Review: 다세포 소녀 (Dasepo Sonyeo/Dasepo Naughty Girls aka Dasepo Girl)

Entering the whacky manga territory: just so you know what you are in for…

Year: 2006
Director: E J-yong (이재용)
Screenplay: Choi Jin-seong (최진성), E J-yong (이재용)
Cinematography: Jeong Jeong-hoon
Cast: Kim Ok-bin (김옥빈), Lee Kyeon (이켠), Park Jin-woo (박진우), Eu-seong (은성), Kim Byeol (김별), Nam Oh-jeong (남호정), Park Hye-won (박혜원), Lee Won-jong (이원종), among others
Runtime: 111 min
Trailer: on YouTube

Seen at the Korean Cultural Centre (KCCUK) during the E J-yong (이재용) month of KCCUK’s Korean Film Night programme “2012: Year of the 12 Directors”.
Dasepo Sonyeo is the kind of film that I never have many expectations for because it falls into that whacky, exaggerated comedy format that rarely works for me. Based on a web manga (or rather, with the source material being Korean, a manhwa), which frequently operate in the realm of an alternate reality, the ‘way out there’ feel is reinforced. That, in fact, isn’t bad news: it’s much easier to submit yourself to Dasepo Sonyeo‘s outlandishness, its weird sense of humour and blindingly bright colour palette (pink girls! orange school skirts! purple school trousers!) if you know that this is where the film stems from. Continue reading “Review: 다세포 소녀 (Dasepo Sonyeo/Dasepo Naughty Girls aka Dasepo Girl)”

Review: 형사 (Hyeongsa/Duelist)

Year: 2005
Director: Lee Myeong-se (이명세)
Screenplay: Lee Hae-kyeong (이해경), Lee Myeong-se (이명세)
Cinematography: Hwang Ki-seok (황기석)
Music: Jo Seong-woo (조성우)
Cast: Kang Dong-won (강동원), Ha Ji-won (하지원), Ahn Seong-gi (안성기), Song Yeong-chang (송영창)
Runtime: 111 min
Trailer: on YouTube (not subtitled)

Seen at the Apollo Cinema (Piccadilly Circus) as part of the KCCUK‘s Korean Film Night programme “2012: Year of the 12 Directors”. The screening included an introduction by Dr. Daniel Martin and a Q&A with the director after the film.
The first word that comes to mind – probably within a minute or two of watching Lee’s Hyeongsa – is ‘idiosyncratic’. Classed as part of the Korean New Wave of cinema – yet distinct from many of them – it was released within a few years of a slew of internationally successful East Asian (mostly Chinese/Taiwanese) martial arts films (also known as 武侠/wuxia). Hyeongsa was somewhat misunderstood by Western critics, as this short Guardian review readily demonstrates. Although equally a period drama involving spectacular sword fights, Hyeongsa is nothing like 臥虎藏龍 (Wòhǔ Cánglóng/Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, 2000) 英雄 (Yīngxióng/Hero, 2002) and 十面埋伏 (Shí Miàn Mái Fú/House of Flying Daggers, 2004) and did not fit into the mould of expectations created by these sleek productions. Continue reading “Review: 형사 (Hyeongsa/Duelist)”

Review: 김종욱 찾기 (Kim Jong-Ok Chatgi/Finding Mr. Destiny)

Year: 2010
Director: Chang You-jeong
Screenplay: Lee Kyung-Ui
Cast: Lim Soo-jung, Gong Yoo
Runtime: 112 min.
Trailer: on YouTube (not subtitled)
Just before his obligatory two-year stint in the Korean military, Gong Yoo scored a big hit with the 2007 drama 커피프린스 1호점 (Keopi Peurinseu 1 Hojeom/The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince, better known as simply Coffee Prince). Flooded with offers due to Coffee Prince’s immense success, his first post-military project, 김종욱 찾기 (Kim Jong-Ok Chatgi/Finding Mr. Destiny), was perhaps not the big come-back that fans were expecting but surely a good way for Gong Yoo to ease himself back into acting. Continue reading “Review: 김종욱 찾기 (Kim Jong-Ok Chatgi/Finding Mr. Destiny)”

Review and Q&A: 가족의 탄생 (Gajokeui tansaeng/FamilyTies)

Year: 2006
Director: Kim Tae-yong
Screenplay: Kim Tae-yong, Sung Ki-yeong
Cinematography: Jo Yeong-gyu
Cast: Moon So-ri, Kong Hyo-jin, Bong Tae-gyu, Uhm Tae-woong, Go Doo Shim, Kim Hye-ok, Jung Yoo Mi
Trailer: on YouTube (not subtitled)
113 min
Seen at one of the bimonthly Korean Film Night screenings at the KCCUK on 12 September 2011, followed by a Q&A with director Kim Tae-yong. (Note for Londoners: the film is available at KCCUK’s library.)
Three stories are told in Family Ties (original title 가족의 탄생/Gajokeui tansaeng, literally Birth of a Family). They are set in different moments in time but are connected, although this does not become apparent until the very end of the film – it is even something that can (almost) be missed as character-aging, perhaps unsurprisingly for a Korean production, is not the film’s strongest suit. Continue reading “Review and Q&A: 가족의 탄생 (Gajokeui tansaeng/FamilyTies)”