Behind the Scenes of Oldboy

Oldboy is probably THE most popular Korean movie in the world, and has proved itself as a great starting point for many movie fans who are discovering Korean cinema for the first time. And it's a starting point for this blog as well, being first post made here.

While browsing I accidentally stumbled upon this amazing video that was included with collectors edition of Oldboy and which some good soul uploaded has Youtube. A behind the scenes / Making Of documentary.



Cinematography, acting, story. Everything in this movie is on the highest level. And now we have chance, for more than three hours to be a part of it.

To see genius personality of director Chan-wook Park in person. To see famous actors like Byung-hun Lee and Kang-ho Song paying casual visits to set just to have a few laughs with friends. Interaction of crew and actors. Technical difficulties and filming techniques. And to see how many octopus were eaten during famous scene? Priceless.

It's amazing insight into Korean working culture and brilliant personalities who are behind this movie.

A treat to any movie fan. And with american remake of Oldboy soon hitting cinemas, it's about time to remember what made the original so great.



New World (2013)

Genre: Crime, Thriller














New World is a second movie from new face in South Korean cinema Hoon-jung Park, who started his career as scriptwriter, better known to us for his work at brilliant movie I Saw the Devil. Now he's stepped up a notch and this is his second movie that he not just directs, but writes a script for. Someone to keep an eye on in future.


It all starts when a chairman of major Korean crime syndicate dies in a traffic accident. Power struggle begins to name his successor. Two rival groups within are committed to take the chair, one is led by jest Jeong Cheong (Jeong-min Hwang) and his right hand Ja-seong (Lee Jeong-jae), other by sinister Lee Joong-gu (Seong-Woong Park). But there is third player involved in the game, police who have planted mole in the organization and now are trying to influence movements within to their own interests. Who will come out as a victor in this game?

While the premise must sound familiar or even cliche to any crime genre fans, events that unfold during the film and in the end are not so typical, and will leave these viewers most definitely satisfied.


Film is about big fish of crime world, and everything is clean and expensive there. Good looking people, expensive cars, beautiful apartments and exquisite office buildings. It's just a good looking movie itself to support the events it's showing. Even when the hands get really dirty, which they do, it keeps it's good looks.

Some really solid cinematography and good actor casting for lead roles, it's always a pleasure to look at Min-sik Choi's acting. Supplemented with quiet, almost classical, ambient music so fit to the theme of the movie.

As I wrote above, it's a good looking film, a film about top brass of organized crime in best traditions of the genre, and more. Well worth a watch.

Blu-ray | DVD from Amazon

Oldboy you ask? Oldboy, Spike Lee replies. (2013)



UPD: Trailer has been released can be viewed here

10 years have passed since release of the original and now it's time to have a look at first official poster for Hollywood's remake of Korean classic Oldboy.

You can see the actor Josh Brolin who will portray Min-sik Choi's charming character whom we all come to love so much from the original. I don't have high hopes for this, but Spike Lee can sometimes surprise with his moviemaking skills and it will definitely be interesting to see western take on such unusual and cruel story.

To be released in October, 2013.

(don't bother visiting the site mentioned on the poster as it's not yet working)

By clicking Read more button below you can see some unused posters that had been leaked before.

Shiri (1999)

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama














Shiri (Swiri) by director Je-kyu Kang is one of the most recognizable South Korean movies from past decade. It was one of the first big budgeted blockbusters produced in South Korea in late 90's and immediate hit in box office, domestic and abroad. Borrowing production values from Hollywood and action from popular Hong Kong movies, it's a vigilant mix of both. A movie that dethroned Cameron's mighty Titanic from it's position of most viewed movie in Korea.

South Korean Intelligence agency comes into possession of information that North's spy's, sleeper agents, are trying to acquire recently discovered liquid explosive CTX. As CTX is undetectable by any known methods, South is afraid that it will be used in terror acts by North Korea to destabilize situation in region.

As two of top agents Jong Won Yu (Suk-kyu Han) and Jang-gil Lee (Kang-ho Song) are investigating this matter, it appears that the enemy is always one step ahead, and suspicions arouse among them of possible mole inside the agency.

Star filled superspy thriller in best traditions of it's time, spectacular firefights using tremendous weapon arsenal, spy intrigues, chases and SWAT teams. All of it on the screen, most of the time.


Director Je-kyu Kang like in his next, famous war movie Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War likes to hint at closeness of both Korean nations, even tho they are enemies, in short breaks between violent fighting, he adds a dramatic layer to it, showing that divide is artificial, and on human level, relationships are possible between the two. Moreover, the movie name itself, Shiri, strongly confirms directors opinions, in a monologue by one of the characters in the movie, it explains that Swiri is a fish, that lives in rivers that flow across the Korea, and the fish doesn't know of South or North, it just swims in a water.

If you judge the movies by cast, finest to this day actors Kang-ho Song and Min-sik Choi, beautiful Yunjin Kim, best known in west for her role in popular TV show Lost, will guarantee that you won't be dissapointed.

Splendid spy action thriller, that won't let you get bored. Good dose of action and drama. Recommended.

DVD from Amazon

Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (2004)

Genre: Action, Drama, War














In the end of 2003 Silmido, a movie about South and North relationships, shook the South Korean box office, but not giving it even a few month of rest, another bomb was dropped upon South Korean viewers in early 2004, Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (Taegukgi hwinalrimyeo), similarly themed film, directed by Je-kyu Kang of his Shiri fame, that beat all the prior set records. One third of South Korea population attended cinema to watch this film according to number of admissions.

It's 1950, two brothers, Jin-seok Lee (Bin Won) and eldest Jin-tae Lee (Dong-gun Jang) are spending ordinary time in streets of Seoul, living together with their mother and fiance of Jin-tae - Young-shin Kim (Eun-ju Lee). Peaceful life ends when North invades, and family is forced to leave their homes. Due to some unlucky circumstances both brothers found themselves on a train that's heading towards the battlefield. Cruel realities of war now become part of them.

Revisiting events set almost exactly 50 years in past, director managed to grab attention of Korean public with this epic war drama. Often called Korean Saving Private Ryan, and not without a reason, they both share that gruesome depiction of war, cruelty served by both sides and magnitude in which the scale of the war is portrayed, be it special effects or actor performances. Even the visual styles of the movie are really similar.
But most importantly they share similar, personal stories of the people involved. Comparable even in the way it is presented in the movie, starting with nowadays, showing survivors who share their memories and tell their stories, followed by dive in the past, where these memories are being replayed.

Films original Korean titles contains the names of flags of both neighboring countries, as a symbolic gesture towards their once shared unity.

Its should be mentioned that this movie is one of the final works of beautiful and talented actress Eun-ju Lee, who sadly committed suicide year after this film was released.

Overall, a powerful and emotionally lasting war drama. Highly recommended.

Blu-ray | DVD from Amazon
DVD from YesAsia

Failan (2001)

Genre: Drama














Film by director Hae-sung Song, whom lately is known for his 2010 remake of John Woo's 1986 action movie A Better Tommorow. However Failan is his career's magnum opus, which he hasn't been able to top since, and that's for a good reason, as it's a masterpiece of a movie. This drama is adaptation of Japanese novel by Jiro Asada.

A young chinese girl Failan (Cecilia Cheung) after death of her parents travels to South Korea to find her relatives. Upon arrival she learns that they have moved away to another country, and left no contact information. Not wanting to go back, poor and lonely, she hopes to be able to live in this new country. To obtain staying permission she gets involved with local crime ring and accepts sham marriage. To pay back debt she is being forced to work in brothel, however due to her illness, she is unfit for that kind of duty, and gets to work as helper in small laundry in country side. This new life is better and more peaceful. Holding onto single photo of her husband, whom she'd never met before, she falls in love and thanks him for the life he has given her.


Enter Kang-jae (Min-sik Choi), a small time aging crook, lonely and forsaken man, whose dream is to own a fishing boat and travel back to his hometown. He is the one on the photo Failan has. In the middle of huge misfortune he is dealing with, he gets a message concerning well being of his wife. He travels to see her for the first time.

Astonishing drama about love of  two lonesome people, separated by distance, language, culture and lifestyles, connected only by small piece of paper. Missed opportunities, hopeless dreams and late realizations. It plays so well with emotions, that at some point it's guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes.

Distinct performances by Min-sik Choi and Hong Kong's singer and actress Cecila Cheung.

One of the finest drama movies that I have ever seen. A must see.

DVD from Amazon.

I Saw the Devil (2010)

Genre: Crime, Horror, Drama, Thriller











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.

Highly recommended.

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

Crying Fist (2005)

Genre: Drama














Crying Fist (Jumeogi unda) is written and directed by experienced Korean director - Seung-wan Ryoo. It's worth mentioning that his brother Seung-beom Ryu is playing main role, which is not their first collaboration. A quite talented family.

Film tells two separate tragic stories about two man, each of whom are struggling with problems presented by their life's, only common things between them are their failures and boxing, a dying sport in Korea.

One man is middle aged Olympic Silver medal winner Gang Tae-shik (portrayed by excellent actor Min-sik Choi), whose prime time and fame is long gone, struggling with financial trouble and trying to save his falling apart family. Earning money on streets part time, working as human punchbag...


Other one is adolescent, mean looking Yoo Sang-hwan (Seung-beom Ryu) who always makes trouble. His father tries hard to protect him, but eventually he lands in jail, where he is met by even bigger problems. However, a prison guard invites Yoo Sang-hwan to learn boxing, which he accepts thinking it will help release his anger against this unfair world.

Life and it's challenges...

Great drama with two strong lead actors, well worth a watch.

DVD from Amazon.
OST from YesAsia.

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005)

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller














As a final movie of Chan-wook Park's Vengeance trilogy (movies are not connected by plot, only by theme, so viewing order is not important!), Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (Chinjeolhan geumjassi) is likely the darkest one.

After thirteen and half years in prison for kidnapping and murdering boy, a crime she did not commit, Geum-ja Lee (Yeong-ae Lee) is released. With help of her former inmates from prison she plots her gruesome revenge against real killer, kindergarden English teacher Mr. Baek (played by Choi Min-sik).



Movie highly praised for it's spectacular cinematography.

There is Director Cut of this movie called "Fade to Black and White version", where colors slowly fade to black and white as the movie progresses, as if adopting to the general mood of it's characters, really enhancing experience. In west it can be found on Vengeance Trilogy Blu-ray.


A must see for any Korean movie fan!


Blu-ray | DVD
Vengeance trilogy Blu-ray from Amazon.

Oldboy (2003)


Genre: Drama, Thriller, Mystery














Oldboy (Oldeuboi) probably is the most famous and well known Korean movie in the west, which has attract many new viewers to Asian cinema. It won many awards in Europe, including Grand Prix of the Jury at 57th Cannes Film Festival. As with many Asian films, currently there are plans for Hollywood remake to be directed by Spike Lee.


It's second movie in Chan-wook Park's so called Vengeance trilogy (movies are not connected by plot, only by theme, so viewing order is not important!).

Story follows man (played by brilliant Korean actor Choi Min-sik) who has been held captive in small apartment for 10 years, and reasons of this imprisonment are unknown to him. Once he is set free, he goes onto quest of vengeance to find his captors. Quite brutal, even shocking to some, yet beautiful movie.

A must see for any movie fan!


Blu-ray | DVD
Vengeance trilogy Blu-ray from Amazon.