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MIFF – The Yellow Sea

26 July 2011 Leave a comment

Rising star of the South Korean film scene Na Hong-jin returns with an ambitious follow up to The Chaser (MIFF 2009) that was a box office hit domestically.

In a lawless Chinese border town, where the boundaries of North Korea, China and Russia intersect, Gu-nam lives one day at a time. Faced with mounting mahjong gambling debts, he reluctantly accepts a proposal to assassinate a business man in South Korea. But when things don’t go as planned he finds he must flee for his life – with the cops, a rival hitman and an army of underworld thugs hot on his tail.

The Yellow Sea film posterI liked the directors previous work “the Chaser” and “The Yellow Sea” continues to show the skills of Na Hong-jin . This is a well paced action film with the typically bleak South Korean results. Some of the violence and abilities of the main characters ventures a bit too much into comic book style. That is some of the escapes and action are almost super human.

The police  could have been integrated more into the film  apart from the few bumbling scenes they are in. While bumbling police is a staple of Korean action/crime films the film would have been better if the police seemed at least capable of capturing the main character.

MIFF Page

Director: Na Hong-jin

Release: 2010

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MIFF – The Unjust

26 July 2011 Leave a comment

“Achieves a happy marriage between commercial savvy and artistic integrity in its hard-hitting depiction of Seoul as a city of corruption.” – Hollywood Reporter

A massive critical and commercial success in South Korea, The Unjust is a complex crime thriller, set against the background of police and corporate corruption in contemporary Seoul.

The Unjust movie posterI thought I picked something else but was very happy with the end result. This like the US series “Law and Order” but with :

In the South Korean Criminal Justice System the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups.
The police who investigate crime, somewhat dubiously, and work for one criminal gang and the Prosecutors who prosecute the offenders or don’t because they work for another criminal enterprise . This is their story.

This is a accessible and suspenseful crime drama that I enjoyed watching. This film did not include Hollywood cliches about a love interest, the male bonding or a one dimensional rogue cop. The Hollywood Reporter quote gets it.

MIFF page

Director: Ryoo Seung-wan

Release: 2010

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MIFF – End of Animal

26 July 2011 Leave a comment

A remarkable debut, a post-apocalyptic, existential quasi-monster movie on a shoestring budget, it recalls the darker works of Cormac McCarthy with an added supernatural tinge. –Cinephile

End of Animal posterA passive pregnant Korean girl is an a taxi which picks up a stranger in desolate country side. The stranger knows intimate details about the driver and the girl then there is a flash of light and the girl wakes to no working technology and no one else in the car. Nearby houses are abandoned. As the girl attempts to make her way to a rest stop with a working phone she is beset with the few people left. Then there is the strange howling in the distance.

This is a strange film where people don’t really connect with each other despite the difficult situation and as the film progresses they move further apart. The horror aspect of the howls and beast is a weak part of the film with the real horror being the people indifference to each other. There is probably a lot of social Korean context I am missing. It is a well constructed movie that was well paced. It was not boring which is sometimes an issue of film which follow these some what surrealistic themes.

MIFF page

Director: Jo Sung-hee

Release: 2010

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MIFF – Cold Fish

26 July 2011 Leave a comment

Cult Japanese director Sion Sono (Love Exposure, MIFF 2009; Guilty of Romance, MIFF 2011) brings us a gore-drenched, pitch black comedy about a man drawn into the clutches of a deranged couple.

Coldfish postertThis is an outrageously violent comic book styled movie. The audience certainly laughed at the various parts but is a scene where a husband is raping his wife and then punches his daughter in the face really funny? Given the differences in culture would Japanese audiences laugh at the same parts?

I got the feeling that the plot was put together more as a collection of gross out scenes rather than an effort in coherence.

MIFF page

Director: Sion Sono

Release: 2010

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