Blog Archives

Cold Eyes (2013)

Cold Eyes is the Korean remake of the popular Hong Kong cops-and-robbers thriller Eye in the Sky from 2007. Although it is harsher and quicker paced, comparisons between the two versions are inevitable, as the remake offers many resemblances to the original version, with quite a few scenes reshot only slightly differently (and not to mention a Simon Yam cameo appearance).

The story follows an elite police taskforce in Seoul which uses surveillance and undercover tactics as its modus operandi … (read more)

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Haeundae (2009)

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Haeundae is this year’s enormous Korean film: a big-budget blockbuster, it sold more than ten million tickets domestically, the first film to do so since The Host a couple of years ago. It’s also apparently Korea’s first disaster film, and takes as its subject the idea of a megatsunami threatening Haeundae Beach, which sees millions of visitors a year.

The film follows several sets of characters living in Haeundae: there’s Man-sik (Sol Kyung-gu), a local who looks after Yeon-hee (Ha … (read more)

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Silmido (2003)

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In thinking about this review it occurred to me that Silmido is not a film I’m supposed to enjoy. This came as a surprise, since although it is limited in terms of satisfying story progression (or even closure) it did sustain my interest. The cause of this paradox lies, I think, in the film’s generic oscillations. Cinema Service founder and part owner Kang Woo-suk (Public Enemy) knows how to produce and market suspenseful action blockbusters, but he makes … (read more)

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Legend of Gingko (2000)

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By no means a direct sequel to The Gingko Bed but loosely connected in terms of its generic origins in supernatural horror, Legend of Gingko is a modestly entertaining romp that tries very hard to be accepted as a spectacularly epic fantasy-adventure movie. Unfortunately, small problems concerning the plot and the relationships of the characters accumulate and lend a farcical dimension to this otherwise robust sword and sorcery tale.

The heterosexual love square at the centre of the plot is … (read more)

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Peppermint Candy (2000)

Backwards narration has become a rather fashionable way to present a story on screen. Memento and Irréversible are two recent examples of films utilising reverse-narrative structures. Some of the dominant characteristics of this technique are its systematic engagements with notions of temporal linearity, the past, of memory and the state of remembering (or, in Memento’s case, the inability to remember). If the act of observing and listening to a story told backwards is fascinating, it is perhaps due to … (read more)

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Phantom: The Submarine (1999)

As political anxiety concerning North Korea’s alleged nuclear weapons program increases in tempo with each new report on Kim Jong-il’s supposed love for the Friday the 13th movies (a logic which seems to be: passion for horror = bad taste = evil tyrant), the thematic situations presented in Phantom become all the more interesting. It is extremely tempting to follow in the story and characterisations an allegory for the North: the connection to Russia (as Stalinist allies), the numbering of … (read more)

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