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Cannes winning director opens a new era for Korean cinema

2004/05/28 | Permalink | Source

Director Park Chan-wook has proved that the current fanfare for Korean cinema is no passing fancy.

Park's film "Old Boy" won the Grand Prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival, which ended on Sunday (May 23). This accomplishment, which comes two years after Im Kwon-taek was announced Best Director at Cannes and three months after Kim Ki-duk received top director honors at this year's Berlin Film Festival.

The director's latest coup may well mark a new beginning for Korean cinema. With more attention paid to Asia than ever before at Cannes, critics and studio heads are looking toward Korea in particular, impressed with an industry able to produce fresh works with art house credibility while churning out megablockbusters with Pan-Pacific appeal.

Park is currently completing "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance", which will most likely star actress Lee Young-ae in the title role. Based on a Japanese comic book, it is the last leg of a vengeance trilogy that began with 2002's "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" and continued with "Old Boy".

Though none of Park's movies have yet made it to the United States, Reuters has reported talk of an English-language remake of "Old Boy" in Hollywood.

An ultra-violent vengeance story, "Old Boy" has been praised for its strong narrative and visual style. With a thematic play on Greek tragedy, "Old Boy" follows a man, recently freed from 15 years of captivity in a seedy motel room, on a blood-splattered path toward truth and knowledge. At one point, the protagonist cuts off his own tongue with a pair of scissors.

For many at Cannes, it came as no surprise that Quentin Tarantino, director of the revenge epic "Kill Bill" and head of this year's jury, expressed particular fondness for the movie.

Park's win at Cannes is not the first time he has given a boost to the Korean film industry: He also directed the 2000 megahit "JSA", which, along with 1999's "Shiri", has largely been credited with starting the latest Korean film boom.

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