World Film Report South Korea: Na Hong-jin’s The Murderer and Kim Tae-yong’s Late Autumn
In The Murderer, Ha Jeong-woo returns to Korea to settle a debt. And like “The Chaser”, Ha is on the run from Kim Yoon-seok, who plays an assassin. It should be noted that Kim Yoon-seok starred in a satire of the “The Chaser” in his last film “Running Turtle” (2009). In the film, shown at the Rotterdam Film Festival two months ago, Kim plays a familiar role, a suspended detective who is chasing a criminal, who, in this case, robbed him.
South Korean Film Scene: Local
Currently filming, a trio of Koreans are looking to make a splash with financial support from a major Hollywood film studio. In their first film together since, The Chaser (추격자, 2008), director Na Hong-jin (나홍진), actors Kim Yoon-seok (김윤섹) (see pic above) and Ha Jeong-woo (하정우) will reunite in “The Murderer” (황해). The film—the first Korean movie to receive direct investment from Hollywood—is similar in story line to the “The Chaser”, a 2008 box office success in Korea. The film’s distributor, Shadowbox Mediaplex Co., signed a partnership with 20th Century Fox in January. The Hollywood studio will take part in remakes and sequels, along with the Korean production company Popcorn Films. If there is to be a U.S. made sequel, Na will remain as the director.
In The Murderer, Ha Jeong-woo returns to Korea to settle a debt. And like “The Chaser”, Ha is on the run from Kim Yoon-seok, who plays an assassin. It should be noted that Kim Yoon-seok starred in a satire of the “The Chaser” in his last film “Running Turtle” (2009). In the film, shown at the Rotterdam Film Festival two months ago, Kim plays a familiar role—a suspended detective who is chasing a criminal, who, in this case, robbed him.
Now in post-production is the remake of Korea’s 1966 classic, “Manchu”. The film, called “Late Autumn”, is a Korean-American joint project, directed by Kim Tae-yong (“The Birth of a Family”). Set in the U.S., “Late Autumn” will bring together two Asian stars, Korea’s Hyeon Bin (“My Name is Kim Sam-soon”) and China’s Tang Wei (“Lust, Caution”).
The 12th International Women’s Film Festival, with 102 films, is not to be taken lightly. Last year, several films claimed awards, at the Berlin Film Festival, before making a pit stop at this festival. The world’s largest international women’s film festival will kick off in Seoul April 8-15. The festivals opener, “The Day Will Come”, a German-French joint film, deals with the conflicts between politics and maternity. The highlight of the festival is Margarethe von Trotta’s “The Vision”. The film involves a musically talented nun whose views conflict with her surroundings. Also, acclaimed director Claire Denis will present “White Material”. The film, a success at the Pusan International Film Festival in 2009, was also included at the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals. The festival is competitive only in its Asian Short Film competition, where 19 films–from Israel to India–compete.
South Korean Film Scene: International
The movie that is, perhaps, drawing Korean film its largest American exposure ever is Bong Joon-ho’s “Mother”. The mother, Kim Hye-ja, has a stunning performance, one that helped Bong (“The Host”, “Memories of Murder”) continue his film festival success at the 4th Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong last week. “Mother” won for best film; Kim Hye-Ja won for Best Actress; and Park Eun-kyo and Bong Joon-ho won for Best screenwriter. Here is the full list of winners.
Also at the 4th Asian film Award, “Thirst”, winner of the 2009 Cannes “Jury Prize”, won for best visual effects. Park Chan-wook’s (“Old Boy”—2004 Cannes Grand Prize Winner) vampire film also won the Orient Express award for the best Asian Film this month at Portugal’s 30th Fantasporto Film Festival. The film stars Song Kang-ho as a priest-turned-vampire who seduces his friend’s wife, played by rising starlet Kim Ok-bin.
Earlier this month, Florence, Italy showed thirty Korean films at the 8th Florence Korean Film Festival. The festival, showing mostly retrospective films, focused on Korea’s horror genre (K-horror), as well as recent releases like “Mother” and the 2008 film “Speedy Scandal” (Kang Hyeong-cheol), Korea’s most successful comedy.
Korean filmmakers will look to make another splash at the Cannes Film Festival in May, where Poetry (Lee Chang-dong – “Peppermint Candy”) is expected do well. There will be more on this film as well as other predictions next month.
Finally, IFC Films is releasing Kim Jee-Woon’s The Good, The Bad, The Weird is being released on April 23rd.
Tony Kitchen lives in South Korea where he teaches English as a Second Language. He graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in creative writing.