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Wow! is what I have to say after checking the list of the Korean films that were released during the last couple of weeks. Itâ€™s clear that Korean entertainment industries have work their brains off in order to gather impressive directors, scriptwriters and actors all in the same boat! This week, another mindblowing film is ready to be released. This masterpiece is called â€œThe Hostâ€.
â€œThe Hostâ€ is the official English title, however, the real translation means â€œThe Monster.â€ Released on July 27, it is directed by the same genius who made the much acclaimed â€œMemories of Murderâ€. His name: Bong Joon-ho. Under his solid lead, weâ€™ve got the veteran actor Song Kang-ho, actress Bae Do-naa and actor Park Hae-il. With the exception for the young actress Bae, who, by the way, is stepping away from her goofy girl image with this role, the others all had roles in Bongâ€™s â€œMemories of Murder.â€
This science-fiction story is mixed with action drama, as well as with some black humor here and there. It follows the life of one ordinary man name Kang-dou. Kang-dou works at his fatherâ€™s tiny snack bar near the Han River and lives with his only daughter. Life flows by ordinarily until the day when a creature emerges out of the Han River, destroying lives and causing a chaos. Kang-douâ€™s family comes in to battle with the monster after it kidnaps his only daughter.
I know, I know, after hearing the plot, some of you have your eyebrow raised, but trust me and tons of other critics! This is a mix of genre elements and social critique. On top of having a 11 million dollar U.S. budget, â€œThe Hostâ€ won praises at the international premiere in the Directorâ€™s Fortnight section of the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.
Apparently, the director Bong scratched about 1,500 sketches of his CGI monster before deciding on â€œthe one.â€ Many commented how well the monster looked. One person went as far as saying: â€œoverall the monster is as lively and interesting as King Kong in the Peter Jackson version.â€
â€œThe Hostâ€ brought in more than 2 million viewers in just four days, making last yearâ€™s opening of the film â€œTyphoonâ€ look tame in comparison. There are already talks about a remake of this movie in Hollywood, and if that ever happens, I just pray that they will not mess it up. To be fair, some audiences believed that there was an underuse of the role of the actress Bae, as well as some minor flaws in the CGI monster during the final scene.
Released in Korea on July 13, another huge blockbuster is getting buzz right after the previously released movie â€œThe Apartmentâ€. And this new sensation is entitled Â«HanbandoÂ».
At first, when I read the cast list of the motion picture, I was really impressed with all the big Korean names. We got the director Kang, who is known for making success after success. His past works include â€œPublic Enemyâ€ and â€œSilmidoâ€. Then, we got the incredible A-list of Korean veteran actors: Cha In-pyo, Ahn Sung-guy, Jo Jae-hyun and many more in cameos. For those who are clueless about the above-mentioned names, trust me, these actors are among the most talented and in-demand in Korean Hollywood.
â€œHanbandoâ€ is an action drama inspired by historical facts. As many of you know, the political relationship between Japan and South Korea was, I dare say, never truly respectful and warm. By incorporating this aspect of foreign relations with the political issue of the reunification of North and South Korea, â€œHanbandoâ€ was born.
This Korean blockbuster, whose script includes rather provocative statements like â€œThe Korean Peninsula has never been ours,â€ is set in the near future in Korea. The country is on the verge of reunification with North Korea, but serious complications arise when Japan brings back to the negotiating table the once-secret Treaty made with the Empire of Korea back in 1907. To overcome this hurdle, two protagonists try to unravel a mystery surrounding the Great Seal which has been hidden for 100 years.
â€œHanbandoâ€ had a huge budget of 10 billion Won, which may seem small by Western Hollywood standards but is enormous for an Asian film budget. Selling close to 1 million tickets, it was number one at the box office, knocking the American movie â€œPirates of Caribbean 2â€ to second place. In general, the critics genuinely liked this film despite a couple of plot weaknesses.
For those who noticed that many best-selling Korean films appear to center mainly on nationalism, the director Kang defended his theme-ofchoice by saying: â€œIs inciting patriotism wrong? Our opinion of nationalism has been overly negative. Just look at China or Japan: we have to stick together. The movie doesnâ€™t force a message. Itâ€™s more like: this is how I think, how do you feel?â€ Well, thatâ€™s a risky reply coming from the director during the press junket, but then again, it also just adds to the buzz surrounding â€œHanbando.â€
Well, the sensational Fantasia Film Festival is quieting down, and so we return to offer previews of Korean films released in Korea. As you well know, Koreaâ€™s summers are incredibly hot and one of the best ways to forget about the humid weather is to watch horror films. This week, weâ€™ll take a peak at a Korean film titled â€œThe Apartmentâ€.
Released in Korea on July 16, â€œThe Apartmentâ€ is a horror slash thriller film directed by Mr. Ahn , who is often called the Korean version of the great American director Hitchcock, previously had his hands full with horror movies such as â€œPhoneâ€ and â€œBushinsabaâ€.
This film had lots of buzz before its release for two reasons. Number one: the promise of a whole different kind of scary film which would make past films seem tame and unoriginal in comparison. Number two: the return of one of the biggest sexy female icons named, what else but, Go So-young.
The newly married actress-slash-model Mrs. Go was hugely famous throughout the 90â€™s. She has been the spokesmodel for everything from beauty fragrances to phone companies to expensive clothes companies. However, after her last film, 2002â€™s â€œDouble Agentâ€, she remained off the big screen and removed from the eyes of the media. Since then, many agree that she has been replaced by the much-younger actress slash model Jeon Ji-hyun. But now, Miss Go has come back full throttle to reclaim her rightful place in Koreaâ€™s movie royalty.
The Apartmentâ€ follows the life of a woman name Sae-jin. Sae-jin lives alone in her old apartment and has the habit of looking at her neighbor through her window. But the somewhat creepy building she lives in starts to get creepier when murder takes place after the light goes off at exactly 9:55pm.
Sae-jin is the only witness of the crime in her neighbor and so she starts her own investigation of the mysterious blackout, but the police are not far behind. Especially the detective played by actor Kang who takes the investigation seriously to heart.
This motion picture, which topped at number three in the opening week-end at the box office, sold more than 410 000 tickets. With a budget of 4 billion Won, â€œThe Apartmentâ€ is based on a popular comic book written by Bong Man-dae. It is also reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcockâ€™s seminal thriller â€œRear Windowâ€- yet another reason why director Ahn is for good reason compared to the late, great filmmaker.
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