Korean Horror - Essential Collection From Palisades Tartan

Palisades Tartan brings together three Korean chillers as a three-disc collection that includes Kim Sung-ho's Into The Mirror, Park Ki-hyung's Acacia and Won Shin-yeon's The Wig.

Recently given the Hollywood remake treatment as ‘Mirrors', directed by Alexandre Aja (Switchblade Romance; The Hills Have Eyes) and starring Keifer Sutherland, Kim Sung-ho's Into The Mirror is a creepy and highly stylized horror tale involving Wu Young-min, a cop who has quit the police force after inadvertently killing his partner. Now working at a department store, Wu encounters his ex-rival, who is in charge of investigating a series of murders at the store, and finds himself being pulled into the sinister investigation.

Park Ki-hyung's Acacia tells of an obstetrician and his wife who, unable to have a child of their own, decide to adopt a 10-year-old boy, Jin-seung. When the wife later falls pregnant and has a baby, Jin-seung becomes so incensed by jealousy he runs away. During his absence a dead tree in the garden, where he used to play, mysteriously comes to life and fills the house with a heavy scent. Then a variety of strange events begin to occur, all of them seemingly related to the mysterious tree.

Creepy chills meet visceral horror in Won Shin-yeon's beautifully shot The Wig, the tale of Ji-hyeon, a young woman who buys her terminally ill sister a new wig to hide the hair loss resulting from her treatment. After her sister starts making an alarming comeback in mental health to the point of being hostilely aggressive and overbearingly sexual, Ji-hyeon soon discovers the disturbing truth about the history of the wig.


Acacia

An artist and her obstetrician husband live a comfortable suburban life, but have been unable to conceive a child and with the wife’s body clock ticking they decide to adopt. They settle upon a quiet, intelligent and artistically gifted young boy named Jin-seong who spends most of his time drawing quietly under an old tree at the local orphanage. Things appear to be going well although the 6 year old Jin-seong is a little odd and spends most of his time with the long dead acacia tree in the couple’s back yard. However, the couple manage to conceive a child of their own and things take a decidedly darker turn in the household.

Poor orphaned Jin-seong; a child with almost semi autistic ways is never quite able to fit in, his distant manner and quiet intelligence mean he is never going to be the couples dream child. They do, however, share some loving moments and life seems happy enough. His adopted Grandfather who lives with the couple seems to be closest to him while the wife’s Mother is very unkind talking as though he is not there and desperately voicing the opinion that there is still time for the couple to have a “real” child of their own. The sickly 8 year old girl from next door becomes Jin-seong’s close friend and together they while away their time riding Jin’s bike and sitting under the acacia. One night Jin overhears a phone conversation and, feeling spurned by his adopted mother, cycles off into the night. The days pass and Jin does not return and at the same time the seemingly dead acacia begins to grow leaves and finally blooms and as the smell of the blossom drifts through the family home life deteriorates for its' inhabitants

All the performances are strong, particularly the children with miniature lead Jin-seong (Mun Oh-bin), who was just 6 years old at the time the film was released in Korea, giving an astonishing performance for a child of that age. Quite probably the creepiest child since the Omen films, but at the same time Oh-bin and the director manage to play it just right so although he is odd and creepy in some way’s he is also very vulnerable, lost and tragic, there’s no “Mu Ha haa” cartoon evil here.

South Korean movie Acacia is one of those films that for the most part relies on giving very normal things a creepy spin; tree’s, paintings, wool, children and bicycles become objects of fear. The whole thing is shot in an aesthetically pleasing and clever way, with the carefully chosen shots adding to the films dark feeling. The film opts for a traditional score and some very well used sound effects, which is very effective and really helps set the tone of the piece. The film, however, loses it’s chance at being a work of genius for two main reasons; the first and maybe the lesser sin is the editing, which leaves the film feeling a bit choppy at times (scenes don’t seem to slide together well enough, which might not matter in a slasher-type horror but in a mood driven piece its very important,) the second problem with this film is in my opinion the script needed another rewrite, the basic premise is fantastic but it feels rough around the edges and as this is a story, mood driven piece the story needs to be a little more cohesive. The film, although a little surreal and certainly a touch weird, is not “out there” enough for the viewer to just dismiss the plot in a kind of “Oh well its another weird Asian flick” way. The couples change in behaviour to each other with the stress of the situation and the influence of the Acacia tree, whilst explainable, doesn’t have the right build up. I’m not sure if this is script, editing or cutting room floor related but its very noticeable and a great opportunity to add a powerful element to the film is lost, leaving you with the feeling of something which has been rushed.

Editing and script issues aside, Acacia has a great basic concept and still manages at times to be very effective in its creepy tone and style. The way the mostly inanimate objects are given such a sinister feel is fantastic, especially the dark and foreboding presence of the Acacia tree itself. Even when the tree has rejuvenated from it's dead form and goes into bloom something which should be a thing of beauty remains the stuff of nightmares. Although the movie has similarities in feel to many other Asian particularly new wave Japanese horror films (No need to mention them here, I am pretty sure you all know what I mean,) it avoids the use of cheap jump scenes and twisty ghosts for the most part, although it is guilty of giving the characters short dream sequences to spice up the fear levels. These, though, are for the most part pretty effective. Certainly some of the twisty plot elements are great and will leave many viewers guessing right to the end, although the various twists and plot revelations are part of the movie's charm and not the “one trick wonder” crap that has certain elements hailing the ridiculously overrated M. Night Shyamalan as a genius.

This movie has no doubt only seen the light of day in the west to ride the tsunami of Asian horror as more and more DVD labels dig deeper to find products to release, however while it has it’s failings, it is an effective little movie and should not be written off as just another cash-in on the genres current popularity. For those that rent it’s probably better to do so than buy with this one, as some people will hate it’s slow place, but for those with some patience and the ability to forgive its obvious flaws there's still some great touches to be found here.

Lackluster editing and a slightly ragged script mean this film fails to achieve creepy child genius, but it's still got to be the best "Boy and his tree", movie ever made 7/10


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Korean language trailer for The Truck , directed by Hyung-jin Kwon and starring Goo Jin and Hae-jin Yoo.

Chul-min is a simple truck driver whose usual cargo is liquor, vegetables and other necessities. When his daughter is diagnosed with congenital heart disease, he scrambles to borrow money from friends to pay for the operation. Unable to raise the necessary funds, he tries his luck at gambling. When he loses everything, the gang boss who runs the gambling house gives him an unusual job: to deliver some freshly stabbed corpses to a faraway province. On his nerve-racking journey carrying dead bodies in his truck, Chul-min turns to the radio for company only to hear about a serial killer on the loose. After spotting a car that has fallen into a ditch, he is flagged down by a policeman who is heading to the same province. When Chul-min unravels the real identity of his passenger, his nightmare really begins...

Via: www.goldnetasia.com


YesStyle

I first discovered YesStyle.com through sister site YesAsia.com. Having been a frequent customer of YesAsia.com, an online shopping emporium dedicated to all things in Asian entertainment, I was very excited to see them launch YesStyle.com, an equally impressive emporium to all things in Asian fashion. However my excitement was short lived as I soon discovered that my fat arse (by Asian standards anyway) wouldn’t be catered for in their sizing offering, for when YesStyle launched a couple of years back, the biggest size I could find on offer was a Korean 44/UK 6-8. Now considering the site was all in English and prices in American $, I thought this maximum size of theirs a little bit optimistic considering their target market.
Strangely, they had a link (still there) on the site saying “contact our CEO”. So I thought what the hell, I need to let these people know that my UK 10/12 requirements are not actually that unusual over here and if they wanted to sell to us more generously proportioned westerners then a slightly wider size range might help. Anyhoo roll on to the present day and lo and behold they took some notice (and I am entirely certain it was my email that made all the difference, wink). I happened to be passing the other day, saw about 100 different items I wanted and with a glum face clicked onto the product details only to see that most items now come in sizes 55 and 66 (UK 8-10 and 12-14)! Woohoo!!!
So not only do they have some really funky fashion, they now actually offer it in sizes that I can wear! If that wasn’t enough, there’s also the FREE international shipping to get excited about.

So my only complaint now is they are tempting me into spending far too much money on all the goodies!


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