Blog Archives

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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The Front Line (2011)

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South Korean director Jang Hoon followed up his 2010 hit Secret Reunion (a fun spy-vs-spy thriller that sold 5.5 million tickets, coming in second for that year’s box office) with this, his third feature: a gigantic war film set during the 1953 ceasefire at the end of the Korean War.

Kang Eun-pyo (Shin Ha-kyun, who’s donned warpaint before in JSA and Welcome to Dongmakgol) and Kim Soo-hyeok (Go Soo) were soldiers together early in the war. Outgunned, they found … (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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Welcome To Dongmakgol (2005)

Welcome To Dongmakgol is a nice film. An extremely nice film. It couldn’t possibly be nicer even if you put the whole crew on morphine for the duration. And unlike so many of its genre colleagues, it’s a very well-made nice movie.

The odd thing is, though, that it’s a nice movie about the insanity of war. Let me clarify what I mean here. It’s not a movie about the pain and suffering of war, and how it traumatises people, … (read more)

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My Brother (2004)

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Won Bin and Shin Ha-kyun make for cute sibling rivalry in this ultimately tragic (or at least bittersweet) film that reminded me very much of Friend, another massively successful picture devoted to the display of another kind of brotherly bond (I guess it also has some resonances with Taegukgi).

Why did this film, which is really not far elevated from television melodrama (with Yu-jin’s mother from ‘Winter Sonata’ and all), do so well in Korean theatres? First, it’s … (read more)

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Guns and Talk (2002)

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Do you want to know what love is? Well, whether you do or don’t, you will understand it a lot better after watching this film. Sorry for being cryptic, I will be direct from now on. So let’s get to it by starting at the end.

Rating: Guns and Talks gets a 7 out of 10 from me.

Check one point for creating having a good first 15 min where there’s enough eyepopping action to keep you interested. Explosions, high … (read more)

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