Tag Archives: korean cinema

Night in Paradise it’s not a gangster movie, it’s a movie with gangsters in it

When we talk about Park Hoon-jung, we talk about a storyteller.

Night in Paradise tells us the story of Tae-gu and Jae-yeon; their lives end up intertwined for a bigger purpose, without knowing it (nor planning it), but they share something in common: the loss of their families in the hands of gangsters and with that, the loss of desire to live.

Tae-gu from the gangsters perspective, where he is just a pawn in his boss game, the guilt consuming him and the desire of revenge as his only life purpose.

You suffer with him the transformation from a loyal, methodic, good-at-what-he-does but still with a heart to a cold-blooded killer, just a shell of a human; still trying to hold on to something, someone worth protecting

Jae-yeon from the gangsters innocent relatives perspective, where she had to witness her whole family die because of his uncle, they were all innocent and her world shattered into millions of pieces.

Now she has to live with her uncle, the one that she hates and wants to see dead. After all she had to endure, she is terminally ill, with less than a month to live, she doesn’t care about anything anymore and continually plays with the idea of ending her life once for all.

They cross paths when Tae-gu avenges the deaths of his sister and niece and has to fly to Jeju Island, to live undercover for a week, with Jae-yon’s uncle.

This super stylish noir brings us a breathtaking cinematography by the hand of Kim Young-ho, every shot, every frame you can just print it and hang it in your living room; the color palette is simply exquisite.

At the beginning we can see a nod to master Wong Kar-wai with the lighting choice he made to introduce us to this world; after that the colors are cold, even the warm ones looks like they are behind a sun screen, because they look a bit gray, washed out, even dirtier to set the tone of what and who we are watching.

Not only the cinematography is a state of the art, but the music accompanies perfectly the sequences, Mowg guides us through the whole rollercoaster this film is.

Is not a happy story or about remarkable people, but is a story about life and death and what we do with them, a story that is predictable, you know what is going to happen but you are so immerse in their world that, nonetheless, you enjoy the journey.

Hoon-jung usually gives us a really slow first half in his movies, so you can meet the characters, the background stories and even empathize with them; the second half on the other hand is the messy, passionate one, where all the contained emotions explode and nothing can stop what is about to happen.

I could split the movie in 4 scenes: 

The opening scene with all the prisoners, all the yellow lighting working perfectly at introducing us to this world; 

Tae-gu sitting on the street, emotionless, the camera focusing in the rain drops hitting the ground, haunting music with a car accident as background;

Tae-gu in the car, fighting for his life, face up, with mixed emotions between terror, courage and resignation at the same time while a melody of despair, sounds in the background making us feel hopeless and

The last scene, in the ocean, a bright one again, giving us a fulfilling feeling even if is not the happiest, is how things should be.

These scenes are tied by rain, rain is in important parts of the movie, when something is about to change, you can see is raining.

And what is the rain? Water in the form of droplets that have condensed and then become heavy enough to fall under gravity… that’s what we have in Night in Paradise, small decisions and events that have cluster and become a ticking bomb with just one possible outcome.

And of course, after the storm comes the calm and while we see the credits roll, we can enjoy really bright and warm shots with vivid colors, what we didn’t have through the whole film, finally wrapping up with the sense that “life goes on”.

The excellent performances of Uhm Tae-goo and Jeon Yeo-been made this story really worth of being told.

Park Hoon-jung keeps surprising us, this time with a full circle story (some words at the beginning that will make sense towards the end) and what it feels something like poetic justice.

Next Entertainment World, we will be waiting for a special edition release, because this needs to be in our personal collection.

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Secret Zoo Film Review: A lighthearted comedy that definitely hit the mark

Son Jae-Gon keeps making contributions to the comedy genre (The Man Who Saw Too Much, My Scary Girl, Villain and Widow), now with a trendy but beautiful message in it; in this Globalized World, there is still people with principles who believe we can coexist with Mother Nature.

Even when it has some cliches, you can find some originality in it.

It’s based on the webtoon “I Don’t Bully You” by Hun.

The film begins with Tae-soo, who works in a temp position in a very well-known law firm; he is a bottom feeder there, of course he wants to impress his boss and the opportunity comes as the new Dongsan Park Zoo Director; he has to revitalize the failed zoo in 3 months so that the firm can make more money by selling it to another client, the problem is… there are no animals and he has no budget.

He comes up with the idea of making animal costumes for the staff to wear and fool people, until they make enough money to get their animals back.

They are not doing well until a happy accident happens, a marketing strategy in real life that helps them go viral and start having hundreds of visitors; at times it feels like they are sponsored by certain brand of carbonated drinks, still is funny how people enjoy the show, even when sometimes they are rude.

It seems it would be easy but we need a villain, in this case the Law Firm, which will become greedy and reveal their true plans.

I think by now, we all know what will happen, but is still a really fun ride to see and laugh with the characters; I would see it’s 98% family friendly because it has a few “adult jokes” but nothing outrageous.

I enjoyed the performances, cast is fantastic in their characters, very charming; the animal costumes are incredible well made, they look realistic… I think the polar bear looks more realistic than “Black Nose”, the “real” polar bear (CGI) in the movie.

If you are looking for a fun movie to enjoy, I highly recommend Secret Zoo.

Cast includes: Ahn Jae-Hong, Kang So-ra, Park Yeong-gyu, Kim Sung-oh and Jeon Yeo-been

You can watch it in Korean with subtitles in English and English SDH or dubbed in English.

Secret Zoo it’s already available on VOD and DVD.

Watch the trailer here:

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Why Parasite deserved all those Oscars?

When people asks me, why I liked “Parasite” so much or why I would recommend it, some things always come to mind, I’ll try to answer those questions here: Why I think you should watch it (if you haven’t) and Why it deserved all that praise.

Since Baeksaekin (White Man), Bong Joon-ho has showed us how much he likes to address sensitive subjects as social criticism, capitalism and behaviorism, Parasite is no exception to this.

One of his strong cards is the cast he chooses, we have Song Kang-ho (one of the greatest skorean actors, if you ask me) as the head of Kim’s family, he has been his co-pilot in some of his movies and both trust each other’s judgment, so much that Kang-ho accepted the role without knowing what the movie was about and Joon-ho admitted that if Kang-ho hadn’t accepted the role, movie wouldn’t have been made.

Why all the critics and most people loved it, why it deserved all those awards?

What we have here is an extraordinary script, where every single character has a congruent and proper development.

Now, we should talk about that beautiful, out of this world cinematography, with the help of Lee Ha-Jun in the area of Production Design, Hong Kyung-Pyo gave us not only amazing shots, but a window to Joon-ho’s mind, not only in a metaphorical way… both houses have huge windows, windows that are of the same size of our screens, in this way we as spectators can witness everything that happens between the two homes, the story without the script, understanding how the set design was used in this film can tell us more about how the class structure was constructed for both worlds.

The Kim Family

First we have The Kim Home, some sort of basement/apartment, where the highest part in it, is the toilet, they are in the lower part of the social class pyramid, so low that even to go to the toilet they have to go upstairs.

In this window, we can see everything that happens in the street, the angle it’s pretty similar to the one we saw in “Snowpiercer”, lower class is in the left of your screen, that’s why we see through the right angle of the window.

Since the beginning, we have the symbolism of the cockroaches, they have to live with them, they are in the same level and at some point Ms. Kim makes the reference about his in-law hiding like a cockroach, because that’s the lowest form of life… next scene, they have to hide literally under the Parks, like cockroaches, to avoid being noticed.

Then we have the rainstorm scene, the journey of the Kims returning to their home is one of the most stunning sequences I’ve seen, they keep descending in their way back home, have to go through so many staircases and in every shot is portrayed the despair with which they have to return to their reality; we can really see how big the difference between both families is.

All the water from the storm makes uninhabitable their house, for them the storm means flooding, they are so low in this structure that the water from the streets, the water from their own toilet and even people peeing outside their house are flooding them.

Kims think rich people are parasites because they have it all, they are naive, they don’t have to work hard for anything, so a few lies wouldn’t hurt; in that way they are still a bit innocent, we can see this with the “Jessica’s song”, a child song made to help kids remember important things and they used it to learn their lies.

The Park Family

We can see how sunlight is the way to illustrate the better life of the upper-class, meaning, the Parks. 

Because they are higher up in society, class, wealth… they are “closer to the sun”. When we are allowed to see The Park Home, we see it from the same point of view of Kim Ki-jung (Kim’s son); the camerawork is fantastic, every movement through that staircase, let us see how the closer he gets, the brighter the sun, the entire house is “drowned” in sunlight.

In this window we see the “greener grass”, as in “Snowpiercer”, upper class is in the right of your screen, we keep seeing the film through the left angle of their window.

The staircases are very important for this house, they are top of the top, you keep going up and up to see them, even in their bedrooms.

In the rainstorm scene, nothing happens to the their house, the water finds its course downstairs, following the Kims; for the Parks the storm means an spectacle, something they can watch together in the comfort of their living room.

Parks think that their employees are never going to be at their level, even for how they smell, they smell like literally a lower class, like something you only find in the dirt, like a parasite.

For both families, their families are the most important thing in the world, that’s why when Mr. Park put his family above the Kims, we have that reaction, that’s something that has gradually led to this.

Why I recommend it?

What I think that makes a great cinematic experience is the eye for detail; here we have too many small details that kept rubbing in our faces how big is the difference between both families: 

In the scene with the “Ram-Don” (wordplay) dish, we understand this is a kids meal and that’s why the mother chose it, but to make us see how wealthy they are, they added “sirloin” (hanwoo beef) to it.

Even if the Kims live in a basement, the window let us know they can still see a bit of sun, they still have hope, we can see this when they start getting the jobs, before that it was only gray.

Mr.Park’s company name is “Another Brick”, letting us know, they are just another one in the same social sphere, hence the fancy parties, the house designed by a famous architect, how Mrs. Park doesn’t even know how the subway smells, etc.

When Min-hyuk gives a very precious suseok as a gift to the Parks, probably we don’t really get the meaning at first… these stones are usually found in riverbeds, there they take tolls underwater for so long until finally they resemble mountains, the more the stone look as a mountain, the more precious it is. Mountains have different meanings in asian culture, it depends on the country but one that all have in common, is that they are considered sacred. That good-luck “charm” gets all this meaning when it’s finally used by the Parks to try to keep that “luck” but at the end the sacred gods will give you what you deserve.

It has more comedy in the beginning to set the tone and you can make a bond with the characters; so you empathize with them at some level.

It’s a strong critic to our society but disguised as a normal story, which I don’t mind because that’s how I prefer these things.

The name per se is a metaphor of how some people are parasites, that they are ok living in that way and the other way around, how some people see and treat other people as parasites.

Cinematography is gorgeous, story and characters are well developed, even the OST in certain scenes is magnificent, those slow-motion moments let you see all the little details so you can appreciate them.

Bong Joon-ho mixes comedy with tragedy, guess it’s like life itself but definitely, if you are expecting something with more “action”… this might not be for you, otherwise I highly recommend it.

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3 South Korean Movies That Should Be On Your Radar – Moviehooker

3 New South Korean Movies That Should Be On Your Radar.

It has been a good year for South Korean cinema with films like Dark Figure Of Crime making serious waves at the Asian box-office. But, the year ain’t over yet! we have a few more to share with all. This is a short list with only 3 movies but I am hoping they’re going to be good ones. I hope you enjoy.

THE REVENGER

New South Korean Movies 2018

The Revenger primarily takes play on an isolated island. This island is populated by death row inmates, so I would imagine it full of rapists and murderers and the lowest scum on the planet. The island is run by the meanest motherfucker imaginable and on this island, he is untouchable. An undercover agent is sent to infiltrate the gang and to take down the island’s crime boss.

The trailer just looks magnificent. I think South Korea needs to step up their game when it comes to action cinema. The folk over in Indonesia are wiping the floor when it comes gratuitous, mindless, epic violence in cinema. The Revenger looks like a worthy contender. I sure hope I am right!.

The directorial debut from Lee Seung-won. Let’s see if this is a fresh new start for brutal martial arts cinema from South Korea.

UNSTOPPABLE

New South Korean Movies 2018

Starring Don Lee (Real name Dong-seok Ma) from Train To Busan, The Outlaws and The Good The Bad & The Weird. Unstoppable puts the big man back in the leading role…where he belongs.

With a title like Unstoppable, you can only imagine what’s in store. Our leading man, Don Lee is a force to be reckoned with on-screen, and he can deliver one hell of a bitch-slap.

He plays a husband and ex-bad-ass gangster who comes home to find that his house has been broken into. The place is trashed and his wife is now missing. I am guessing he is just gonna bitch-slap everyone until he gets her back.

That’s the only plot I need.

DOOR LOCK

New South Korean Movies 2018

Not a lot is known about the plot and the only premise I can find is a short one. The film follows a woman called Kyung-Min who arrives back to her apartment to find a mobile phone under her bed. Someone broke in when she was out and accidentally dropped the phone.

The phone that she now has in her possession is connected to an unknown murder case which throws Kyung-Min into the sights of the killer.


That’s it for this list. As always, thanks for reading.

Words by Gary Gamble

Founder/Owner/BigCheese @ Moviehooker

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5 New South Korean Movies That Everyone Will Be Talking About

A list of 5 new South Korean movies that I think everyone should know about

THE MERCILESS

New South Korean Movies

DIRECTOR: Byun Sung-Hyun

WRITER: Byun Sung-Hyun

STARS: Sol Kyung-Gu, Kim Hee-Won, Siwan

RELEASE DATE: 2017/18

GENRE: Action

OFFICIAL PLOT (hancinema.net)

Jae-ho has established his own rules and put all of his fellow inmates under his control in a penitentiary facility. After he meets a newly imprisoned inmate, Hyeon-soo who won’t give in to anyone under any circumstances, Jae-ho pursues his new ambition to become the boss of his organised crime group once he is released from the prison.

THE MAYOR

New South Korean Movies

DIRECTOR: Park In Je

WRITER:

STARS: Choi Min-Sik, Do-won Kwak

RELEASE DATE: 2017

GENRE: Drama/True Story/Crime

Official Plot (Wiki)

In the world of politics, everyone’s hands get dirty, and it’s no different for Byeon Jong-gu, the beloved mayor of Seoul, South Korea. Seeking a third term will set him up for a run at the presidency, and Byeon will stop at nothing to keep his darkest secrets hidden from his adoring public. Wiretapping, corruption, murder — everything is on the table and no one is safe.

 

ALONG WITH THE GODS: PART ONE

 

DIRECTOR: Kim Yong-Hwa

WRITER: Joo Ho-Min (webcomic), Kim Yong-Hwa (screenplay)

STARS: Cha Tae-hyun, Ha Jung-woo

RELEASE DATE: Part 1, December 2017/Part 2, summer 2018

GENRE: Fantasy/Horror

**NO IMAGES AVAILABLE**

Official Plot (wiki)

Story of the death of an ordinary man named Ja Hong (Cha Tae-hyun) and Kang Rim, the head grim reaper who escorts Ja Hong to the afterlife, where he will assign a public defender to represent him in 7 trials in 49 days to find out how he lived his life and where he ought to spend the rest of eternity.

NEW TRIAL

New South Korean Movies

 

DIRECTOR: Kim Tae-Yoon

WRITER: Kim Tae-Yoon

STARS: Kang Ha-Neul. Jung Woo, Lee Dong-Hwi

RELEASE DATE: 2017

GENRE: Crime/Thriller/Drama

Official Plot (Wiki)

The film tells the story of a man whose life was stolen when he was accused of the murder of a taxi driver which he did not commit and had to confess to the crime as he was abused during police interrogation. 10 years later he seeks help from a lawyer who had financial debts to clear his name.

 

THE BATTLESHIP ISLAND

New South Korean Movies

DIRECTOR: Ryoo Seung-Wan

WRITER😕

STARS: Hwang Jung-min, Song Joong-ki, So Ji-sub

RELEASE DATE: 2017

GENRE: War/True Story/Drama

Official Plot (Wiki)

About a group of about 400 Joseon workers who risk their lives to attempt an escape from Hashima, and the story of forced labour on the island.

THANKS FOR READING. IF YOU ENJOYED THE LIST, THEN PLEASE SHARE WITH SOMEONE YOU KNOW THAT WILL APPRECIATE THE CONTENT

 

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New South Korean Cinema – 5 New South Korean Films You Need To Know About

5 new films coming our way from South Korea to hook you up with.

A nice blend of South Korean,  horror, action, crime and comedy. I hope you enjoy.

Gokseong (The Wailing)

Goksung is the new South Korean film from the director and writer of The Chaser, and The Yellow Sea. It is, without a doubt the number one film on this list that I am most looking forward to seeing.

The Chaser, and The Yellow Sea movies are among my faves in S.Korean cinema. Two very different films that I strongly believe are among the best in their genres. If you haven’t already them checked out then you will need to put them on the list. Leo DiCaprio’s production company Appian Way own the rights to the American remake of The Chaser but it has been laying dormant for years.

So, I’m a little more than excited to be checking out Na Hong Jin’s next feature.  We know for certain that this man can deliver some captivating cinema.

The poster already looks stunning and it looks to be set in a beautiful part of the world. I am almost certain that the title of the movie is a reference to Gokseong, which is a county in South Jeolla Province, South Korea.

The story takes place in a rural village and focuses on a police detective ( Kwak Do-Won, The Attorney, A Company Man, The Berlin File) who gets assigned and has to solve some bizarre murders.

Updated post: We got to see The Wailing and review it as part of our Fantasia Festival coverage

Fatal Intuition

Fatal Intuition is the first film from director Yoon Joon-Hyeong. The film grabbed my attention because it looks to have a unique story-line. The film is about a woman who has a gift  – she can see people’s death and how they will die just before it happens.

The brother of a murdered woman teams-up with her and uses her special abilities to help find the guy who killed his sister – and all the evidence points to a local pharmacist

Sounds like a nice premise and the chance for a great blend of horror and thriller.  It also sounds like we could have another really twisted tale to watch out for.

 

 

The Exclusive: Beat The Devil’s Tattoo

If this film plays out like I’m thinking it will, then it looks like we’re in for another solid S.Korean serial-killer flick.

The story focuses on a journalist that is going through some serious personal issues at home. When he breaks the news of a new serial-killer stalking the streets, he becomes the hottest writer at work. As the cops keep pushing at him some evidence he learns that there is no serial-killer and the news he received was false but he continues to write more stories to maintain his popularity.

And from that news it looks like a copycat serial-killer is born and starts killing people using the methods that were published in the articles.

I’m sure this film is quite dark but judging from the trailer it looks like a lot of fun, Although I like my S.Korean serial-killer movies to be as dark as the night, I am looking forward to something a little different – will they get it right?

Eclipse

Another directorial début  – this time from Jung Hee-Sung. Jung Hee-Sung won an award at the Busan Film Festival some years ago for her short, Dinner At Lee’s House.

Eclipse or AKA, Cutter is described as a teen/crime/drama, which might put some people off but I can assure you that even if this is a teen movie then it is more than likely not going to be for a teen audience.

The film focuses on a new student who gets involved with a loner at his new school. The two new besties then go off and commit a sex crime and the film will be based around that.

In a press-conference after the film’s first screening, the director/writer said why she chose to go down this dark path for her first feature-length…

“The film has greater emphasis on the students’ psychological context rather than their perception of the nature of crime,”

A previous movie that was reviewed on moviehooker focused on the dark side of cyber-bullying and suicide within social media – the film had an all-teen cast and was still dark as fuck (read full review for Socialphobia).

 

A Violent Prosecutor

The film tells the story of a no-bull-shit, strict prosecutor that is known for handing out harsh sentences to those who commit crime.

He pisses people off that much that he is framed for a murder and sent to prison – the same one  he sent everyone else throughout the years, so as you can imagine he ain’t the most popular resident at the prison

He spends his time behind bars trying to figure out who framed him and set him up for the murder. He gets the help of a con artist who he previously sent-down to help him catch the real killer while at the same time try and avoid being killed by the very inmates he sent down.

Although I would prefer this flick to be an all-out hardcore action/crime film,  A Violent Prosecutor has been categorised as a comedy/crime movie. Every comedy that I have seen from S.K has always been great and filled with great laugh-out-loud, non-obvious comedy.

It still looks like its gonna be pretty hardcore though.

Island

I think the premise for Island could do just that, it sounds like it could be a nice, creepy ghost story.

When a man looses his family in an accident – he moves into his family home which he inherited. The house is situated on an Island, and locals believe that a supernatural force resides there.

Thanks for reading

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