CJ Entertainment America Presents "Helpless"

Dark Horse Korean Hit at the Gate in the U.S.


LOS ANGELES, CA (April 9, 2012) – CJ Entertainment America is launching the moody Korean thriller "Helpless" on April 20, 2012 as an exclusive engagement for Los Angeles at the CGV Cinemas, with national dates expected for early May. The film was a critical darling and unexpected box office champion for two consecutive weeks when it was released in Korea earlier this year.

- Russell Edwards, Variety

"...The film never ceases to compel. As the layers of deceit are peeled back, Byeon seems in complete command of her material. A key demonstration of her narrative dexterity is the way she flaunts an audacious 'Chinatown'-like clue to the missing woman's whereabouts without pre-empting the climax".

"While Mun-ho bears traces of the intense character Lee Sun-kyun played in the acclaimed "Paju", the actor skillfully manages periodic explosions of hysteria when his protagonist can no longer contain his frustration. In clever counterpoint, Jo Sung-ha ("Bleak Night", "The Yellow Sea") is superb as the angry, disheveled cop with marriage problems of his own".

"A mixture of styles is successfully deployed to create a feeling of unease; some shots are framed with sharp angles of an almost architectural exactitude, while elsewhere Byeon comfortably draws on her docu background, using a swinging Steadicam to amp things up".

In the blink of an eye, my fiancé vanished.
Mun-ho (LEE Seon-gyoon) and Seon-yeong (Kim Min-hee) are a couple engaged to be married who pull over at a rest stop on their way to meeting Mun-ho"s parents. When Mun-ho returns to the car with coffee, he finds the car door flung open in the pouring rain with the engine still running - his fiancée is nowhere to be found. Frantic after discovering her apartment emptied out and that her previous workplaces don"t even exist, Mun-ho enlists his cousin and former police detective, Jong-geun, to help him find her. As they delve deeper, they discover that piecing together the shards of this woman"s puzzle produces a horrifying picture.
Female director Byeon Yeong-joo returns to the chair after 8 years
Known for her sensual portrayal of female obsession in "Ardor" (2002), director Byeon Yeong-joo ends her eight year hiatus and returns to form with "Helpless". Having audaciously founded her own production shingle Boim Pictures in her early twenties, BYEON has an impressive track record of films that bring previously silent voices to the screen. Byeon was fascinated upon reading Kasha (""), the novel of best-selling Japanese author Miyabe Miyuki, and almost immediately got in touch with the author to pursue a film adaptation. The result is a haunting picture of an incident that goes beyond the thriller genre and speaks to our modern society.
Visit the film"s website for trailers, clips, photos and more information: www.helpless2012.com


Reviews of "Helpless" from Hong Kong's FilMart (Hong Kong International Film & TV Market)

"Byeon's film uses [Miyabe Miyuki's] book as a framework upon which to hang more current issues... Byeon also floats questions of how much we can truly 'know' those closest to us".

"Jo Sung-ha (terrific as the grieving father in the affecting indie "Bleak Night") remains compelling from start to finish with a gruff-but-principled cop schtick... The film is technically polished, and features a delicately haunting score by Kim Hong-jib that props up Mun-ho's murky internal mood".

-Elizabeth Kerr, The Hollywood Reporter


In the blink of an eye, my fiancée vanished.

Mun-ho (Lee Sun-kyun) and Seon-yeong (Kim Min-hee) are a couple engaged to be married who pull over at a rest stop on their way to meeting Mun-ho's parents. When Mun-ho returns to the car with coffee, he finds the car door flung open in the pouring rain with the engine still running - his fiancée is nowhere to be found. Her cell phone is switched off. All that's left behind is her hair clip on the floor of the restroom.

She is not who I knew her to be.

In a desperate attempt to find his missing fiancée, Mun-ho rushes back to her apartment only to discover that it's been cleared out. Trying to reach a co-worker or someone with information, he finds her employers don't even exist. As he delves deeper, Mun-ho begins to realize that the woman he loves is not at all who he thought her to be.

Who was this person that I fell in love with?

Mun-ho enlists his cousin, former detective, Jong-geun (Jo Sung-ha), for help. While initially accepting the job to earn some extra cash, Jong-geun finds that piecing together the shards of this woman's puzzle produces a horrifying picture.


A unique collaboration of three great actors and an intense director

Three actors with strong individual colors were put together on the set of Helpless - Lee Sun-kyun, whose broad spectrum as an actor is reflected in his filmography which covers popular appeal and artistic quality across television and the silver screen; the lovely Kim Min-hee who is building up her name as a noteworthy actor; and Jo Sung-ha, undisputedly one of Korea's top scene stealers of the moment. These actors join forces with Byeon Yeong-joo for her long-awaited comeback feature, Helpless. Their unique collaboration breathes life and intensity into the novel-turned thiller.

Byeon Yeong-joo returns after 8 years with a mystery thriller

Byeon Yeong-joo returns to the director's chair after 8 long years. Her comeback piece, Helpless, is a thriller about a woman who vanishes on her way to meet her fiance's parents and the fiancé's desperate search as he faces the shocking truth about her true identity.

The film is based on the book of a best-selling Japanese author, Miyabe Miyuki's Kasha (火車), and translated for the U.S. in 1999 as All She was Worth. The work was described by the New York Times Book Review as "deep and moody". Through its portrayal of an individual who stumbles deeply and uncontrollably into tragedy, the book is considered by readers around the world to be a masterpiece that offers a sharp insight into the ills of our society. The long-time best seller was voted as one of the "10 Best Japanese Detective Novels of All Time". Fascinated by the book, Byeon got in touch with the author and, through close discussions, pursued a film adaptation of the novel.

After choosing Helpless as her third feature to follow 2004's Flying Boys, Byeon went through a long adaptation process, paying close attention to various elements such as different points of view looking into the incident and the relationships between characters. The result is a convincing picture of an atrocious incident that, disturbingly enough, could have happened to anyone.

In an interview during the pre-production stage, Byeon expressed "Helpless is a thriller that builds extreme emotional suspense without the usual bloodfest", reflecting her confidence in the film. The director also commented that this was "a film through which I'll need to prove myself" and said she was pouring her heart and effort into the pre-production to ensure this thriller was worthy of being called her best work.


The man searching for his missing fiancée

"Mun-ho" | Lee Sun-kyun

Mun-ho is a veterinarian who runs a private clinic. When his fiancée goes missing, he abandons everything to find her. As he digs deeper into the mystery of her disappearance, he discovers that everything about his fiancée, including her name, family and work history, was a lie. Despite the confusion and horror he faces as he discovers shocking suspicions about her past, Mun-ho is determined to find her - and hear the truth - before anyone else does.

In recent years, Lee Sun-kyun's name has become synonymous with " romance ", following his appearances in successful TV series such as "Coffee Prince" and "Pasta". Lee won the Best Actor award at the 11th Las Palmas International Film Festival for his highly-acclaimed performance in "Paju", the work of another rare Korean female director Park Chan-ok. He has also garnered critics' praise for his honest and convincing portrayal of characters in Hong Sang-soo's "Night and Day" and "Oki's Movie". His clumsy but likeable character in the comedy Officer of the Year further expanded his spectrum.

Selected Filmography

"The Apprehenders" (2011), "Petty Romance", "Oki's Movie" (2010), "Visitors", "Paju" (2009), "Romantic Island", "Sa-Kwa" (2008), "Our Town", "Night and Day" (2007), "The Customer is Always Right", "A Cruel Attendance" (2006), "Love So Divine", "My Mother, the Mermaid", "R-Point" (2004), "Show Show Show", "The Scent of Love" (2003), "BOSS X-FILE", "Make It Big", "Surprise" (2002)


The woman of secrets

"Seon-yeong" | Kim Min-hee

Seon-yeong vanishes only weeks before her wedding. No one has a clue about her true identity nor her horrific past, and most of all, why she must keep it a secret. With everyone out to track her down, she is about to make another risky choice.

After starting her career in modeling, Kim Min-hee made her acting debut with the popular teen drama, "School 2". She has since molded herself into a unique actress with quirky charms in various TV series and films, as well as establishing an identity as the "it girl" of South Korea known as much for her fashions as her acting. However, she proved herself to be more than just a pretty face when she won Best Female Actor at the Baeksang Arts Awards in 2007 for her charged performance in "Hellcats".

Selected Filmography

"Moby Dick" (2011), "Actresses" (2009), "Hellcats" (2007), "Surprise" (2002), "Asako in Ruby Shoes" (2000)


The former detective that digs into Seon-yeong's secrets

"JONG-GEUN" | Jo Sung-ha

At the frantic request of his cousin Mun-ho, Jong-geun helps in the investigation of Seon-yeong's trail. As his search escalates, the former detective's hunch warns him of the dangerous truth behind Seon-yeong's disappearance - this is more than just a missing person case.

Coming from a long career of stage acting, Jo Sung-ha has gained reputation as one of the top scene stealers of the moment. JO has brought his intensity and expertise as a stage actor to the screen in acclaimed films such as Bleak Night and Yellow Sea.

Selected Filmography

"Always", "Bleak Night" (2011), "The Yellow Sea", "The Recipe", "Murder River" (2010), "The Executioner" , "Short! Short! Short! 2009" (2009), "The Elephant On The Bike", "Who's That Knocking At My Door??" (2007), "Cinderella", "Fly, Daddy, Fly", "Bewitching Attraction" (2006), "The Peter Pan Formula" (2005), "Feathers in the Wind", "Spider Forest" (2004),


A sharp message contained within delicate story

DIRECTOR | Byeon Yeong-joo

After studying Law at the prestigious Ehwa Women's University, Byeon went to Chung-Ang University to study film. As a founding member of the women's film collective, "Bariteo", she became actively involved in producing numerous independent projects. Later while still in her twenties, she founded the film company Boim Pictures Co. Ltd and made a documentary about Korean women forced into sexual slavery for Japanese soldiers during World War II, often referred to as 'comfort women'. The film, "The Murmuring", the first documentary to ever get a theatrical release in South Korea, was released when she was 29 years old and immediately established Byeon as an important new voice in Korea. She went on to make sequels of the documentary in 1997 and 1999, titled "Habitual Sadness" and "My Own Breathing", respectively.

Byeon's first fictional feature, "Ardor", based on best-selling novelist Jeon Gyeong-lin's Illicit Affair, was released in 2002 and starred Kim Yunjin of "Lost". 2 years later, she put out the delicate coming of age romance, Flying Boys. Byeon also took part in the HD omnibus project "Ten Ten", designed as part of the 10 year anniversary celebration of the International Women's Film Festival in Seoul. She was one of six directors who taking part in this project along with Ulrike Ottinger, Helen Lee, Lim Seong-min, Jang Hee-seon and Lee Soo-yeon.

Helpless will be Byeon's comeback film after an eight year hiatus, and is proving to be her finest work to date.


"TEN TEN" (2008), "Flying Boys" (2004), "Ardor" (2002), "MY OWN BREATHING" (1999), "HABITUAL SADNESS" (1997), "THE MURMURING" (1995), "A WOMAN BEING IN ASIA" (1993)


Japan's most treasured mystery writer

Author | Miyabe Miyuki (宮部みゆき)

Miyabe was born in 1960 in Tokyo. After graduating from high school, Miyabe joined a law office and began taking writing classes at a writing school run by the Kodansha publishing company. In 1987, at the age of 27, she made her debut by winning the Best New Author at the prestigious Yomimono Prize with the short story, Wareraga rinjin no hanzai (我らが隣人の犯罪). She has been a prolific writer, publishing dozens of novels and winning many major literary prizes, including the Yamamoto Prize in 1993 for Kasha (火車) and the Naoki Prize in 1998 for Riyū (理由). Her most famous novel in the English-speaking world is Kasha (火車), translated by Alfred Birnbaum as All She Was Worth and published in 1999. A Japanese film adaptation of Riyū (理由), directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi, was released in 2004. A lot of her work received film and TV adaptation including, Henjiwa iranai (返事はいらない), Suna-ku gari (スナーク狩り), Crossfire (クロスファイア), Nagai nagai Satsujin (長い長い殺人) and Mohouhan (模倣犯). Currently, she is actively involved as a producer in film production and video game script writing.

Selected Award-winning Bibliography

1989 Majyutsuwa sasayaku, aka. The Devil's Whisper (魔術はささやく)

1991 Ryu-wa nemuru (龍は眠る)

1991 Honjyo Fukagawa Fushigizoushi (本所深川ふしぎ草紙))

1992 Kasha, aka. All She Was Worth (火車)

1996 Gamoutei jiken (蒲生邸事件)

1998 Riyū (理由)

2000 Mohouhan (模倣犯)

2006 Namonaki doku (名もなき毒)


Title "Helpless" (Original title: Hwacha 화차)

Based on the Novel Kasha (火車; All She was Worth) by Miyabe Miyuki

Runtime 117 minutes

Genre Drama, Thriller

Language Korean w/ English subtitles

Rating NR not rated by the MPAA (US Rating)

Writer/Director Byeon Yeong-joo

Cast Lee Sun-kyun, Kim Min-hee, Jo Syng-ha

Production Boim Pictures Co. Ltd

Distribution CJ Entertainment