Whale of a Tale Productions

A Post Production Company
INDY-JK--7494

The Warrior’s Way 워리어스 웨이 written and directed by Sngmoo Lee (이승무) [2010]

This strange and fun film that is a Korean, US and New Zealand produced by Lord of the Rings producer Barrie Osborne, done completely in English. It is a strange off the wall martial arts and love story with a bunch of wacky characters and some pretty incredible action. And with Ti Lung and Geoffrey Rush in it, it is a must see, though it is a little too quirky to have made any dent into the US market, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, even if it is really weird.

Yang (Jang Dong Gun) is a member of an assassin clan and the best swordsman in the world. He wipes out the last members of his clans enemy except a little baby girl, who he saves, but by doing so he makes an enemy of his clan, an they will be after him. Yang heads to the United States to visit an old friend who runs a laundry in a western town named Lode along with the baby. The down is completely run down and Yang is dead, and the residents are trying to rebuild the town into a circus to draw people back to what was once the Paris of the West. The town is run by the midget Eight-Ball (Tony Cox) and he almost meets the town drunk Ron (Geoffrey Rush) and Lynne (Kate Bosworth) who was friends with Smiley, Yang’s dead friend, and who adopts him and helps him take over the laundromat. Of course all is not good in the town, as it has been ravenged by a gang led by The Colonel (Danny Huston) who previously shot Lynne after trying to rape her and killing her parents.

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Mother (마더) by Bong Joon-ho (봉준호) 2009

I had been hearing about this for a while, and wanted to see it, especially since Bong Joon Ho has shown some serious talent. This is of course a much more introspective film than the Host, but is in fact better made and all around an intense and good thriller. Well made and well done, I expect to see this film being picked up for a US remake before long, but see the original, it is well worth seeing. A really enjoyable and good film. A must see.

A older widow (Kim Hye-ja) lives in a small town working selling herbs and doing unlicensed acupuncture for her clients. She has a son named Do-joon (Won Bin) who has mental problems, and she does everything to take care of him and keep him out of trouble, but is not easy. A rich man in his car hits Do-Joon an takes off, so his only friend Jin-tae (Jin-goo) grabs him and they chase after it to get revenge. Jin-tae smashes the window off the car and steals the man’s gold clubs, but since Yoon Do-joon can’t remember what happened, he gets blamed and his mother is forced to pay off the man for the damage. When a local school girl is murdered, and some golf balls that Do-joon has written his name on are found there, Do-joon is quickly blamed. When they take him into the station he signs the confession, though he doesn’t think he did it, and the case seems locked and shut, but his mother sets out to prove her sons innocence.

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Tokyo! by Michel Gondry, Leos Carax & Bong Joon-ho (2008)

An anthology film with director’s looks at the city of Tokyo! The trailer was amazing, and I was so looking foward to this, and was a bit let down. I loved Gondry’s surreal short, though it is incredibly strange, and Bong Joon-ho’s is at least interesting, but I did not at like the film of Leos Carax. It was strange and not the least bit enjoyable. Just off the wall for it’s own sake. It might be worth seeing the first and the 3rd short, but just skip the second, because it brings all 3 down. A pretty strange little anthology.

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Thirst 박쥐 by Park Chan Wook (박찬욱) 2009

I am a huge Park Chan Wook fan, only not being a fan of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, but loving the rest of his films, so I was overjoyed to see Thirst before a Korean DVD was released, and even better to finally see one of his films in the theater. And I had a wonderful time, laughing hysterically (even snorting) and disgusted at other times, so the film did really work. Still not his best film, in fact I would put it only above Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, but that still makes it a very enjoyable, sexy and disturbing horror film with 2 fantastic performances and an absolute must see film. And to think the Catholic church flipped out over Da Vinci Code, ha, this is so much worse!

Song Kang-ho (송강호) plays an orphan catholic priest Sang-hyeon, working at a hospital, who feels that just his praying is not doing enough good. He grew up in a Catholic orphanage under the tutelage of the now blind priest Noh (Park In-Hwan 박인환) who wanted him to become a doctor. Sang-hyeon volunteers for an experiment to find a vaccine for the deadly Emmanuel Virus (EV) in Africa, which causes lesions and boils, and always death, though only in men. Sang-hyeon is given the disease, and gets sicker and sicker, losing his nails, and getting boils and finally coughing up blood, so he is given a transfusion, but dies. The doctors declare him dead, but as they cover him, they hear him praying, and he has somehow survived. He returns to Korea, the only survivor, and still a carrier of the deadly disease, and covered in lesions and boils, so he is wrapped in bandages, and the people think he is a miracle, so they want him to pray for them to heal, and people even start camping outside of the congregation. Lady Ra shows up (Kim Hae-sook 김해숙) to get him to pray for her son Kang-woo (Sin Ha-gyoon 신하균). It turns out Kang-woo and Sang-hyeon were old friends as kids, so the invite the priest to come and stay with them, where he also meets Tae-joo (Kim Ok-bin 김옥빈), Kang-Woo’s wife. He had known her as a kid as well, thinking she was Kang-woo’s barefooted sister, but in fact was an orphan they took in, and treated like a dog, and then made her marry the son when she was old enough. Tae-joo is obviously very unhappy, and will do anything to get out. The family holds a majong game with there friends, and that night Sang-hyeon becomes sensitive to all sounds, and collapses and when he awakens he is now sensitive to sunlight, he has become a vampire.

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The Good, The Bad, The Weird 좋은 놈, 나쁜 놈, 이상한 놈 by Kim Ji-woon 김지운 (2008)

I can honestly say I have been excited for this film since I first heard about it, and with that much build up it could have easily been a disappointment, but instead it is one of the most ridiculously fun films I have seen in a very very long time. This film is a Western in the East, do you call that an Eastern? And is obviously based somewhat on Sergio Leone’s classic The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. And it doesn’t hurt that the film stars 3 of Korea’s hottest stars,, Song Kang-ho 송강호 plays the Weird and has been in such classics as Green Fish, Shiri, The Foul King, JSA, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Memories of Murder, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, The Host, Secret Sunshine, and is in the about to be released Thirst by Park Chan Wook. The Bad is Lee Byung-hun 이병헌 who was also in JSA, as well as Three Extremes, A Bittersweet Life, and is about to be in G.I. Joe Rise of Cobra, and we have Jung Woo Sung 정우성 as the good, who has been in Beat, Musa and Daisy, I mean what a cast! And for an Eastern, it is not as incongruous say as Chow Yun Fat’s classic PEACE HOTEL, as this is set in Manchuria during the Japanese invasion, so it does have horses and cars and motorcycles (even if I doubt a US army jeep would have been there at this time), but after all it is an over the top super stylistic action film, so it is not exactly grounded in reality to begin with. Honestly I enjoyed this so much I would love to see a sequel! This film is just so much fun all the way around!

In Japanese occupied Manchuria, a rich and powerful man sends a very important map to be sent to the President of the Japanese Imperial Bank, named Kanemaru, who is traveling by train. He then hires his associate Park Chang-yi AKA the Bad (Lee Byung-hun) to go with his gang of robbers to steal it back. Meanwhile the Korean independence movement has hired Park Do-win aka The Good (Ju Woo Sung) who is also sent to get the Map, but also to get the bounty on Park, who he believes is a man called the Finger Chopper who has been chasing for some time. On the train Kanemaru gets robbed by a third man, The Weird also known as Yoon Tae-goo (Song Kang-ho) who gets the map, just as Park and his gang shows up and stops it, and Yoon shows up gunning for Park, but ends up going after Yoon and the map. Yoon though is picked up by his friend Man Gil (Ryoo Seung-soo 류승수) on a motorcycle, and they go off to figure out the map.

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The Old Garden [오래된 정원] by Im Sang-soo [임상수] 2006

A beautiful film, and I love how it is told with scenes missing, and lacking normal exposition, and I like the material, dealing with the May 18th 1980 Gwanju Masacre in Korea, but the film kept me at a distance, and the ending did not fulfill me, so it is not nearly as good as May 18th, another film about this same incident, though worth seeing. Now there is quite the run-on sentence, ha! As I said I do love how the film is told, especially how it starts slipping back and forth in time and space, but as I said it is the ending that didn’t really sit too well with me.

The film stars with Oh Hyun-Woo (Ji Jin-hee 지진희) being released from prison after 17 years, and trying to fit back into society. Moving in with his now rich mother and trying to cope with being released. He slowly tries to get himself re-oriented to society, and a new world to him, one where his lover, Han Yoon-Hee (Yeom Jeong-ah 염정아) has died years before, without a word being able to passed between them since he went to prison. Eventually Hyun-Woo goes to search out his old life, and goes to the house in the country where he lived with Yoon-Hee, and looks through her paintings and things and starts to remember their time together.

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The Bow 활 by Kim Ki Duk 김기덕 (2005)

Kim Ki Duk once again blows me away with his ability to make such a compelling film with so little dialogue, and once again with such a tweaked concept. This is a really impressively well made and enjoyable film, with performances that don’t need dialogue to bring them along. And yes the simple storyline is a bit disturbing, but you can really believe it from these characters and how they act this out. Really worth checking out.

A 60 year old man (Jeon Seong Hwan 전성환) lives on a boat and runs a fishing business as well as giving fortunes to his clients. He lives with a 17 year old girl (Han Yeo Reum 한여름) who helps him on the boat, and who he shoots at with arrows to do his fortune telling. The man plans on marrying the girl when she turns 18 in a short time. One group of passengers comes out with a young man (Seo Ji Seok 서지석) who is attracted to the girl and who she is also attracted too, and starts to pull her away from the old man, making a bitter jealousy.

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Eye for an Eye 눈에는 눈 이에는 이 by Ahn Kwon-tae (안권태) 2008

This huge new Korean movie with Ahn Kwon Tae who directed Friend and Typhoon and superstars Han Seok Gyu from Shiri and Cha Seung Weon did well at the box office, but overall was a real let down. Not much substance, and I really didn’t think the cop was any better than the criminal. Overall I was not at all impressed by this film.

Baek Seong Chan [Han Seok-Kyu (한석규)] is a hot shot police inspector, who wants to quite and help run his friends exterminator business, but when a criminal uses his name to help steal a truck filled with money that belonged to a criminal Kim Hyeon Tae [Song Yeong-chang (송영창)] that he could never prosecute, he gets back in the game to take on the criminal. Baek gets a call from his transexual informant Antonio (Lee Byeong joon) about a gold shipment coming in. The cops follow the corrupt officials and smugglers, but the 4 criminals led by Ahn Heyon Min (Cha Seung Won) outsmart them, and get the money right out from under them. So they go back to lean on Antonio, and realize he was working with the criminals, but they threatened him, so he figured out that either way they would win. The cops do manage to figure out who the 3 lower criminals are though, and through them manage to figure out Ahn, who was the Warden and who met them in prison.

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A Man Who Was Superman 슈퍼맨이었던 사나이 by Jeong Yoon-cheol (정윤철) [2008]

Jeon Ji-hyeon’s return to the screen in a very different role, and shows off her acting chops in this drama, and she is damn good in it too. A very different role, and she really does know how to move an audience. I hope she keeps making movies Korea, because I am sure Blood the Last Vampire won’t make her the big Hollywood star she deserves to be (though what is up with her US name Gianna?). This film is very well done an enjoyable, and you really start to care for these characters, and I love the moments of hallucination that don’t really happen, but you see them as if they are real. This really is a must see, especially for all Jeon Ji-hyeon fans, where she shows off her acting chops.

Jeon Ji-hyeon (전지현) is Song Soo-jeong, a fast talking, chain smoking producer of feel good television pieces, who is willing to do anything for the shot, and whose hair is falling out to prove it. She hates people so bad, she wants to quite and go shoot in Africa, but that is spoiled, when one of the crew in Africa gets hits by a lion. She then meets a strange, and crazy man, who thinks he is Superman [Hwang Jeong-min (황정민)] who has lost his powers because of a piece of kryptonite implanted in his brain. He is obviously crazy, but he spends his time helping people, and befriending a small child. Soo-jeong starts to film Superman and his life, but she also starts to change.

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My Mighty Princess 무림여대생 by Kwak Jae-Yong (곽재용) [2008]

The fourth film from Kwak, the director of My Sassy Girl, and still making movies with Sassy women, though this one is a silly modern Wuxia film with some cheesy wirework, but Sin Min-ah is super cute, and brings a real earnestness to the role that helps elevate the film, even with it’s storyline that gets a little convoluted and strange at the end, and one love interest is just dropped. Still I had fun watching it, even as just a silly little popcorn film, since the martial arts are done by complete non-martial artists. The film does veer in many directions though, making it a bit disjoined, but it is fun.

So-Hwi (Sin Min-ah (신민아)) is a college student, who was trained by her martial artist father Cheon-poong (Lee Dae-geun (이대근)) in an ancient form of martial arts, and she was always considered a child prodigy, being almost indestructible, and able to run to school off building tops. She does a play at a school with the martial arts club, but no one claps, and after going drinking with the club, where she can drink 10 times as much as the others and not get drunk, and having to carry everyone home, she hears that all the people think she is a crazy freak, so against her fathers wishes she quits the club, and goes to try and join the hockey club, where she can try to get close to the motorcycle riding heartthrob Joon Mo (Yoo Geon (유건)). Meanwhile her father meets up with the other 4 Masters of the old school martial arts schools, to talk about the fact that the next competition is only for their children, and only one other master has a child, Il-yeong (On Joo-wan (온주완)) who only cares about motorcycles, and yet he was almost as amazing as So-hwo when he was a kid, and the two were close childhood friends. They try to bribe him to come back and train with So-Hwi for the competition, so he shows up at her school to try and convince her.

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Open City 무방비 도시 written and directed by Lee Sang-gi (이상기) [2007]

A slick looking, but overall mediocre crime drama involving gangs of ruthless pickpockets, though seemingly no other type of criminals. And if this is what modern pickpockets are like, they might as well just kill you instead of maiming you! Brutal, makes me not want to go to Korea!! Not too impressive overall, damn I wish Korea would learn screenwriting, because they sure have production value down.

This is the story of a regional Crime Squad led by veteran detective Cho Day Young [Kim Myeong-min (김명민) Kim Myeong-min (김명민)] who is forced to oversee the investigation of an evil pickpocket ring, let by the beautiful Paik Jang mi [Son Ye-jin (손예진)] who have recently been terrorizing Tokyo, and stabbing anyone who tried to stop the robberies. Cho does not want to investigate pickpocketing because of something in his past, but he is forced too. When Jang mi is attacked by a rival pickpocket squad, Day-young just happens to be there, and saves her and beats up the crooks, leading them to an inevitable showdown.

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Lovers’ Concerto 연애소설 written and directed by Lee Han (이한) 2002

An enjoyable and quit depressing Korean Melodrama. I picked this up to see the performance of the beautiful Lee Eun-joo who was so great in Taegukgi and the Scarlet Letter (in with she played nude), and who shortly thereafter slit her her wrists and hung herself in a depression over those nude scenes. It really is a tragedy because she was really turning into a great young actress. The film itself is very well done and enjoyable and through I knew it was melodrama I didn’t expect ti to go quite where it did, and it was quite moving and sad. Well worth checking out, especially since YA Entertainment has a region 1 DVD of the film available.

Ji-hwan [Cha Tae-hyeon (차태현) from My Sassy Girl] receives a mysterious letter in the mail with no return address, but is a photo of children playing, and it reminds him of his past, and particularly two women. We cut back 5 years to where Ji-hwan is a literature undergraduate working at a cafe whose favorite hobby is photography. He spots a gorgeous woman outside the window and instantly falls in love, and wants to photograph her, but her best friend walks in the way.. These girls are Soo-in [Son Ye-jin (손예진)] and her best friend Gyung-hee [Lee Eun-joo (이은주)]. Ji Hwan doesn’t say anything in time, so he awakens his friend who owns the cafe and runs on a bike after girls who are in a taxi. He manages to catch up and goes inside and professes his love to Soo-in (though it is obvious that Gyung-hee likes him). Soon-in tells him he is making her uncomfortable, so he leaves, but goes and buys a clock, and turns back the time by and hour and has a waiter give them a note, saying he wishes he could turn back time an hour, but hopes when they meet again, they can meet as best friends.

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Happiness 행복 written and directed by Heo Jin-ho (허진호) 2007

Another sad romance from Heo Jin Ho. I enjoyed his Christmas in August and April Snow, and going in you know it is going to be a painful experience, and this one lived up to that. And I did enjoy this dark film, but honestly the biggest problem is that I just didn’t like the main character. He is just an evil cad, and while he finally does have some semblance of change at the end, he really is just a bastard throughout, and couldn’t even get over himself to help a dyeing woman. What an evil bastard. I did enjoy the film, but overall it is just a painful watch.

Yeong-jae (Hwang Jeong-min 황정민) is an alcoholic chain smoking night club owner, who is just falling apart. His girlfriend Su-yeon (Kong Hyo-jin 공효진)) is sick of him, and leaves him when he tells her is leaving for overseas for a year or two. He sells his business to his best friend, also lies to his mother about going overseas, and then heads to a small town where there is a place called the Hotel Hope, which rehabilitates and helps sick people. He drinks some soju, and has a cigarette, pissing off a beautiful girl named Eun-hi (Im Soo-jeong 임수정). He then heads up to the rehab, but really doesn’t take it seriously, even though he has liver sorosis, though he still sneaks drinks and smokes. His roommate has lung cancer and snores. Slowly though he develops a relationship with the beautiful Eun-hi who has bad lungs, and can die from exertion. She slowly falls in love with him, and he likes her, and they end up moving in together in a small place outside of the facility, and living a small simple life, but he is not happy, while she is ecstatic, and wants him to promise to stay with her until she dies.

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May 18 화려한 휴가 by Kim Ji-hoon (김지훈) 2008

A big budget epic, that was Korea’s highest grossing film, and I an see why. This is a fictional story based on the true events based on the Gwangju massacre that occurred between May 18th and May 27th, 1980 in South Korea in a period of martial law. An event where the exact fatalities are still not known, but many people were killed. This is an enjoyable film, though of course sad, and of course you know a bigger tragedy is coming as the film goes on. I enjoyed this film because I liked the characters and grew to care about them, which made their impending doom so much harder to take. A well done and gorgeous film, and an enjoyable watch, even if you know what will inevitably come. And amazing to think that this was happening in Korea in 1980, a country I think of as a democratic nation. Of course we are giving up our human rights freely in the name of fighting terror at this point, which is pretty scary in it’s own.

In 1980 a Korean General Chun Doo-hwan declared Martial law in South Korea, and he sent the armed forces around the country to set up in all the universities to put down any so called revolutionaries who would protest. We meet a taxie driver named Min-woo (Kim Sang-kyeong 김상경 from Memories of Murder) who hangs with his best friend a loud taxi driver, and takes care of his high school student brother named Jin-woo (Lee Joon-ki 이준기). Min-woo pines for a local nurse named Shin-ae (Lee Yo-won 이요원) who goes to church with Jin-woo, and whose father is an military commander named Heung-su (Ahn Seong-gi 안성기) who also happens to be Min-woo’s boss. Min-woo figures out a plan to get Shin-ae to go the movies with him by using Jin-woo to get her to go, but outside the students are protesting, and the military starts using deadly force, and when the theater gets smoke grenades coming into, they go outside, and the military turns on them, and they barely manage to get away. The militaries use of lethal force, and the fact that they are indiscriminate in their violence, attacking anyone who is out and in front of them, turns the people against the military, and they all start to go out and protest.

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Time 시간 written and directed by Kim Ki Duk (김기덕) [2006]

Kim Ki Duk movies are always hard to watch, and this one was no exception, though certainly not as brutal as many of his earlier films. Still this has it’s hard moments. And while this film is ostensibly about Korean’s and their obsession with Plastic surgery, but in actuality is just obsession in relationships and a women who uses plastic surgery in her mind to help make her relationship more fresh. This woman is really crazy though, but I was interested throughout, and I certainly did not expect the ending, even if the title gave it away or should have. Certainly worth seeing, with an interesting ending, though not quite a satisfying ending, but I guess it all comes down to, that obsession will only harm you.

A woman named Se-heui (Park Ji-yeon 박지연) runs into a woman just out of a Plastic Surgery place, with her face covered and large sunglasses on. Se-heui knocks a photo out of her hands and breaks the glass, so she grabs it and says she will get it fixed, but the woman walked off. Se-heui then goes with the repaired photograph of a crazy looking or maybe mentally disturbed image to see her boyfriend Ji-woo (Ha Jeong-woo 하정우) at a coffee shop. Se-heui is incensed because Ji-woo was looking at a waitress there, then another woman runs into his car, and he goes outside and sees there is no damage and gets her card, and again Se-heui freaks out and she runs off. Ji-woo returns home to find her in bed, and has sex with him, but she tells him to pretend she is the car girl, because she wants to be fresh to him, because must be bored with seeing the same body for 2 years. The next day Se-heui goes back to the Plastic Surgeon, and decides to become someone else, and after the surgery, she just disappears without a trace from Ji-woo’s life.

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Shadows in the Palace (궁녀) by Kim Mi-jeong (김미정) 2007

An impressive looking film, and quite an epic for a first time director, though some of the impressiveness of the sets is reduced by knowing it was shot on the same set as The King and the Clown (for which Kim worked on as an Assistant Director). The film looked great and was well acted, and even had a decent enough story, if only it wasn’t for the addition of supernatural elements, which are not only never explained, but serve to lessen the story of the lives of these maidens that worked in the court, and had very little control over their own lives. I would recommend this film if it didn’t have the supernatural elements, but with them the film is too long and drawn out, and doesn’t have a good enough conclusion. The Region 3 Korean DVD does look great, but isn’t worth the price.

Imperial nurse Chun-ryung [Park Jin-hee (박진희)] illegally had a baby while working in the palace, when you must stay as a virgin, but she snuck off into the woods and abandoned the baby, returning to her life in the palace. Then maid Wol-ryung [Seo Yeong-hee (서영희)] is found hung, Chun-ryung looks after the body, and she realizes that the woman was dead before she was hung. The body was found by another maid Jeong-ryul [Jeon Hye-jin (전혜진)] who stole a jewel off the body when she found it. Chun-ryung believes it is a cover up, and wants to find out the truth, but everyone else seems against her. Especially the house of the royal concubine Hee-bin [Yoon Se-ah (윤세아)], who has had the only male heir to the Emperor, much to the chagrin to the empress.

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Into the Mirror 거울속으로 written and directed by Kim Seong-ho(김성호) 2007

I picked this one up because Yoo Ji Tae has proven to be a good actor in the past (especially disturbing in Old Boy), and this is an enjoyable horror film with an interesting conceit, a world behind the mirror. A fun film with an enjoyable ending. I actually watched the Chinese Region 3 disc of this film, which has English subs, and is significantly cheaper than the Korean disc.

At a huge department store named Dreampia in Seoul there was a huge fire the year before under unusual circumstances, and they are now working to re-open the store on time and restore money to the stock holders. A woman named Choi Mi Jeng (Lee Yeong Jin 이영진) steals a MP3 for her friends birthday, and also a pizza cutter, then her image in the mirror uses the pizza cutter to slice her throat, though it is deemed a suicide. Now we meet Yong-min (Yoo Ji-tae 유지태) a former police inspector, who had some accident where he caused his partner to be shot, and is no longer a police, but works for his uncle as security at Dreampia. Then another worker has an apparent suicide by shoving a pen into his ear, and the actual police are brought in to check the possible serial killer. A former colleague of his is brought in, his name is Hyeon-su (Kim Myeong-min (김명민) who has nothing but contempt for Yong Min. The security director gives Yong Min a gun and tells him to investigate on his own. Yong-min finds that there was a single employee death in the fire, and the rest of the people in her department are the ones who are dying, including one who quite and is going insane in his apartment, bouncing like a mad man.

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My Boyfriend is Type B (B형 남자친구) by Choi Seok-won (최석원) 2004

A typical and not so great Korean romantic comedy, and further showing the stereotype that Korean men seem to be quite the bastards. This guy doesn’t deserve this girl in the slightest. She is cute and nice and puts up with way too much from him. And the break into the one song is lame and not really needed. This guy is such a loser, and should not get the girl in the slightest. And she doesn’t even confront him about stealing and using her credit card. Lame.

Han Mi (Han Ji Hye 한지혜) is a beautiful college student who wants to find love. The one she meets is the loser Young Bin (Lee Dong Geon 이동건) who lives out of a Sauna, dumps girls for no reason, and has an expensive car, but no job. The meet by chance when she accidentally texts him, and then they run into each other as she gets off a bus, and their phones gets switched and hers gets broken, and she tries to steal his. Her roommate and cousin Chae Young (Shin ee 신이) runs a dating agency that runs on blood type, and she hates type B, which is of course what Young Bin is, while Han Mi is a nice A. So she tries to keep them apart, but Han Mi will have nothing of it.

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The Railroad 경의선 by Park Heung Shik 박흥식 (2006)

A really interesting art house film, not entirely successful, but certainly worth a watch. Combining 2 stories, one of adultery and one of tragedy and intertwining them into recovery for the 2 people involved. The stories are intercut, with us starting at the halfway mark and then going back to see what led us to there. The acting is top notch, and while not much happens in the film, it is interesting and certainly kept me watching throughout.

The first story involves Hanna (Son Tae-yeong 손태영) who is a guest lecturer at a university, and is having an affair with the full time professor (Baek Jong-hak 백종학). It turns out they met in college, when he was a graduate and she was a Freshmen, and then he went to Germany to study, and she did too, and they were together until he returned to Korea and got married, and she had to stay in Germany to finish her degree. The second story is of a subway driver named Man-soo (Kim Kang-woo 김강우) who works like mad, and has a strange and beautiful girl (Cha Seo-won 차서원) come and deliver him a magazine and coffee and a pastry and magazine once a month, though she strangely knows his schedule, and he knows nothing about her.

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Secret Sunshine (밀양) written and directed by Lee Chang-dong (이창동) 2007

The film that won the Prix d’interprétation féminine du Festival de Cannes for Jeon Do Yeon (best actress). This is a powerful and moving film about loss and it’s effects on people. This is an amazing film, and my only complaint is that it is all hand held and honestly I am getting really sick of the hand held movie thing, I know it is all the style and rage, but it honestly distracts me and pulls me away from otherwise amazing films. This is really worth checking out, a must see. Lets hope this comes out in the US soon.

Shin Ae (Jeon Do Yeon 전도연) is moving the the city of Mil Yang with her small son Jun (Seong Jeong Yeob) from Seoul after her cheating husband was killed in an automobile accident, but their car breaks down on the way, and they get a mechanic Kim Jong Chan (Song Gang Ho 송강호) to help them. Shin Ae opens a piano school, and Jon Chan does everything he can to get her business and help her, as he is obviously interested in her. Shin Ae meanwhile meets various people, including the christian pharmacists across the way who want her to join their church. Shin Ae keeps talking about how she wants to buy land and invest and Jong Chan tries to help her, introducing her to people, but when she starts making friends, she spends one night out with other ladies from the town, and returns home to find Jun is missing. She gets a call to get all her money and leave it, but she does, and it is not enough, because she was lying about the investing, because she wanted to pretend she had money. The son is then found murdered, and she is crushed. Then she sees the delinquent daughter of the school bus driver (Jo Yeeong Jin 조영진) crying and looking into her store, she calls the police, and the girls father is caught and put in prison for the murder. Shin Ae is followed around by Jong Chan, and goes to a church meeting, and quickly finds god.

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Hwang Jin Yi í황진이 by Jang Yoon Hyeon (장윤현)(2007)

Wow. Let me say that again, wow. This is a gorgeous and epic Korean period tragedy about the horrors of love within a caste system. It is based on a novel, but that Novel is in fact a fictionalized account of the life of an actual gisaeng (a Korean Courtesan much like a Japanese Geisha) in the Joseon era, though this account is not supposed to be at all historically accurate.. This is an amazingly well done film. It is absolutely beautiful and acted incredibly well from start to finish. Sure you know it will end in tragedy, but you care so much for these characters that you wish beyond dreams that something will stop the inevitable, but then if someone could it would not be inevitable. The film is long, but enjoyable throughout, and evening has some decent action thrown in, though only here to move the story forward. The Korean press has not been so kind, but I certainly don’t agree, to me this is a must see.

The film starts with a man named Nom-Yi [Yoo Ji-tae (ì유지태ƒœ)] who is playing a game of cards against a man who used to run the Hwang household until the Baron died, and he ran away with the money. He forces the man to give him the money, and then goes out and helps his friend (Oh Tae-kyeong (오태경)] deal with some local bandits. Nom Yi then brings the goods to the Hwang household and because the new Steward. Quickly we learn that the daughter of the baron Jin Yi [the stunning Song Hye-kyo (송혜교)] is set to marry a rich aristocrat. We then go into the past and see that Nom Yi was Hwang Jin Yi’s servant as a child, and they loved each other, but she got him to sneak her out of the house once to the fair, and this almost caused the baron to kill him, but because of her pleading he was only cast out. On his return he meets a beautiful woman also looking into the house from afar, and starts taking care of her. Jin Yi convinces her grandmother [ Yoon Yeo-jeong (ìœ¤ì—¬ì •)] to let her go out once and see the town before she is sent off to be married, but she sneaks to the brothel street, and gets in trouble, but is saved by Nom Yi. Nom Yi then leaves and goes to the family she will be marrying into, to tell them something. And Jin Yi and her granny see him in a funeral procession. The marriage is called off, as the truth is known, and Jin Yi’s mother tells her than in fact she was the daughter of her maid, whom the baron raped, so she isn’t really aristocracy at all. Jin Yi has to make a decision, to pretend to be aristocracy and become a concubine, become a slave, or cast herself into the brothels. She has learned the woman was her mother, and she went into brothels after she was cast out from the house, so that is where she will go, but she asks Nom Yi to go with her as her procurer and protector, and gives him her virginity. He doesn’t want to, because he admits he gave up the secret after he found her mother because he wanted to bring her to her level, but not destroy her.

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Unstoppable Marriage (못말리는 결혼) by Kim Seong-wook (김성욱) (2007)

`Another Korean romantic comedy, this one being a modern Romeo and Juliet story, and it is silly and actually quite enjoyable. And Yoo Jin is literally sparkling in this film, and does a great job. This is fun because it doesn’t just follow the characters, but follows the battling of their parents. This is the first film by Kim Seong Wook on Attack the Gas Station. Most of these films have been duds lately, but this film is actually pretty fun and enjoyable.

A rich plastic surgeon named Ki Baek [Ha Seok-jin (하석진)] goes with his sister [ Ahn Yeon-hong (ì안연홍)] to meet his rich mother [Kim Soo-mi (ê김수미)], at her proposed site of a new golf course, where she can’t build yet because one old man [Im Chae-moo (임채무))] won’t sell his property, though his brother [Yoon Da-hoon (윤다훈)] wants the money. On the way, the sister takes Ki Baek to go parasailing over the land, and he is scared out of his mind, pees himself, and causes them to crash, and they have to walk out. When they crash he finds out the pilot is a girl named Eun Ho [Yoo Jin (유진)] who runs a shop that makes traditional Korean paper dolls. She blackmails him into joining her doll classes, or she will tell that he peed, but he plays tricks on her, making her come to the club where he is and trying to humiliate her, but he does take a bottle in the head which was intended for her, and walks her home to her dad’s. Her dad, who is of course the old man, mistakes her for her boyfriend, and he instults her by saying she needs a boob job. So he then makes her come to her mom’s and play as his girlfriend.

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The Wonder Years (열세살, 수아•„) written and directed by Kim Hee Jung (김희정) (2007)

I was excited to see this first film from female director Kim Hee Jung, but I was pretty disappointed by the film, with only the very ending giving any pulse into this dragged out tail, that feels longer than it’s 95 minute run time. There is just nothing new here, and the performance of the lead Lee Se Young is shows so little emotion, that you are dyeing for the moments when she smiles, because otherwise she is just giving nothing. Yes I get that the life of a teenager can be heard, but there is nothing new, or even really interesting here. This film is pretty much a miss for me and I can’t recommend it.

Lee Se-yeong (이세영) plays Soo-Ah a difficult teenager, who is completely introverted, and not dealing well with her life at all, be it in school or at home. We slowly learn more about here life. She barely reacts to the world around her, and treats her mother (Choo Sang-mi (추상미)) badly, though her mother is so busy with her restaurant she doesn’t even bother to go to her daughter’s graduation. Soo-AH only showing life when she dreams of the pop singer Kim Yoon-ah (김윤아)아), lead singer of Jaurim whom she believes is her real mother. Her father died 2 years before, and she doesn’t like that the local junk yard (Choi Myeong-su (최명수)])owner is always hanging out there talking with her mother. Soo Ah also has trouble making friends.

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The Show Must Go On (우아한 세계„) written and directed by Han Jae-rim (한재림) 2006

Song Kang-ho’s (송강호) next film after the Host was a must see, and this is quite an enjoyable film. At first I didn’t think it was much of a stretch for him character wise, but this is an enjoyable gangster film, that shows the hard life of a gangster and it’s affect on his life of the family. My only complaint is much of this film is handheld, and I am getting really sick of the shaky cam style, but it doesn’t detract from how good of a film that this is. A really good and enjoyable film, well directed and incredibly well acted.

Song Kang-ho (송강호) is Kang In Gu a low level gangster, loyal to his boss, who forces a construction guy to sign a contract giving his gang the rights of the construction, thereby pissing off the bosses [Choi Il-hwa (최일화)화)] younger brother [Yoon Je-moon (윤제문))], and making problems for his own. His brother [ Oh Dal-soo (오달수)] is in the rival gang he stole from. In Gu’s daughter [Kim So-eun (김소은) Kim So-eun (김소은)] is scared of him and his wife [Park Ji-yeong (박지영)] is considering divorce, and yet he does everything for his family, even putting all of his money into a new house, as his current place has badly running water and isn’t very nice.

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The Host 괴물 (Goi-mool) by Bong Joon-ho (봉준호) (2006)

I had been meaning to see this Korean Monster film since I heard about it, but was too busy when it was in the theaters , and then on Korean DVD, but when I heard about the US HD DVD I decided to wait on see on HD DVD, and I must say I was not disappointed. Not only was this an enjoyable monster film, but this is certainly one of the best looking Asian Transfers I have seen (the other being HERO on HD DVD which looked amazing as well). The film is well acted, and the computer effects look pretty damn good, and really what makes this film even better is the acting, but you can’t help it with an amazing actor like Song Kang-ho (송강호)) leading the cast. Well worth checking out.

Song Kang-ho (송강호) plays the loser Park Gang Du, a burnout with a wonderful 13 year old daughter Park Hyun Seo [Ko Ah-seong (ê³ ì•„ì„±)]. Kang-ho works at the banks of the Han River running a cheap food stand run by his father Park Hie-bong [Byeon Hee-bong (변희봉)]. Things go bad when pollution from US military personnel creates a monster that attacks the banks of the Han, and Gang Du gets caught up in the middle of it, and his daughter Hyn Seo gets taken by the creature. The whole bank is then closed off by the army, and the people taken into custody, along with the sister Park Nam Joo [Bae Doona (배두나))] a bronze medal winning archer and the drunken college graduate brother Park Nam Il [Park Hae-il (박해일)]. And the whole family escapes custody to try and find the daughter, Hyun Seo who called her father on her cell phone before the cell died.

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