Saturday, February 14, 2015

New Korean Films: Smart Moustaches (2015 Week 6)

Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island
(조선명탐정 : 사라진 놉의 딸)

By Fabien Schneider

Two years after his investigation of a series of murders led to a conspiracy by government officials, Kim Min, the best detective in Joseon, has been sent to forced retirement on a remote island. The only people who still come to meet him are his partner in crime, Seo-pil, and a mysterious girl who desperately asks him to find her younger sister. Kim Min comes to hear a rumor about counterfeit silver ingots that have been spread in the country. That’s exactly what he needed to get back on track. He decides to escape from the island with the help of Seo-pil and to investigate the mystery of the silver ingots as well as the missing young girl. But as they delve deeper into these affairs, they constantly come across Hisako, a woman with an unknown background.

Unlike Hollywood, Korean cinema is not really known for relying on sequels despite big studios’ craving new box-office records. With this second film in the Detective K series, Showbox is trying to attract the following created in 2011 with Detective K: Secret of Virtuous Widow. The movie was barely funny, but the idea to make a detective story set during a time overwhelmed with political struggles (The Fatal Encounter, released last year, is set at the same time) was really interesting. With 4.7 million of tickets sold, that movie was ranked 7th in the box-office that year despite all the blockbusters from Hollywood. The first opus also got a decent run in the USA and Canada, as well as in China. Kim Myung-min and Oh Dal-Soo are back in their respective roles, and Lee Yeon-hee (A Millionaire’s First Love, 2006) stars as what seems to be the equivalent of a James Bond girl. Given that Kim Suk-Yoon is directing again, one can know exactly what to expect, provided that they have already watched the first movie. For those who haven’t: wacky action, a lot of explosions and the heroes running away from certain death. Read MKC's review here.

A Matter of Interpretation

(꿈보다 해몽)

A disregarded actress walks out of a theater after having scolded the cast members of her play for their lack of commitment despite the absence of spectators during the show. She ends up on a park bench, calls a friend for support, but to no avail, and then a fellow actress who gained fame warns her against dreams. A detective suddenly sits next to her to lecture her about smoking in a public park, and then tells her about a woman who committed suicide by suffocation in her car. They start to recall their last night’s dreams.

Lee Kwang-kuk returns with his second feature movie, after having made his name around the festivals with his much-acclaimed Romance Joe in 2011. Having been the assistant director of a bunch of Hong Sangsoo’s films, he seems to have kept an interest for narrative explorations and unexpected meetings. The trailer seems to underline a refreshingly silly approach to what could have been a presumptuous affair. But we don’t have to make conjectures about the film’s quality, as the film has already been reviewed here. The distribution of this one will be very limited, as only a few independent theaters in Seoul, Busan and Jeonju have scheduled it.

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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