Since the release of Park Chan-wook’s 2016 period piece masterpiece The Handmaiden, longtime fans of his have had to wait quite a while until his next feature film. Since then he has co-written Lee Kyoung-mi’s The Truth Beneath, worked on short films with his brother, produced the Daveed Diggs-led series adaptation of Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer, and directed the underseen but quite strong limited series adaptation of John le Carré’s The Little Drummer Girl. Six years is a long time to wait for a new film from such a gifted auteur. Now that I’ve finally had the chance to see his latest film, Decision to Leave, it brings me great joy to state that it was worth the wait. Decision to Leave, which earned Park Chan-wook the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival, is one of his best films.
Park Chan-wook, one of South Korea’s finest filmmakers, is fast becoming one of my favorite directors. I first encountered the director with his 2016 feature The Handmaiden, a stylish and precise near-masterpiece, which then made me go back and watch Oldboy, which I thought was just as brilliant. Years later, I have now reviewed his so-called vengeance trilogy, which includes the aforementioned Oldboy. In this article, you will find reviews of the three films in the thematic trilogy known as the vengeance trilogy: Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002), Oldboy (2003), and Lady Vengeance (2005).
Directed by Park Chan-wook (Oldboy; The Handmaiden) — Screenplay by Kim Hyun-seok, Jeong Seong-san, Lee Moo-yeong, and Park Chan-wook.
Based on Park Sang-yeon’s DMZ, Park Chan-wook’s Joint Security Area, or JSA, tells the story of an investigation into the murder of two North Korean soldiers inside a North Korean border house in the Korean Demilitarization Zone. One North Korean soldier survived. So did two South Korean soldiers on border duty, one of which fled the North Korean border house while wounded. However, the North Korean and South Korean soldiers have reported conflicting accounts of what happened, and so Swiss Army Major Sophie E. Jean (played by Lee Young-ae) is assigned by the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission to lead the investigation into what exactly transpired.
Directed by Lee Isaac Chung — Screenplay by Lee Isaac Chung.
Though the act of spoiling a film or a show is, to put it mildly, frowned upon, I think the general idea is that a great movie cannot be spoiled, which is to say that it will still be great even if its plot or central surprise has been ruined for you. For a while, I think I actually shared that school of thought, and I can probably name a small handful of films that I love which were actually spoiled for me. Still, I am nervous when it comes to spoilers. I remember one of my friends once spoiled the end of a game in a series that I loved (and had introduced him to), and, as a result, I didn’t finish the game for quite some time. I guess, to me, it felt like it had been ruined for me, and, alas, when I finally finished the game it didn’t leave the same emotional impact on me that it appeared to have had on him.
The following is a review of #Alive — Directed by Cho Il-hyung.
Some say that by now the zombie movie genre has been done to death. But, in recent years, I’ve enjoyed watching South Korean films attempt to reanimate it. With Train to Busan and its sequel Peninsula, Yeon Sang-ho revitalized the horror subgenre and gained a worldwide audience. With #Alive, Cho Il-hyung may benefit from the recent interest in South Korean zombie films, as it has recently been given a worldwide platform on Netflix. I’m happy to report that Cho’s film fits right in with the Train to Busan-films as it is a South Korean zombie film that is very easy to recommend to fans of the horror subgenre.
The following is a review of Train to Busan: Peninsula (‘반도’) — Directed by Yeon Sang-ho.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, cinephiles have stayed away from their beloved cinemas for several months, but, at the end of July, I finally went back to the movie theater. Now, obviously, I should say that this was only possible for me because I live in Denmark where movie theaters have been open since the end of May 2020. Please note that you should absolutely only go to the movie theaters if it is safe to do so where you live. But I will say that it was good to be back, even though the movie that I returned to the movie theater to watch maybe didn’t give me the escapism that I may have needed. After all, this is a movie about a dangerous epidemic in an Asian country that leads to quarantines and lockdowns. Nevertheless, I was very happy to be able to watch a new movie in an actual movie theater for the first time in several months. Again, it was good to be back. Continue reading “REVIEW: Train to Busan: Peninsula (2020)”→
What happened at the 92nd Academy Awards was incredible. Just ask most Oscar experts and they will agree. This was, based on statistics and precursor awards results, supposed to be Sam Mendes’ and 1917‘s night. Though I desperately wanted Parasite to win all of the night’s biggest awards, my head was telling me no. Therefore, in my final predictions, I went with the safe bet and said 1917 would win Best Director and Best Picture. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong about an Oscar-prediction. In the end, the latest South Korean masterpiece — Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite — won the night’s two biggest awards (as well as two other prestigious golden statuettes). The Academy made the right choice. This time, in my opinion, the Best Picture winner is actually the best film of the year. The Academy finally got it right, as they say. Continue reading “Parasite Won Best Picture and Made History – Special Features #62”→
The following is a review of Parasite (‘기생충‘) — Directed by Bong Joon-ho.
Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite is a South Korean drama about the class system. The film follows a very poor South Korean family who lives in an abandoned basement. The Kim-family spend their days searching for free WiFi, and they make a living folding pizza boxes. The parents — Ki-Taek (played by Song Kang-ho) and Chung-sook (played by Chang Hyae-jin) — hope that their children — Ki-woo (played by Choi Woo-shik) and Ki-jeong (played by Park So-dam) — can climb the social ladder and make a life for themselves that is prosperous. Ki-woo plans to go to college and make something of himself. However, as their father, Ki-Taek, later warns, plans are unreliable. Continue reading “REVIEW: Parasite (2019)”→