Blog Archives

Believer (2018)

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I have said previously that film remakes are often problematic. When I first heard that Johnnie To’s crime drama Drug War (2012) was to be remade as a South Korean production, I’ll admit it wasn’t joyous news (at least it stopped Hollywood from turning it into a Bourne movie). But a good trailer and a strong cast gave me some hope. The latter wasn’t misplaced and Believer is actually an excellent crime movie. Director Lee Hae-yeong has done a great … (read more)

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The Villainess (2017)

The Villainess goes through a lot in her two hours of screen time. She goes through a lot in her first five minutes. By the opening scene’s end a few dozen men lie dead or maimed at her hand. It’s as though the audience has been dropped into the climactic endpoint of an action-revenge saga — which is precisely what it is — but as one story ends another begins and we’re along for the ride.

The craft of action … (read more)

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Assassination (2015)

Some movies opt for a mysterious title to incite audience interest, while some movies are more up front. Assassination is pretty up front. Yet there’s so much more to it than that one noun bluntly seems to state.

Director Choi Dong-hoon returns with another big-budget rollercoaster of a film, sharing many faces with his last feature The Thieves. Also similar to his previous hit is the basic structure of Assassination, with a large cast maneuvering their way to … (read more)

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Master (2016)

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It’s a sign of the times: the financial thriller is officially a thing. It wasn’t so long ago that thrillers were dominated by communist infiltrators or spies, old fashioned corrupt cops, bank robbers, and garden-variety psycho killers. But as chatter of wealth inequality gets louder, globalisation continues to fail and the one percent closes ranks, the Big Bad du jour is increasingly the Wall Street banker or multinational CEO. As a ‘genre’, the financial thriller has been around in book … (read more)

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Train to Busan (2016)

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Korean film watchers might have spotted the news that zombie film Train to Busan screamed past the 10 million domestic tickets mark on Sunday, becoming the fourteenth Korean film to do so, ever. From all accounts, it seems to have been a bit of an unexpected hit, too: the zombie genre hasn’t been explored (even done to death?) in South Korea as it has in Hollywood, and it’s the first live action film from director Yeon Sang-ho, whose previous … (read more)

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Revivre (2014)

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As the European title of the film suggests, the story is about rebirth or to come alive again. Interestingly, Revivre’s Korean title Hwajang (화장) means “cremation” and “make-up”, and as the film progresses all of these meanings come into play in the narrative of the story, culminating in an end that is at once poignant and thought-provoking, and kept me guessing at the outcome until the credits rolled.

What’s seemingly a bland story about a senior executive’s ordeal in … (read more)

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My Ordinary Love Story (2014)

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My Ordinary Love Story is screening at this year’s Korean Film Festival in Australia. See the KOFFIA website for more details!

My Ordinary Love Story is not your ordinary love story. It starts off as one, but soon takes you on an unexpectedly wild ride along with the film’s main couple, Eun-jin and Hyeon-suk.

Eun-jin is an almost-30 year old woman who has yet to find the right man; that is, until she meets the plain but loving Hyeon-suk. The … (read more)

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The Target (2014)

The Target is screening at this year’s Korean Film Festival in Australia. See the KOFFIA website for more details!

The Target begins with a rainy cold-open in which Baek Yeo-hoon (Ryu Seung-ryong) staggers out of a building, a bullet wound in his stomach and a grizzled grimace on his face. He’s pursued by a couple of literally jackbooted thugs with guns who seem intent on finishing him off — and although Baek makes it out alive, he’s hospitalised. The credits … (read more)

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