Friday, November 21, 2014

A Korean film combination

As well as the recent Korean Film Festival in London, Film 4 have shown five Korean films possibly
in connection with the event.   Those on TV were 'In Another Country' (2012) starring Isabelle Huppert, 'Like You Know It All' (2009), 'The Day He Arrives' (2011), Oki's Movie (2010) and 'Hahaha' (2010).   Common to all is a connection with film - Huppert is an actress with a director lover and the others all included leading actors claiming to be directors though most of them looked
hardly out of their teens.   All were elliptical and rather opaque, wordy and lacking in any cinematic
flair though all are fairly highly rated - possibly Koreans look for other things.   The only comparison
that comes to mind is that with some of the lesser Nouvelle Vague efforts of the late 50s and 60s.
In the cinema, 'One on One' starts with a rape and murder in relative darkness and then switches to a
disparate bunch of vigilantes who have agree to punish the ones responsible for ordering and carrying
out the rape.   As the bunch of seven work their way through the perpetrators, the level of retributory
violence starts to increase which leads to a falling away of willing participation though the group leader who is older and responsible for both organising the capture of the criminals and their punishing remains constant and increasingly intense.   One of those caught early on decides to find out just who did take him and he is seen spying on them in later scenes.   As the climax approaches,
it turns out that the raped girl was the daughter of the leading vigilante whereas the others are there
just for the thrill.   Following the final capture and punishment (though events in this suggest there
are others higher up), the group disbands and the father is seen on a hilltop overlooking Seoul
mourning his daughter - with the film ending with his death at the hands of the one who was spying
on them.   Somewhat patchy but with an interesting story line and a strong central performance, the
film also gets across the seeming inviolability that can come with authority and power.
'Cold Eyes' is a fairly straightforward policier taking the work of a surveillance group in the Seoul
police whose only job is that - they are specifically ordered not to be involved but, when appropriate,
to let armed police take over.   The story is told by using a young female recruit and her mentor as the focus with the opening scenes being her observing him.   The eventual focus of their work is a killer
played by Jung Woo-sung, who seems to be the current Korean heart-throb (younger, taller and better
looking than Tom Cruise), and his presence at the cinema seemed to bring out the teenage population
of Koreans in London and further afield.   The film is mainly well-paced though the middle section
was a little flat (as it was in 'One on One') and enjoyable though far from being anything more than
average.   The director, Kim Ki-Duk, who was the featured director of the Festival (apparently the
largest outside Korean for their films) is something of an outsider to the Korean film industry as we
were told at length before the first of the films we saw though he is well-thought of internationally.

1 comment:

Pat Evans said...

What can I add, we've said it all between us...and at least YOU never sat through 'House of Wax' twice just to hear Eddie Fisher! (I don't think my friends and I screamed...)