October 22, 2012
Thirst (Bakjwi) is a vampire movie by one of the best South Korean directors - Chan-wook Park, famous abroad for his Oldboy. This horrific love story earned director prestigious Jury Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.
Sang-hyeon (Kang-ho Song) is a well liked and devoted catholic priest who is helping at local hospital, providing reconciliation to patients at their last hours. While appearing strong on outside, Sang-hyeon is internally hurting by the suffering in the world and his inability to help. Giving everything, he participates in risky medical experiment to find a cure for deadly virus. Things go wrong and he (nearly) dies, but is saved by blood transfer, and quickly recovers fully.
A days pass and he became aware of changes that happen in him, physically and psychologically. After these event, he is being viewed as messianic figure in his town. People flock to him for some kind of salvation. Among them is his childhood friend, and his wife that he fells in love with. Struggling with what little of humanity is left in him, being used by the wife and others, doing things he would never have imagined doing he tries to make it right.
Another great work from Chan-wook Park, having excellent cast at his disposal, he makes a different kind of vampire movie, trademarked by his use of excessive violence an beautiful cinematography. Some unseen and impressive displays of supernatural powers of creatures of the night.
Abusive and grotesque love story, full of (blood) lust, sex and violence. Where everything ends in a beautiful sunrise in a memorable finale.
Exceptional. Highly recommended.
Blu-ray | DVD from Amazon
Blu-ray (UK) | DVD from YesAsia
July 20, 2012
I Saw the Devil (Akmareul boatda) is movie by one of my favorite directors - Jee-woon Kim, featuring, as he often does in his movies, two of the finest actors Korea has to offer Byung-hun Lee and Min-sik Choi in a grotesque and suspenseful thriller involving serial killer(s).
Kim Soo-hyeon (Byung-hun Lee) works a secret agent in South Korean government, his fiance is kidnapped and brutally murdered by serial killer. Using his connections and skills he quickly comes upon Kyung-chul (Min-sik Choi), but instead of unleashing his revenge right there on the spot, he decides to bring prolonged suffering against the man who took his love away, to show him what amount of pain one has to suffer after such a loss. A cat and mouse game begins. But is it a game worth playing for Kim Soo-yeon?
This movies is driven with pure, distilled vengeance, a theme that is really common and well portrayed in Korean cinema. Both actors are great for their roles, you can see pure evil in the eyes of Min-sik Choi character, and how good and evil starts to stir and mix somewhere deep inside eyes of his adversary played by Byung-hun Lee.
Prior to theatrical release in South Korea it was twice refused acceptable rating for showing in cinemas, forcing Jee-woon Kim to cut around 90 seconds of footage before it was accepted. That's how disturbing this movies is.
As with The Chaser, it's another masterpiece about serial killers from Korea. If you enjoy movies like Se7en, Vengeance trilogy and such, there is no reason why you should't watch this one.
Blu-ray | DVD from Amazon.
Bly-ray (UK) | DVD (UK) from YesAsia.
July 18, 2012
The Host (Gwoemul) is one of the biggest Korean movie projects of recent times, directed by talented director Joon-ho Bong, featuring great cast, it went on and made a lot of money locally, becoming one of the highest grossing movies, gained international following, and was successful in many festivals abroad.
It's Seoul, a fine sunny day in a park on banks of Han river, when suddenly someone spots some kind of creature hanging under the bridge... moment later it disappears only to emerge on the shore and wreck panic among vacationers, amid them dawdle father Park Gang-Doo (Kang-ho Song) whose daughter gets kidnapped by the monster.
With budget of only 10 million dollars, working with Asian designers and New Zealand CGI professionals director managed to create something that in it's quality rivals and surpasses most monster and disaster films coming from Hollywood, where such sum of money is pocket change and barely enough to cover some actor fees.
As a disaster movie it touches many themes, including environment protection, politics. Displayed in satirical way is how Koreans feel about presence of US bases on their territory, which in movie are origin of the creature. Movie being critical of US in many ways even earned it fame among North Korea officials, which is a rare occasion for South Korean movie.
Despite it's many political commentaries about US, it's still an entertaining monster flick. Many western critics put it on their list of best movies of that year. Quentin Tarantino listed it as one of his favorites. Hollywood signed remake rights, but not much of it has been heard since.
A highly recommended, must-see.
Blu-ray | DVD from Amazon.
Blu-ray (UK) from YesAsia.