H

Someone is killing women, most of whom have the connection of unwanted pregnancies. The vicious nature of the crimes and the choice of victims matches the M.O. of notorious Korean serial killer, 26 year old Shin-Hyun. The problem is Shin-Hyun has already handed himself in and admitted to 6 killings prier to this recent spate. Hard-bitten female Detective Kim Mi Yun, played by Yum Jung-ah (A Tale of Two Sisters, Three... Extremes,) and her new partner Detective Kang Tae Hyun race against time to solve the murders and put a stop to the horrific killings.

Jong-hyuk Lee’s debut feature film H is one of those twisty serial killer flicks with an obvious nod to David Fincher’s ever popular Seven. A team of detectives follow a twisty trail as they track down what appears to be one or maybe more copycat serial killers that are using the exact modus operandi as deadly lady killer and all-round twisted young psychopath, Shin Hyun (Cho Seung-woo). New boy Kang Tae, teams up with the masculine Kim Mi Yan who worked on the Shin-Hyun case and easy going detective Park, played by Sung Ji-ru (Public Enemy, Memories of Murder) as the three try and piece the evidence together.

Jong-hyuk Lee obviously has a good eye behind the camera as H is a good looking film with some great shots and a sensible moody atmosphere, unfortunately, or fortunately depending how you look at it, this is really the only thing which saves this film from falling the wrong side of OK. The characters are by the numbers caricatures, serial killer Shin-Hyun is not convincing as a charismatic and mentally superior “puppet master” manipulating the cops emotions (unless the actors aim was to portray someone you would happily slap about for half an hour because he is the worlds least creepy serial killer.) Kang Tae is meant to be somewhat emotional and volatile, but his overacting and rediculous outbursts when he is supposedly being wound up by the Shin-Hyun don’t make much sense at all. Sung-ru is passable as the chubby and blase third wheel in the team but again his character is very cliched. Competing with Shin Hyun in the crap character stakes is cold and hardened (women in a mans world cliche) Kim Mi Yan, who is, dare I say it … just crap, nothing about this character works, she’s a walking talking stereotype with zero screen charisma. Her “I must make myself a man to work in a mans world” hair and clothing mean she would likely get taken less seriously and the ridiculous look she has on her face most of the time was about as convincing as one of those emails from the wife of Omar Ahmed's widow asking you to open a bank account and look after his oil fortune. Gore wise, there are a few nasty moments with the highlight (If you can call it that,) coming near the beginning, as a still living fetus kicks its leg out through the sliced stomach of its dead mother (nice.)

The twisty plot (essential in this kind of movie) is a passable one, though in no way as clever as it thinks it is and many viewers will see certain things coming a mile off, but it works to a point and certainly is serviceable. Really though it’s the way the movie looks and sounds that means you make it to the end and feel like you haven’t wasted your time. Hyuk frames his shots nicely and achieves the stylistic look he was obviously going for. With a better plot and a bit more attention given to his characters, there is a good chance he could create a fantastic film, H however is not it.

Style not content makes H a watchable if not particularly satisfying film.


Trailer for Korean rampaging giant pig movie Chaw. Jeong-won Shin directs a cast that includes Josiah D. Lee (The Red Machine) Yu-mi Jeong (A Bittersweet Life). The IMDB describes the movie as "a black comedy about the events that are set into motion in a town after a man-eating boar goes on a rampage."

While you might laugh, it's not the first time a movie has been made bout a giant boar on the rampage. I've always been a fan of Russell Mulcahy's (Resident Evil: Extinction) 1984 big box VHS classic Razorback. A film about a crazed giant boar that terrorizes the Australian outback.

www.chaw.co.kr

Via: www.24framespersecond.net/


Humanist

When three childhood friends accidentally cause the death of '‘the greatest cop in the country,' they find themselves being blackmailed by his dodgy partner, but it is their own kidnapping scam which threatens the destruction not only of their friendships, but seemingly all around them too in this deliciously black crime comedy from Korean talent Mu-yeong Lee.

Thanks to the recent Chan-wook Park hit Oldboy, Korea has a firm footing on the cinematic radar right now so if you haven't already there is no better time to acquaint yourself with some choice flicks from this country, and why not start with Humanist. Director Mu-yeong Lee co-wrote this dark crime caper with none other than the currently-popular-in-the-West Park, a duo of proven success which together created Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, a film which hasn't had the arthouse notoriety of Oldboy but has, nonetheless, enjoyed considerable outings via Blockbusters' across the land. Humanist is certainly a solid introduction to Korean film, particularly as the plot has a familiar Hollywood feel, but fear not, there are still plenty of Korean touches making this 'foreign' enough to keep the follows chatting over their continental beers.

Following the tried and tested formula of the crime caper gone awry, Humanist adds it’s own special influence to this familiar blueprint, bringing dark homour, dubious charm and some lovably despicable characters to freshen up the genre. Though faulted, this is an instantly likeable film following the exploits of three hapless, hopeless crooks that have inadvertently embroiled themselves in a needlessly complex plan. As the pressure mounts it become obvious there is no love lost between the dysfunctional trio and in a nice series of darkly charming flashbacks we can see why this particular group dynamic is rather unstable.

Jae-mo Ahn takes centre stage as Ma Te-o; the spoilt, selfish amoral rich kid whose father is a distant bully with a bizarre sexual fetish. Looking like a young Korean Christopher Walken, Ahn cuts a dapper, if inept, crime figure. ‘Helped’ dutifully by his long-standing chums (one stupid, one angry) his master plan to self-benefit from the situation soon spirals out of control. As the situation worsens (and worsens) family ties, friendships and even love are all put to the test when any semblance of morality rapidly vacates.

Though the final third of the film seems a slight move away from the rest, becoming notably slower, more unpleasant and macabre with less humour, the pace is kept at a nice even keel. The story, action and characterisation are perfectly balanced to keep you entertained and the plot moves on with pleasant speed and ease. The flashbacks are used with effectual style as well as narrative tools and so are other aspects of characterisation. Where these little touches add style they are done so sparingly and without whimsy, giving the effect of competent direction. The humour is in turns black and charming and as free as the occasional play on the heartstrings. The violence is what our friends with the monopoly on the video rentals might describe as 'infrequent, strong' and, whilst sometimes a little shocking in its sudden severity, isn’t nearly as gut-wrenching as a featured dubious home-cure.

On the downside, the ending leaves certain areas unexplained/not as complete as you may wish though there are still far more positives outweighing this. Though more use of some of the more marginal characters would have helped to balance the story out it is still carried well considering its complexity. With its competent direction, black humour, easy charm and a strangely fitting soundtrack, Humanist is a must-see for any veteran of the plot-driven crime drama or any foreign film fan alike.

Impress your friend, or even just yourself, with this quirky black comedy/crime escapade from one of Korea’s most promising new-wave of director’s. Peppered with sylised touches in just the right amount and pleasantly polished, Humanist proves the Korean's have their own stamp to place firmly on a familiar Hollywood genre 7/10

View the trailer

Buy It: amazon.co.uk | amazon.com


Nominated for Best Film at the 2008 Sitges International Fantasy Film Festival Hansel and Gretel is a visually stunning and truly affecting fable about the destruction of childhood dreams, the loss of innocence and the power of the imagination to overcome life's horrors.

Thematically and tonally comparable to Guillermo del Toro's ‘Pan's Labyrinth', Juan Antonio Bayona's ‘The Orphanage' and the works of author Angela Carter (The Company Of Wolves), Hansel and Gretel, the latest feature from South Korean writer-director Yim Phil-Sung (Antarctic Journal), takes its initial inspiration from the classic Brothers Grimm story and effectively employs it as the basis to reinvent the fairy tale as a dark and chimerical adult mystery for the modern age.

A dark and gripping fairy tale for adults, Hansel and Gretel is also a feast for the eyes, boasting sumptuous production design by Ryu Seong-hee (The Host; Oldboy) and outstanding cinematography by Kim Ji-yong (Forbidden Quest; A Bittersweet Life).

Hansel and Gretel (cert. 15) will be released on DVD by Terracotta Distribution 6th April 2009. Special Features include; ‘Making of' featurette; interview with production designer, Ryu Seong-hee; teaser trailer.

 


The Harmonium in My Memory

The year is 1963 and in the rural Kang Won province of Korea a dashing new teacher sets hearts a-flutter and a love triangle in motion in Lee Young-jae’s gentle love story.

Lee Young-jae’s debut feature is a beautifully simplistic antidote to the Hollywood romance. Telling the sweet and unaffected tale of a first love, The Harmonium in My Memory is a subtly engaging rural drama with a delicately balanced affection at its core. Yun Hong-yeon (Jeon Do-yeon) is 17 and when good looking and kindly young teacher Mr.Kang (Lee Byeong-heon) comes to town he immediately captures her heart. Unfortunately for Hong-yeon, however, Mr.Kang is in turn rather taken with pretty fellow teacher Miss Yang (Lee Mi-yeon) and the attempts by each to woo the object of their affection make up this lovely, touching, and, above all else, completely uncontrived drama.
Where a Hollywood director would gleefully take the subject of a schoolgirl’s first crush and manipulate it, patronise, or unnecessarily sexualise it, Young-jae allows the universally familiar tale of first love speak for itself. The dual love story makes for some wonderful mirroring as Hong-yeon tries in vain to grasp her child-like crush and Mr.Kang and Miss Yang’s almost-love has a child-like innocence as if being regressed through Hong-yeon’s own troubled affections. With the rustic setting as imperative to the understated story as the wonderfully easy characterisation, this film is as beautiful visually as it is emotionally.
The basic existence and remote setting make for a delightfully uncomplicated and nostalgic backdrop as Harmonium proves to be as much about a way of life as it is a love story. The early 60’s makes for a well placed era as a setting, too, as the village has begun to be touched slightly by modern living, helped by Mr.Kang and his record collection, which aids the subtle musical theme (the original Korean title literally translates as The Organ in My Heart.) The fact that Young-jae hasn’t overloaded the film with themes and visual tricks makes the few stand out all the more, including the vignettes which again add a nice sense of nostalgia to it. The subtle charm of the film makes for some natural and gentle humour and the beautifully played performances and direction ensure the delicate emotional changes are as lightly perceptible as they were meant. The calm ease of the pace and the gentle nature of this film mean Harmonium won’t be to everyone’s taste, but for those who enjoy a delicate love story in a wonderfully rustic setting, this is a must-see.

A gently crafted, beautiful and sweet film, Harmonium in My Memory is completely devoid of the contrived whimsy of the Hollywood love story and as such is a refreshing joy to watch.

Also Known As:
Organ of My Heart (literal English title)
Nae maeumui punggeum (Original title in Korea)


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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


Promo trailer for the UK DVD release of R-Point director Su-chang Kong's The Guard Post (aka GP506), a similarly genre-bending foray into the cinema of fear that further cements his reputation as one of the most original filmmakers working in Asian cinema today.


City Of Violence

City Of Violence

City Of Violence

City Of Violence

City Of Violence

City Of Violence

The City Of Violence - trailer


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Trailer and release info for Tartans upcoming DVD release of Another Public Enemy.

Sol is a criminal prosecutor who has increasingly discovered that out that many rich guys are using their influence to avoid any criminal prosecutions. He starts a personal crusade to bring justice to the system.  However, when he starts investigating the death of the father of one of these playboys, Han, an old school friend.  He finds a formidable rivalry develops between them, battling an enemy with powerful connections and a system riddled with corruption.

Following the success of the original Public Enemy, with its potent blend of comedy, police thrills and psychological drama, directors Kang Woo-suk and Jang Yoon-hyun re-teamed with stars Sol Kyung-Gu and Kang Shin-Li, who play good guy/ bad guy again. Another Public Enemy has its own distinctive Korean style - visually sharp and character-driven - but equally it pays tributes to many familiar vigilante cop dramas, from Lethal Weapon and the Dirty Harry movies.

View the youtube.com trailer below:

www.tartanvideo.com

Buy It: amazon.co.uk


The Quiet Family

The Quiet Family is the tale of an urban family who after an offer to buy a mountain hiking lodge move to the Korean countryside with dreams of a new peaceful life. How ever life never goes as you plan and in this very black farcical comedy by writer and director Kim Ji-woon (Foul King, Tale of two sisters) that’s certainly the case. The lodge attracts no guests at first and then when people do begin to stay things take a dark twist.

The quiet family is probably best known in the west for being the source material for Takashi Miikes “The Happiness of the Katakuris”, and while Miike has lifted scenes directly from this movie, the two films do differ enough even for hardcore fans of Miikes film to want to see this, for one thing this is not a musical which as a long time hater of the musical genre, no matter how hip or weird it is means I enjoyed this film much more. Anyway enough of Miike, this is Kim Ji-woon’s movie and with the recent success in the west of “A tale of two sisters” he is now a very respected genre director in his own right.

The quiet family is the Kang’s, a couple and there three children to teenage girls and a son of twenty one, also living with them is the fathers brother, together they hope to build a new life for themselves in the idyllic mountainous countryside which is popular with hikers. After getting the Lodge spick and span the family waits for there first guests to arrive un-fortunately the hikers seem to pass by without stopping and the only visit they get is from an insane old woman who rants widely about evil and spits a lot I can’t find the name of the actress who plays her as the titles of the film are in Korean (sadly not a language I can read), but the performance she gives is fantastic, delivering an insanely (Pun intended) good performance. The Kang's though don’t loose hart as there is a road due to be built near the lodge making it more accessible to tourists. The road is delayed but the kang’s receive there first guests and thing appear to be on the up, that is until at check out time when they turn up dead. Not wishing to have the reputation of the struggling lodge ruined the Kang’s decide the best course of action is to bury the unfortunate lodgers in the woods near the house, they have however forgotten there’s a road due for construction in that area soon.

Kim Ji-woon’s “the Quiet family” is an excellent farcical comedy, the humour is very black, but genuinely funny and translates well even to a western audience watching with subtitles (The Tai Seng DVD does contain an optional dubbed language track, if you really are bothered by subtitles). Each of the members of the Kang family are realized well and it’s easy to get a sense of each of their personalities, which really helps the film to hit target. Son Kang-ho who played the lead character in Park Chan-wook’s powerful movie “Sympathy for Mr Vengeance” is great here as the young son balancing his performance perfectly managing to be very funny while not becoming cartoonist. Choi Min-sik who played Oh Dae-su in “Oldboy” here plays the good hearted uncle who is constantly referred to by his brother as an idiot. All the cast however turn in a top notch performance that fits the tone and feel of the movie.

The soundtrack is great and each track fits the scene it accompanies very well, nice to see music chosen because it fits the movie and not the market for Soundtrack tie in CD’s which seems all to popular with films produced in the west these day’s. The Tai Seng (Region 2) DVD itself contains a featurette with the guy who put the soundtrack together and he explains the reasons for his choices.

Farcical and black comedy can often fall flat on it’s face (See the Coen Brothers recent remake of “The Lady Killers”), in fact comedy in general is often very hit and miss of course it’s partly down to an individual sense of humour to a point, but for me the quiet family hits the spot. I think it helps that Kim Ji-woon is not pushing to hard for laugh out loud comedy and signposted “Funny scenes”, rather he lets the film flow at it’s own pace and allows the viewer to decide what is funny and amusing.

Kim Ji-woon’s “The Quiet family is one of the finest black comedies in the last decade, cruelly funny and wickedly original

Buy It: amazon.co.uk


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