise of a little boy in CJ7 (2007) by Stephen Chow, probably to gain an easier access to the Chinese market. Not surprisingly, the critics remain unmoved, but it will not be enough to prevent the march to success, the film being available this weekend in almost all theaters in the country.

Watch the Korean trailer here.

We Were There
(우리는 그곳에 있었다)

In 1995, a Korean climbing club went to Pakistan to reach the Gasherbrum 4’s summit and met Slavko Sveticic with his Slovenian preparation team, who was going to do the same but by himslef. A few days later, they learned that radio contact was lost with Slavko, and so they paid homage to him on the mountain before aborting the expedition. They returned two years later and found on the road while climbing down the body of their friend.

This documentary consists of archive footage shot during the two climbing attempts, interspersed with testimonies of Korean participants as well as Slovenian ones. This documentary is really destined for a niche market, but still finds itself proposed on several independent screens in Seoul, Busan and Daegu.

Watch the Korean trailer here.

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. 

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