Monday, May 11, 2015

New Korean Films: The Last Stand Against the Avengers (2015 Week 17)

Coin Locker Girl

By Fabien Schneider

A baby girl named Il-young has been left in the locker number 10 of a subway station. She’s taken in by a woman who rules Chinatown thanks to her many adopted many children. With the years passing Il-young becomes one of the most efficient members of the gang. One day, she meets the son of one of her mom’s clients, a friendly and charming young man. She suddenly gets curious about this new world outside of the gloomy atmosphere of Chinatown. It’s at this moment that her mom gives her one last mission.

For his first feature, the director Han Jun-hee already makes an interesting offer. With the veteran actress Kim Hye-soo, who starred in The Thieves (2012), and the young Kim Go-eun, who made her name known with her performance in Eungyo (2012), her very first role, the film should logically be noticed for the cast. But it seems like it has been attracting almost solely the younger male audience, and local critics have been mildly positive. It accounted for a bit more than 5% of the tickets sold in its first weekend, which was enough to climb up to second position, thanks to the devastation left by Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Enemies In-Law
(위험한 상견례 2)

Cheol-su and Yeong-hee want to get married, but will have a hard time to make their families get along. Yeong-hee is a police officer, like everyone in her family, while Cheol-su is the only son of a powerful family of gangsters. As a way to please his future parents-in-law, Cheol-su tries to be hired as a police offer. Both families comes to a common ground, but not the one they expect: they want to make them break up at all costs.

If you look at the original title, you will see the number 2; this film is indeed the follow-up to Meet the In-Laws (2011), in which both families of a couple clashed with each other because of the secular rivalry between their home regions. The director, Kim Jin-young, seems to have found his bonanza with this concept, while the pitch of this new film reminds us a popular series of films of the 2000s, Marrying the Mafia. The lead actress is Jin Se-yeon, who has recently been popular as the main protagonist of Doctor Stranger, a TV drama. The critiques have hit on this comedy hard, and it has already failed to raise interest among the movie-goers.

Watch the international trailer with English subtitles.

Illusionary Paradise
(부곡 하와이)

Two women patients of a psychological hospital decide to escape together. Ja-yeong is a middle-aged woman who wants to see her son before that her husband leaves the country to work abroad. Cho-hee has been sexually abused by the director of the hospital and has discovered that this has made her pregnant, which makes her glad as she always wanted to start a family. Along the way of their running away, they meet a lot of people. But the hospital’s director has hired a private detective to follow their tracks.

This indie production sounds strangely similar to Shoot Me in the Heart which I discussed earlier this year, except that the two main protagonists are women and that it sounds a lot more serious. It’s the debut feature for director Ha Kang-hun, and the two lead actors are not very popular. One of them, Park Myeong-shin, appeared as a supporting role in many recent films but was one of the leads in Members at the Funeral (2008). The only critics who wrote about this film lamented the cliché story, and it will only get a limited distribution in major cities.

Watch here the Korean trailer.

Plank Constant
(플랑크 상수)

Wu-ju has some unusual habits that follow his attraction for beautiful women. He goes every day to the hairdresser only to get his hair cut by 1 mm while believing that the employee’s skirt is getting shorter with each time. Every time a waitress at a coffee shop refills his coffee has a strange effect on him. When following a women he stared at during a film screening, she suddenly disappears. His steps brings him on the top of a mountain where he meets three women.

I know, this pitch may sound like one of the many erotic films that usually fill the bottom lines of my articles. But this is actually the new film from one of our favorite directors of recent years, David Cho. He is the founder of Sponge Entertainment, a production company, and he produced highly-acclaimed films like Rough Cut (2008), My Dear Enemy (2008) and some of Hong Sangsoo’s films. But he also left a very strong impression recently with his own directorial outings. The Winter of the Year Was Warm was in our top 10 Korean films in 2012, and The Heaven is Only Open to the Single ! (2012) was another excellent romantic film. That’s why I can’t wait to see what David Cho has yet under his sleeves. The male lead is Kim Jae-uk, a top model, actor in Antique (2008) and many TV dramas, and also guitarist in an indie rock band. Given the subject, it seems that the young male audience are the most reactive. It will be only available in major cities.

Watch here the Korean trailer.

Dino Time
(다이노 타임)

Three children Earnie, Max and Julia, stumble upon a time capsule while exploring the secret lab of Max’s father. They turn on the machine by mistake and end up back in time in the age of the dinosaurs. They discover the nest of a Tyrannosaurus called Tyra who thinks that these strangers are her own children. Meanwhile, some musketeers have robbed the time capsule thinking that it was an egg of dinosaur.

Co-produced between USA and South Korea, it is also the work of two directors, John Kafka (only known for Cinderella 2) and Choi Yun-seok. The latter decided already in 1990 that he wanted to start as a freelancer to make CGI animated films. He later went to the USA to take part in many projects. This looks like your standard CGI film with a bunch of sympathetic animals, and the success will obviously depend of the young children. Screenings for this film will be available in almost every city, and it should probably complete the podium of the box office.

Watch here the international trailer.

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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1 comment:

  1. What a great job you're doing with this site, i'm always reading and learning a lot about korean cinema.
    thanks from Brazil.