Blog Archives

I Saw the Devil (2010)

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Director Kim Jee-woon and Lee Byung-hun are turning into Korea’s own Scorsese and De Niro. After flopping around the industry for a while and getting notice on and off for his interesting, if uneven, films (The Quiet Family, The Foul King), international audiences sat up and took note of Kim’s segment in the horror anthology Three. A year later A Tale of Two Sisters (2003) really made a splash. Imperfect though it was, Sisters had a … (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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Three Extremes 2 (2002)

Back in my wayward youth – not all that dissimilar to my wayward adulthood – I recall watching numerous horror anthology films on late night Saturday TV. Those were the days. Corkers like the original Tales from the Crypt with Peter Cushing and, um, Joan Collins, and Trilogy of Terror, the well known trio of films all starring Karen Black, one of which featured a particularly nasty African Zuni fetish doll that comes to life and wreaks merry havoc.… (read more)

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A Bittersweet Life (2005)

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There’s something about knowing at the start how things are going to end that makes some films harder, not easier, to watch. A Bittersweet Life is definitely one of those films. Borrowing with a fresh bent slick staples of the gangster film genre traditionally more characteristic of Hong Kong and some Japanese cinema, director Kim Jee-woon, already well known for films like The Quiet Family and Tale of Two Sisters, deftly renders an action film that has all the … (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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A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

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Like any good gothic fairytale A Tale of Two Sisters is positively loaded with meaning. I was reminded most specifically of the work of author Angela Carter, whose work often involved the deconstruction of fairy tales in a gothic framework, where blood, death, sleep and sexuality — most specifically sexual awakening — are entwined.

The film is based partly on the Korean folk tale ‘Rose Flower, Red Lotus’, but, from what I can gather, where that tale is a mostly … (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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