Peppermint Candy (1999)

Genre: Drama

Peppermint Candy (Bakha satang) is yet another piece from our old friend director Chang-dong Lee, a talented novelist, scriptwriter, teacher and former Culture Minister of South Korea. This, his second movie, was his first award sponge and the one that launched him into elite of Korean movie-makers.

On a  bank of small river in some rural area, there is a small reunion of group of students taking place. Soon a man arrives, who was once a part of this group, but his behavior is irrational and confounded, even hysterical. He without saying much wrecks the party and then proceeds to nearby train tracks where he stands and faces oncoming train. In a manner, his live flashes before his very own eyes.

And we as a viewers are invited to see important events of his live that lead him to where he is standing.

A really sad story of a man, a series of a flashbacks that go deeper and deeper into his past. 20 years of a one mans life, and 20 years of entire country's turbulent history.

Masterfully crafted series of flashbacks, that each could deserve it's own short-film. And each meant to evoke certain emotions into viewer regarding the man we observe, his ambitions, and to explain why he is what he is and where he is. Fear, anger, hate and love.

Captivating performance by Kyung-gu Sol which enhances the almost flawless narration of the director. A must see struggle with life for every drama fan.

DVD from Amazon

Oasis (2002)

Genre: Drama

Oasis is a third feature film from one of the finest Korean drama directors - Chang-dong Lee. This drama gained him international recognition, a nomination for Golden Lion, Special Director's Award, SIGNIS Award and FIPRESCI Prize at Venice Film Festival of 2003. After finishing this movie he went to serve as South Korea's Minister of Culture for one year.

After being released from prison for commited involuntery manslaughter Jong-du Hong (Kyung-gu Sol) returns to his family, only to find himself redundant among them. In prison he had resolved to make an apology to the family of the man he murdered. After arriving there he spots a girl Gong-ju Han (So-ri Moon), and out of his feelings of abandonment and loneliness he makes advance at her.

But there is something about these two people that makes this story very special. Jong-du Hong is slightly mentally handicapped and Gong-ju Han has suffered stroke and has severe cerebral palsy. He is mentally unfit for this society, and she is physically. Both their families threat them badly and see as a bother. They are unwanted.

Is true love possible between them?

Heavy and dramatic movie about people who are different from others. An emotional roller coaster in which director manages to squeeze out tears or sadness and little joy. It's hard to watch movies as emotionally draining as this one, and yet gives rewarding feeling of satisfaction after credits roll. 

And I'd really like to emphasize powerful performances of both actors, especially So-ri Moon whose portrayal of cerebral palsy victim is phenomenal, and it's hard to believe it's the same actress after you see her out of the character.

A perfect drama.

DVD from Amazon.
DVD (UK)  | DVD (Special Edition) from YesAsia.