First screen from Snowpiercer (2013)

Following some recent concept art releases (Read More) of brilliant Korean directors Joon-ho Bong (The Host, Mother, Memories of Murder) upcoming Hollywood debut Snowpiercer, we now have our first look at screen from actual movie featuring his long time collaborator and extremely talented Korean actor Kang-ho Song.


Snowpiercer is an upcoming sci-fi thriller based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige. Plot summary from wikipedia:
The film is set in a future where, after a failed experiment to stop global warming, an Ice Age kills off all life on the planet except for the inhabitants of the Snow Piercer, a train that travels around the globe and is powered by a sacred perpetual-motion engine. A class system evolves on the train but a revolution brews.
To be seen in cinemas later this year.




Mother (2009)

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller














From star director of The Host and Memories of Murder, Joon-ho Bong, comes another masterpiece of Korean drama - Mother (Madeo). Multiple award winner, for best direction, best lead performance by veteran Korean actress Hye-ja Kim, and even official South Korean submission for Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 82nd Academy Awards.

A mother (Hye-ja Kim) and her son (Bin Won) live in small Korean city. She's widow with no support left with her mentally challenged son who has severe aggression problems. Struggling to get by, she is illegally performing acupuncture procedures on local woman. One day a body of murdered local school girl is found on rooftop in the middle of town.

Local police in hurry, based on circumstantial evidence arrest her son, soon confession is forced out of him, and he is convicted of murder and faces to spend rest of his life in mental hospital. Mother however knows that her son couldn't perform such cruel act, and sets to find the real culprit on her own, causing quite a commotion in this ,as it appears, not so calm city. She is set to prove her son's innocence by any means necessary. 

As with Memories of Murder Joon-ho Bong takes another look into mentality of small towns. He skillfully plays with such forces as maternal love, commitment to the cause of family. Filled with mystery and tension this movie doesn't let it's grip till the moment credits roll.


If you have seen excellent crime thriller The Man from Nowhere you might (or might not) recognize young Korean superstar Bin Won, whose role there of hardened special forces agent is complete antithesis of his portrayal of Mother's son in this movie.

Currently director Joon-ho Bong is working on his Hollywood debut, science fiction thriller Snow Piercer, set to be released in October, 2013.

Powerful performance by lead actress, beautiful cinematography, exceptional directing, twists here and there, and long lasting emotional residue. What more is needed for great drama? Must see.

Blu-ray | DVD from Amazon
Blu-ray | DVD (UK) from YesAsia

Memories of Murder (2003)

Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery














Following his debut satire film Barking Dogs Never Bite and prior to gaining international fame after blockbuster The Host, director Joon-ho Bong shook Korean with his masterpiece revolving around serial killer Memories of Murder (Salinui chueok).

In rural province area, two bodies of women are found, ditched in country side outskirts, in fields of grain. Both brutally raped and killed in similar ways. Two incompetent and inexperienced with such big case cops are assigned the case, detective Park Doo-Man (Kang-ho Song) and his belligerent partner Cho Yong-koo (Roe-ha Kim). Thinking it's just domestic murders they try to work the case using methods that are popular at that time in Korean police, guess work and violence against suspects, but nothing comes out of it. Soon, detective Seo Tae-Yoon (Sang-kyung Kim) is sent from Seoul to assist local police. They are not fond of each other and their approach to investigation differs much, but eventually they start to work together and make some progress. But will it be enough to catch the killer?


Absolutely fantastic work, that is one of my favorites of all the movies I've ever seen. Stunningly beautiful cinematography, each scene is masterfully crafted, every character and dialogue appears to be so genuine. It's brutal and violent, but not on the screen (well, sometimes). It posses that grim undertones that curl through it, not stopping until characters and viewer himself feel powerlessness and despair.

When credits rolled I was left in that bad kind of mood that only good movies about dark side of humanity leave behind, a sign how involved you become with the world that is portrayed for you by director.

Notably this movie, like many others, is based on real events, first serial killer case that had happened in Korean history. Movies ending paralleled with these real life events make it so much more powerful.

It gets huge recommendation from me, definitely a must see.

DVD from Amazon
Blu-ray | DVD from YesAsia

The Host (2006)

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Horror














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.