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Film puts new spin on domestic violence

2007/11/19 | Permalink | Source

Director Han Ji-seung enjoyed a high degree of popularity in the 1990s with sophisticated films such as "Yellow Ribbon" and "A Day", but since 2000 he has not made a movie.

He is coming back with "Venus and Mars" (Ssaum), which will hit the theaters on Dec. 13. The film is drawing attention not only because it is Han's comeback feature, but also because the country's top actors took part in the project.

The new film stars Sol Kyung-gu ("Public Enemy" and "Silmido") and Kim Tae-hee ("The Restless"), and the peculiar storyline -- a married couple fighting viciously and violently -- raises speculation about how the two stars have adapted to their new, challenging roles.

For Sol, acing tough is a piece of cake. He is, after all, adept at playing the tough guy. But what he has to deal with in "Venus and Mars" is a seemingly frail and vulnerable character played by Kim, who is now the most sought-after actress in Korea. Of course, Kim's character is not so fragile once the couple gets entangled in a series of bitter life-or-death battles. Since violence is a key element in the film, "Venus and Mars" is being promoted as a "hardboiled romance", a term that needs some explanation.

At a news conference held on Friday, director Han explained to reporters that he has long been interested the romantic comedy genre, and has attempted to go in the opposite direction. "I thought it would be interesting to combine romantic comedy with something that is not so romantic", he said.

But a couple fighting to death is not an entirely new concept. "The War of the Roses", a 1989 feature directed by Danny DeVito, has a similar storyline. But director Han insisted that his new film goes takes a new cinematic track. "I like 'The War of the Roses' but it's very different from my film because I wanted to focus on the fighting itself, not depicting love in any romantic way".

Han said he took a motif out of a real couple he knows, who continued to fight for about two years and yet maintained their marital relationship.

Sol Kyung-gu plays Sang-min, a narrow-minded yet sensitive character. "Many people got a strong impression of the previous characters I played, but on a closer look the characters did have some vulnerable aspects, and I believe Sang-min amplifies such hidden characteristics", Sol said.

Seol said what was unexpected was Kim Tae-hee's willingness to act tough. "In the movie, I usually got hit and punched, and she didn't pull any punches", he said.

Director Han said a scene involves Kim kicking Seol mercilessly, and he felt a sense of exhilaration when Kim kicked Seol and then twisted her feet on the very spot she attacked. "She definitely knew how to kick effectively", Han said, laughing.

Kim plays Jin-a, a character who steadily becomes violent in response to the callous treatment from her husband Sang-min. "I was drawn to Jin-a because I thought she had some similarities to my own character. And I also wanted to change my static image", she said. "Fighting is also an important process in getting to know each other. Perhaps we fight because we love each other too much", she added.

By Yang Sung-jin

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