Monday, December 23, 2013

Korean Box Office: Song Kang-ho Proves He's B.O. King with The Attorney

With the help of a homegrown offering's huge opening, business came booming back by soaring over the three million mark for the first time in months. The pre-Christmas weekend saw 61% of tickets got to local films.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Review: Jeon Do-yeon Shines in WAY BACK HOME

By Pierce Conran

Following a two-year break after the disappointing Countdown, Jeon Do-yeon makes an exceedingly welcome return to the big screen in Way Back Home. With a role that suits her to a tee and under the considered direction of Pang Eun-jin, fresh off last year’s Perfect Number, Jeon is a marvel in what may well become an end-of-year hit for CJ Entertainment.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Korean Box Office: Jeon Do-yeon No Match for The Hobbit

Despite a major new local release, the Korean film industry was held at bay once again as the pairing of Jeon Do-yeon and Ko Soo wasn't enough to prevent the new Hobbit from taking first place. 2.24 million tickets were sold over the frame, about 10% over last year, but the local market share, due to a soft opening and a lack of strong holdovers, was weak at 28%.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Review: Time Travel Takes a Siesta at 11:00 AM

"Wait, this is a time travel film?"

By Pierce Conran

Setting aside the barnstorming success of Bong Joon-ho’s new feature Snowpiercer, an anomaly if ever there was one, Korea cinema’s relationship to the science fiction genre has been a difficult one over the years. Successful mash-ups like Save the Green Planet (2003) and The Host (2006) hinted at what the industry might achieve, but by and large, the straight sci-fis that have been produced, such as 2009: Lost Memories (2002), Yesterday (2002) and Natural City (2003), have failed to impress. However, 11:00 AM, a new Korean sci-fi which made its way into local theaters late this year, held the faintest glimmer of hope for what can at times be one of cinema’s most rewarding genres. Alas, this new effort follows previous domestic stabs that fail to grasp what makes the genre work in the first place.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Review: MONTAGE is a Refreshing and Suspenseful Addition to the Thriller Genre

By Patryk Czekaj

It’s never an easy task to take on a subject that’s been worked over many times before, all the more when you’re still a novice filmmaker. Murder mysteries have long been an important part of Korean cinema and although there are many brilliant, powerful titles in the genre (i.e. Mother [2009], Memories of Murder [2003], The Chaser [2003], et. al) it’s getting harder for directors to deliver breathtaking suspense without referring to some well-known plot elements.

Korean Box Office: About Time Tops Slow Weekend

Slow weekend for local releases with only 26% of the 1.62 million admissions going to domestic industry. Things were much rosier this time last year with 75% of 1.95 million admissions going to Korean films.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Review: Love and Adolescence in Kim Ki-duk's The Bow (2005)

By Hieu Chau

Up until now, it would appear as though Kim Ki-duk’s films could easily be placed into one of two different categories – one for his extreme features and the other for his sensitive works. His 2005 film, The Bow most certainly fits into the latter alongside some of his best critical successes such as Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter… and Spring (2003) and 3-Iron (2004) as it too is a contemplative piece that retains much of Kim’s signature brand of wistfulness. Never one to shy away from tough subject matter, The Bow, when compared to a lot of his recent films, is a lot tamer both in terms of violence and sexual imagery. Given Kim’s track record for provoking audiences with his patented obsession with faith and morality, The Bow, while clearly peppered with religious iconography, doesn’t seem to be all that interested in using its themes as a means to frame a story. Instead, The Bow is, for the most part, a coming-of-age drama, one that tells the sexual awakening of a young girl and features aspects of teenage rebellion – a mutual ground for most coming-of-age dramas. Of course, being that this is a Kim Ki-duk film, this coming-of-age drama is skewed towards extremely artistic territory.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Review: Keeping Up the Bad Fight - Ingtoogi: The Battle of Internet Trolls

By Eugene Kwon

When online feuds lead to conflicts in the real world, things can get pretty ugly. During recent years in Korea, certain online users of computer games and texting services have taken their grudge fights to the streets where they mimic K-1 fighters’ moves and engage in a rough brawl. Such conflicts have even gained the term “hyunpi,” a hybrid neologism of Chinese and English characters that stands for “player kill in reality.” All of this might sound ridiculous to most that are unfamiliar with virtual world culture. Who would go through such a long hassle in venting out their online-anger? In the end, it’s just a game, right?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Busan 2013 Review: Balls of Fury - The King of Jogku

Part of MKC's coverage of the 18th Busan International Film Festival.

(by Rex Baylon)

The struggle of one team or individual to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles has been popular fodder for films since the silent era. Early silent shorts by esteemed comedians like Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd have built entire careers by donning the role of the underdog. In these early works the template for all future sports films, comedy or otherwise, was set down in cinematic stone. The hero is often schlubby, unpopular, and often pegged as more dreamer than doer. A love interest is usually injected into the story to offer our hero pep talks and scold them for losing focus. And, of course, the film’s antagonist is the very embodiment of physical perfection, though with one thing lacking, the spirit of the “good” sportsman. While our hero may not be able to shoot a basket through a hoop or net, fight like one of the Cobra Kai, or have a well-toned physique our titular hero is a stand-in for us, born with all our faults but embodying our most treasured ideals.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dr. Q's MKC Rants - North Korean Agents: From Creepy Spooks to Pretty Boys

North Korean Agents: From Creepy Spooks to Pretty Boys

By Kyu Hyun Kim, Associate Professor of Japanese and Korean History, University of California, Davis

There were times during my younger days when I wondered whether South Korean filmmakers had to invent North Korean Communists if they did not exist in real life. Of course, the more you actually study the relationship between anti-Communist ideology and the postwar (post-1953, not post-1945) South Korean culture, the more you realize that it was complex, multifarious and full of contradictions. Anti-Communism has never been a monolithic edifice: neither was it a watertight cage from which no fluid leaked. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Korean Box Office: Sci-fi AM 11:00 Clocks in Middling Debut

With 1.77 million admissions, business was still a little down from this time last year (when admission topped two million) due to a lack of strong new releases. Though with a 60% market share, local releases are still in good shape. This month's new films have been relatively low profile but things should pick up in the coming weeks with some higher profile domestic films, not to mention the invasion of Hollywood holiday fare.