Blog Archives

Snowpiercer (2013)

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Making the leap beyond regional borders for Asian filmmakers is not as easy as it sounds. The road to global domination, particularly with an assist from the Hollywood marketing machine is littered with the broken, bitter careers of many an auteur. For every Ang Lee there are countless Ringo Lams and John Woos. Added to that pile in the last little while are Kim Jee-woon (A Bittersweet Life, I Saw the Devil), whose underrated The Last Stand(read more)

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The Good, the Bad, the Weird (2008)

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Not having seen Kim Jee-Woon’s previous films, but remembering that other Heroic reviewers are big fans (see A Bittersweet Life, A Tale of Two Sisters and The Foul King), I jumped at the chance to go and see it. The frenetic, action-packed trailer had caught my attention, too, reminding me of Tears of the Black Tiger with an ensemble cast and a Leone-style desert setting.

At the beginning of the film, Chang-yi (Lee Byung-heon) is hired to steal … (read more)

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The Quiet Family (1998)

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Squeamish about corpses? Want to do something about it? Well, watch The Quiet Family and you’ll see enough to cure you for life. Either that or you’ll lock yourself in your bedroom and refuse to come out.

The genre is black comedy, and it is really quite black. If you can’t laugh at Mother, Father, Uncle, and Son trundling a pair of suicide-pact lovers into the woods in wheelbarrows, then I suggest you steer clear. If you’re revolted at the … (read more)

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Sympathy For Mr Vengeance (2002)

Picture this: you struggle to consciousness on a rough concrete floor in a building abandoned before completion. You’re cold. You’re naked. Your body is racked with pain, which you trace to the roughly-stitched wound on your side, marking where your second kidney used to be. You can scarcely stand, yet you somehow struggle down many flights of stairs to a nearby road, and try to hitch a lift back to town, because there’s no other option.

Welcome to the world … (read more)

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Memories of Murder (2003)

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A suprisingly powerful film from the director of the amusing Barking Dogs Never Bite, this film about a serial killer has the tone of Se7en but without the weirdness. More importantly, Memories of Murder has addressed the debate about integrity in police methods with the greatest effectiveness since Orson Welles made Touch of Evil. Song Kang-ho (JSA, The Foul King) is, as always, dynamite as the cop who is obsessed with this case.

Every Korean … (read more)

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Foul King (2000)

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How many Korean wrestling movies have you seen? If the answer was “none”, then you’ll have to do something about that. The Foul King is easily the best Korean wrestling movie I’ve seen, and I say that with confidence.

For those who doubt, let me try to convince you. First of all, we’ve got Song Kang Ho in the lead role, as a bank clerk who’s bullied by his boss and can’t bring himself to talk to the girl of … (read more)

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Joint Security Area (2000)

I had wanted to see Joint Security Area for a long time. Its incredible box office success in Korea stamped it as something worth tracking down, especially as the previous box office title holder was the engrossing North-South action flick Shiri. I was delighted when I got the news that JSA was screening at MIFF 2001. I knew I was going to like this film.

Turns out, I loved it.

That is, if “love” is a term that can … (read more)

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Shiri (1999)

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The reunification of the two Koreas is obviously something of great concern in South Korea, and Shiri drives this fact home. But don’t mistake me: this is not a dry political drama, or a slice of propaganda. This one is a compelling actioner that will have you clenching every muscle you possess, and maybe some of those on the person sitting next to you.

The plot is a simple one, dealing with double agents from North Korea and a dastardly … (read more)

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