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[HanCinema's Film Review] "INTRODUCTION"

2021/03/05 | Permalink

Hong Sang-soo's style has been the perfect fit for European film festivals for decades now, and "INTRODUCTION" continues the "trend", in a black-and-white movie that deals, once more, with the mundanity of "regular" human relations...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Diamond in the Rough"

2021/03/05 | Permalink

We know that Ki-kang (played by Son Ho-jun) isn't going to have a great time straight from the opening when the older version of the character (played by Jung Ho-bin) starts a speech for a bunch of prisoners about how his time in prison filled him with regret. Then the story flashes back thirty years, to when Ki-kang was just a dumb teenager living in an obscure island off the coast of Mokpo. Right away we get contrasts. Ki-kang might be a troublemaker, but he does have heroic moments...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Finding Angel"

2021/03/05 | Permalink

Cheon-ji (played by Lee Young-ah) is a perpetually cranky and overworked civil servant who works in a district populated largely by poor old people. Don't let the descriptor "poor" fool you, as these old people are lively and a big reason why Cheon-ji is exhausted is because she has to break up their fights even as the single mom works to dole out their charity. So naturally, Cheon-ji has little patience for Ji-hoon (played by Park Sung-il), a man who claims to be a reporter but Cheon-ji's used to dealing with lowlifes...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Madame Aema" + Full Movie

2021/03/05 | Permalink

"Madame Aema" (aka "The Ae-ma Woman") is a rather significant title for the Korean movie industry. Driven and inspired by the success of the "Emmanuelle" movie, it was the first erotic film to be made after South Korea's government began relaxing its control of the industry, and the most sexually explicit film up to be shot in the country at the time. Its commercial success, which deemed it one of the only two films to sell more than 100,000 tickets in Seoul in1982, resulted in at least 10 sequels, making it the longest-running series in the history of Korean cinema, and a trend of similarly erotic productions...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Double Patty"

2021/02/26 | Permalink

Despite the prominence of Irene in promotional material for "Double Patty" this really is Shin Seung-ho's movie. Which is fortunate, since Shin Seung-ho absolutely shines as the frankly dopey twenty-one year old traditional Korean wrestler Woo-ram. While Woo-ram has a fantastic physique, he has generally poor judgment- both of which are on full display in early setpieces where the musclehead finds himself working at a gay bar...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Plus Nine Romance"

2021/02/26 | Permalink

In "Plus Nine Romance" four twenty-nine year old friends take stock of their love lives as they prepare to step into their fourth decade. The interlocked stories that follow detail these women as they try to figure out whether their relationships are worth keeping, discussing their frustrations candidly with each other but often not as effectively with their male partners. Whether the male partners deserve that much consideration, well...your mileage may vary...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Youth - 1955" + Full Movie

2021/02/26 | Permalink

During the 19th year of King Gwangmu's reign, Empress Myeongseong a.k.a Queen Min, conspired with her kinsman Min Gyeom-ho and dethroned Prince Regent Daewongun, the ruling agent. In the nine years that followed, she killed all his subjects and took the throne, additionally abolishing all the policies and reforms set up by Daewongun, that aimed at the people's benefit. Instead, the palace and royal court indulged in a factional feud, extravagance and orgies, while people's lives became more miserable as the government became more corrupt. There emerged a group of youths, children of the royal subjects executed by Min Gyeom-ho who were determined to set the country right. They secretly formed a rebellion group under a scholar named Lee Hwal-min, who was an ally of Daewongun. Hwalminsuk academy was the hub of their activities...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "New Year Blues"

2021/02/19 | Permalink

As an interconnected narrative switching between four different couples, "New Year Blues" is counting on you liking at least one of the romantic storylines, even if you don't like the other ones. Well the good news is I liked most of them actually! The main exception being the storyline between paralympic athlete Rae-hwan (played by Teo Yoo) and florist Oh-wol (played by Choi Soo-young). But I didn't hate them I just thought their story was kind of pointless with Ye Soo-jung stealing most of the energy in their scenes as Oh-wol's sweet, caring mother...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Battle of Jangsari"

2021/02/19 | Permalink

The implied, obvious reading of "The Battle of Jangsari" is that the South Korean teenagers who were brutally killed fighting North Koreans during the Korean War were heroes. At least, that's what you'd think if you'd ever seen any other war movie. And it's certainly what I was expecting, given that "Operation Chromite" was unapologetically propagandistic. But "The Battle of Jangsari" proved far more intriguing than those clichés once I realized this reading isn't actually supported by the text...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Our Twisted Hero" + Full Movie

2021/02/19 | Permalink

Based on the 1987 book of the same name by Yi Mun-yol, "Our Twisted Hero" proves that using allegory to portray political commentary can result in excellent films, particularly when the metaphor works as well as in the case of Park Jong-won's movie...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Today, Together 2"

2021/02/12 | Permalink

In the first film of the "Today Together 2" omnibus Jong-hwan (played by Ki Joo-bong) lives the life of a borderline hobo, eating only food that ranges in price from cheap to free. His son, Do-jin (played by Park Se-jun) is repulsed by his father's attitude, even as he himself is about as incompetent when it comes to obtaining a proper place in society. And so it is with all the other stories in "Today Together 2" that seem to discuss families on the margin but then, what are the margins anyway?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Loop Dreams"

2021/02/12 | Permalink

My first response to "Loop Dreams" was a sort of mild bewilderment. A documentary about yo-yo trick artists? Really? I've seen plenty of self-indulgent documentaries by young people overestimating how interesting their lives are. But then I've also seen plenty of good documentaries by young people who correctly estimate how interesting weirdly specific aspects of their lives are, and the only way to know which is which is to watch them...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "King Gojong and Martyr An Jung-Geun" + Full Movie

2021/02/12 | Permalink

An Jung-geun, sometimes spelled Ahn Jung-geun was a Korean-independence activist, nationalist, and pan-Asianist. On 26 October 1909, he assassinated Prince Itō Hirobumi, a four-time Prime Minister of Japan, former Resident-General of Korea, and then President of the Privy Council of Japan, following the signing of the Eulsa Treaty, with Korea on the verge of annexation by Japan. He was imprisoned and later executed by Japanese authorities on 26 March 1910. An was posthumously awarded the Order of Merit for National Foundation in 1962 by the South Korean government, the most prestigious civil decoration in the Republic of Korea, for his efforts for Korean independence. His story has been adapted to cinema a number of times, both in North (An Jung-geun Shoots Itō Hirobumi) and South Korea (Thomas An Jung-geun) but this particularly movie is probably the most impressive...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Space Sweepers"

2021/02/05 | Permalink

I expected "Space Sweepers" to have some exposition at over two hours. But I was caught off guard by the sheer quantity of badly paced infodumping. It takes ten minutes for us to be introduced to the spaceship and its crew amid constant infodumps about the worldbuilding. At the twenty minute point they get a goal, requiring more exposition. Incredibly, there is yet more exposition and backstory well into the second half, every single time dragging the narrative to a crawl...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Dragon Inn Part 2: The Night of the Gods"

2021/02/05 | Permalink

So despite the clip from "Dragon Inn Part 1: The City of Sadness" suggesting that "Dragon Inn Part 2: The Night of the Gods" would take on darker more religious undertones, the villain actually just ends up being a pretty unremarkable cult. As in, they basically function like a real life cult, praying on people so lonely they're unwilling to question terrible group decisions. In practice "Dragon Inn Part 2: The Night of the Gods" is largely a procedural wherein the members of Dragon Inn attempt to track the cult down as part of their latest job...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Dongsimcho" + Full Movie

2021/02/05 | Permalink

If there is a line that, when surpassed, can deem a film as "too melodramatic", then Shin Sang-ok definitely moved over it with "Dongsimcho", a movie that does make a comment about the state of women in Korea in the 50s, but overall, falls victim to its intense sentimentalism and excessive story...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Cute Man"

2021/01/31 | Permalink

Gi-seong (played by Shin Min-jae) is the atypical "Cute Man" promised by the movie's title. He uses his harmless, pathetic charms to sell housewives on educational material. Gi-seong's profession has surprisingly little to do with the rest of the movie, though. That opening scene is merely the start to a convoluted series of events that leads the divorced father to start dating Il-yeong (played by Lee Jin-ri), a woman amenable to the nonintuitive charms of a divorced father...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Sword of Sarasen"

2021/01/31 | Permalink

The dark animation that starts out "Sword of Sarasen" details how in order to guarantee passage through the desert, some traders are known to kill a camel calf right in front of the mother's eyes. Supposedly a mother camel will then take them to safety to insure a proper burial. While attempting to research this legend I learned that apparently camel meat is delicious, casting doubts on some assumptions of the story...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Female Boss" + Full Movie

2021/01/31 | Permalink

By 1959, the influence of Hollywood in Korean cinema was in full bloom, and "A Female Boss" is a testament to the fact, something that becomes obvious even from the music and the presentation of the titles in the very beginning of the movie. However, Han Hyeong-mo's title is not exactly a textbook romantic comedy, since the concepts of toxic masculinity (in the way Kim Ki-duk presented it decades later), the role reversal and the eventual triumph of male domination make the film stand particularly out...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Color Rush" Episodes 5-8

2021/01/24 | Permalink

There's a notable change in Yoo-han's disposition in episode fix of "Color Rush" as the always masked young man begins flirting more openly with Yeon-woo. Also he starts to more aggressively lose the mask, confirming my suspicion that the mask was acting as a handicap to Hur Hyun-jun's weak acting talent as much as anything else. Worry not, Hur Hyun-jun isn't terrible in the role, and everybody has to start somewhere. But it's hard to escape the feeling that a webdrama as weird as "Color Rush" got funding at least in part to boost Hur Hyun-jun's acting resume...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The ABCs of Our Relationship"

2021/01/24 | Permalink

Of the six plot points juggled by "The ABCs of Our Relationship", only the on regarding South Korean adoption is given full exposition. Though she's not really the lead character, the adoption story centers around Joo-hee (played by Lee Seo-yoon), an ethnic Korean woman who was adopted in France back in 1997. Despite Joo-hee being the entire impetus for that plot, her character is surprisingly out of focus as the search for her birth mother takes on highly abstract dimensions...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A College Woman's Confession" + Full Movie

2021/01/24 | Permalink

"A College Woman's Confession" despite its feminist, patriarchy-slamming narrative, became a big hit in Korea in 1958, particularly since women swarmed to watch a movie, which, apart from the aforementioned elements, also entailed hard-core melodrama. Nevertheless, the result was quite positive for Shin Sang-ok, as this was the film that established his career...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Growing Season" Episodes 9-12

2021/01/17 | Permalink

Up until now I have been reasonably outspoken in praising "Growing Season" for its practical usefulness in its frank discussion of sexual health and safety in the context of realistically drawn college aged relationships. It is with regret that I must withdraw this endorsement, as "Growing Season" concludes with a rather critical plot point left entirely unresolved. I am referring, of course, to the chlamydia infection sustained by Ha-yeong despite her being in a monogamous four year relationship...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Josee"

2021/01/17 | Permalink

In one scene on a bus, we see college student Yeong-seok (played by Nam Joo-hyuk) sitting in the bleak night in front of an ad that promises learning English will grant him freedom. It's a bitterly ironic moment, but just one of many in "Josee" that uses the trappings of seeming romantic melodrama to ask what it really means to be free. Yet writer/director Kim Jong-kwan takes his time getting to this very moody point, ultimately starting the action off with Yeong-seok accidentally crashing into the wheelchair of the disabled Josee (Han Ji-min)...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Palace of Ambition" + Full Movie

2021/01/17 | Permalink

The overwhelming majority of costume dramas in the Korean movie industry take place in the Joseon era. Thus, watching one that unfolds during the Mahan Age (1st century BC to 5th century AD) seemed a rather interesting opportunity...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Color Rush" Episodes 1-4

2021/01/08 | Permalink

Yeon-woo (played by Yoo Jun) is a Mono. I'm still not completely sure what that actually means, but apparently he sees the world largely in grayscale. Yeon-woo's mother was also a Mono, before she died due to some horrible circumstance that will presumably be explained in later episodes but for now is being kept kind of vague. Anyway, when a Mono meets a Probe, they start seeing the world in countless colors simultaneously. And for Yeon-woo, that Probe is Yoo-han (played by Hur Hyun-jun), and also this whole "Color Rush" thing appears to be some kind of metaphor for being gay...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Growing Season" Episodes 5-8

2021/01/08 | Permalink

As episode five opens up, "Growing Season" signals pretty clearly that we're about to get to the part of the story where our heroines learn that men can't be trusted. But obviously foreshadowed as this was, there were more twists than I was expecting. Most obviously there are degrees of bad men, and I liked how the guy who starts out being the obvious villain here is soon shown to not necessarily be monstrous, just kind of clueless, albeit in an obviously self-interested way...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Forever With You" + Full Movie

2021/01/08 | Permalink

Yu Hyun-mok will be forever remembered for a film that is considered among the all-time best of Korean cinema, "The Aimless Bullet". Before reaching the apogee of his career, however, he had to start somewhere, and "Forever With You", his earliest surviving film, is a production much different from the aforementioned, mostly following the melodramatic rules of the era, although with a few cinematic "innovations" that actually make it stand out, to a point at least...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Growing Season" Episodes 1-4

2021/01/01 | Permalink

Ah-in (played by Park Su-a) is a young woman with an enthusiasm for sex that can only be described as virginal. Ji-yoo (played by Park Ji-won-III) is a slightly older woman with an enthusiasm for sex only in the context of proper vaginal maintenance. Ha-yeong (played by Kim Chae-eun) is another slightly older woman with an enthusiasm for sex only with her boyfriend. Together they...try to present a class report on sexual health...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "What Happened to Mr. Cha?"

2021/01/01 | Permalink

Some of you might not remember Cha In-pyo. Well, most of you probably. As "What Happened to Mr. Cha?" quickly makes clear, Cha In-pyo was a big star in the nineties, and is consequently well-remembered by a certain age group. But in the modern day, working with a new generation of advertisers and producers, Cha In-pyo struggles for relevance despite the fact that he has still maintained a fairly fabulous physique into his fifties. Then he gets buried in an insurance scam...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Even the Clouds are Drifting" + Full Movie

2021/01/01 | Permalink

"Even the Clouds are Drifting" is another film that was submitted to Berlinale, somewhat following the recipe of the two that previously received awards there, "To the Last Day" and "A Coachman", although not sharing their success...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Special Lady"

2020/12/25 | Permalink

Given the title of "A Special Lady" and the prominence of lead actress Kim Hye-soo in the movie's promotional material, one might think she'd be playing the main character. Well, that's not really the case. She might technically be the initial perspective character, given the extended opening scene where we're just watching old guys gratuitously having sex with prostitutes. Kim Hye-soo's character, Hyeon-jeong, is looking at these videos with no context...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "We Are Brothers"

2020/12/25 | Permalink

The action in "We Are Brothers" is prompted by a documentary program regarding reuniting families. The subgenre of sentimental television documentaries is unremarkable in South Korean culture, although the seeming wackiness does no favors for the drama in translation. Much of "We Are Brothers" lurches from one wacky setpiece to another. Surprisingly few of these weird situations have much to do with the main premise. Sang-hyeon (played by Cho Jin-woong) is a pastor rasied in the United States. Ha-hyeon (played by Kim Sung-kyun) is a shaman raised in South Korea. And now the separated brothers meet again...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Beat Back" + Full Movie

2020/12/25 | Permalink

War films, particularly in the way the western audience has gotten used to them due to Hollywood productions for the most part, tend to focus on entertainment instead of reality, with few exceptions. "Beat Back" however, is not one of those films, particularly since it becomes obvious that the cast, three years after the Korean War, probably had experiences from actual war. The story is based on the true story of Captain Kim Man-sol's participation in the said events...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Breakup Probation, A Week - Movie"

2020/12/18 | Permalink

We are introduced to Ga-ram (played by Kwon Yuri) and Seon-jae (played by Hyun Woo) as the former is confronting the latter in a cafe over the perceived disrespect in their relationship. Their fight is uncomfortable. Ga-ram is too aggressive, and Seon-jae is too incompetent at explaining himself. Their problems seem irreconcilable. Then "Breakup Probation, A Week - Movie" leads us into a one-two punch where one after the other, we see that Ga-ram and Seon-jae indisputedly love each other...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Underdog" + Blu-ray Giveaway

2020/12/18 | Permalink

In the fairly arresting opening scene to "The Underdog" we see Bundle (voiced by Do Kyung-soo) abandoned by his owner on a random hill. The socially conscious nature of this moment is unmistakable. In contrast to the wishful thinking of the owner that a domesticated dog can be happy and free out alone, we quickly see how in reality abandoning Bundle or any other dog in such a way is an act of cruelty...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Love Story of Chun-hyang" + Full Movie

2020/12/18 | Permalink

The "Chunhyangjeon" is one of Korea's most iconic stories. Although its author and date of composition are unknown, it most likely originated as a work of pansori (probably from "Chunhyangga",the most famous pansori), a form of musical storytelling involving song and percussion, and was later adapted into prose during the reign of either King Sukjong (r. 1674–1720) or King Yeongjo (r. 1724–1776)...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Cursed Lesson"

2020/12/11 | Permalink

Strictly speaking "The Cursed Lesson" is a sequel to the 2009 horror movie "Yoga". This connection is made somewhat more obvious by the Korean title although really, the abstract idea of centering a horror movie around a mysterious yoga school is hardly that distinctive. And so unfolds a surprisingly clever metatext where horror movie conventions and even commentary about superficial beauty is turned on its head. "The Cursed Lesson" is not that kind of scary movie, although it's very good at pretending to be...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Take Me Home - 2020"

2020/12/11 | Permalink

Eun-soo (played by Woo Mi-hwa) is an older schoolteacher. Ye-won (played by Lee Yeon) works at a casually branded clothing store. They're lesbians who first met in high school when Eun-soo was Ye-won's teacher. Exact details about when and how their relationship advanced to live-in status are kept deliberately vague. The dramatic impetus ends up centering entirely around a tragedy unrelated to their homosexuality, as "Take Me Home - 2020" turns into a story about grief, rage, and change...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Coachman" + Full Movie

2020/12/11 | Permalink

"A Coachman" is a landmark for South Korean cinema, since it was the first Korean film to win a major international award, netting the Silver Bear Extraordinary Prize at the 11th Berlin International Film Festival ("To the Last Day" , which also won the same award, was actually produced a year before but was submitted to the 12th edition of Berlinale)...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Fiction and Other Realities"

2020/12/04 | Permalink

Bobby (played by writer/director Bobby Choy) is an aspiring Korean American singer/songwriter in New York City who works as a moderately successful telemarketer by day. "Fiction and Other Realities" takes us through a low point in Bobby's life as he experiences existential dread at the apparent meaninglessness of his existence. It doesn't take much prodding from his more successfully musical friend Billy (played by Todd Goble) to get Bobby to take an impulsive trip to the homeland of his parents...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "People in Elancia"

2020/12/04 | Permalink

Elancia was a massively multiplayer online role playing game released in 1999 by Nexon. If you haven't heard of it, well, that's not surprising. Even in South Korea Elancia is pretty obscure. In fact, director Park Yun-jin opens the movie up with clips of people exclaiming just how terrible this game is, and how nobody in the modern day in their right mind would play it. Which naturally begs the question of why people, director Park Yun-jin among them, continue to play Elancia when better MMORPGs are available...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "To the Last Day" + Full Movie

2020/12/04 | Permalink

Winner of the Silver Bear Extraordinary Jury Prize at the 12th Berlin International Film Festival in 1960, "To the Last Day" is a rather melodramatic production, but also quite impressive cinematically and with a rather provocative (for the era) comment...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Call"

2020/11/27 | Permalink

Seo-yeon (played by Park Shin-hye) is a woman in her late twenties forced into an obscure property In Yeongcheon due to the worsening medical condition of her mother, here played by Kim Sung-ryung. This takes a turn for the weird when Seo-yeon starts receiving ominous phone calls from Yeong-sook (played by Jun Jong-seo), who is clearly under the impression she is talking to someone else. The two bond over Seo Taiji, which is a decent if rather specific clue for where "The Call" ends up going...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Dragon Inn Part 1: The City of Sadness"

2020/11/27 | Permalink

I could tell that "Dragon Inn Part 1: The City of Sadness" was intended to be the first in a series of films because, well, the title makes it pretty obvious. But aside from that I was morbidly impressed with the sheer degree of disinterest director Choi Sang-hoon-II had in explaining who any of the movie's characters even were. Everything just seems like an excuse for some guy wearing a motorcycle helmet to go around punching people...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Shadowless Pagoda" + Full Movie

2020/11/27 | Permalink

The Shadowless Pagoda (Sakyamuni Yeoraesangjuseolbeop Tap) is a stone pagoda in South Korea designated as the 21st National Treasure on December 12, 1962. It was built by Asadal, an outstanding stonemason of Baekje who was brought to Silla to build Dabotap (also known as Pagoda of Many Treasures) and Seokgatap (the titular one). According to a myth that might as well be true, after several years with no news of her husband, Asadal's young wife went to Seorabeol to find him...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Midsummer Madness"

2020/11/20 | Permalink

Hyeon-sil (played by Kim Ye-eun) is a lazy woman in her late twenties. She has an excited, energetic dog but doesn't like walking him in the morning. In the very weird scene that follows we see Hyeon-sil be clumsily hit on by a young jogger who clearly doesn't know how to talk to women. But does Hyeon-sil herself have any idea how to talk to anyone? That is the central mystery behind "Midsummer Madness" which is more literally translated as Midsummer Thinking...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Our Midnight"

2020/11/20 | Permalink

The most immediately distinctive aspect of "Our Midnight" is how the movie is filmed in black and white. There's no obvious reason for this to start out with- save, of course, for the fact that black-and-white filming is cheaper, and "Our Midnight" is an independent film that was made on a budget. But then that's very thematically on-brand, given how the movie revolves around failed actors who become obsessed with suicide, albeit not for the reason you're probably expecting...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "AND THERE WAS LIGHT"

2020/11/20 | Permalink

In this year's editions of BIFAN and BIFF, there were mostly two tendencies among the Korean films. One was a kind of "weird wave", of genre-bending films that moved into almost uncanny cinematic directions, and the other of intense art-house ones, of the sort where realism takes over the narrative to the point that , occasionally, nothing ever happens. "AND THERE WAS LIGHT" seems to combine these two tendencies, eventually resulting in a film that is quite different, but also both art-house and "strange"...More

[HanCinema's News] Special Preview Trailer Released for "The Call"

2020/11/17 | Permalink

Netflix recently released a special preview trailer for "The Call" which is currently set to release on November 27th worldwide in the streaming platform...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Fuxxxxx Romance" + Full Episodes

2020/11/13 | Permalink

Hyeon (played by Kim Yi-kyung) first meets Jae-ha (played by Oh Dong-min) while on a blind date, although such a description is misleading. As Hyeon explains, the reasons she uses dating apps is not to find a romantic partner so much as it is to find a friend with benefits. The distinct impression is given that Hyeon could ditch the friends part if necessary, and is perfectly fine with just a single night of sex. But what if she wants something more?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Leave"

2020/11/13 | Permalink

In the opening scene of "A Leave" we watch a bunch of furniture factory employees at a sit-in, continuously on strike in Seoul. We soon find out that they recently lost a lawsuit. Jae-bok (played by Lee Bong-ha) is having doubts about the mission. Because Jae-bok is not very good at expressing himself, it's some time before we realize that he's raising two daughters at home far from Seoul. Since the labor action is at a standstill, his fellows advise Jae-bok to take "A Leave" at home while they plot their next move...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Beyond You"

2020/11/13 | Permalink

Four year after the quite successful "ALONE", Park Hong-min returns to Busan with a feature that moves in gender-bender, experimental paths...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Short Vacation"

2020/11/13 | Permalink

Feature debut for Kwon Min-pyo and Seo Han-sol and a production of Dankook Graduate School of Cinematic Content where both of them studied, "Short Vacation" had its World premiere in Busan...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Our Joyful Summer Days"

2020/11/06 | Permalink

Winner of the Actor of the Year award in Busan, "Our Joyful Summer Days" seems to continue the effort the festival has started the previous years, of promoting independent productions of female filmmakers, which usually move towards paths of realism in context, and art-house in aesthetics...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "FIGHTER"

2020/11/06 | Permalink

Jero Yun always had an interest in immigration, particularly involving North Koreans, which he continued when he switched to feature from documentary, as in the case of "Beautiful Days - 2017". His feature approach in the subject is cemented in "FIGHTER", probably his best feature work as of now, which premiered at Busan winning the NETPAC and the Actress of the Year awards...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "BLACKPINK: Light Up the Sky"

2020/11/06 | Permalink

An early conversation with the producer and songwriter of BLACKPINK, Teddy Park on a low profile, closes out with him being dismissive of the idea that K-pop actually exists. He's just like, music is music, and we're playing to an international audience. How is that any different from any other kind of popular music? This thesis resounds throughout "BLACKPINK: Light Up the Sky", which goes out of its way to emphasize the international nature of its group...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Carthusian Cloistered Monastery"

2020/11/06 | Permalink

The Carthusians are an enclosed religious order of the Catholic Church. The most distinctive aspect of the Carthusians is that they take a vow of silence. Ironically enough, "The Carthusian Cloistered Monastery" depicts the monks speaking quite a bit, perhaps as a contrast to their normally quiet daily lives. The rules at the sole Carthusian monastery in Asia, more specifically in the Sangju district of South Korea, are a bit more lax than I was expecting...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Dear My Genius"

2020/10/30 | Permalink

Director Koo Yun-joo was once a gifted child. She loved receiving praise for being smart. So as Koo Yun-joo grew up into a young woman, she was always on the lookout for the next chance to win an award or do something that would be impressive on a resume. In the main moment of nostalgia for "Dear My Genius" we see some grainy old footage of Koo Yun-joo going to space camp in the United States as a teenager, an experience she clearly remembers with much fondness...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Journey to Kailash"

2020/10/30 | Permalink

The mother of director Jung Hyungmin is an old woman in her eighties and a devout Buddhist. She's had a difficult life, being widowed in her late thirties and having to take care of her children on her own. She's a simple woman, without much in the way of desires. So it was that, as her final wish, Jung Hyungmin's mother asked for her son to take her on a pilgramage. Over "Journey to Kailash" they travel the long, empty roads from Mongolia to Tibet, living intermittently in the infinite wonder of the wild...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Pure Love" + Full Movie

2020/10/30 | Permalink

Director Han Hyeong-mo was considered to be at the vanguard of 1950s Korean popular cinema, and "The Pure Love", based on the homonymous best seller by Park Gye-ju, which was reprinted more than 30 times, cemented the fact, by becoming one of three South Korean films to sell more than 100,000 tickets in Seoul during its year of release. However, there is such a thing as "too mainstream" and the film definitely moves over that border...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Woman Who Ran"

2020/10/23 | Permalink

Despite "The Woman Who Run" being Hong Sang-soo's 24th film in 24 years, the prolific Korean has actually refrained from shooting a movie in the last two years, a decision that was probably for the best, since it was about time to let his fans "miss" his familiar style a bit. In that regard, the film does not do anything different from what HHS usually does, but ends up as a rather interesting spectacle...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "If My Things Are At Your Place We're Not Over" and "Untact"

2020/10/23 | Permalink

Director Kim Jee-woon has not exactly been a name in high demand lately since the underwhelming performance of "Illang: The Wolf Brigade" in 2018. Nevertheless, his production company, Dark Circle Pictures, has been busy making movies on a smaller scale this year. These commercially minded flicks feature Bae Suzy and Kim Go-eun in leading roles. Far from the bombastic flicks he's better known for, "If My Things Are At Your Place We're Not Over" and "Untact" are personal, down to earth stories dealing with solitude and relationships...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Welcome to X-world"

2020/10/23 | Permalink

Director Han Tae-ee was, at the time "Welcome to X-world" was being filmed, living with her mother and paternal grandfather in a modest home in the Guro district of Seoul. Han Tae-ee doesn't much care for her grandfather. Her mother doesn't either. So why don't they just move out? "Welcome to X-world" , as a documentary, continuously begs that question until Han Tae-ee's mother finally gives up and agrees to leave...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Fukuoka"

2020/10/16 | Permalink

We are introduced to bookstore owner Je-moon (played by Yoon Je-moon) as he is being annoyed by So-dam (played by Park So-dam), who's wearing a school uniform in spite of not being a student. So-dam is a queer young woman, and Je-moon mistakes her peculiar behavior for flirting. The situation gets weirder than that as So-dam eventually talks him into going to the titular "Fukuoka" and by apparent coincidence they run into Je-moon's old friend Hae-hyo (played by Kwon Hae-hyo) at a bar...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Samsara"

2020/10/16 | Permalink

The introductions "Samsara" gives us to its various monks prove surprisingly worldly. Hye-gyeon (played by Kim Jun-bae) bickers with a woman at a dog meat restaurant over various business matters. Hye-yong (played by Hong Hee-yong) does television appearances. Hye-seung (played by Jung Joon-young-I) is a handsome young star on social media. Yet none of these characters are especially in focus throughout "Samsara", as much of the movie takes place in flashback, going over the relationship between senior monk Hye-jin (played by Kim Myung-gon) and his now elderly master Do-beop (played by Lee Yeong-seok)...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Shadow Flower"

2020/10/16 | Permalink

After a number of awards and an Oscar nomination for "In the Absence", Yi Seung-Jun returns with a new, documentary feature this time, which focuses on the true odyssey of a woman who wants to return to her home and family...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Pawn"

2020/10/09 | Permalink

When we're first introduced to Doo-seok (played by Sung Dong-il) and Jong-bae (played by Kim Hee-won), the men give off a vaguely sinister vibe. They dress like gangsters, such that Doo-seok rather nastily castigates Jong-bae for wearing a gold chain that makes him look rather more thuggish than his semi-respectable job title should imply. Then Doo-seok busts into a convenience store to get something to drink. Yet in spite of his rude demeanor, Doo-seok keeps calling out for someone to come take his money...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Miniforce: Hamburger Monster's Attack"

2020/10/09 | Permalink

For the most part, "Miniforce: Hamburger Monster's Attack" is a fairly typical Miniforce movie. You've got the various cute little mascot characters, and then the parts where they transform into these Super Sentai-esque warriors with transforming robots. There does seem to be a new element of the robots being used as riding dinosaurs for the fight scenes. I'm assuming this was explained in the television show at some point, what with "Miniforce: Hamburger Monster's Attack" being based on a children's cartoon...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Zombie Crush in Heyri"

2020/10/09 | Permalink

The Korean Weird Wave that took the Korean Fantastic section of this year's BIFAN by storm continues here, surprisingly so, in a zombie film, which shares very few similarities with the vast plethora of entries in the category, particularly regarding the protagonists but also the overall approach...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Super Nova"

2020/10/03 | Permalink

In his fourth film after "Super Virgin", "Super Origin" and "Super Margin", Back Seung-kee is as weird as they come, through a narrative that seems to thrive on sci-fi and surrealistic elements, while combining fantasy, drama and absurd comedy...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Swordsman"

2020/10/02 | Permalink

In the prologue to "The Swordsman" we first see the expert swordsman Tae-yool (played by Jang Hyuk) waging a doomed battle against royal usurpers led by Seung-ho (played by Jung Man-sik). Though this scene implies that Seung-ho is a better swordfighter than Tae-yool, for most of the movie, Seung-ho doesn't really do anything. Even more intriguingly, when Seung-ho meets the actual villain, Gurutai (played by Joe Taslim), the smug Qing warlord derisively describes Seung-ho's fighting style as ornamental in spite of his obvious skill. But why?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Wandering Chef"

2020/10/02 | Permalink

Prior to watching "The Wandering Chef" I had not heard of famed chef Lim Ji-ho. Nor did I really learn that much about him through the documentary itself. With painstaking humility, director Park Hye-ryoung only provides brief clips early on to contextualize Lim Ji-ho's international culinary reputation. Even as a biographical film "The Wandering Chef" is spare on the details, withholding much critical information about Lim Ji-ho's family background until near the very end...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Night of the Undead"

2020/09/26 | Permalink

A buff naked man crashes from outer space in Cheonggyecheon. The onlookers, for the most part, try not to make a big deal of this. Then we transition to So-hee (played by Lee Jung-hyun), who tries not to make such a big deal of how much she loves her newlywed husband Man-gil (played by Kim Sung-oh), at least until circumstance leads her to suspect infidelity. Although it's not infidelity so much as...well...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Hunger"

2020/09/26 | Permalink

Maybe it is a bit too early with just 4-5 films, but it seems that S. Korea is experiencing its own "weird wave" (as Greece did some years ago) with titles like "Maggie", "Fallen" and "The Interviewees" falling under this category. The same applies to "Hunger", Kang Dayeon's debut, that uses the sci-fi basis to speak about social issues through a mash up of genres that is disorienting as it is interesting...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Magical: Make The Princess Laugh"

2020/09/26 | Permalink

While the title "Magical: Make The Princess Laugh" calls to mind the classic fairy tale of the princess who never smiled, this conflict is resolved surprisingly early and disturbingly. She ends up laughing at a scene that could best be described as macabre. Not that "Magical: Make The Princess Laugh" ever really acknowledges this. This plot point takes place over the course of a cheerful song where professional clowns attempt to distract Leah (voiced by Park Ji-yoon-I) from her mother's senseless tragic death at the hands of a gippy...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Interviewees"

2020/09/19 | Permalink

The search for originality and uniqueness has always been one of the main pursuits of experimental cinema, through a number of courageous filmmakers who shot films they probably knew they had very few chances to succeed, at least commercially. And although there is something heroic in their effort, being gives no guarantee for the quality of the movies or that they actually work. Unfortunately, "The Interviewees" is one of those movies...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Time for Dogs and Cats"

2020/09/19 | Permalink

The docuemntary feature "A Time for Dogs and Cats" is less a single coherent documentary as it is a series of individual subjects depicted in vignette form to eventually sort of resemble a documentary. It ends with, of all things, a musical concert for the various wild cats and dogs of Baeksa Village in the northeastern corner of Seoul. The music's good although I'm not sure the animals got much out of it. Animals don't really understand music as far as I know...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front"

2020/09/19 | Permalink

Some fifteen years ago director Kim Mi-rye was working in Japan documenting active Japanese labor movements when she learned of the radical "East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front" from the seventies. It's easy to see how they made such a strong impression on Kim Mi-rye, a Korean woman. Despite being Japanese themselves, the Armed Front hated the Japanese Empire and saw the then current Japanese government as a reincarnation of that power. The South Korean government, then, being little more than a puppet state equally oppressing its own people...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Tiny Light"

2020/09/12 | Permalink

Jin-moo (played by Kwak Jin-moo) is a thirty-six year old machinist who lives with his mother Sook-nyeo (played by Byun Joong-hee) in a small housing unit with mold on the walls. Jin-moo is a schlubby man and an unlikely protagonist, but then that's where the realism comes into play. "Tiny Light" is neither infused with romanticism about the lives of working people in South Korea, nor is it overly cynical about their fate. Director Cho Min-jae makes this movie about the persistence of memory and what Jin-moo has to lose by it...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Masterpiece"

2020/09/12 | Permalink

The opening titles of "Masterpiece" are done in a classic olde time silent film style. As the movie gets past these, we see a café with Charlie Chaplin emblazoned on the front. As we're introduced to director Jin-wook (played by Choi Jin-wook), an obvious possible theme is developed. Jin-wook is going to make a classic Charlie Chaplin style movie. And this does happen eventually. But first we have to endure sixty minutes of Jin-wook ineffectively trying to make an obviously bad movie instead...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Fallen"

2020/09/12 | Permalink

Probably one of the most confusing, chaotic, and genre-bending film we have seen during the latest years, "Fallen" is a movie that tries to be original by following very few "rules" of genre cinema and including as many different elements as possible, both in context and in style...More

[HanCinema's News] South Korean Streaming Companies Call for Review of Netflix Law

2020/09/10 | Permalink

Domestic streaming companies in South Korea have recently been calling for the government to review the Netflix Free Rider Law which was passed in May. The Netflix Free Rider Law was passed this May to deal with the issue of Netflix and other foreign companies being able to use South Korea's domestic Internet infrastructure at no cost...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Me and Me" Screening at Fantasia 2020

2020/09/05 | Permalink

It is very rare for a reviewer to have to deal with a film whose director has stated, "Rationally, the film doesn't make sense" (Korea Times), but this is exactly the case with "Me and Me", a movie that cannot be examined under the prism of logic in any way...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Days in a Summer"

2020/09/05 | Permalink

Seung-hee (played by Kim Yu-ra) is a quiet woman who has recently returned to the family farm on Geoje Island. There's minimal verbal explanation as to why she came back. We just see Seung-hee stew in mild annoyance as she's given instructions for chores. Seung-hee is similarly diffident to typical social interaction. At first glance it seems like Seung-hee has an attitude problem. But as the "Days in a Summer" pass by, we see that in reality, Seung-hee is just an introvert...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Jesters: The Game Changers" Screening at Fantasia 2020

2020/09/05 | Permalink

What would happen if an SFX team was active in 1464 Korea? Kim Joo-ho latest action comedy seems to give the answer to this rather playful question, in one of the most entertaining films of the year...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "My Punch-Drunk Boxer" Screening at Fantasia 2020

2020/09/05 | Permalink

Combining the sound of janggu (a Korean traditional hourglass-shaped double-headed drum) with pansori narration and music in a film that revolves around a boxing was a brave as much as an original effort by Jeong Hyeok-ki, since the latter seems to have very little to do with the first two elements. The result is a bit uneven, but interesting whatsoever...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Social Nomad"

2020/09/05 | Permalink

Directors Lee Sang-mook and Ma Young-min had a dream of traveling internationally. The problem was, they didn't have any money. So to get funding, they formed a corporation by the name of "Social Nomad" that solicited donations in exchange for promised content. Then, in order to actually go traveling, they sent out e-mails to hostels and travel agencies in order to further sponsor the trip, in exchange for the team producing promotional videos for the places where they stayed...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "An Old Lady"

2020/08/29 | Permalink

The promotional material for "An Old Lady" has given the movie a very accusatory air, and in all fairness that's not incorrect. "An Old Lady" is, after all, the story of Hye-jeong (played by Ye Soo-jung), an elderly woman who is raped during a medical exam mostly because she couldn't fight back. The movie takes place in 2012- a weirdly specific detail considering it was produced relatively recently. There are technical legal reasons for this particular plot point. Without getting into spoilers, let's just say that a similar case probably wouldn't play out the same in the present day...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Between the Seasons"

2020/08/29 | Permalink

Hae-soo (played by Rie Young-zin) is a woman in her late thirties who's getting a new start in life by opening up a modest coffee shop. There's an oddly reticent quality about Hae-soo, as if she's hiding something. Enter Ye-jin (played by Yoo Hye-ri), a high school student who's bright, cheerful, and outgoing- yet still at a distance from her peers, much like Hae-soo. Each is lonely in their own way yet obviously incompatible, lesbian love story subtext notwithstanding...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Beauty Water"

2020/08/29 | Permalink

"Women now have to be beautiful, thin and with big breasts" is a phrase uttered in this animated film, and it is this dream that dominates a narrative that focuses on the concept of appearances, particularly in show business, and where the endless pursuit of exterior beauty can lead...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Deliver Us From Evil"

2020/08/22 | Permalink

In the opening scene of "Deliver Us From Evil" we observe various persons dispatched from the shadows. These thugs wearing suits aren't sympathetic, yet they feel more inhuman than evil, exuding neither warmth nor fear. The sound of their fury signifies nothing. When their murderer is revealed to be In-nam (played by Hwang Jung-min), the contrast is stark. In-nam is no more warm, sympathetic, or human than the men he's killing. We see quiet grief in In-nam's visage as he contemplates his own soullessness...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Peninsula"

2020/08/22 | Permalink

Probably the most eagerly awaited Asian movie of the year, the sequel to "Train to Busan" was looked upon by many as the savior of an industry that is in shambles due to the pandemic. And saving it did, earning $20.8 million worldwide in the first five days it screened, making it the first time since mid-March that the global box office totaled over $1 million. Regarding its quality as a film, however, that is a completely different discussion...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Steel Rain 2: Summit"

2020/08/22 | Permalink

The first "Steel Rain" featured extended scenes of odd couple bromance sandwiched by completely bonkers international tactical warfare nonsense involving three countries. "Steel Rain 2: Summit" ups the ante, instead featuring extended scenes of odd throuple bromance sandwiched by completely bonkers international tactical warfare nonsense involving five countries. What the two movies lack in shared continuity, they more than make up for in terms of utterly bewildering plot points...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Dream of Fortune" + Full Movie

2020/08/22 | Permalink

"Money makes the world go round", sung Liza Minelli in "Cabaret" and "A Dream of Fortune" seems to be a film that has truly caught the meaning of the phrase, as everything in the movie revolve around money...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "OK! MADAM"

2020/08/15 | Permalink

Mi-yeong (played by Uhm Jung-hwa) is a middle-aged housewife who sells traditional baked goods at the open-air market in Yeongcheon. Even though "OK! MADAM" opens up with a somewhat perplexing North Korean involved spy action scene, the movie is oddly coy about Mi-yeong's actual identity. So it is that as "OK! MADAM" moves on to having Mi-yeong and her family getting on a plane and becoming involved with a hijacking, the movie begins a sequence of generally meaningless plot twists...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Itaewon"

2020/08/15 | Permalink

The Itaewon district of Seoul has long been known as a cool and happening. The recent drama "Itaewon Class" deliberately plays off this mystique, centering around a young man trying to start his own restaurant there. But long before Itaewon was cool was it was just...this place, where peddlers came from far and wide to try and make their fortune. Itaewon used to be next to an American military base. American soldiers, especially in the olden days, tend to have money and not much to do with it...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Bonanza" + Full Movie

2020/08/15 | Permalink

From 1955 and until the Motion Picture Law of 1962 by Park Chung-hee's regime, Korean cinema experienced one of its Golden Ages, both in terms of quality and popularity, which subsequently, brought bigger budgets to movie production. Chung Chang-hwa took advantage of the fact in order to become one of the pioneers of Korean action cinema, in a series of efforts that eventually brought him to work with Shaw Brothers, directing cult classics such as "Five Fingers of Death". "A Bonanza" is an excellent sample of his genre filmmaking, as it incorporates almost every element of mainstream cinema...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Therapist: Fist of Tae-baek"

2020/08/08 | Permalink

Seong-joon (played by Oh Ji-ho) and Jin-soo (played by Jung Eui-wook) are friends and rivals at a small, bamboo-laden martial arts temple in the deep mountains. They then come down from the mountains and turn out to be...dubiously employable. Or at least, that's the impression I got when the seven years later subtitled flashes by and far from the mystical oriental paradise of the previous scene, Seong-joon now works at a failing massage therapy shop of dubious legality. It's failing in part because he's too nice to charge money to his poor, elderly patients...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Resurrection"

2020/08/08 | Permalink

In 2010 director Goo Soo-hwan made "Don't Cry for Me Sudan" detailing the charity work of Catholic priest Lee Tae-seok in wartorn Sudan. The cultural impact of the documentary, while big in Catholic missionary culture, isn't that well-known elsewhere. Opening scenes detailing "Don't Cry for Me Sudan" being shown at the Vatican sells just how influential the movie was. And so "Resurrection" works as a retrospective, asking what happened to all those marching band kids ten years later...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Five Marines" + Full Movie

2020/08/08 | Permalink

In the plethora of war films in international cinema, it is quite difficult to find ones that actually focus on characters instead of the action, and use the war as a basis in order to present various comments. The late Kim Kee-duk achieves just that in his feature debut, which netted him the Best New Director Award at the 1962 Grand Bell Awards...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Ahn Sangtae Short Film Collection Vol.1"

2020/08/01 | Permalink

The first short of the "Ahn Sangtae Short Film Collection Vol.1" omnibus plays best to Ahn Sang-tae's natural strengths as a comedian. Undercover is about an undercover cop in a violent criminal gag who very stupidly gets his Kakao chat rooms confused and has to hypermasculine his way out of it. That Ahn Sang-tae does not look or act like either a credible cop or gangster only sharpens the absurd contrast of the situation, as his comically aggressive behavior inspires mild confusion but ultimate acceptance from his superiors...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Teuri"

2020/08/01 | Permalink

As "Teuri" opens up we see Crayon (played by Seo Hyun-woo) find several letters addressed to acquaintances from his high school days. As Crayon uses the letters as a pretext to go see these people again, a pattern plays out. They are warm and welcome, filled with nostalgic feeling upon the reminder of their past. Then they actually read their individual letter, and the mood turns dark and angry. They express agitation at Crayon, who seems blissfully unaware of the seriousness of the moment...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Soil" + Full Movie

2020/08/01 | Permalink

"Born From Soil, Live in Soil, and Die in Soil" is the phrase the protagonist utters in the beginning of the film, and there is no better way to describe the purpose of this movie, which aims at showing the blights of life in the city and the purity of living in the country, in another, almost militant production of the 60's...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Singer"

2020/07/25 | Permalink

In eighteenth century Joseon we see singer Hak-gyoo (played by Lee Bong-geun), his wife Gan-nan (played by Lee Yu-ri) and their daughter Cheong-i (played by Kim Ha-yeon-I) in a constant state of familial bliss. Even a scene as simple as a stroll through a meadow takes on powerful romantic connotations. There's also a strong sense of surreptitiousness in the overall family dynamic, as is most obviously observed when Cheong-i cheekily signals to the viewer that she knows more about how her parents relate to each other than she lets on...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Road Family"

2020/07/25 | Permalink

While obviously fairly cheaply produced "Road Family" demonstrates some surprisingly lofty ambitions in its worldbuilding. Yu-ri (played by Park Cho-rong) is a teenage violinist with no friends because her more well-to-do classmates at violin school clearly think she's beneath them. This is due, in part, to Yu-ri living with her blue collar dad Hyeon-doo (played by Park Won-sang) who has to work long hours to support his daughter as a delivery driver...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Drifting Story" + Full Movie

2020/07/25 | Permalink

Having women protagonists and issues that deal with the place of women in Korean society was not exactly common ground in the 60's (as is also not now), so it comes as a surprise that Gwon Yeong-sun directed a film like that, although the premises are anything but feminist...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Prisoner"

2020/07/18 | Permalink

Director Kang Kil-yong is a legend when it comes to martial arts choreography, having worked on a ridiculously large number of famous South Korean films over the years. "The Prisoner" is his first attempt leading a movie production as director though, and the results are about what you'd expect. The acting, the script, and the set design is all pretty cheap and even cheesy. But those fight scenes! With very little to work with, Kang Kil-yong pulls off some outrageously kinetic hand-to-hand fisticuff duels...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Boy From Nowhere"

2020/07/18 | Permalink

The title of "The Boy From Nowhere", as well as the script, frequently refers to lead character Kim Soo (played by Kwak Min-gyoo) as a kid. This is odd, and a frustrated Kim Soo comments on it as odd, because Kim Soo looks to be maybe thirty years old. But then, Kim Soo isn't exactly an adult. He rides around on his scooter-bike running errands in the illegal migrant trade, making little progress to any obvious goal in beautiful Jeju Island. So he instead decides to take up surfing...More

[HanCinema's Film Review]: "Mr. Park" + Full Movie

2020/07/18 | Permalink

Family dramas that do not succumb to forced sentimentalism are actually a rarity in Korean cinema, to the point that the ones that don't, immediately stand out from the plethora in the category. "Mr. Park" does not avoid it completely, but for the most part, its approach comes pretty close to the comical, a tactic that definitely benefits the film...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Jazzy Misfits"

2020/07/11 | Permalink

Blue (played by Cheetah) is a jazz singer working in Itaewon living with her high school age sister Yoo-ri (played by Choi Ji-su). Their mother, played by Jo Min-soo, isn't much of a parent. It's intimated that she has financial resources, somehow, but is in general so needlessly hostile and destructive that both Blue and Yoo-ri try to avoid dealing with her. But Blue, at least, has little choice in the matter when mom's first visit to their home coincides with Yoo-ri disappearing without explanation...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Si, Nario"

2020/07/11 | Permalink

In Incheon, film director Kyeong-tae (played by Oh Tae-kyung) arrives, massive backpack in tow, and sets off by bus to the next stage of his journey. This turns out to be the outside of the apartment complex where his illustrator ex-girlfriend Da-woon (played Shin So-yul) lives. Kyeong-tae sets up a tent there. Da-woon is, understandably, perplexed and angered by behavior which she interprets as stalking. So it is that "Si, Nario" rather auspiciously begins with the question of why Da-woon doesn't just call the police...More

[HanCinema' Film Review] "A Romantic Papa" + Full Movie

2020/07/11 | Permalink

Using comedy to comment on society and themes like family is not exactly an easy task, since the balance between commentary and entertainment is rather difficult to retain. However, Shin Sang-ok accomplishes just that with an easiness that is emblematic of his value as a filmmaker (let's not get into the controversy of his history again)...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Innocence"

2020/07/04 | Permalink

At the start of "Innocence" we're treated to a horrific scene wherein various members of a funeral banquet start vomiting rice wine, having clearly been poisoned. The apparently senile Hwa-ja (played by Bae Jong-ok) is the main obvious culprit, as the woman who prepared the food for the friends of her departed husband. So it is that Hwa-ja's daughter Jeong-in (played by Shin Hye-sun) returns to the outskirts of Daejeon, determined to prove that her mother is innocent...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Forbidden Fatherland"

2020/07/04 | Permalink

The father of director Kim Lyang hails from the seaside town of Dancheon in the Hamgyeong province of North Korea. Back then, of course, it wasn't North Korea, it was just Korea. He ended up on the wrong side of the demilitarized zone through the time and tide of war. In "Forbidden Fatherland", we see Kim Lyang observing her father's meek depression. From staged flashbacks where Kim Lyang is portrayed as a child who resents her father, the documentary transitions to asking what made him this way....More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Bandhobi"

2020/07/04 | Permalink

It is always a pleasure to discover barely known cinematic gems, and the fact that you never know where you will find one is what makes searching for older films so interesting. "Bandhobi", (a Bangladeshi word that means female friend) is a film that definitely deserves the search...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "#ALIVE"

2020/06/27 | Permalink

Joon-woo (played by Yoo Ah-in) is at home alone playing games online when his Internet friends start noting in confusion that there's crazy stuff happening on television. Up in his eighth floor apartment, Joon-woo looks down and sees a giant panicked mob. Then he sees some members of the mob inexplicably turn around and start biting each other. Suffice to say, Joon-woo is too spooked to leave his apartment, where he remains for most of the rest of the movie...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A French Woman"

2020/06/27 | Permalink

In present day France, Mi-ra (played by Kim Ho-jung) has finally had enough of her husband Jules (played by Alexandre Guanse), a man who we are quickly led to believe is an unsympathetic philanderer even as he earnestly insists their issues can be resolved. We then see Mi-ra return to Korea, seeing old friends for the first time in decades. The culture shock is a bit much, which possibly explains why Mi-ra is always meeting her friends in Western-style bars...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Bewitching Attraction"

2020/06/27 | Permalink

Billed as a sex comedy and flaunting Moon So-ri's undeniable sex appeal any way possible (just check the poster), "Bewitching Attraction" seemed like a project that could be commercially successful, to say the least. Bad writing however and a mediocre direction resulted into something completely different...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Baseball Girl"

2020/06/20 | Permalink

Soo-in (played by Lee Joo-young) is a high school baseball player who wants to go professional. But where as a middle school student Soo-in was hailed as a genius pitcher, in high school age she has fallen behind her male peers. Yet nothing about Soo-in is portrayed all that romantically. Soo-in is first and foremost a sullen teenage girl who's used to feeling beaten down and not getting much support...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The President's Last Bang"

2020/06/20 | Permalink

The opening narrative crawl of "The President's Last Bang" stoically informs us about how President Park Chung-hee (played by Song Jae-ho) brutally rolled back pro-democracy demonstration movements throughout his reign in the sixties and seventies. Then, as we get to the scripted part of the story, we learn that Park Chung-hee seems less like a tyrannical dictator and more like an eccentric rock star, complete wiith groupies and torture dungeons. Also he has a serious Japan fetish...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Yu Gwan-sun" + Full Movie

2020/06/20 | Permalink

As the fifties were coming to an end, the anti-Rhee establishment/pro-South Korea sentiments were becoming stronger and stronger, something that eventually  led to the "April 19 Revolution", a student movement that eventually led to the resigning of President Syngman Rhee. The sentiment of the era was also mirrored in cinema, and Yu Gwan-sun, a student that repeatedly demonstrated against the Japanese rule until her death in the hands of the authorities in 1919, and a symbol of freedom and resistance against Japanese imperialism for Korean people, offered the perfect base...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Intruder"

2020/06/13 | Permalink

Seo-jin (played by Kim Moo-yul) is an architect suffering severe mental problems due to the recent loss of his wife. There's also long term trauma from the disappearance of his little sister when he was still a child. And so, a woman claiming to be Yoo-jin (played by Song Ji-hyo) comes into Seo-jin's life, to the great joy of his family. Seo-jin remains suspicious. It's unclear whether he has valid reason to doubt this woman's story or if Seo-jin is just such a miserable sad sack he can't accept any happiness in his life at all...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Can You Hear Me?"

2020/06/13 | Permalink

Early on in "Can You Hear Me?" the question is posed to communications expert Kim Chang-ok as to why, exactly, this documentary is being made. He doesn't have a particularly convincing answer, although one is quickly forthcoming. See, even though Kim Chang-ok is a communications expert, he actually does not communicate that well with his own father. This is true both figuratively, in that his father is a lousy communicator, but also literally, in that he appears to be going deaf...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Nameless Stars" + Full Movie

2020/06/13 | Permalink

By now, most people who deal with Korean cinema would have heard about the infamous Gwangju Massacre, which has featured in a number of films, particularly during the last two decades. Before this incident, however, there was another one equally heroic and equally bloody that took place in the same area. On November 3, 1929, 54,000 students joined the Gwangju Student Independent Movement against Japanese Imperialism and marched against their oppressors. Many were injured, killed and tortured in prison. "Nameless Stars" is dedicated to them and tells the story of the movement by focusing on a group of students from a particular school...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Somewhere in Between"

2020/06/06 | Permalink

Gi-tae (played by Lee Dong-hwi) hails from a fairly obscure rural region of South Korea and sought to come make his fortune in Seoul. Like so many thirty-somethings in South Korea, his plans didn't really work out. So as Gi-tae returns home, forced to take up employment in a weird old movie theater, he has to take stock of his life at a crossroads. Why did he want to go to Seoul anyway? And why does he feel like such a failure, when his fairly modest ambitions were just to get a normal job?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Nine Monks"

2020/06/06 | Permalink

In November of 2019, nine monks voluntarily sequestered themselves for ninety days in a spiritual ritual which, we are repeatedly told in the text, was unprecedented. I could never quite catch why the ritual was so unprecedented. But clearly some people were very impressed by it, given that crowds and television crews witnessed the monks both entering and leaving their specially constructed tent with much fanfare. Apparently the sequestration was big news on South Korea's Buddhist Television Network (BTN)...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Bell Tower" + Full Movie

2020/06/06 | Permalink

Based on the novel "The Bell Maker" by Kang Ro-hyang, "The Bell Tower" uses multiple stories inside the main story in order to make a number of sociopolitical and historical comments, once more, through a distinctly melodramatic approach...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Bori"

2020/05/30 | Permalink

In the sleepy outskirts of Gangreung, eleven year old Bori (played by Kim Ah-song) lives happily with her family. We see from the first that Bori has some mild resentment of her younger brother Jeong-woo (played by Lee Rin-ha), but this mostly seems to just be because he's the baby of the family. "Bori" transitions softly into familial relations, with a big cuddle-in between family members masking the inevitable revelation that, though Bori herself can hear, the rest of her family is deaf...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Our Cat"

2020/05/30 | Permalink

Last year Hyoja Village in Chuncheon made a noteworthy shift. Their area had over time acquired a noticably large population of street cats. Until then, Hyoja Village had been best known for its local murals. So they decided to try and rebrand themselves as a cat village. I thought this real-life local planning decision was very interesting so I was a little disappointed when "Our Cat" moved away from this topic to just become, well, another documentary about cats...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Love Marriage" + Full Movie

2020/05/30 | Permalink

Coming up with a film that functions like a modern version of "Pride and  Prejudice" in a Korean setting and with Hollywood aesthetics is definitely not an easy task, but Lee Byung-il seems to have managed just that, in a rather interesting production...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "King of Prison"

2020/05/23 | Permalink

For all the way prison is romanticized in movies as being a cruel place where mean people brutalize each other in the name of power, and only the strongest survive, real-life prison is quite a bit duller than that. Fights are less about who gets to control the illicit internal drug trade and more over failing to properly apologize hard enough after bumping into somebody by accident. Pathetic luxuries like snack food which we on the outside take for granted are prized like precious metals...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Unalterable: The Untold Story - Director's Cut"

2020/05/23 | Permalink

Sang-gon (played by Chun Jung-myung) finds himself somewhat unwillingly thrust into the life of a gangster boss. He gets stuck having to maintain his illegitimate business by destroying everything he loves. Cheol-hoi (played by Jin Yi-han) is Sang-gon's loyal goon, who supports Sang-gon's noble goal of trying to reform the mafia from the inside. This is, you might have guessed, a very stupid goal. So nobody has all that much fun over the course of "Unalterable: The Untold Story - Director's Cut"...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Money" + Full Movie

2020/05/23 | Permalink

Based on a play by Son Ki-hyun, "The Money" is a rather strange amalgam, since the almost completely unrealistic, melodramatic premises of its narrative have the distinct purpose of criticizing capitalism...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Shooting Girls"

2020/05/16 | Permalink

In rural Wanju, a middle school girls' soccer team aims for South Korea's National Soccer Championship. Their coach Soo-cheol (played by Jung Woong-in) is an alcoholic who formerly managed a far more high prestige team. But he's a good coach because the girls on the team run a lot. I'm not exaggerating, when Soo-cheol is pushed into resigning following an embarrassing performance, some girls try to speak up for him but most of them can't actually think of any reason why they should...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Free Minu"

2020/05/16 | Permalink

The Seoul Olympics in 1988 dramatically altered the perception of South Korea worldwide, the event symbolizing the country's development. But a major internal change also took place due to the games that was unseen by wealthy outsiders. The South Korean government imported a lot of cheap labor from poorer countries to complete its Olympic facilities. Not all of them returned. One, a Nepalese man named Minu, became an advocate for his people in South Korea...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Hyperbolae of Youth" + Full Movie

2020/05/16 | Permalink

Having a body-swap movie in '50s Korea may seem as unlikely as the actual concept, but Han Hyeong-ho managed just that, although in a whole other fashion that is usually the case...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Hotel Lake"

2020/05/09 | Permalink

Yoo-mi (played by Lee Se-young) is a young adult who hails from the southwestern part of the Korean peninsula. She's never much cared for her hometown. Part of this is due to rustic rural squalor, but Yoo-mi also has deep issues relating to her mother, Eun-kyeong (played by Kim Bo-yoon), who died in mentally trying circumstances while Yoo-mi was still a teenager. So it gives Yoo-mi no pleasure to visit her mother's old friend Kyeong-seon (played by Park Ji-young) at "Hotel Lake" for a rather inconvenient errand...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Last Blues, Last Dance"

2020/05/09 | Permalink

As hospital dramas go, "Last Blues, Last Dance" is surprisingly upfront about the inevitable hopelessness of existing as a terminally ill patient without dipping into melodrama or even anything that can really be called depression. The story shifts constantly between three patients who have come to term with their imminent deaths in very different ways, none of which are that effective. But then, is there really a good way to face death?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Holiday in Seoul" + Full Movie

2020/05/09 | Permalink

Billed occasionally as one of the first romantic comedies to come out of South Korea, occasionally as a thriller about a crime, "Holiday in Seoul" seems to be nothing of the two, but instead a playful if messy comedy/drama of episodic nature, whose parts though, are almost completely disconnected, both from each other and from reality...More

[HanCinema's News] Preview for Thirteenth Episode of "The World of the Married" Breaks 1.2 Million Views

2020/05/06 | Permalink

Across various platforms the preview for the upcoming thirteenth episode of "The World of the Married" broke 1.2 million views on May 6th. Even by the already high standards set by previous videos of "The World of the Married" this is quite high, and most likely related to the shocking conclusion of the twelfth episode...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Hill of Wind"

2020/05/02 | Permalink

Yeong-boon (played by Jung Eun-kyung-I) is an older woman who contrives an excuse to return to her hometown of Taebaek on South Korea's eastern coast. Taebaek not a highly populated area, although "The Hill of Wind" is somewhat vague on this point since so much of the action takes place at night. "The Hill of Wind" is similarly ambiguous when it comes to Yeong-boon's relationship with her daughter Han-hee (played by Jang Sun)...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Juror 8"

2020/05/02 | Permalink

In 2008 South Korea held its first jury trial. It was a big psychological jump for the country's legal culture. After all, when you think about it, the entire idea of a criminal being judged by their peers is pretty strange. How would a bunch of random idiots know what does or does not constitute a crime? Our lead character Nam-woo (played by Park Hyung-sik) is one such idiot. Joon-gyeom (played by Moon So-ri) is by contrast the presiding judge of the nation's first jury trial, with thinly veiled scorn for the whole concept...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Wedding Day" + Full Movie

2020/05/02 | Permalink

"The Wedding Day" was a landmark for Korean cinema, since, apart from being quite successful in the local box office, it also won an award for Best Comedy at the Fourth Asian Film Festival, thus beginning Korean cinema's emergence to international audiences. The script is based on the comic fable "A Happy Day of Jinsa Maeng", written by O Yeong-jin in 1942 and originally performed as a stage play in 1944. The success of the movie resulted in two more adaptations, one in 1962, and one in 1977...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Time to Hunt"

2020/04/26 | Permalink

After much controversy regarding who should be paid for screening the film on Netflix, "Time to Hunt" finally started streaming this week, having already created a hype that made a number of Korean film fans quite anxious to watch it, including this reviewer. Let us see if it was worth it...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Beyond That Mountain"

2020/04/25 | Permalink

Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan (played here as a child by Lee Kyung-hoon-I) was a high-ranking member of the Catholic clergy. He is widely known and highly regarded in South Korea for the support he offered to the country's democratization movement. But once upon a time, Sou-hwan was just a normal child like any other. "Beyond That Mountain" tells the story of how Sou-hwan came to understand the world and his place in it, ultimately leading him to take a vocation...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Zombie Fighter"

2020/04/25 | Permalink

The opening computer graphics for "Zombie Fighter" depict some pretty bog standard world-building, explaining how the zombie virus came to take over the world. Where the backstory gets interesting is that, while scientists have not been able to find a cure for the zombie virus, they have developed a serum that, when injected into zombies, makes them attack each other. This is naturally not terribly useful. Unless you want to rebuild the economy around on zombie cage matches. Then it's very useful...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Yangsan Province" + Full Movie

2020/04/25 | Permalink

Kim Ki-young may have been internationally known for "The Housemaid - 1960" (and on a secondary level "Insect Woman" and "Io Island") but his contribution to Korean cinema and his successes in the local box office were numerous and quite significant. "Yangsan Province" falls mostly under the second category...More

[HanCinema's News] Preview for the Eighth Episode of "The World of the Married" Exceeds One Million Views

2020/04/19 | Permalink

Only a day after its release the preview for the eighth episode of "The World of the Married" achieved the million view milestone on the video's official release across various streaming sites...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Search Out"

2020/04/18 | Permalink

There's a real sense of foreboding echoing through "Search Out" and its awkwardly aged protagonists. They're all in their late twenties but are they adults really? Joon-hyeok (played by Kim Sung-cheol) wants a decent job. Seong-min (played by Lee Si-eon) is trying to become a cop. But they're frustrated in these modest ambitions by an increasingly alienated and depressed cityscape, relying on each other for encouragement as they cope with constant internal doubt...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Mr. Daytime"

2020/04/18 | Permalink

Soo-min (played by Park Se-min) is an art instructor in a seaside village. For some mysterious reason he visits an obvious love motel without acquiring a sexual partner. In an impressive display of restraint, Park Se-min is also the director of his own erotic the only central character to never be seen nude or having sex. For an explicitly voyeuristic movie, "Mr. Daytime" shows surprising self-awareness about the subtle distinctions between artistic nudity and low class vulgar nudity. This sometimes happens even mid-scene, as a drawing class goes awary due to inscrutable feminine jealousy...More

[HanCinema's News] "The World of the Married" Exceeds "Crash Landing on You" in Preview Metrics

2020/04/15 | Permalink

The trailer for the fifth episode of "The World of the Married" has had over a million views since its release across various media platforms. The record-setting number is particularly noteworthy, because that metric has only been equaled by one other drama this year - the major hit "Crash Landing on You"...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Justice High"

2020/04/11 | Permalink

Chae-yeong (played by Jung Daeun) is a high school student who is a black belt in the offensive/defensive style of martial arts colloquially referred to throughout "Justice High" as the justice school of martial arts. While Chae-yeong is perpetually grumpy, and annoyed over having been forced to change schools, she still uses her skills as necessary. That's how she meets Jong-goo (played by Oh Seung-hoon), a bullied teenager who is...not her love interest?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Ghost Ship"

2020/04/11 | Permalink

The opening sequence of "Ghost Ship" is crudely and deliberately animated such as to avoid showing anybody's face. While this is done in part because director Kim Ji-young-V is obviously working on a budget, the stark anonymity of this scene is critical. Kim Ji-young-V doesn't explain why right away but the curious story of an unknown tech pirate working in Shenzhen is just a metaphor for the greater ominous information blackout surrounding forensic data relevant to the Sewol ferry tragedy...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Widow" + Full Movie

2020/04/11 | Permalink

"The Widow" is quite a significant production for the cinema of S. Korea as much as unlucky for its director, Park Nam-ok, a Korean athlete who became a journalist and then a director. The significance lies with the fact that this was the first film to be directed by a woman in Korea and the one that opened the First Woman Film Festival in Seoul in 1997. The unlucky part has to do with the fact that Park found it extremely difficult to complete the film, which took her 6 months to do so, particularly because her sex made the owners of a number of recording facilities for post-production reluctant to let her use their space and equipment...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Are We In Love?"

2020/04/04 | Permalink

So-jeong (played by Kim So-eun) is a pastry chef. Her boss Seung-jae (played by Sung Hoon) is always giving her a hard time at work, either for being late, or showing up in a dirty uniform, or just making poor quality pastries. So-jeong is so overworked and overstressed that she doesn't seem like a typical romantic movie protagonist at all. This problem dogs most of us "Are We In Love?" as I kept thinking to myself, this movie is less a love story and more a depiction of the many ways a woman can be sexually harassed...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Man of Men"

2020/04/04 | Permalink

Yong Soo, in his feature debut, took upon himself a rather difficult task, of shooting a movie that combines comedy, drama and gangster film (probably the most popular genres of Korean cinema) but does not become a total cliché. Thankfully, his main cast consists of Sol Kyung-gu and Cho Jin-woong, two actors that are quite experienced in all the aforementioned categories. Let us see how he fared though...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Miniforce: Deeno the King of Dinosaurs"

2020/04/04 | Permalink

Little time is wasted in "Miniforce: Deeno the King of Dinosaurs" as director Lee Yeong-joon just skips right past any relevant exposition and just dumps us right into the exact situation promised by the movie's theatrical poster. Dinosaurs are coming out of interdimensional portals, attacking the world, and the Miniforce steps in to stop them. After a reasonably epic, if occasionally goofy battle, the Miniforce subdues the titular dinosaur king Deeno (voiced by Um Sang-hyun), but the antagonists fumble the escape...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "AI, Her" Segment 1 'Mental Plastic Surgery' + Video

2020/03/31 | Permalink

In-mi (played by Sung Hye-min) is portrayed straightaway as being a bit of a sexpot. Much of the opening just shows her dancing for our amusement on a fabulous yacht. Well, technically, she's dancing for her rich husband Tae-yeong (played by Jang Tae-young) who can't even bring himself to pretend to care. The frustrated In-mi can then be seen wearing a garish bikini under a black trenchcoat in high heels, power-walking her way to a fairly logical request at the mental plastic surgery clinic. She needs more elegance...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Invitation"

2020/03/28 | Permalink

Analyzing a film that plays with the concept of time is always difficult, and even more in the case of "Invitation", where the way the story unfolds and the fragmented revelation of the events of both the past and the future are part the directorial tactic. Nevertheless, the effort will be made, with as little revealed as possible...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Untold"

2020/03/28 | Permalink

It's a little known fact that South Korea fought on the side of the United States in the Vietnam War. Actually, on a per-capita basis, they contributed even more to the war effort than the United States did. South Korean soldiers were cheaper than American ones, and dictator Park Chung-hee exploited this fact to secure critical development funds. "Untold" assumes that you're already familiar with this basic background as director Lee-kil Bo-ra begins "Untold" by showing the Vietnamese victims of South Korean war criminals still mourning their fallen family members...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Buen Camino"

2020/03/28 | Permalink

The Way of St. James is a pilgrimage route through the Northern part of Spain. It leads from France to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, terminating at the shrine of St. James the Great. It's at best a historical curiousity in most English language culture. I'd never even heard of it before coming to South Korea. Yet it's been featured in travel books, variety shows and now, "Buen Camino", depicting an older legally blind masseuse and her teenage niece on the trail...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Madame Freedom" + Full Movie

2020/03/28 | Permalink

Based on the homonymous novel that was serialized in a Seoul newspaper, "Madame Freedom" became extremely popular upon its release in 1956, while it continues to be the object of study by film historians until this day...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Dreamer"

2020/03/21 | Permalink

Geun-soo (played by Hong Geun-taek) is a homely looking North Korean defector. Upon arrival in South Korea he gets put into an equally homely looking apartment, and prepares himself for an exciting career working as a hair stylist. But things take a turn for the worse when he meets delivery guy Ji-hyeok (played by Cha Ji-hyun), a petty criminal with many bad ideas, little foresight, but just enough competence to come out ahead in a typical short term hustle...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "An Honest Candidate"

2020/03/21 | Permalink

The opening origin myth of congresswoman Sang-sook (played by Ra Mi-ran) is that she nobly got into politics to help her dying grandmother Ok-hee (played by Na Moon-hee). This story is, unsurprisingly, not entirely truthful, but Ra Mi-ran is quite understated in her first contrast of the real Sang-sook with the fake one. Sang-sook is critical of some very weird, specific aspects in the advertisement, pretends to care about the opinions of her staff, but diplomatically makes her dictates seem like a team decision...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Paper Flower"

2020/03/21 | Permalink

No matter how many years or how many films he acts in, it will always be a pleasure to watch Ahn Sung-ki starring in a movie. "Paper Flower" is no exception...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Nightmare"

2020/03/14 | Permalink

Yeon-woo (played by Oh Ji-ho) is a film director who for the extended opening of "The Nightmare" appears to live a generally happy life with his wife Ji-yeon (played by Ji Sung-won) and especially their daughter Ye-rim (played by Ji Sung-won). Given the title we can guess that something is horribly awry. It takes awhile for Yeon-woo to get there, though, since to start out with "The Nightmare" is about Yeon-woo's attempt to work through his grief by making what appears to be an erotic film...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Hitman: Agent Jun"

2020/03/14 | Permalink

The title to "Hitman: Agent Jun" is somewhat misleading. Much like the nineties-era action movies which mark the film's obvious inspiration, the title character (played by Kwon Sang-woo) goes through disproportionate effort to avoid actually killing anybody. Agent Jun's very cool opening setpiece action moves ends with him gleefully taking the first chance available to ditch South Korea's horrific secret government program to transform orphans into super soldiers...More

[Hancinema's Film Review] "Vertigo"

2020/03/14 | Permalink

Eleven years after "Love Fiction", Jeon Gye-soo returns with an excellent film that plays with its title in a number of levels...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Lucky Chan-sil"

2020/03/07 | Permalink

The titular "Lucky Chan-sil" is played by Kang Mal-geum, and is a woman in a mid-life crisis. It's actually not exactly the kind of mid-life crisis you'd expect- Chan-sil was perfectly happy living life as a film producer whose job security was entirely dependent on the reputation of a film director with whom she had worked long-term. But one bad stroke of luck and Chan-sil is suddenly stuck working for Sophie (played by Yoon Seung-ah), a younger and more naive actress who offers Chan-sil work as a house cleaner completely oblivious to the obviously demeaning connotations of such work...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "HEART"

2020/03/07 | Permalink

Ka-yeong (played by writer/director Jeong Ka-young) is a devious young woman who discusses her romantic problems with the various other men she runs into. This promotes a weird atmosphere, particularly since Ka-yeong is always contriving excuses to buy imported beer. And all of this talk of sex does eventually put people in a lazy horny mood. Curiously, the sex is one of the shortest bits in "HEART", as the preamble to this kind of sex is long rambling conversations...More

[Hancinema's Film Review] "Piagol" + Full movie

2020/03/07 | Permalink

Film historians consider 1955 a very important year for S. Korean cinema, in essence, the beginning of the Golden Age, despite the fact that only 15 films were produced during that year. "Piagol" holds a special position even in such a significant year, although for negative reasons, since it was eventually banned due to its supposedly pro-communist propaganda...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "A Hometown in Heart" + Full Movie

2020/02/29 | Permalink

Based on a novel by Ham Se-deok which was already adapted into a successful stage play, "A Hometown in Heart" offers the best production quality of the after-war Korean films that were shot during the 40s (And are featuring in the Korean Film Archive Channel), despite the fact that it was shot with a hand-cranked Parvo camera, equipment that was mostly used during the '20s...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Gabi"

2020/02/29 | Permalink

The title of "Gabi" is a reference to the Russian word for coffee. Apparently, in the South Korean market, coffee originally appeared as a luxury good imported from Russia. It is, rather appropriately, frequently described in the movie as having a liquor-like taste. But anyway, Ilyich (played by Joo Jin-mo) and Tanya (played by Kim So-yeon) are a couple of gangsters in the 1890's who rob Russian military trains possibly for coffee or maybe for the gold that's being smuggled with the coffee the movie never really makes it clear...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Wedding Dress"

2020/02/29 | Permalink

Go-eun (played by Song Yoon-ah) is a wedding dress designer. This actually isn't as important to the overall story as the title implies, as "Wedding Dress" is overwhelmingly the story of Go-eun's relationship with her daughter So-ra (played by Kim Hyang-gi). Given the time period in which this movie was released, and Go-eun's peculiar behavior until we learn the actual premise, you can probably guess that "Wedding Dress" will be going somewhere sad...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Entangled"

2020/02/22 | Permalink

Soon-im (played by Kim Young-ae) is an older woman living with her daughter Yeong-hee (played by Do Ji-won), her son-in-law Sang-ho (played by Song Il-gook), and her high school daughter Flora (played by Kim So-eun). Their lifestyle under one roof in a big house located in the middle of nowhere is mostly functional- not entirely warm but not particularly hostile either. Then a series of unfortunate calamities takes its toll on the household testing everyone's sanity, with Soon-im bearing the brunt of the emotional whiplash...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "School of Youth: The Corruption of Morals"

2020/02/22 | Permalink

While "School of Youth: The Corruption of Morals" isn't quite pornography I frequently felt while watching this movie like an explicitly soft-core take might have been an improvement over what the movie actually is- a Joseon era sex comedy where the premise is that college students are being kidnapped and raped. This doesn't real sound funny, nor does it come off as particularly amusing in execution. The goofy sitcom style sound effects are especially unhelpful, turning lewd comical contrasts into overly try-hard attempts to get a cheap laugh...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Curtain Call"

2020/02/15 | Permalink

Stage actors in South Korea are surprisingly employable, as many of country's trendier university districts perform long-running romantic plays to appeal to young people. On the lower end of that scale are explicitly erotic plays which can usually attract some admissions, however pitifully, and can claim artistic expression if they get overly lewd. "Curtain Call" opens its curtain with a performance gone wrong. It turns out that the kind of people who would pay money to watch live action soft core pornography aren't exactly the most dignified of clientele...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Now and Forever"

2020/02/15 | Permalink

Min-soo (played by Jo Han-sun) is a real player with multiple girlfriends, even though he somewhat counterintuitively manages a video game company. I rather enjoyed the various computer game spots in "Now and Forever", marveling at times as to the kind of equipment that was apparently considered standard issue in the South Korean market at the time. But anyway, one rainy day Min-soo runs into Hye-won (played by Choi Ji-woo), who coyly rejects his advances on the way to the hospital...More

[Hancinema's Film Review] "The Closet"

2020/02/08 | Permalink

The horror genre is a category that has been exhausted to say the least, despite the fact that the movies that fall under it are still among the most popular internationally, particularly regarding mainstream audiences. In that fashion, the most interesting aspect of any new film of the category is to see if it has managed to include any elements that will allow it to stand out from the plethora of similar productions. To begin with, the answer to this question in the case of "The Closet" is positive...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Red Family"

2020/02/08 | Permalink

If you've ever gone to a touristy location at the demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea, you've probably noticed that picture-taking is strictly prohibited and that soldiers may confiscate your camera. With its opening setpiece "Red Family" presents the extremely implausible hypothetical situation in which such regulations might matter. Basically, that some apparently typical tourists are actually North Korean spies...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Jenny, Juno"

2020/02/08 | Permalink

Jenny (played by Park Min-ji) is a middle school student who we immediately see taking a pregnancy test that turns out positive. Her first reaction, naturally, is to confront her boyfriend Juno (played by Kim Hye-sung) and ask him a bunch of strange hypothetical questions before finally telling him the shocking news. Jenny and Juno then proceed to very cutely and clumsily stumble through whatever limited resources are available to them in order to make their relationship work...More

[Hancinema's Film Review] "A Public Prosecutor and a Teacher" + Full Movie

2020/02/08 | Permalink

The second film I am watching featuring a byeonsa (silent-film narrator) is much more accomplished than "The Night Before Independence Day", both because it is a genuine silent film,  and because Sin Chul, the narrator is truly impressive.

The story begins with the titular prosecutor as a child, named Min Jang-son, an orphan who has to support both himself and his sick grandmother by doing a number of odd jobs, selling books, newspapers and bread...More

[Hancinema's Film Review] "The Night Before Independence Day" + Full Movie

2020/02/08 | Permalink

Choi In-gyu, who shot a number of pro-Japanese movies towards the end of the Japanese occupation, started shooting anti-Japanese ones after the liberation, with "Tuition" and "Hurrah! For Freedom" being distinct samples of the two tendencies, respectively. "The Night Before Independence Day" falls under the second category, but as we are about to see, he did not exactly got away from the clutches of censorship and official guidelines, as the movie first frame eloquently states "Approved by Minister of Education"...More

[Hancinema Film's Review] "The Man Standing Next"

2020/02/01 | Permalink

The days of the Third Republic and particularly Park Chung-hee's reign in the 70s, including the implementation of the Yushin Constitution and his assassination by his close friend and director of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, Kim Jae-gyoo, is among the darkest in modern Korean history. Based on the homonymous novel by Kim Choong-sik that narrates the final days of both Park and Kim, Woo Min-ho directs a spy film that has already topped the box office since its release on January 22...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Beasts Clawing at Straws"

2020/02/01 | Permalink

Shooting a film based on a Japanese novel while implementing Korean cinematic aesthetics seems like a great idea in theory, but, thankfully, this time the implementation was as good as the initial concept, at least in terms of entertainment...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Sunkist Family"

2020/02/01 | Permalink

In the opening scenes of "Sunkist Family" Jin-hae (played by Lee Go-eun) expresses annoyance to her grade school semi-boyfriend Dong-sik (played by Im Han-bin) that her parents are fighting. Dong-sik is skeptical about the viability of their Jin-hae's parents, suspecting they're on the verge of divorce. Jin-hae grumpily asserts that everything goes back to normal once her parents start making the thumping sounds. Which does happen, and which Jin-hae graphically depicts in her grade school art class...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Man and a Woman"

2020/02/01 | Permalink

Sang-min (played by Jeon Do-yeon) is the mother of Jong-hwa (played by No Kang-min), a severely autistic child. In dreary, snow-covered Finland, there seems little hope for their future even assuming that Jong-hwa does well at the international camp Sang-min is taking him to. Enter Ki-hong (played by Gong Yoo), an architect with similar family problems that aren't really anyone's fault. "A Man and A Woman" chronicles their love affair, the bulk of which ends up taking place back in South Korea...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Mr. Zoo: The Missing VIP"

2020/01/25 | Permalink

The titular Mr. Zoo (played by Lee Sung-min) is a special government agent with a critical weakness- he hates animals. Normally this isn't important to his work, except that the latest big project involves working as a security detail for the famed Panda Ming-Ming (voiced by Yoo In-na). Ah, case you haven't seen any promotional material, the main premise of "Mr. Zoo: The Missing VIP" is that Mr. Zoo can hear animals talk. Also the titular VIP is Ming-Ming, who is a Very Important Panda...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Secret Zoo"

2020/01/25 | Permalink

Having already topped the box office since its opening in South Korea the previous Wednesday (Jan 15), "Secret Zoo" includes a number of crowd-pleasing elements that are bound to make it a commercial success...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Not In This World"

2020/01/25 | Permalink

Park Jung-bum seems to be on a roll, since, after the excellent "Height of the Wave" last year, he directs another impressive film that seems to follow on the contextual footsteps of Kim Ki-duk and especially "Address Unknown" and "Pieta", although without the intense depiction of violence...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Pregnant Tree and the Goblin"

2020/01/25 | Permalink

The issue of the Korean sex workers that "serviced" American soldiers in towns built around US military bases has been presented repeatedly in the country's cinema, in films like Kim Ki-duk's  "Address Unknown" and Kim Dong-ryung  and Park Kyoung-tae's own "Tour of Duty". Their approach in "The Pregnant Tree and the Goblin" is quite different, since the narrative takes a path between the documentary and the fiction, while implementing much surrealism and even fantasy...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Hello Carbot Theater Version: The Secret of Island Omparos"

2020/01/25 | Permalink

Prior to watching "Hello Carbot Theater Version: The Secret of Island Omparos" I had no familiarity with the Hello Carbot franchise of animated cartoons for children. There didn't seem to be all that much to get really. Earlier scenes in the movies show flashes of surprisingly distinctively Korean scenes, such as a setpiece revolving around coal briquettes. Another features the distinctive love shot style of downing alcoholic beverages...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Snob"

2020/01/18 | Permalink

Woo-jeong (played by Yoo Da-in) is an artist who skirts a fine line between appropriating other artists, being influenced by them, and just stealing their work outright. For the most part Woo-jeong is never confronted on this behavior- she rather incredibly gets away with it for most of "The Snob" to the point it took me way too long to tell whether she was actually a fraud or not. Which weirdly enough is part of the point here, as "The Snob" is Woo-jeong's argument that art can't be stolen and also that it's OK to just make stuff up to sell a book...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "GANG"

2020/01/18 | Permalink

In the opening scene to "GANG" we watch Ji-hoon (played by Cha Ji-hyuk) leading a small army of high school students to a showdown with the meek-looking Chang-sik (played by Baek Jae-min), who is listening to music with his headphones. A rather misleading subtitle then tells us that we're flashing back three months to when Ji-hoon first transferred to the school. It's misleading because we never actually get back to that confrontation, and "GANG" closes right before the two start fighting...More

[Hancinema's Film Review] "Hurrah! For Freedom" + Full Movie

2020/01/18 | Permalink

The first film made in the country after achieving independence from Japan exemplified all the frustration of both the industry and director Choi In-gyu for being forced to shoot Japanese propaganda movies during the colonization period, and has a title to match these sentiments, as it also known as "Viva Freedom". However, and quite ironically, Choi would experience censorship decades later, under Park Chung-hee's regime, resulting in a incomplete film that has many scenes lost due to deterioration of time or political censorship...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Don't Cry for Me Sudan: Shukran Baba"

2020/01/11 | Permalink

Lee Tae-seok was a trained doctor and musician who spurned a worldly life for the Catholic priesthood to instead minister to people in war-torn Sudan way back in 2001. Lee Tae-seok continued this mission until his death in 2010. Later that year his missionary work was immortalized in the award-winning KBS documentary "Don't Cry for Me Sudan". During his lifetime Lee Tae-seok was also highly decorated for his charitable work...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Montmartre de Papa"

2020/01/11 | Permalink

Hyeong-sik is a retired middle school teacher. He wasn't always like that. Originally the man was just a middle school art teacher, and after a lifetime of work, retirement brings the obvious question- now what? Hyeong-sik goes to conventions with his wife Woon-sook. Also they go on hikes together. We see Hyeong-sik occupy himself with teaching volunteer art classes to monks. Where "Montmartre de Papa" gets rolling is when Hyeong-sik gets an artist visa and heads for France...More

[Hancinema's Film Review] "Spring of Korean Peninsula" + Full Movie

2020/01/11 | Permalink

One of the first films to be shot under the 1940 Korean Film Law, "Spring of Korean Peninsula" was a box office success, as director Lee Byung-il managed to include the classic Korean folk story "The Story of Chunhyang" through a film-within-a film story, but also to incorporate all the elements the Japanese propaganda "suggested" through the aforementioned law...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Start-Up"

2020/01/04 | Permalink

Taek-il (played by Park Jung-min) is a perpetually grumpy teenager who runs off to Gunsan to prove that he's independent. This worries his mother Jeong-hye (played by Yum Jung-ah), who runs a toasted sandwich shop in some unfortunately prime real estate. Meanwhile Taek-il's best friend Sang-pil (played by Jung Hae-in) tries to get a start in business, which goes poorly since his partners are literal gangsters. Back in Gunsan, Taek-il picks fights and loses them with an increasingly colorful bunch of characters...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Forbidden Dream"

2020/01/04 | Permalink

As "Forbidden Dream" opens we see the legendary King Sejong (played by Han Suk-kyu) being carried around in his palanquin through a serious rainstorm. The human drawn carriage completely falls apart apart to the wailing of his loyal retainers. We then see the equally legendary court inventor Jang Yeong-sil (played by Choi Min-sik) stubbornly bracing for his fate as the obvious scapegoat to the incident. Then "Forbidden Dream" flashes back to when these two men first met...More

[Hancinema's Film Review] "Tuition" + Full Movie

2020/01/04 | Permalink

Discovered in 2013 in  the China Film Archive, "Tuition" is one of the earliest films to result from Korean-Japanese collaborations, efforts that functioned as the vehicle for the expansion of the market of Japanese films in the colonial areas (mainly Manchuria and Korea), particularly since the vacuum created by the colonial government's suppression of American and other foreign films in Korea before 1937, left increased opportunities for such endeavors...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Cross of North Gando"

2019/12/28 | Permalink

Though the province of Gando in the Yanbian province of China has an ethnic Korean makeup, it is not generally thought of as Korean. Nearly everyone who grew up in a time when the area would have been considered Korean is dead now. So it is that as one distinguished elderly pastor from North Gando comes to the end of his life, a historian goes out to research that man's home, its history, and how that related to the idea of Korea as a national identity...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Song of the Diaspora: Arirang Road"

2019/12/28 | Permalink

Early on in "The Song of the Diaspora: Arirang Road" director Lee Gyoo-chul asks a Korean immigrant to Central Asia about their miserable life in a generally exasperated tone. Were you ever upset? Did you ever wonder why this fate had to befall you? To which the elderly woman replies, it was fate. If I had been born today, I wouldn't be me. We all suffered together. This resigned sentiment proves critical to understanding just what the song of Arirang means...More

[Hancinema's Film Review] "Sweet Dream" + Full Movie

2019/12/28 | Permalink

For the past month, I have been reading about the history of Korean cinema, since its beginning during the Japanese occupation years; thus, I thought it was about time to deal with films from that era. The aforementioned, 1936 film, which is also known as "Lullaby of Death" and "Mimong", is my first effort, and one of the first talkies in Korean movie history...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Ashfall"

2019/12/21 | Permalink

The opening scenes to "Ashfall" move fast. Military tough guy In-chang (played by Ha Jung-woo) is stuck in traffic while his wife Ji-yeong (played by Bae Suzy) visits the obstetrician alone. Out of nowhere a massive earthquake hits. The Seoul cityscape is ripped apart in glorious fashion. Then government manager Yoo-kyeong (played by Jeon Hye-jin-II) pressures geologist Bong-rae (played by Ma Dong-seok) to come up with a generally bonkers plan to use North Korean nuclear weapons to prevent the remaining devastating aftershocks...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Things That Do Us Part"

2019/12/21 | Permalink

The original "Things That Do Us Part" exhibition ran at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul from November of 2017 to April of 2018. The MMCA logo at the start of this documentary should have been, in retrospect, an obvious harbinger of what was to come. Though "Things That Do Us Part" is ostensibly a documentary about three Korean independence fighters from three different conflicts, the film's construction is artistic rather than historical...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Gravity of the Tea"

2019/12/14 | Permalink

In the opening scene of "Gravity of the Tea" we watch as famed director Im Kwon-taek attempts to drink tea, his hands quivering so much that I started to wonder whether he was going to drop it. Director Jung Sung-il never really gets around to asking Im Kwon-taek questions about his craft. We just kind of watch Im Kwon-taek ramble at various intervals about vaguely film adjacent subjects. For the most part, though, Im Kwon-taek just sits or sleeps in silence...More

[Hancinema's Film Review] "Ruby"

2019/12/14 | Permalink

Handling pretentiousness as a director is a very difficult task, which very few have managed to complete adequately (Naomi Kawase's "Radiance" and a number of Leos Carax's films come to mind), and even those, not all the time. In that regard, Park Han-jin had a quite difficult task in his hands for his first feature effort, directing a film about a filming, which also functions much like a stage play and is shot in black-and-white. Let us see how he fared...More

[Hancinema's Film Review] "Eunmi"

2019/12/14 | Permalink

As I have mentioned many times before, Hong Sang-soo's influence in the Korean art-house/indie scene is enormous, to the point that the majority of films in the category share some similarities at least, with his cinematic approach. Jeong Ji-young, in her feature debut follows many of these lines, but still manages to present a film that does not copy, but implements HSS approach through her own style. Let us see how she fares...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Last Scene"

2019/12/14 | Permalink

Independent film theaters in South Korea are on a downswing. Well, strictly speaking independent film theaters are on a downswing just about everywhere. The kinds of eclectic films they show don't have the benefit of massive marketing operations behind them. Most people have never heard of the movies shown at such theaters. In the "Last Scene", we watch this reality sink in as theater owners discuss past hopes of a filmgoing public that never really materialized...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "The Education"

2019/12/07 | Permalink

The hardships young people face in S. Korea nowadays, when looking for a job has been a recurring theme during the latest few years, among indie productions. Kim Duk-joong, in his debut, makes his own effort on the theme, by combining it with the concept of taking care of the sick elderly...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Moving On"

2019/12/07 | Permalink

Winner of the NETPAC, Citizen Critics', DGK and KTH award in Busan, "Moving On" is one of the best films to come out this year from the country, particularly due to the insight it offers to the Korean modern society...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "President's 7 Hours"

2019/12/07 | Permalink

Originally "President's 7 Hours" was teased in "After Diving Bell" via the post-credits sequence. The promised content, a detailing of former South Korean President Park Geun-hye's dealings with a mysterious cult, was intriguing. The title also promised to explain the seven hours during the Sewol tragedy where Park Geun-hye could not be contacted to give clear instructions to the rescue operation. While all that information is in here, the presentation is underwhelming...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Wolseong"

2019/12/07 | Permalink

The Wolseong nuclear power plant system is located in the outskirts of Gyeongju, in the southeastern part of South Korea. It's only one of many nuclear power plant systems that provide much of the country's electricity. In "Wolseong", directors Kim Sung-hwan-II and Nam Tae-je detail activism on the part of Gyeongju locals to shut down the plants. The main argument they present is that radiation from the plant is leaking into the water supply, giving them cancer...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Bring Me Home"

2019/11/30 | Permalink

As "Bring Me Home" opens up there's surprisingly little trace of the dramatic thriller that was promised in the film's promotional material. For the first act of "Bring Me Home" we mostly just watch Jeong-yeon (played by Lee Young-ae) and Myeong-gook (played by Park Hae-joon) grieve over the loss of their son, while still encouraging one another to be positive and not give up hope. Their willingness to put on a strong face, after all, is motivation for others to endure and not give up...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Moonlit Winter"

2019/11/30 | Permalink

Sae-bom (played by Kim Sohye) is a teenager who lives awkwardly with her divorced mother Yoon-hee (played by Kim Hee-ae). Because Yoon-hee is highly uncommunicative and aloof, even apparently cruel statements from Sae-bom appear to have little effect on her. Sae-bom's adolescent curiousity is ignited when she finds a mysterious letter, which prompts a meticulously planned trip to snowy Hokkaido in Japan, where Sae-bom hopes to find answers about who and why her mother is...More

[Hancinema's Film Review] "Yeong-ja's Heydays" + Full Movie

2019/11/30 | Permalink

The tendency of the Korean audience to adore melodramas found one of its apogees in 1975, when "Yeong-ja's Heydays" became a huge box office hit, drawing 360,000 viewers, surpassing even the top foreign film at the time, "The Sting"...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Black Money"

2019/11/23 | Permalink

As "Black Money" starts out an ominous looking subtitle at the bottom of the screen lists a countdown to the date of sale of a South Korean bank to a foreign firm. The specificness of the days, the generally unremarkable setting year of 2011, as well as the technical, legal, and business jargon that predominates "Black Money" led me to believe that this movie was based on a real-life event. And it is, sort of, except all the names are changed and the characters are completely made up...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Rivercide: The Secret Six"

2019/11/23 | Permalink

In 2018 former South Korean president Lee Myung-bak was convicted on charges of accepting bribes and embezzling. Though prosecutors proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Lee Myung-bak had received illicit money from corporations, what they did not prove was why. "Rivercide: The Secret Six" goes into what is probably the most plausible way Lee Myung-bak made himself valuable to his corporate benefactors- the Four Major Rivers Project, an unmitigated disaster that destroyed countless local ecosystems at massive taxpayer expense...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "KIM Jiyoung: Born 1982"

2019/11/16 | Permalink

We are first introduced to the titular Kim Jiyoung (played by Jung Yu-mi) in a malaise at home. As she takes a wistful look outside, her infant daughter playing inside, we see her clear dissatisfaction with being a housewife. When Jiyoung's husband Dae-hyeon (played by Gong Yoo) comes home, he is understanding, but also helpless. Dae-hyeon feels guilty for her mental condition- something he communicates better to a potential therapist than he does to Jiyoung directly...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Hit-and-Run Squad"

2019/11/16 | Permalink

Police lieutenant Si-yeon (played by Gong Hyo-jin) has been annoying her superiors at work with her corruption investigations, so they transfer her to one of the goofier branches of the force- the one responsible for investigating hit-and-run accidents. The work's a lot harder than it sounds. How do you track down a driver in a fast vehicle who's running away? In the big introductory setpiece we see a huge squad of police cars having to physically box a truck in to prevent its escape...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Scattered Night"

2019/11/15 | Permalink

Films about the consequences divorces have on children can be found aplenty in world cinema, mostly focusing, however, on the parents and through them, to the kids. Lee Jihyoung and Kim Sol however, shoot a family drama that presents the succession of events after the divorce through the eyes of the children, and particularly of little Soo-min, thus managing to stand apart from the plethora of similar productions. Their efforts were rewarded with the Korean Competition Grand Prize and the Best Acting Award in Jeonju...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "A Bedsore"

2019/11/10 | Permalink

Films that deal with the lives of the elderly have been increasing in number during the latest years, since their issues (mostly their caretaking) seem to become more intense as their numbers are also increasing in comparison to the new generations, particularly in the "first world" countries. Usually, these films tend to be slow and quite dramatic, but Shim HyeJung has picked another kind of approach, in her first feature effort...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Divine Move 2: The Wrathful"

2019/11/09 | Permalink

At first we simply watch young Gwi-soo (played by Park Sang-hoon-IV) go through a perverse and violent tragic story, eventually escaping to Seoul and undergoing bizarre monastic training for the sake of becoming a master of Baduk (Go) to obtain revenge. Yes, that's right, the board game played with black and white stones. Like "The Divine Move", "The Divine Move 2: The Wrathful" take a generally preposterous premise and plays it with the utmost sincerity...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Jeronimo"

2019/11/09 | Permalink

Director Joseph Juhn is a Korean-American New York lawyer who, on a lark, decided to visit Cuba shortly after President Obama announced a normalization of relations with the Communist country. By sheer dumb luck, the taxi driver he summoned at the airport happened to be an ethnic Korean woman. And so begins Joseph Juhn's inquisitive journey into just how it was that Korean people managed to end up in Cuba of all places...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Young-ju"

2019/11/03 | Permalink

Extreme melodrama, which occasionally cared very little for realism, has been one of the favorite genres of Korean cinema traditionally, although during the past decades, it has been pushed to the background, mostly presented here in there in mainstream productions, in order to draw even bigger crowds ("Train to Busan" is a distinct sample). Chang Sung-duk, however, decided to direct a genuine melodrama in her first feature effort, in old-fashion style...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Journey of the 12 Cats"

2019/11/02 | Permalink

While billed as a documentary "The Journey of the 12 Cats" is really more of a hybrid project. I am reasonably sure that actress Sun-Woo Sun does indeed own twelve cats, and that these are the same twelve cats featured in the movie. I'm also reasonably sure that she took them on a vacation to the ocean, and that director Park Beom-jun filmed her doing so. But the presence of other actors in the movie, as well as the fact that the cats are given voices, does suggest a bit of stage management in the background...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Negotiation"

2019/11/02 | Permalink

In hostage negotiations the police do not actually want to negotiate for hostages. Their first most preferable option is to just murder the bad guys. Though ostensibly a movie about hostage negotiation "The Negotiation" is surprisingly up front about about the special forces squads obviously lurking around just offscreen. "The Negotiation" also has surprisingly little faith in hostage negotiation as a concept. Chae-yoon (played by Son Ye-jin) is consistently portrayed as dubiously competent while master criminal Tae-goo (played by Hyun Bin) seems to know basically everything...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Love, Again"

2019/10/26 | Permalink

In the opening scene to "Love, Again" we see Hyeon-woo (played by Kwon Sang-woo) and Seon-yeong (played by Lee Jung-hyun) having a bitter, meaningless argument. What starts out as a dare gets played out for real as the two stubbornly decide to turn their public marriage ceremony into a public divorce ceremony. During this scene Hyeon-woo visibly shows signs of realizing that this was a terrible idea. Seon-yeong is bolder, mainly because she is more afraid of losing the argument...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Don't Go Too Far"

2019/10/26 | Permalink

Films that unfold like stage plays are one of my favorite categories, although I can understand why many consider them non-cinematic. Park Hyun-yong directs a film in that fashion, but through a number of added elements, most of which are "courtesy" of genre cinema, manages to exceed these limitations...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Marrying the Mafia 5 - Return of the Family"

2019/10/26 | Permalink

Dae-seo (played by Jung Joon-ho) tragically lost his gangster princess wife from the first "Marrying the Mafia" movie a while back in a car crash. Then we see in the present day that his brothers-in-law continue to hang around his company being generally useless. Then out of nowhere we find out that Dae-seo's nephew Yeong-min is played by Yoon Doo-joon and yikes, who knew that beastly men could be so dangerous to prequel love interests?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Way Back Home - 2019"

2019/10/19 | Permalink

For the first several scenes of "Way Back Home - 2019" we just watch Jeong-won (played by Han Woo-yun) go through the motions of happy married life. She and her husband discuss interior decorating. Then, she goes to work as a swim instructor while he goes to work at her uncle's carpentry shop. Their home is not idyllic, but it's seriously joyful. Then comes the phone call from a very insistent police officer. This phone call does not rupture Jeong-won's happy life, but it does cause a disturbance...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Education"

2019/10/19 | Permalink

Seong-hee (played Moon Hye-in) is a cranky young woman who recently got injured on the job as a personal assistant. She isn't getting compensated because her job kind of sucks. Seong-hee begs an unsympathetic supervisor to give her just enough work so that she can limp into Spain and he acquiesces. Seong-hee's new low intensity job leads her to spend time with Hyeon-mok (played by Kim Joon-hyung-III), the teenage son of the borderline comatose woman Seong-hee ends up caring for...More

[Hancinema's Film Review] "School Excursion" + Full Movie

2019/10/19 | Permalink

Not as political heavy as his masterpiece, "Aimless Bullet" since the censorship laws in 1969 had become much stricter, "School Excursion" deals with is subject it much "tamer" fashion, but Yu Hyun-mok still managed to include some segments of criticism, although in very subtle fashion...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Crazy Romance"

2019/10/12 | Permalink

The original Korean title of "Crazy Romance" actually literally translates as the most ordinary romance. The statement is one of dark irony, because "Crazy Romance" is an equally accurate title. Soon-yeong (played by Gong Hyo-jin) is a woman who has chosen a life of romantic cynicism. Jae-hoon (played by Kim Rae-won) has had romantic cynicism thrust upon him. Together, they get very drunk, not because they are looking for a romantic partner, but as a humorous coping mechanism for their real world problems...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Free My Soul, Free My Song"

2019/10/12 | Permalink

People in the media in general tend to be loud and outspoken, but we all know that introverted people do indeed exist. "Free My Soul, Free My Song" is an interesting documentary because it's about a very introverted, very shy young woman who would normally never be the topic of a feature length. On the face of it there's nothing all that remarkable about Ji-hee's quest to become a world class acoustic guitar player- save for the fact that she is mentally challenged...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "The Gingko Bed" + Full Movie

2019/10/12 | Permalink

Considered one of the first Korean films to implement special effects in a way that added to its value, "The Gingko Bed" is also story of eternal love that suffers, however, from a rather faulty narrative...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Villagers"

2019/10/05 | Permalink

In the opening scene of "The Villagers" we see Gi-cheol (played by Ma Dong-seok) forced into a change of careers for breaking the rules. In one of the movie's more interesting dramatic flourishes, Gi-cheol is not played from that point forward as a renegade. To the contrary, Gi-cheol is surprisingly passive. He does get provoked into investigating a missing persons case because high school student Yoo-jin (played by Kim Sae-ron) has been aggressively putting out flyers. But even then, Gi-cheol is subdued...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Behind the Dark Night"

2019/10/05 | Permalink

Some particularly nerdy and socially awkward college students will look at superhero flicks and think that such movies represent the full range of cinematic expression. "Behind the Dark Night" is a mockumentary that takes a look at some such students and their quest that goes on for years to bring their epic vision to life. This, even as some members of the project realize that their derivative fan film is a stupid idea and just leave...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "DMZ: Reload"

2019/10/05 | Permalink

Oh In-chun seems to experience an utterly creative phase during the latest years, since he turns up movies every few months. "The DMZ" despite its no-budget nature was one of the best, and now Oh returns with a kind of a sequel, in the same style but also quite different, both regarding the story and the narrative approach, which is more intricate...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Bad Guys: Reign of Chaos"

2019/09/28 | Permalink

The title of "The Bad Guys: Reign of Chaos" is somewhat misleading. Without a doubt, the four principal characters are all extremely dangerous people who strike fear into the hearts of criminals everywhere. But in person, they're oddly aloof and charming. Woong-cheol (played by Ma Dong-seok) likes to sew. Goo-tak (played by Kim Sang-joong) exudes a fatherly air over the team. No-soon (played by Kim Ah-joong) has great social skills, which she mostly uses for scams. While Yoo-seong (played by Jang Ki-yong) likes to fight, even he can tell when he's outgunned...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Sea of Itami Jun"

2019/09/28 | Permalink

Itami Jun was a Japanese architect. Curiously enough, the place where his work is best known is South Korea, or at least, that's where you're most likely to find examples of his work. "The Sea of Itami Jun" is a documentary that goes over why that is. Even though Itami Jun was a bit of an eccentric, going so far as get a South Korean passport when he's not even fluent in the local language, director Jung Da-woon does not look at his life through a nationalist lens, but rather an architectural one...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "The Fearless and Vulnerable"

2019/09/28 | Permalink

It is always a bit strange to watch a film after you have met the director, and this is what happened to me in the case of Jeon Sungyeon and "The Fearless and Vulnerable". Fortunately, the documentary is quite interesting and so I did not have to slam a person I ended up liking. Let us see what the film is about though...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Tazza: One Eyed Jack"

2019/09/21 | Permalink

Il-chool (played by Park Jung-min) is a young man who's obsessed with the game of poker. For good reason- he's pretty good at it and makes decent money there. At the very least, he can hustle a small table of other players. In the most striking scene of "Tazza: One Eyed Jack" we see Il-chool in a crowded study hall struggling to concentrate on the extremely boring lecture to help him ace an equally boring test because the poker chips of fantasy are just too alluring...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Life is a Dream We'll Wake up and Scream"

2019/09/21 | Permalink

Director Jeremy Joey first started filming "Life is a Dream We'll Wake up and Scream" back in 2012. He wanted a comprehensive look at the indie rock scene in the Hongdae district of Seoul by marking the journey of three bands trying to turn their passion into a profession. Though two of the three bands were successful, the documentary is bittersweet. In 2018 band members can be seen discussing an independent South Korean music scene that's not what it once was...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "The Wall"

2019/09/21 | Permalink

This film was a strange watch for me, since a few days before I had watched "Alpinist: Confession of a Cameraman", Lim Il-jin's last film, that recorded, among others, the expedition that ended with the death of the director in 2018. Thus, watching a man I knew was dead, recording the climbing of the rugged Canadian bigwall, 'Bugaboo', became part of the review, making me feel a ritualistic sentiment, as I was writing this text. Let us see what "The Wall" is about, though...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The House of Us"

2019/09/14 | Permalink

Though it has a similar title to "The World of Us" writer/director Yoon Ga-eun did not develop "The House of Us" as a spirutal sequel. As filming continued the phrase "The House of Us" or literally just our home frequently recurs and has obvious symbolic power. Ha-na (played by Kim Na-yeon) feels adrift in her own family as her parents always fight and her brother's always aloof. What kind of home or family is that supposed to be?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "My name is KIM Bok-dong"

2019/09/14 | Permalink

Director Song Won-geun-I opens "My name is KIM Bok-dong" up with just a black screen, and then the voice of the titular activist. Whatever visual flourishes "My name is KIM Bok-dong" may have to offer, the reason why the woman was important was because of her voice. There was mundanity in that voice, just describing everyday activities, be it in the present day as an old woman or in the past as a sex slave...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Closed School"

2019/09/07 | Permalink

I don't really get what the title "Closed School" is supposed to mean here. The titular institution isn't a school that services students, it's more a psychological manifestation of how the now adult Yoo-ra (played by Chun Yi-seul) continues to feel horrific guilt about her role in the apparent suicide of her high school classmate Mi-ok (played by Lee Yoon-soo). The plot picks up with Yoo-ra meeting the rest of her now adult classmates who remain too emotionally insincere to address their role in Mi-ok's death...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Gift of Love"

2019/09/07 | Permalink

So-jeong (played by Kim So-min) is the wife of Kang-ho (played by Moon Young-dong), who was once a rising star in the North Korean military before he lost his legs. Ever since then life has been fairly miserable. Their household can't make enough money to get by and Kang-ho is increasingly hostile to his own family, even yelling at their only adorable daughter Hyo-sim (played by Kim Ryeo-won). Though So-jeong has found a solution of sorts it's obviously not sustainable...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Alpinist: Confession of a Cameraman"

2019/09/07 | Permalink

The value of the documentary as a medium of recording lives and events, and subsequently, as a tool whose purpose is not to let people forget, finds one of its apogees in this particular documentary. "Alpinist: Confession of a Cameraman" is a true requiem for a number of Korean alpinists who lost their lives in the mountains, but most of all, a tribute to the late mountain film director Lim Il-jin, who died along  the entire expedition to Mt. Gurja, in 2018...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Goodbye My Girlhood"

2019/09/07 | Permalink

First part of the KBS 4-episode documentary titled "Journey on Foot", Kim Han-seok's (who also organized the project plan) "Goodbye My Girlhood" focuses on Wang-mo, a girl in Ladakh, India and her Pad Yatra, a harsh pilgrimage trip a number of people take walking 200 km in 17 days, in extremely harsh conditions at an altitude of 5,200m. The series won the 2018 Korean Broadcasting Awards for Best Television Documentary...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Metamorphosis"

2019/08/31 | Permalink

Joong-soo (played by Bae Sung-woo) is a Catholic priest and exorcist. In the cold open to "Metamorphosis" we see an exorcism gone horribly wrong, less because of anything Joong-soo himself did incorrectly, and more because the demonic spirit managed to successfully imitate the person it was possessing at a critical moment. Further events create the disturbing impression that the demonic spirit's actual goal was just to get into Joong-soo's head, although cryptic warnings about a horrible fate to befall Joong-soo's family are, well, the actual plot of the movie...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Hello, My Cat"

2019/08/31 | Permalink

In the first story of the "Hello, My Cat" omnibus the cat talks. He talks a lot. It actually get to be really annoying very quickly since he never has much to say, he's just narrating stuff that we can already see is happening on-screen. The talking cat device is particularly obnoxious because in the second section of the omnibus, the cat only talks very briefly at the beginning. Then in parts three and four the cat is conspicuously silent, leaving the animal's motivation ambiguous...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Abyss: The Girl's Eyes"

2019/08/31 | Permalink

Using the supernatural to make social comments (through metaphor or not) is a tactic that has been used many times in world cinema, with films like "Get Out", "American Psycho" or even "The People Under the Stairs" implementing this approach in the most brilliant fashion. "Abyss: The Girl's Eyes" is Jang Hyeon-sang's effort in the category, with him, however, not managing to stay away from some local trends, like the crime thriller element and the concept of the "exorcism". On the other hand, his approach is unique, so no harm done, at least in that aspect...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Height of the Wave"

2019/08/24 | Permalink

Winner of the Special Jury Prize in Locarno, "Height of the Wave" is another impressive indie from Korea, in an industry that seems to experience one of its greatest seasons in years. Furthermore, Park Jung-bum establishes his position as one of the most important new Korean directors, as he continues in the footsteps of "The Journals of Musan". The film is actually a theatrical version of the 1-episode "Drama Stage - Waves of Change", which was released in the beginning of the year...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Welcome to the Guesthouse"

2019/08/24 | Permalink

Trying to speak about serious topics through comedy is a great way to communicate your messages through cinema, and that is exactly what Shim Yohan is trying to do in "Welcome to the Guesthouse", also adding to the entertainment the film offers by making surfing the base of the narrative. Let us see if he succeeded...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Job Who is near Us"

2019/08/24 | Permalink

The popular cancer narrative in most fiction is dynamic. It features characters who react decisively, be that positive or negative, in the face of a cancer diagnosis. "A Job Who Is near Us" takes a different approach. As a documentary, the film doesn't have much flexibility in regards to the available tropes. And as a religious film, there's a surprisingly deep spiritual element at play. If all life is according to God's plan, what does a married couple make of successive cancer diagnoses?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Garden, Zoological"

2019/08/24 | Permalink

If you've ever been to a zoo you've probably seen mentions in promotional material about how beyond being just exhibition space zoos are also at the forefront of conservation issues. "Garden, Zoological" unpacks what exactly that means. The documentary was filmed over several years at the Cheongju Zoo and details the work employees go through when it comes to feeding wild animals, training them, and providing them with medical care...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Battle: Roar to Victory"

2019/08/17 | Permalink

Promotional information for "The Battle: Roar to Victory" has been somewhat misleading. The movie does indeed contain the Battle of Fengwudong. There's even a subtitle that helpfully pops up to tell us that this particular random mountainous area the characters have just wandered is the one the movie's named after. But up until that point, the characters just wander into a wide variety of other generally random mountainous places getting into shootouts as necessary, nothing being that well organized. Because that is, in fact, the central defining element of guerrilla warfare...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "To Kill Alice"

2019/08/17 | Permalink

Eun-mi is an American citizen of Korean descent. In 2011 the then-fifty year old Eun-mi took advantage of her American nationality to take tours of North Korea, an action which at the time was banned for South Koreans, and wrote about her experiences for the South Korean press outlet OhMyNews. Her articles were later published into a book. Eun-mi would do book tours in South Korea to coincide with further visits to North Korea. As relations between the Koreas deteriorated during 2014 so too did Eun-mi's experiences take a turn for the strange...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "The Uncle"

2019/08/17 | Permalink

In a time when Kim Ki-duk seems to be moving towards a direction that has made him a "persona non grata" in the movie world, it is always good to find directors that have been influenced by him and actually carry his artistic legacy. However, in this case, in a more contemporary/not so decadent fashion, and with a humor that seems to draw much from Park Chan-wook, while one could also find some elements of Takashi Miike's style, from "Visitor Q". What is even more impressive is that "The Uncle" is actually a debut...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Film Adventure"

2019/08/17 | Permalink

Since Korean indie cinema seems to struggle to get away from the "rules" set by Hong Sang-soo, it is always reinvigorating to discover productions that take an effort to distance themselves from the particular style. Lee Sang-deok's "Film Adventure" is one of those efforts, which actually succeeds, at least to a point, in a film that won Best Korean Fantastic Film and Fantastic Best Actor at BIFAN...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Exit - Movie"

2019/08/10 | Permalink

The main stand-out quality to "Exit - Movie" is, weirdly enough, how quintessentially Korean it is. The ethnic overtones aren't super obvious. I mean sure, Yong-nam (played by Cho Jung-seok) is introduced working out at a playground- a ridiculous endeavor, but South Korean playgrounds have high quality exercise equipment. His sister first appears bugging her mom late at night for kimchi. And a ridiculous amount of action takes place at a traditional ceremony party venue...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Ghost Walk"

2019/08/10 | Permalink

Hye-jeong (played by Han Hae-in) has a depressingly meaningless existence. We see her lumbering about day by day, refusing any interest in any kind of normal conversation. Even a love confession ends on a surprisingly somber note, as we see Hye-jeong looking out the window, as if she was hopeful the guy might actually stick around. Hye-jeong has no money and no future. So it's oddly enough not much of a transition for her die and become a ghost...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Fanfare"

2019/08/10 | Permalink

Among the overwhelming plethora of crime films coming from S. Korea, it is always a pleasure to find works that manage to present the themes of the category in a different fashion. Lee Don-ku does exactly that and with style, by shooting a Tarantinoesque movie set as a stage play, that also features a female character, who, for once, is not a cliché. Let us take things from the beginning though...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "The 12th Suspect"

2019/08/03 | Permalink

I have to admit I have a soft spot for films that unfold as stage plays, and this particular one, whose synopsis portrayed it as an Agatha Christie-style story, made me really eager to watch it. At half point, though, the narrative changed completely and the movie became something very different. Let us see if this change actually benefitted it...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Goodbye Summer"

2019/08/03 | Permalink

Hyeon-jae (played by One) is helping his female friend Soo-min (played by Kim Bo-ra) make an interview video for prospective colleges. In the summer heat of Anyang, we can see that their friendship is one of remarkable steadiness, patience, and synchronization. So why aren't they actually a couple? Well, Hyeon-jae has a lot of not particularly convincing answers for that. Oddly enough none of them have much to do with Hyeon-jae being very sick...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs"

2019/08/03 | Permalink

For all its fairytale pastiche setting, "Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs" is a surprisingly earnest animated movie. There's no ironic commentary about fairy tale tropes or obnoxious pop culture references. The first twist is surprisingly straightforward. Our noble heroes follow up something heroic with something stupid, because they're idiots who put too much stock in appearance. The second twist barely even qualifies as a twist at all. What if Snow White was fat?...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "The Divine Fury" Screening at Fantasia 2019

2019/08/02 | Permalink

The relentless, but also somewhat hopeless effort of Korean genre films to create new stories that incorporate, though, the elements that have brought the country's cinema to the top of the continent (commercially and internationally at least), has resulted in a plethora of big-budget, commercially successful movies on the one hand, of dubious quality and rather repetitive on the other. "The Divine Fury" takes this concept a step even further, since it seems to incorporate all these elements into one, visually impressive package, of... well you are going to have to read ahead to get to the quality part...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "The Moon in the Hidden Woods" Screening at Fantasia 2019

2019/07/29 | Permalink

Having a Japanese director helm a Korean animation sounds a bit unusual, but considering Takahiro Umehara's CV, which includes animation for titles like "Dragonball Z", "Claymore" and "Iron Man", it sounded like a really good idea. The result is a film that looks much like a Japanese anime but still includes a distinct Korean flavor. Let us see what it is about...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The King's Letters"

2019/07/27 | Permalink

In the fairly morbid opening setpiece to "The King's Letters" King Sejong (played by Song Kang-ho) is very grumpily enduring an official ceremony that's being conducted in spoken Chinese, because at this time Korea is still using the Chinese script. Thunderclouds approach and then King Sejong goes home and destroys a bunch of books. In theory, such actions might be intended to make us appreciate King Sejong's passion toward the idea of a Korean script. But in practice? He just looks like a jerk...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "The Wrath" Screening in Fantasia 2019

2019/07/27 | Permalink

Remake of the 1986 horror film "Cry of a Woman", "The Wrath" places its story in the newly found favorite setting of Korean horror, the Joseon era, and attempts to include as many themes of the genre possible. Let us see how it fares...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Dogs in the House"

2019/07/27 | Permalink

Watching a film that combines thriller, crime, drama, comedy, violence, home-invasion and a stage-play basis is always a pleasure, particularly since Shin Hae-gang has managed to mold the aforementioned elements into something compact, headed by a great performance by Kim Young-ho, which netted him the Best Actor Award in BIFAN...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Guns and Talks"

2019/07/27 | Permalink

In the extremely cool opening setpiece to "Guns and Talks" a team of professional hitmen played by Shin Hyun-joon, Jung Jae-young, Shin Ha-kyun, and Won Bin meticulously set up a bunch of seemingly unrelated steps in a complex assassination plot. Their movements are perfectly set to some very hip electronic music. With every beat they step closer to the climax until finally everyone is dead and the asssassins themselves are mostly out of the way. Then they go home and we find out they're idiots...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "The Dude in Me" Screening at Fantasia 2019

2019/07/22 | Permalink

The body swap theme has been done a number of times in world cinema, with "Daddy You, Daughter Me" presenting Korea's latest (probably) take on the subject, two years ago. And while "the bullied who becomes the hero" concept is here once more, Kang-hyo-jin has managed to shoot a film that stands out, particularly because he included elements of a crime movie and a series of impressive action scenes...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Homme Fatale"

2019/07/20 | Permalink

Saek (played by Lee Junho) was born into a gisaeng house. Now, a normal boy born into a gisaeng house would leave it and do something else upon passing into adulthood. But Saek? He actually really likes being there. Saek refuses to take obvious hints that he should leave, the result being silly slapstick sequences that eventually grow to encompass weird homeless guy Yook-gap (played by Choi Gwi-hwa) who acts as a generally unhelpful male influence as Saek tries to bring gender equality to the notion of courtesans...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Shusenjo: The Main Battleground of the Comfort Women Issue"

2019/07/20 | Permalink

One time Japanese-American director Miki Dezaki posted a basic educational video to YouTube. The video made offhand reference to comfort women and some American dude who calls himself Texas Daddy yelled at him about it in his own YouTube video. Why would an American be offended by a Japanese-American guy talking about comfort women? Miki Dezaki had no idea, since he didn't really know much about comfort women in the first place. So he started investigating...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Idol" Screening at Fantasia 2019

2019/07/17 | Permalink

Five years after the great "Han Gong-ju", Lee Su-jin returns with his second feature film, an intense crime thriller of 144 minutes. Let us see how he fared...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Two Person at the same town SE2"

2019/07/13 | Permalink

In the first segment of "Two person at the same town SE2" a man tries to sell a bicycle to a woman who answered his ad. The scene's interplay is weird. The two are strangers, engaged in a monetary transaction. But the story quickly degenerates into ambiguous flirting- because when dealing with the opposite sex, flattery is one of the surest ways to get a good deal. The single shot story is mundane yet nearly documentarian in its realist depiction of how people buy and sell secondhand bicycles...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Long Way Around"

2019/07/13 | Permalink

Though director Lee Seung-hyun is only thirty years old, he draws on a wealth of footage taken from his own lifetime to put together "A Long Way Around", a documentary depicting various comfort women as they emerge from obscurity in the early nineties. The reason why they pop up then is because that's when the experience of wartime prostitutes under the Japanese Empire became a nationalist issue in South Korea. And by that time, they were already starting to die of old age...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Daytime Picnic"

2019/07/06 | Permalink

In the first short film of the omnibus "A Daytime Picnic" director Kang Dong-wan plays with an interesting idea- about how little musical taste matters. When first we see the main family, they are recoiling in disgust about loud music on the way to their family picnic. But then they get to the campsite, and observe a younger couple dressed up in full punk rock costumes take out their baby and move into the neighboring site. This younger couple is actually quite nice and well-adjusted for their strange appearance...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Someone Special"

2019/07/06 | Permalink

You know how in a lot of romances the guy seems like an indifferent jerk, but as we get to know him, we see that his inner thoughts are actually quite complex? "Someone Special" subverts this idea right away when its lead character Chi-seong (played by Jung Jae-young) gets some bad news, and while he looks stoic on the outside, on the inside, we can see that he wants to throw a temper tantrum. This character trait recurs as Chi-seong is thrown into increasingly frustrating and implausible contrivances. Even meeting I-yeon (played by Lee Na-young) is of little help...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "My Dear Keum-hong" + Full Movie

2019/07/06 | Permalink

People say that opposites attract and the phrase could not be mirrored more eloquently than in the relationship between the Fauvist painter Bon-woong and Lee  Sang, a poet and writer, which occurred during the period of Japanese Imperialism in Korea. "My Dear Keum-hong" is the story of this friendship that eventually became an unfulfilled love triangle...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Let Us Meet Now"

2019/06/29 | Permalink

In the third part of the "Let Us Meet Now" omnibus Jeong-eun (played by Lee Jung-eun of "Parasite" fame) is an older woman working two jobs to support her even older mother, who is suffering from dementia. The irony of such a story appearing in an omnibus that's ostensibly about North Koreans is dripping. It's little surprise that this story, 'Hello', came from director Boo Ji-young who made the union-driven film drama "Cart" a few years back...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Love As Much As Pain"

2019/06/29 | Permalink

I was reading an article recently about cost-effective philanthropy. The way it works is, that in some circumstances, making lots of money and then donating it is more efficient than trying to volunteer work yourself. I thought about this idea a lot during "Love As Much As Pain", a documentary about the missionary doctor Park Nu-ga, a man who offered free medical checkups and vitamins to obscure villages in the Phillipines. I thought about how ridiculous the base idea was- that the mere promise of money would be enough to get doctors out to these underserviced areas...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Move the Grave"

2019/06/29 | Permalink

In a cinema such as the Korean, where the masters (Park Chan-wook, Lee Chang-dong, Bong Joon-ho) and the crime thrillers dominate the narrative, it is always a pleasure to discover films such as "Move the Grave", who justify the title "hidden gem" entirely. Let us see what this is about though...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Black Summer"

2019/06/22 | Permalink

Ji-hyeon (played by Woo Ji-hyun) works at the film department of an unnamed university. It's mostly technical stuff, but he has creative aspirations. So it is that he meets Geon-woo (played by Lee Gun-woo-I), an actor with whom Ji-hyeon has many things in common. They're both adrift in life. They both have estranged relationships with their families. They like social drinking, but are quickly bored by conversational drinking. They're not particularly physically affectionate with their girlfriends. They're also mentally and sexually attracted to each other...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Citizen Roh"

2019/06/22 | Permalink

On February 25th South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun retired from the presidency and into private life. His administration had begun with high hopes but had ultimately been mired entirely in political gridlock. Consequently, Roh Moo-hyun was a lonely man who felt like he had failed his supporters. Weirdly enough, Roh Moo-hyun actually seems happier and more productive doing community development in his rural hometown village of Bonga than when he was in theory the most powerful man in the country, simply because he can actually see himself making tangible progress...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Confession of an Actress" + Full Movie

2019/06/22 | Permalink

Kim Soo-yong was one of the most prolific directors of the 60's, in an era when film production was rather fast and films were being released constantly, without much regard for quality, in an effort to meet the quota for the import of foreign films, which at the time was 3 (local productions) to 1 (foreign production). A number of directors managed to shoot 6-8 films per year, but Kim Soo-yong went a step further, by shooting 10 in 1967. "Confession of an Actress", which is based on a novel by Yoon Seok-joo, is one of them...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Boy and Sungreen"

2019/06/15 | Permalink

Boy (played by Ahn Ji-ho) is the kind of sensitive young man who is deeply affected by emotional moments in strange independent films. Sungreen (played by Kim Joo-ah) is the kind of outspoken young woman who wants to create such moments herself in her own films, even as Sungreen sleeps through the ones she actually watches. Together, they get wrapped up in a mystery that begins to consume all their spare time...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "0.0MHz"

2019/06/15 | Permalink

So-hee (played by Jung Eun-ji) is a young woman working as a barista who's trying her best to avoid thinking about her shamanistic background. Alas, cute shy boy Sang-yeop (played by Lee Sung-yeol) manages to talk her into going on a location shoot at a rundown yet legendary location for malicious spiritual possession. Bad things can be safely predicted whenever the local frequency goes down to "0.0MHz" although it takes some time for our plucky band of five to figure this out...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Ticket" + Full Movie

2019/06/15 | Permalink

Stories about prostitutes have been the trademark of Kim Ki-duk but Korean cinema has been dealing with the concept of Tabang (coffee houses in Korea and many offer outcall services in which the girls deliver coffee to customers, and sometimes extra sexual services for a price termed a "Ticket") decades before the Korean auteur started his career. "Ticket" is one of the best samples...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Goodbye My Love, NK"

2019/06/08 | Permalink

Following the Korean War young ambitious North Korean communists who had managed to survive the war were on the prowl for educational opportunities abroad, which the North Korean government gladly facilitated. Eight such Koreans went to attend the Moscow Film School so that they could learn how to make proper revolutionary film. But their situation takes a turn for the strange after the August Faction Incident in 1956, when political purges back home mostly nullify any chance they have of going back to North Korea...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Road"

2019/06/08 | Permalink

Bae Chang-ho's penultimate film to date was one that he actually wanted to do, after a somewhat failed effort to return to mainstream cinema with "The Last Witness". With him in the protagonist role, and also as a writer-director, Bae Chang-ho had complete artistic command of the production, which ended up being a story that he wanted to tell, in the way he wanted to tell it, and in the distinct style of his second phase of filmmaking, which focused more on realism, through a genuine dramatic approach...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Long Live the King"

2019/06/08 | Permalink

Se-chool (played by Kim Rae-won) is a gangster who is obviously in the wrong movie. Rather than just do his job, and break up the labor strike in Mokpo port, Se-chool instead decides to try and impress labor organizer So-hyeon (played by Won Jin-ah) and Bo-yoon (played by Choi Moo-sung), a respected working class man who's running for the legislature. They are naturally perplexed by Se-chool's dogged efforts to prove that he is a very nice guy...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Parasite"

2019/06/01 | Permalink

The term "Parasite" is an inherently disgusting one. It calls to mind a lower organism that sucks off the life energy of a superior one. But biologically speaking parasites aren't so bad. In fact, they often have symbiotic relationships with their hosts, providing useful benefits in exchange for resources the host isn't even using. So it is with the lower class family in "Parasite" who worm themselves into the lives of a wealthy family so as to escape the drudgery that comes with having to fold pizza boxes for a living...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Fatal Intuition"

2019/06/01 | Permalink

Jang-woo (played by Joo Won) and his younger sister Eun-ji (played by Ryu Hye-young) are drifters who wander about the southeastern region of South Korea in search of work. Jang-woo tends to self-sabotage these efforts either by being overly protective of Eun-ji or overly paranoid of the locals and more typically a combination of both. Then they meet Si-eun (played by Lee Yoo-young), a woman who possesses supernatural predictive powers and the unfortunate destiny that implies...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Chihwaseon"

2019/06/01 | Permalink

Considered Im Kwon-taek's greatest work (at least outside of Korea), "Chihwaseon" is also a landmark for Korean cinema, since it signaled the first time a local director won the Best Director Award at Cannes.

The biopic presents the life of Jang Seung-up, one of the most significant painters in the history of the country, who is considered to have changed the direction of Korean art...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "KIM-GUN"

2019/05/25 | Permalink

In 2015 a South Korean right-wing group claims that some six hundred demonstraters in the Gwangju Uprising were actually North Korean special forces operatives. This conclusion was arrived at through digital facial analysis software. So begins the search for the titular "KIM-GUN", one distinctive young man from those pictures whose apparently unknown identity is used as proof of concept for the conspiracy theory...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Untouchable Lawmen"

2019/05/25 | Permalink

Seong-gi (played by Jang Gwang) is the charismatic leader of an extremely goofy cult that combines grandiloquent religious sermons with vaguely sexy Kpop inspired dances. South Korean police are at a loss as to the best way to deal with Seong-gi's awesome political powers. So they fight fire with fire, enlisting bombastic fighter cop Jeong-jin (played by Im Chang-jung) and horndog lover cop Yoo-min (played by Choi Daniel) to take Song-gi down. Conveniently, since both Jeong-jin and Yoo-min are loose cannons, their questionable methods can be easily disavowed...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "The Surrogate Woman" + Full Movie

2019/05/25 | Permalink

Winner of Best Film, Best Director and Best Supporting Actress at the 1987 Asia-Pacific Film Festival and for Best Actress (Kang Soo-yeon) at Venice, "The Surrogate Woman" is one of the most internationally acclaimed films of Im Kwon-taek and, in essence, one of his best...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil"

2019/05/18 | Permalink

In 2005, "The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil" opens up on a dark stormy night. Kyeong-ho (played by Kim Sung-gyu) doesn't seem right in the head- an impression soon confirmed when he flips out randomly after an apparent automobile accident. Then, in turn, we are introduced to the impatient, hotheaded cop Tae-sook (played by Kim Moo-yul) and the exceptionally patient, eternally calm gang leader Dong-soo (played by Ma Dong-seok) and their own particularly violent solutions to generally minor problems...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Miss and Mrs. Cops"

2019/05/18 | Permalink

The opener to "Miss and Mrs. Cops" is filmed like a grainy old kung fu movie. The action befits the cinematographic style. Mi-yeong (played by Ra Mi-ran) is right away shown to be a tough middle-aged broad who wants to bring in crooks peacefully, but will use violence when she gets suitably cranky. By the time we get to the present day, and the more traditionally pretty woman cop Ji-hye (played by Lee Sung-kyung), there's an obvious personality clash between old and new...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Jagko" + Full Movie

2019/05/18 | Permalink

With a career spanning over 50 years in a country that censorship rules changed repeatedly but remained quite strict for decades, one can only marvel at Im Kwon-taek's abilities to adapt. After the very strict censorship of the 70's under President Park Chung-hee's authoritarian "Yusin System", the 80's brought a "lenience" in the censorship that allowed filmmakers to deal with the social issues of the then Korean society, with the consequences of the dichotomy and the civil war becoming dominant themes. Im Kwon-taek was one of the first to take advantage of the new rules, with "Jagko"...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Inseparable Bros"

2019/05/11 | Permalink

Se-ha (played by Shin Ha-kyun) is a surprisingly cynical, shifty guy considering that he's bound to a wheelchair. The opening backstory of "Inseparable Bros" quickly gets into why- Se-ha was dumped at a charity home for the mentally infirm. The chronically alcoholic Father Park (played by Kwon Hae-hyo) accepted Se-ha in exchange for a modest bribe, although oddly enough he's a pretty nice guy. All the same it's Dong-goo (played by Lee Kwang-soo) with whom Se-ha shares a special, brotherly bond...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Jo Pil-ho: The Dawning Rage"

2019/05/11 | Permalink

The previous decade (and a bit more actually) was the golden era of crime thrillers for Korean cinema, a genre that actually headed the triumphant march to the top of Asian cinema for the country. Lee Jeong-beom was one of the contributors to this achievement, with "Cruel Winter Blues", "The Man From Nowhere" and on a secondary level, "No Tears for the Dead". Thus, the interest for his first film after 5 years was quite high, particularly since the genre was once again, the crime thriller. Let us see if the "hype" was well worth it...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Night Before Strike"

2019/05/11 | Permalink

From the beginning sequence of "The Night Before Strike" the movie wears politics on its sleeve. This is a film about the importance of labor unions, and how they're the only thing standing between the employees and oppressively miserable working conditions. The men and women who work at Dongdung Metal have a good sense of camaraderie. In one particularly adorable sequence we see two of them engaging in pillow talk, apparently totally naked beneath the covers. But the power of friendship is no cure for being forced to work into the wee hours of morning to meet production quotas...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "To My River"

2019/05/04 | Permalink

Jin-ah (played by Kang Jin-ah) is a poet. Her life is generally dull and academic, but peaceful. At least part of this is by design. It soon becomes clear that Jin-ah is in a state of suspended grief over an accident involving her long-term boyfriend Gil-woo (played by Kang Gil-woo) who is stuck in a coma following an accident that happened shortly after they had a big fight on the Han River. Incidentally, the Han River is where Jin-ah and her friends, in better days at least, spent most of their free time...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "LOGBOOK"

2019/05/04 | Permalink

Once the Sewol ferry started sinking, and the boat became submerged, it was inevitable that a certain class of trained professionals would get involved. I am referring to the deep sea divers, to whom director Bok Jin-oh has dedicated "LOGBOOK". Divers of this skill level are hired for a wide variety of tasks- and in this particular case that task was, unfortunately, to retrieve corpses for proper burial...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "The Oldest Son" + Full Movie

2019/05/04 | Permalink

Yasujiro Ozu's "Tokyo Story" is one of the most influential films of all time, and its impact could not be avoided in Korean cinema, with Lee Doo-yong using it as a basis for "The Oldest Son". However, Lee strayed far away from the classic, eventually creating a movie that is distinctively Korean...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Romang"

2019/04/27 | Permalink

At first glance "Romang" is just a look at the modern day lives of old people in South Korea. Nam-bong (played by Lee Soon-jae) is a gruff, grumpy old taxi driver. Mae-ja (played by Jung Young-sook) is his long-suffering wife. Their son Jin-soo (played by Jo Han-chul), his wife Jeong-hee (played by Bae Hae-sun) and their adorable daughter Eun-ji (played by Lee Ye-won-I) are a presence, but they have their own lives. Besides that, Nam-bong and Mae-ja soon discover they have problems which the younger generation can't solve...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Roh Moo-hyun and the Fools"

2019/04/27 | Permalink

Supporters of the late South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun are under no illusions that he was a particularly smart man, nor that they were particularly wise to follow him. "Roh Moo-hyun and the Fools" traces how this was his main appeal. In a South Korean political system that had since time immemorial championed realpolitik over basic human empathy and decency, Roh Moo-hyun was a nutcase who refused to sneer at those who were different than him...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "The Road to Sampo" + Full Movie

2019/04/27 | Permalink

"The Road to Sampo" is the final film of Lee Man-hee-I, who collapsed during the editing process and died soon after, with the film releasing in cinemas posthumously...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Watching"

2019/04/20 | Permalink

Yeong-woo (played by Kang Ye-won) is a put-upon woman in her late thirties who works in an office building. Even though it's almost Christmas, it's also crunch time, so she has to spend a lot of time at work after hours. This attracts the attention of younger security guard Joon-ho (played by Lee Hak-joo) who keeps engaging her in mildly creepy conversation. Then there's all those edited in shots we get of somebody paying very close attention to everything that happens in the building via CCTV...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Memories of a Dead End"

2019/04/20 | Permalink

The backstory of "Memories of a Dead End" reads like a typical romance. Korean girl Yoo-mi (played by Choi Soo-young) goes to school in Japan, meets the man of her dreams, and they promise to get married when she comes back. But alas, a fairy tale ending is not forthcoming. Once Yoo-mi's dreams are shattered, she's left wandering Nagoya by herself, wondering what to do with a life that no longer has a plan, until finally settling in at a guest house appropriately named End Point...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "A Fine, Windy Day"

2019/04/20 | Permalink

The film marked Lee Chang-ho's return from a ban he had "acquired" from making films between 1976 and 1979. His success had not wavered though, and "A Fine, Windy Day" ranked third in the films released in 1980, while it also won a number of local awards, particularly for the direction (Bae Chang-ho was assistant in this film btw) and Ahn Sung-ki, who did his first steps as an adolescent actor in this movie...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Another Child"

2019/04/13 | Permalink

In the opening scene to "Another Child" we see teenage girl Joo-ri (played by Kim Hye-jun) sneakily peering in at a house party. The mother of the house, Mi-hee (played by Kim So-jin) asks her own teenage daughter Yoon-ah (played by Park Se-jin) what the deal is, and if she knows that other girl. Yoon-ah says not really, and they don't know each other that well, but we soon see that fate has forced these two increasingly crabby girls into a family situation neither one of them wants...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Haunting Hitchhike"

2019/04/13 | Permalink

At the beginning of "A Haunting Hitchhike" Jeong-ae (played by Roh Jeong-eui) and her best friend Hyo-jeong (played by Kim Bo-yoon) impulsively take a trip out to the countryside. They're out looking for parental validation, of a sorts. Their adventure starts girlishly enough, with one giggly scene on the bus being an obvious standout. But then the story takes a dark turn, as Jeong-ae and Hyo-jeong begin to grasp that being out on their own in the darkness in the middle of nowhere is not an ideal position...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Gilsotteum" + Full Movie

2019/04/13 | Permalink

The film is inspired by the KBS show in 1983 which aimed to reunite families separated during the Korean War. The early episodes of the show generated huge amounts of interest among the general public (88% of the population watched the early episodes), and the square in front of KBS was thronged with people advertising and looking for lost family members...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Birthday"

2019/04/06 | Permalink

As "Birthday" opens up, we see the middle-aged Jeong-il (played by Sol Kyung-gu) on an airplane, looking pensive as he comes back to South Korea. This sense of nervousness is soon justified by a strange setpiece wherein Jeong-il he tries to go home, but his wife Soon-nam (played by Jeon Do-yeon) simply stands silently behind the door. Jeong-il doesn't know for sure whether Soon-nam's rejecting him, or if she can even hear him. Yet somehow the tone of the scene indicates that the possibility of the former is oddly logical for him...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Visitors - 2019"

2019/04/06 | Permalink

Soo-hyeon (played by Jung Ho) is a North Korean defector who works in a sparsely populated public library. Life is pretty boring in there, although every so often his boss will pop and complain about some trivial problem. Life takes a turn for the weird when Soo-hyeon starts having serial abstract conversations with other defectors who coincidentally happen to be visiting the library. And then, of course, there's the framing device of Detective Kim (played by Park Gi-ryoong) who's trying to figure out where Soo-hyeon disappeared to, and also the recurring setpiece of the fish in the fishbowl with weird colors...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Red Carpet"

2019/04/06 | Permalink

Romantic comedies are not my favorite genre, to say the least. Occasionally, however, I do find films I enjoy, with "What a Man Wants" being the most recent sample. Furthermore, the concept of the romance between a director of adult films and a former child actress seemed rather interesting, with the fact that the script is based on the director's personal experiences adding even more to the whole idea. Let us see how the film fared though...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Money"

2019/03/30 | Permalink

Il-hyeon (played by Ryu Jun-yeol) is a numbers nerd who already looks the part. Through voiceover and montage, we then see Il-hyeon's dorkiness even more thoroughly- he's an ambitious junior stockbroker who wants to make lots of money because he thinks bigger numbers are better than smaller numbers. Il-hyeon then predictably gets suckered into an obvious scam where in the short-term anyway his numbers do awesome...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The King of the Border"

2019/03/30 | Permalink

In the promising opening to "The King of the Border" Yoo-jin (played by Kim Sae-byuk) get off an airplane in Poland and then proceeds to ignore people. There's a lot of great dark travel comedy here. A person like Yoo-jin, when she goes to another country, does so because she specifically does not want to talk to people from her own country anymore. The escalating sequences that follow are amazing, as we see Yoo-jin forced to become more blunt about how she wants to be left alone...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "The Journals of Musan"

2019/03/30 | Permalink

For his feature debut, Lee Chang-dong's assistant Park Jung-bum decided to direct, write and star in a film that was inspired Jeon Seung-cheol, a North Korean refugee he met while attending Yonsei University; Jeon was diagnosed with stomach cancer and died in 2008, less than 6 years after he defected to South Korea. His effort paid off with "The Journals of Musan" netting 17 awards from major film festivals around the world...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A History of Jealousy"

2019/03/23 | Permalink

For all the movie's dark, essentially melodramatic marketing, "A History of Jealousy" initially plays out as a mostly cute romance. Soo-min (played by Nam Gyu-ri) and Won-ho (played by Oh Ji-ho) meet again after a long time at a social event with three of their other friends. So of course, happy memories flow forth about how they first met ten years ago in happier times. Back then they had more mundane problems, like trying to evade police brutality...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Back from the Beat"

2019/03/23 | Permalink

Min-gyoo (played by Kwak Min-gyoo) is a delivery guy who's always practicing for his dream job of being a DJ. "Back from the Beat" explores Min-gyoo's overall mood. Min-gyoo has a passive personality and fairly modest dreams. His girlfriend, art instructor Si-eun (played by Kim Si-eun) is at times annoyed with him for not asserting himself better. But for the most part they have a happy understanding relationship with minor spats that are easily smoothed over...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Beautiful Days - 2017"

2019/03/23 | Permalink

After a number of documentaries dealing with North Korean defectors, with "Mrs. B. A North Korean Woman" being the most successful, Jero Yun decided to make his theme into a feature film, in the movie that opened last year's Busan Festival. Let us see how he fared...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "House of Hummingbird"

2019/03/23 | Permalink

Winner of the Grand Prix of the Generation 14plus International Jury and of the KNN and NETPAC award at Busan, Kim Bora's feature debut is an excellent indie film, and an indication of the nominal path Korean (melo)dramas should follow...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "1919 Yu Gwan-sun"

2019/03/16 | Permalink

Designed with the centennial of the March 1st Movement in mind, "1919 Yu Gwan-sun" serves an obvious purpose as a documentary. We may know Yu Gwan-sun by name, but who was she? And who were the women she collaborated with in prison? They were not always so well known. The opening scene depicts the writing of a New York Times article in 2018 that helped bring Yu Gwan-sun to prominence. "1919 Yu Gwan-sun" goes further, giving context to the lives of the other women who were in the Seodaemun prison who also defied Japanese authority...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Clean Up"

2019/03/16 | Permalink

Maybe it is a bit too early to say this, but "Clean Up" seems to be among the best independent Korean films of the year, and one of the most interesting movies that have been released from the country during the latest years...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Scarlet Innocence"

2019/03/16 | Permalink

After adapting the traditional tale of Hansel and Gretel in a modern, Korean setting, Yim Pil-sung decided to do the same with the classic Korean folktale Simcheongga, by creating an atmospheric, erotic thriller. Let us see how he fared...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Slow Video"

2019/03/16 | Permalink

The heavily bespectacled Jang-boo (played by Cha Tae-hyun) initially looks like a blind guy. However, narration and flashback soon makes it clear that Jang-boo's problem is not that his vision is too weak, but rather, that it's too awesome, because he can process everything in slow motion. Alas, actually using this power, or even just trying to use his eyesight to do boring normal everyday stuff, is burdensome to Jang-boo. So instead he uses this power to stalk Soo-mi (played by Nam Sang-mi) via closed circuit television...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Resistance"

2019/03/09 | Permalink

Yu Gwan-sun (played by Go Ah-sung) was a real-life organizer in the March 1st Movement. Interestingly, writer/director Jo Min-ho does not depict Yu Gwan-sun's participation in that event so much. We do get a few full color scenes of Yu Gwan-sun with her family. But for the most part, "A Resistance" is the story of Yu Gwan-sun's life in prison following her arrest, set in bleak black-and-white as Yu Gwan-sun's patriotism is contrasted with her inevitably suffering for expressing it...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Race to Freedom: Um Bok Dong"

2019/03/09 | Permalink

So apparently, back during the Japanese Occupation of Korea, bicycle racing was a pretty big event. Right away we see a huge Olympic-style Stadium where the greatest athletes of the day compete for glory on the track via these newfangled inventions called bicycles. Then we get to the post-race, where a dozen odd members of the Korean Resistance are discussing whether their goals are best achieved with terrorism or improving the quality of their bicycle athletes...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Gagman" + Full Movie

2019/03/09 | Permalink

Lee Myung-se started his career under Bae Chang-ho, for the films "Hwang Jin-ie", "Our Joyful Young Days" and "Dream - 1990". Thus, and having repeatedly cooperated with him and his "permanent" protagonist, Ahn Sung-ki, it was almost inevitable that he would cast them both for his directorial debut, a rather unusual comedy titled "Gagman"...More

[HanCinema's News] "He Is Psychometric" Preview Airs

2019/03/06 | Permalink

On March 5th, tvN broadcasted a preview episode of "He Is Psychometric". The purpose of the preview episode was to make an overview of the plot and characters and stoke viewer interest...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Trade Your Love"

2019/03/02 | Permalink

In the cute animated opener for "Trade Your Love" we learn, among other things, that leading man Seong-seok (played by Kim Dong-wook) has a girlfriend. Hye-jin (played by Lee Chae-eun) is divorced, and thus unacceptable to Seong-seok's genteel family. This fact, coupled with how Seong-seok and leading lady Hae-joo (played by Ko Sung-hee) don't have much screentime together, quickly emphasizes how the contract marriage really is fake. Save for inertia, there's no real reason for Seong-seok and Hye-jin to actually go through with it...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Second Half"

2019/03/02 | Permalink

We are introduced to Mr. Jo (played by Ryu Seung-soo) as he is driving and talking on the phone. From the beginning Mr. Jo is not a super likable character. This does not change when he arrives at South Korea's northeastern coast, and starts bitterly criticizing the promotional tactics at a local empty fish restaurant. By the time Mr. Jo arrives at his fancy hotel and meets the oddly familiar Min-ah (played by Esom) we still don't really know what the movie's about...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "My Heart"

2019/03/02 | Permalink

One of the most visually stunning films in Bae Chang-ho's filmography, "My Heart" was the product of his and his wife's (Kim Yu-mi, who is also the protagonist) combined writing effort, which resulted in a great story about the life of a woman from the 1920s until the 1960s...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Svaha: The Sixth Finger"

2019/02/23 | Permalink

Throughout a fairly disturbing opening sequence writer/director Jang Jae-hyeon show us the everyday life of Geum-hwa (played by Lee Jae-in), a teenage girl living in the centrally located rural county of Yeongwol. In Geum-hwa's life there are cults, suicide, sickness, shamans, that creepy thing that lives behind a door in the kennels. In one graphic moment we even see Geum-hwa's leg chomped at in utero. It's pretty freaky stuff...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "February"

2019/02/23 | Permalink

In the opening scene of "February" we see the twenty-something Min-kyeong (played by Jo Min-kyung) take abuse from her boss at the dumpling shop until finally, she can take no more and storms out. Min-kyeong's assertiveness in this scene is admirable. But as character study, "February" is soon in ominous territory. Sure, Min-kyeong's situation is sympathetic. We see her taking classes and engaging in light prostitution to make ends meet. Then we see how Min-kyeong treats her alleged friends and family...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Sub-zero Wind"

2019/02/23 | Permalink

For her debut, Kim Yu-ri put a lot on herself, by shooting a film that deals with a plethora of subjects, including Christianity, growing up, broken families and obsession, and unfolds in three different time axes. Let us see how she fared though...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Innocent Witness"

2019/02/16 | Permalink

In the opening scene of "Innocent Witness" we see the alleged crime that autistic teenager Ji-woo (played by Kim Hyang-gi) saw. There are no frills- just a few seconds of struggle from far away. We can't really see what's happening, so how much Ji-woo saw is also left ambiguous. From there the movie switches gears to defense attorney Soon-ho (played by Jung Woo-sung), who tries to get access to Ji-woo because whatever she saw is the only eyewitness testimony...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Odd Family: Zombie On Sale"

2019/02/16 | Permalink

While the titular Zombie (played by Jung Ga-ram) appears almost immediately in "The Odd Family: Zombie On Sale" his presence initially has little traction. A single zombie is mostly harmless, and easily avoided by rural locals who assume he must be some kind of drug addict or something. The titular family is rather more ominous- they're a bunch of loud grifters who hustle out-of-towners for all their hard currency. When Min-geol (played by Kim Nam-gil) returns home the implication is obvious. Whoever Min-geol was trying to scam in the city caught on to his schemes...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Hello God" + Full Movie

2019/02/16 | Permalink

After a Joseon film ("Hwang Jin-ie") and a romantic comedy ("Our Joyful Young Days"), it was time for Bae Chang-ho to return to the theme that resulted in his biggest commercial successes, the road movie, with "Hello God" sharing many similarities with "Whale Hunting"...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Extreme Job"

2019/02/09 | Permalink

It becomes very clear very quickly in "Extreme Job" that the five cop team the movie is centered around is really not very competent. After making excuses to the suspect as to why they didn't make a better entrance, they immediately tip him off to possible escape routes and bungle further capture attempts. When Chief Go (played by Ryu Seung-ryong) finally comes up with an obvious plan, that goes wrong too and the case is "saved" by an embarrassing plot contrivance...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Harmony"

2019/02/09 | Permalink

Jeong-hye (played by Kim Yunjin) may be a killer, but she's also a loving mother who relishes every moment with her infant son in prison. The alarming contrast between those two tonal ideas is where most of the back-and-forth in "Harmony" comes from. This is a movie about the fundamental humanity of women in prison. Long before the whole prison women's choir hook of the plot comes up, the main hook here is about relationships between adult women...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Our Joyful Young Days" + Full Movie

2019/02/09 | Permalink

Continuing in his box office success of the 80's, Bae Chang-ho presented another commercially appealing film in 1987, with "Our Joyful Young Days" entailing all the elements the Korean audience cherished at the time (and still does, to a point)...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Maggie"

2019/02/02 | Permalink

Having a newcomer director and a newcomer protagonist in a movie is already a hard task, and Yi Okseop even took it a step further by implementing an episodic narrative that looks more like a collage of ideas than a compact movie. The result, however, is interesting...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Poem, My Old Mother"

2019/02/02 | Permalink

In the rural southwestern part of Korea some old women do household chores day in and day out. They clean up their modest homes, shovel out the snow, and manage their farming plots. It is admittedly preposterous how old women over the age of eighty insist on continuing to farm when they don't really have to. But then, the poets of "The Poem, My Old Mother" are creatures of habit, and that's what their poetry is about. Chores, mostly...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Attack the Gas Station!"

2019/02/02 | Permalink

The first images we see of "Attack the Gas Station!" are highly abstract. We see the gas station being attacked. But who would do such a thing, and why? Rather than tease out this mystery director Kim Sang-jin almost immediately gives a very blunt non-reflective answer. Everybody was bored and there was nothing better to do. The situation is further confused by the gas station attacking thugs deciding to stick around for awhile and terrorize the gas station's owners in the name of...justice?...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Winter's Night"

2019/02/02 | Permalink

As I have stated many times before, Hong Sang-soo's influence in the indie, art-house production of Korea is visible on all levels, and "Winter's Night" is not exactly an exception. A number of unique elements, here and there in the narrative, though, allow the film to be a work on itself, and a rather entertaining experience, at least for the art-house audience...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "MAL-MO-E: The Secret Mission"

2019/01/26 | Permalink

During the latter years of the Japanese Occupation the Korean language is not quite banned. Still, the Japanese who rule Korea would rather their subjects not speak it. The chief exception to this rule is for language scholars who are studying Korean academically. Or at least, that's what they want the Japanese to think. In reality Gap-yoon (played by Kim Hong-pa) is putting together a team of cunning linguists to publish and distribute a secret dictionary...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Pandora"

2019/01/26 | Permalink

Jae-hyeok (played by Kim Nam-gil) works at a nuclear plant in southeast part of Korea and is constantly badgering his family about moving away for the sake of better opportunities. A lot of people have been leaving southeast Korea over the last few years for exactly this reason, so weighing ambition and opportunity against tradition and home is a relevant social conflict. Alas, "Pandora" chooses a very different villain- the sinister specter of nuclear power...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Whale Hunting" + Full Movie

2019/01/26 | Permalink

Based once more on a story by Choe In-ho, Bae Chang-ho's "Whale Hunting" cemented his position as one of the most commercially successful Korean directors of the 80's, topping the box office in 1984. The titular phrase, during the years of dictatorship, meant yearning for something more than the financial progress that was the government's main goal, and in essence represented dissatisfaction with the then (everyday) life...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Revenger"

2019/01/19 | Permalink

Korean martial arts films are not exactly a common tendency for the country's cinema. But when one someone deals with the genre, as Lee Seung-won-III does here in his debut, well, the result is extremely generic, to say the least. Let us take things from the beginning, though...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "No Mercy - 2019"

2019/01/19 | Permalink

The opening scene, with its emphasis on a cool-looking Ford Mustang and Lee Si-young sporting a very attractive red dress, gives "No Mercy - 2019" a rather voyeuristic feel. But that only that lasts up until the point she finally engages someone in conversation. It doesn't end up going well for the guy under the car. And so the purpose of the film is quickly established. In-ae may look pretty, but she's not here to make friends...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "My Teacher, Mr. Kim"

2019/01/19 | Permalink

With "My Teacher, Mr. Kim" writer/director Jang Gyoo-seong sends a love letter to South Korea's dying rural communities. There's no creature comforts, and hardly any people. But then that's the main positive. Mr. Kim (played by Cha Seung-won) has an elementary school class in Seoul filled with a generic morass of indistinguishable children. Mr. Kim is a slacker at heart, and with so many teachers also floating around campus, who's going to notice a single guy not taking his job seriously?...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Deep Blue Night"

2019/01/19 | Permalink

Based on the homonymous novel by Choi In-ho, and shot in Lon Angeles, "Deep Blue Sea" was one of the first local movies to portray the eagerness of Koreans to immigrate to the US, which was considered the "Absolute" country to live in. Despite the radically different setting than his previous films, "Deep Blue Sea" was another huge commercial success, attracting more than 600,000 viewers, breaking box office records, and receiving many awards on both domestic and international stages, including the Grand Bell Film Award, the Paeksang Arts Award and an Asia Pacific Screen Award...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Grown Up"

2019/01/12 | Permalink

The last time writer/director Jang Hye-yeong saw her mentally challenged younger sister Hye-jeong, that detail's actually a bit unclear, come to think of it. We're explicitly told that that Hye-jeong was put in an assisted care facility at the age of thirteen, and that the subject of "Grown Up" is the decision made by writer/director Jang Hye-yeong to remove her sister from the facility and live together with her some seventeen years later. But an awful lot of the background is surprisingly vague...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Kick the Moon"

2019/01/12 | Permalink

The Korean title of "Kick the Moon" is Silla By Moonlight, a reference to the classic Occupation era song which romanticized the Silla Kingdom. The reference is intended to be ironic, as "Kick the Moon" depicts modern day Gyeongju, the capital of the Silla Kingdom, as being a hotbed of loudmouthed gangsters who speak in thick dialect. The film opens up with a legendary riot as Seoul high school students on a graduation trip decide to show off their toughness by challenging Gyeongju residents to a giant street fight...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Hwang Jin-ie" + Full Movie

2019/01/12 | Permalink

My exploration of Bae Chang-ho's cinema continues with a rather different film, since it takes place in the Joseon era, and focuses not on narrative, but on visuals, in a rather arthouse approach. Let us take things from the beginning though...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Righteous Ties"

2019/01/05 | Permalink

The perpetually frustrated mobster Chi-seong (played by Jung Jae-young) spends the first scene in "Righteous Ties" reluctantly having to take responsibility for a single violent criminal act in order to preserve the interests of his gang. From here the narrative gets kind of murky. Where we might expect a stoic appraisal of criminal honor or possibly a farcical comedy about wacky adventures in a prison, writer Jang Jin somehow manages to do both halfway...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Mr. Gam's Victory"

2019/01/05 | Permalink

In the early eighties, Mr. Gam (played by Lee Beom-soo) has a modest background. He works in a factory by day and helps with his mom's shop in the traditional market at night. The introduction of a color TV is a big deal for his family. Political agitation exists, but for Mr. Gam, it's the kind of thing he runs into by accident. But most importantly, the wealth of the eighties gives Mr. Gam a chance to fulfill his dream of being a baseball player...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Running Wild"

2019/01/05 | Permalink

Mixing an action thriller with a crime thriller is always a good idea, particularly when we are talking about Korean cinema, where the two genres are among the most popular and financially successful. Expectantly, the film was a commercial success in 2006. Let us take things from the beginning though...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Feel Good To Die" Episodes 31-32 Final

2019/01/02 | Permalink

It's time to set things right for a better future, but "Feel Good To Die" saves one last twist for us. It's definitely an unexpected one I would usually not welcome at all, but this series has managed to get through everything else with dignity, and it does not disappoint this time either. Jin-sang, Roo-da, and their merry crew won't have an easy road ahead, but they will have good company on it...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Feel Good To Die" Episodes 29-30

2018/12/30 | Permalink

Even the most inspiring leaders can find it hard to convince a crowd when it comes to something they fear, and Jin-sang has not always been an inspiring leader in "Feel Good To Die". The man is trying his best to bring about change, and to help Roo-da remember, but some things can't be rushed, and some people can't be changed, as evident with In-han. Still, Jin-sang's efforts bear fruit, as Roo-da's fragmented flashbacks yield results...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Take Point"

2018/12/29 | Permalink

In a delightfully cynical opening montage writer/director Kim Byeong-woo shows us how even in its most magnaminous moments, the United States is a comically fickle country whose leaders will sabotage long term peace deals in the name of dubious short term objectives. By the time we get to mercenary captain Ahab (played by Ha Jung-woo) we find out that the glue holding his team together is economic poverty and an absence of proper paperwork to live in the land of opportunity. So it is that they took on a high profile the bunker...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Children Gone To Poland"

2018/12/29 | Permalink

North Korea sent a lot of war orphans to Poland during the Korean War. Allegedly, "Children Gone To Poland" is their story. In practice, the documentary has frustratingly little focus on those orphans. We barely hear anything about them before director Chu Sang-mi is already holding auditions for a young North Korean defector (Lee Song ends up being chosen) to go with her to Poland and find out more...More

[HanCinema Film Review] "The Flower at the Equator" + Full Movie

2018/12/29 | Permalink

Similarly with his debut, but also on a much higher level, Bae Chang-ho presents another multilayered drama about the human psyche, although this time the base is that of a thriller, instead of a social film, which seems to share some semblance with Hitchcock's style...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Feel Good To Die" Episodes 27-28

2018/12/28 | Permalink

Jin-sang's joy over Roo-da's newfound not-deadness is understandably hard to contain, but this causes some issues in the workplace, especially when he has to find ways to reenact certain situations that he would rather not have to repeat. With a mission to bring Roo-da up to speed with what has happened being Jin-sang's latest project, can he spark that same change in people that Roo-da tried so hard to accomplish...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Feel Good To Die" Episodes 25-26

2018/12/26 | Permalink

The empty space left by Roo-da in "Feel Good To Die" hits everyone hard, and everyone reacts to it differently. At the end of the day, however, it is Roo-da's life that affected these people the most, and changed how they treat themselves and others. Jin-sang takes a considerable blow, given the burden he has to try and change his savior's fate. We know where it all started, and where it can all end...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Swing Kids"

2018/12/22 | Permalink

At the Geoje Prison Camp during the Korean War Gi-soo (played by Do Kyung-soo) is a North Korean Communist who actively resists against the American invaders of his country. "Swing Kids" never actually explains that this is why Gi-soo is such a hardcore partisan, instead going into how he is moved by the inherently inspiring nature of swing dancing. If you think that's bad wait until you get to Pan-rae (played by Park Hye-soo), whose material concerns of providing food for her orphaned siblings are also sidelined by the inherently inspiring nature of swing dancing...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Drug King"

2018/12/22 | Permalink

Archival footage explains how the Japanese discovered meth, and decided to use it during World War II to make their soldiers sharp for the war effort. This predictably resulted in a lot of veterans becoming drug addicts in the decades after the war, and facing local crackdowns, Japanese crime lords turned to suppliers in South Korea to pick up the slack. So it is that in the seventies bumbling fishmonger dad Doo-sam (played by Song Kang-ho) tries to get in on the action...More

[Hancinema's Film Review] "People in the Slum" + Full Movie

2018/12/22 | Permalink

Bae Chang-ho's debut feature was not an easy one to make. Although the source material, Lee Dong-chul's semi-autobiographical novel, was a best seller, Bae had to face government censors, which, at a time when Chun Doo Hwan's regime was at a fool bloom after a violent suppression of civil unrest, were at the pick of their power and of their strictness. Even before the start of production, the script was rejected five times and the censors listed 60 elements that they wanted changed. The requested changes included the film's title, the attitude of policemen towards the slum residents, and a husband pulling on his wife's hair during a fight...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Crossing Beyond"

2018/12/22 | Permalink

When one hears about a film that is the official one of the Winter Olympics (in this case of Pyeongchang Winter Olympics,) and that the director is appointed to shoot it, one is, inevitably, led to think that the effort would be one of glorification, almost completely stripped of objectivity, a promotional work, in essence. And although these elements are still present, Yi Seung-Jun has managed to shoot a documentary that is much more than a promotional piece, by focusing on stories of actual people, not all of which are characterized by athletic triumphs...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Feel Good To Die" Episodes 23-24

2018/12/16 | Permalink

The imminent disaster I was afraid of in "Feel Good To Die" comes a bit too soon for my heart, but in a series about a time loop, a lot is negotiable. The question is, what will we be left with at the end? MW Chicken's power games reach a culmination that has been a long time coming, and a rocky road leads Joon-ho to some correct decisions, but the damage against Jin-sang has been done, and something far more dire follows...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Feel Good To Die" Episodes 21-22

2018/12/15 | Permalink

The harsh realities of Jin-sang's past behavior, and of his emotions for Roo-da start hitting him pretty hard, but company matters and a new enemy are getting in the way of these things developing more adequately. With only a few episodes left to go, it feels like a disaster is imminent, but the time loop's origins have to be tackled at some point, and Jin-sang has to face the person behind them...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Door Lock"

2018/12/15 | Permalink

Sans context it's easy to mistake the villain of "Door Lock" as the spouse of Kyeong-min (played by Gong Hyo-jin). The more context we get, though, the clearer it is that Kyeong-min is a very harried woman who barely even has time to get up in the morning, let alone have a boyfriend- or more immediately relevantly, notice that anything suspicious is going on. It's only by random coincidence that Kyeong-min realizes something strange is afoot regarding her mechanical door lock...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Unstoppable"

2018/12/15 | Permalink

Don't let that ominous theatrical poster or the similarly imposing title fool you. "Unstoppable" is a surprisingly light-hearted movie. I mean sure, Dong-cheol (played by Ma Dong-seok) is built like a tank and his wife Ji-soo (played by Song Ji-hyo) does inevitably get kidnapped. But up until that point, "Unstoppable" is a very domestic film, where the leading man eschews violence for the sake of respectability, to the point that even Dong-cheol's partner gets annoyed at his excessive passivity. Adorably cute domestic squabbles follow...More

[Hancinema's Film Review] "The General's Mustache" + Full Movie

2018/12/15 | Permalink

Based on the homonymous novel by Lee O-young, "The General's Mustache" presents a rather unusual approach to the crime drama, as it initially starts as a usual entry in the category, but eventually turns into an existential, social film filled with philosophical but also melodramatic elements...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Feel Good To Die" Episodes 19-20

2018/12/09 | Permalink

I wasn't sure if it was even coming, but the romantic element is here to stay in "Feel Good To Die", and I can no longer enjoy Jin-sang's suffering as much. With the time loop gone, our heroes are in real danger from now on, and In-han's next sickening pet project keeps them busy at work as well. Roo-da's involvement is what moves her two merry men, but will they find their own motivation someday...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Respect"

2018/12/08 | Permalink

In a move that is awfully bold given the documentary's inherently esoteric subject matter, director Shin Jae-hee takes his twelve interviews with South Korea's most well-known rappers and has them talk about something a lot more abstract. Namely, what "Respect" means in the context of South Korea's rapping community. Now, when I call "Respect" esoteric, I don't just mean to foreigners. South Koreans in general also don't know that much about what the country's rapping subculture is like...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "roooom"

2018/12/08 | Permalink

In the opener to "roooom" apartment complex supervisor Sang-pil (played by Kim Jin-soo) negotiates reduced moving fare, set the bottom floor café in order, and finally walk up the stairs to deal with an errand for a tenant before being taken for a rude surprise. This single extended shot is highly mundane and even intriguing. I'd never really thought about what life was like for an apartment complex supervisor. Alas, Sang-pil is quickly abandoned as "roooom" instead becomes a more typical omnibus where each of the four short films deals with a different stage of love...More

[Hancinema's Film Review] "The Last Witness"

2018/12/08 | Permalink

Based on the homonymous, and quite successful novel by Kim Seong-jong, including elements of crime thriller with a historic twist about North Korean POWs, and featuring a big budget and an impressive cast headed by Lee Jung-jae and Ahn Sung-ki, "The Last Witness" had all the elements to become a masterpiece. Let us see if it succeeded though...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Feel Good To Die" Episodes 17-18

2018/12/07 | Permalink

The half-way mark of "Feel Good To Die" brings about dramatic changes, and it's time for Roo-da and Jin-sang to hit the next phase of their journey. The romantic, business and supernatural elements of the series all hit major turning points, and while we bid the Garibong franchise farewell for now, the challenges up ahead are more demanding, and more perilous. A change in the time loop creates new rules to work by, and new threats...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Feel Good To Die" Episodes 15-16

2018/12/01 | Permalink

"Feel Good To Die" works fast, as we find out the identity of the shoving hands and, surprise surprise, it's someone we know well. The reasons behind their involvement are tragic, but perhaps they hold the key to this time loop. Meanwhile, In-han and Si-baek become worse by the second, and Roo-da now has two eager suitors and helpers in her fight to save tomorrow...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Young-ju"

2018/12/01 | Permalink

In the wake of her parents' sudden deaths, the still teenage but technically an adult Young-joo (played by Kim Hyang-gi) takes care of her teenage but still not technically an adult brother Young-in (played by Tang Joon-sang). "Young-ju" isn't quite as melodramatic as that description makes it sound. The first scene has quite a bit of levity, and subsequent scenes drag that tone down only because not teenage but technically adult characters persist in being unhelpful authority figures...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Default"

2018/12/01 | Permalink

The 1997 Asian Financial Crisis was a watershed moment in South Korean history. The exact causes of the crisis remain ambiguous. The middle steps, though, are well explained by Jeong-hak (played by Yoo Ah-in) in an ominous setpiece that makes the ambitious young businessman look like a con artist selling a pyramid scheme. In short, starting with the withdrawal of foreign investors, huge pillars of the South Korean economy start to crumble. Financial analyst Si-hyeon (played by Kim Hye-soo) also anticipates the crisis- and her attempts to mitigate the damage are predictably ignored...More

[Hancinema's Film Review] "A Tale of Legendary Libido"

2018/12/01 | Permalink

I have to admit that comedies are not exactly my favorite genre. However, occasionally I do indulge in the category, and "A Tale of Legendary Libido", with its description of a sexually charged, filled with gags one seemed like a nice enough choice. Let us see if it lived up to its "hype", though...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Feel Good To Die" Episodes 13-14

2018/11/30 | Permalink

Death wishes, time loops and very nasty corporate greed are bad enough, but Jin-sang and Roo-da's odd connection in "Feel Good To Die" is about to bring more trouble for the two, as the former's obtuseness strikes again. The project to corrent Jin-sang's perception issues and social skills is under way, but everything from business to romantic interests is flaring up...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Feel Good To Die" Episodes 11-12

2018/11/25 | Permalink

Jin-sang finally admitted that he's not really okay, and his small stickler heart grew three sizes that day. Fate™ in "Feel Good To Die" is a cruel mistress, and this chicken empire's Grinch gets a taste of his own medicine from a position built for humbling. With the Garibong store being a complete mess, and Roo-da away from the action, our death-prone boss finally understands how demanding this time loop conundrum is...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Village of Haze" + Full Movie

2018/11/24 | Permalink

Winner of the Baeksang award for Best Film and by the Korean Association of Film Critics for Best Actor, "Village of Haze" (aka "Village in the Mist") is a great sample of the legendary Im Kwon-taek's contemporary filmography...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Long Farewell"

2018/11/24 | Permalink

On the southeastern edge of Seoul, real-estate speculation spans out from the Gangnam district and slowly threatens to encompass all the region with the same hideous conformity of modern style apartment buildings. While "A Long Farewell" deals with one particular neighborhood affected by these market forces, the embellishment is mine. Director Raya has actually made a very abstract documentary- the kind you might expect to find at an art museum played on permanent loop...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Intimate Strangers"

2018/11/24 | Permalink

Seok-ho (played by Cho Jin-woong) and his wife Ye-jin (played by Kim Ji-soo) have dinner parties with their five friends every so often. This time around Ye-jin finally has the gumption to suggest a game that will, for one night only, destroy all their privacy. "Intimate Strangers" is as much about secrets between partners as it is secrets between friends. Observe how Se-kyeong (played by Song Ha-yoon) is always jokingly ribbing her older more experienced husband Joon-mo (played by Lee Seo-jin) about his past womanizing...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Feel Good To Die" Episodes 9-10

2018/11/23 | Permalink

The truth hurts, especially when it has created supernaturally fine-tuned mechanisms to confirm your own flaws to your face on a repeated, daily basis. "Feel Good To Die" gives tough love like that. Jin-sang meets an enemy from the past, but he also gets to confirm just how many he has in the present. What's surprising about this whole process is just how obtuse our leading menace has been about it all. Roo-da has a long way to go with this one...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Feel Good To Die" Episodes 7-8

2018/11/17 | Permalink

There is always a flow to an ebb, and several of the "Feel Good To Die" characters get to experience new consequences to their actions, while more trouble is brewing. If you thought we had enough antagonists, think again, because our fourth lead is here, and she brings terrible intentions with her. What is more exciting, however, is that another person finally joins Roo-da in her journey through finicky time...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Rikidozan"

2018/11/17 | Permalink

Sin-rak (played by Sol Kyung-gu) was just a kid on a farm in Korea during the thirties, until circumstances conspire to send him to Japan during the forties and begin a career as a sumo wrestler. While Sin-rak had an excellent physique and a fair amount of talent, ultimately, he lacked discipline. Well, as an ethnically Korean man living in Japan Sin-rak also had to contend with racism. But in the end Sin-rak's personality, an odd mix of quick temper coupled with excessive theatricality, proved a better fit for a far more eccentric sort of athletic career...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Ode to the Goose"

2018/11/17 | Permalink

Gunsan is a sad, lonely town on South Korea's western coast that is very pretty to look at but communicates almost nothing of substance. That dispiriting appraisal is also accurate when it comes to the named characters of "Ode to the Goose" as we consider leading man Yoon-yeong (played by Park Hae-il), who spends so much time thinking about what to say he barely ends up talking at all. Then Song-hyeon (played by Moon So-ri) talks just to fill the silence but avoids talking about what she actually wants. Their faux day trip date to Gunsan, consequently, goes about as well as might be expected...More

[Hancinema's Film Review] "Possible Faces"

2018/11/17 | Permalink

Winner of the Citizen Critics' Award at Busan International Film Festival in 2017, "Possible Faces" is a genuine art-house portrait that focuses on presenting the lives of its ordinary characters with as much realism as possible...More

[Hancinema Film Review] "Hotel by the River"

2018/11/17 | Permalink

In his latest endeavors, festival-favorite Hong Sang-soo has transferred his virtues to the monochrome world, "taming" at the same time his auteur style, which has become much more approachable. "Hotel by the River" is a testament to the fact...More

[Hancinema's Film Review] "Waikiki Brothers"

2018/11/17 | Permalink

Yim Soon-rye's "Little Forest" may be one of the (festival) hits of the season, but the director has a quite a filmic past, with "Waikiki Brothers" being one of the most interesting samples...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Feel Good To Die" Episodes 5-6

2018/11/15 | Permalink

The smallest thing can feel like a world changing event when you want it badly enough, and we finally start to see change in Jin-sang's perception of his work, and role in the team. Roo-da is the one who experiences the biggest changes so far, however, and she discovers the lack of ideal solutions that life often brings us face to face with. She has a lot on her plate, but she also makes many mistakes...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Courtesy to the Nation"

2018/11/10 | Permalink

Back in 1991 protest by self-immolation was a recurring form of expression by those who considered the country's new leaders to be indistinguishable from the old ones. In the truly bizarre case of Kim Ki-sul, one such suicidal protestor, the government attempted to deflect attention away from Kim Ki-sul's pro-democracy message by prosecuting Kang Ki-hoon, one of his colleagues, for helping Kim Ki-sul commit suicide by writing his suicide note. "Courtesy to the Nation" is a documentary that goes over the case from inception to long overdue appeal in 2014...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Myeoneuri - My Son's Crazy Wife"

2018/11/10 | Permalink

Director Shin Ho-bin is a married to a woman he did not necessarily plan to get married to, prior to her getting pregnant. Life between the three of them is actually pretty pleasant, albeit eccentric, given the goofy way she talks and the equally goofy outfits she wears around town on her bike. The main tension in the relationship comes from Shin Ho-bin's mom, who constantly finds fault with her daughter-in-law. If the English title "Myeoneuri - My Son's Crazy Wife" sounds bad, the original insult, B-Grade Daughter-in-Law, is even worse...More

[Hancinema's Film Review] "Grain in Ear"

2018/11/10 | Permalink

The second feature of festival favorite Zhang Lu is one of his most acclaimed works, winning awards in Cannes, Busan and Vesoul, and presented in festivals all over the world. The film deals with the Korean Chinese (Zhang Lu's ethnicity) one of the recognized ethnic minorities in China, comprising about 2.7 million citizens. Korean Chinese are spread throughout the country, and their group situation is consequently invisible to other Chinese, though many have difficulties integrating into society...More

[Hancinema's Film Review] "This Charming Girl"

2018/11/10 | Permalink

Winner of a number of awards, particularly for Lee Yoon-ki and the protagonist, Kim Ji-soo, "This Charming Girl" was an impressive debut for a director who still holds the interest of the public, with films like his latest, "One Day"...More

[Hancinema's Film Review] "Jealousy Is My Middle Name"

2018/11/10 | Permalink

The Korean art-house scene is influenced to a very high degree by Hong Sang-soo, through a number of mentorships and efforts to "copy" his style. Park Chan-ok debut feature, which falls under the first category, is one of the most successful efforts, as it netted her awards from a number of domestic and international festivals, including Tokyo, Rotterdam and Busan, with the success extending to the protagonist, Park Hae-il...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Feel Good To Die" Episodes 3-4

2018/11/09 | Permalink

A new persistent day dawns on deputy Lee Roo-da, along with an opportunity to learn something new. Roo-da is tired, and now she has the very focused, very personal loathing of her terrible boss working against her. Escape seems like an appealing solution, but as her supernaturally governed feud with Baek Jin-sang grows, so does her understanding of the intricacies in keeping this magnet of death and ruin alive...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Feel Good To Die" Episodes 1-2

2018/11/08 | Permalink

Some feel that death is the end, others feel it is but a transition, but for the heroine of "Feel Good To Die" it is the most annoying pause button. The drama follows her otherwise normal office life and common woes experienced under a grating boss, but we are thrown into its supernatural twist right off the bat. Can heroine Lee Roo-da save her boss, and save the day from repeating...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Ghost Detective" Episodes 31-32 Final

2018/11/05 | Permalink

"The Ghost Detective" comes to a sad ending, but not in a conventionally sad way. After Da-il's decision, everyone begins to rebuild, but the trauma of what happened is conveniently left out. Along with a twist pretty much seen coming a mile away, it clearly reveals where the series faltered, but it sadly takes its original messages with it, making this an ending sadder than I could have expected...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Ghost Detective" Episodes 29-30

2018/11/04 | Permalink

It is nearly time to pull the plug on a story that has dragged past its heroes' own mental and emotional capacity, but also past its plot's capabilities. With very few solutions provided by the writing aside from more of the same, a devastating call is made. At the same time the return of some of our heroes' earlier traits feels almost like a homage to the original potential that "The Ghost Detective" once had...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Grass"

2018/11/03 | Permalink

Writers tend to be socially isolated weirdos. Or at least, that's the stereotype, so one point of clichéd advice frequently given to aspiring creative types is to go the a café and watch normal people interact. There's just one problem. The kind of people who hang around cafés aren't really any more normal than aspiring writers, and frequently tend to be aspiring writers themselves. This is the lesson which Ah-reum (played by Kim Min-hee) repeatedly fails to learn as "Grass" progresses from one random out-of-context conversation to another...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Beautiful Vampire"

2018/11/03 | Permalink

Five hundred year old vampire Ran (played by Jung Yeon-joo) is mostly incompetent. While your typical modern vampire is a wealthy genius heading up a conspiracy...Ran is a bit of an idiot. Her only useful talent is makeup, which doesn't pay much on a low profile. But hey, it does let her look pretty sparkly and beautiful. And really, who needs power when you can confidently strut out of your small apartment every day, confident you won't be burned by the sun?...More

[Hancinema's Film Review] "The Land of Seonghye"

2018/11/03 | Permalink

Winner of the Grand Prize of the Korean Competition in the 2018 Jeonju International Film Festival, "The Land of Seonghye" is a very realistic portrait of the difficulties young Korean people face nowadays, professionally and personally...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Ghost Detective" Episodes 27-28

2018/10/29 | Permalink

Who knew that Da-il body slamming Hye with his ethereal manbeauty would prove to be such a great solution? I was too quick to put my faith in the plot and characters last time around, because "The Ghost Detective" has sadly reached the point where everyone has a serious case of the stupid. Some promising progress made in the previous episodes has gone back a 100 steps as a sacrifice to the altars of stalling, and romance...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Rampant"

2018/10/27 | Permalink

The opening scenes of "Rampant" rather effectively set the mood- a late night raid on a Dutch merchant ship in Korean waters leaves one of the pirates badly spooked after he gets mauled by a crazy person. Then we see that in addition to carrying a crazy person, the Dutch ship was also carrying a lot of guns. All of this is relevant to the machinations of minister Ja-joon (played by Jang Dong-gun), but when Prince Cheong (played by Hyun Bin) gets back from a long sojourn in China, all he sees is an empty wrecked town and no royal guard to meet him...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Good Morning President"

2018/10/27 | Permalink

Presidents are just normal human beings like you and me. In "Good Morning President" writer/director Jang Jin takes this banal idea to its natural conclusion. What if presidents were so normal, that they were like characters in situation comedies? What if dignified elder statesman Jeong-ho (played by Lee Soon-jae) had a preternatural obsession with the lottery? What if young hot-shot Hi-wook (played by Jang Dong-gun) kept getting distracted by bodily functions? What if the efficient businesswoman Kyeong-ja (played by Go Doo-shim) had to deal with her bumbling idiot husband Chang-myeon (played by Im Ha-ryong) unintentionally fomenting disaster?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "M"

2018/10/27 | Permalink

As we saw recently in the article about "Nowhere To Hide", Lee Myung-se has a tendency of taking films that could be easily categorized as genre ones, and present them in a unique way, mostly through his visuals and narrative style. This tendency finds its apogee in "M", a film whose basic premise is that of the psychological thriller, but its presentation, completely different...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Ghost Detective" Episodes 25-26

2018/10/21 | Permalink

In another round of "The Ghost Detective" pulling a "Weekend at Bernie's" with Da-il's body, the biggest threat to his future remains the man himself. Team Good tries to catch up to Hye and their own friend in a race for his life, and an unlikely ally surfaces, along with a pretty great, even if rushed through twist. With his health running out, and no guarantees that his plan would even work, will Da-il listen to his team...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Ghost Detective" Episodes 23-24

2018/10/21 | Permalink

"The Ghost Detective" has not been doing well on the pacing since it turned into a treasure hunt for Da-il's body, but it is Da-il's soul that is harder to capture. The group is struggling, Da-il is not listening to their input, and Hye is preparing traps our Team Good is just aching to fall into. With death seemingly almost inevitable for someone, who will that someone be? Can we end this without grand sacrifices...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Butterfly"

2018/10/20 | Permalink

In the southeastern region of of Korea, an elderly man returns to his rural home. In truth he probably can't stay there long and family will come back for him in two weeks. The old house holds great nostalgic value for him. Over eight decades, the man lived there with his wife, taking care of her when he could barely take care of himself. "Butterfly" is a documentary chronicle of the end of their shared life, as we wait for the old woman to die on her own terms...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Public Enemy Returns"

2018/10/20 | Permalink

It's oddly appropriate that right away in "Public Enemy Returns" we see big screen South Korean cop icon Cheol-joong face off against a bunch of elementary school students. They no longer respect law enforcement because of what they see in the movies, and Cheol-joong himself is a prime example of how police in South Korean film at the time were depicted as petty corrupt buffoons. Gangsters, meanwhile, were seen as cool, which is how teenage knuckleheads Ha-yeon (played by Lee Min-ho), Hee-chan (played by Lee Jae-won-I), and Seong-jin (played by Koo Seong-hwan) get wrapped up in the criminal underworld...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Nowhere to Hide"

2018/10/20 | Permalink

I have repeatedly mentioned that the new "Golden Era" of Korean cinema was headed by the plethora of great crime thrillers that were released during the 00's and the 10's ("Mother - 2009", "The Chaser", "I Saw the Devil", Park Chan-wook, etc). However, the genre also had successes before that time, as "Nowhere To Hide", which won a number of awards both locally and internationally, eloquently proves. Furthermore, Lee Myung-se's film manages to stand out from the vast plethora of similar titles due to its presentation, which actually uses the crime thriller aspect as a base for artistic "experimentations"...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Ghost Detective" Episodes 21-22

2018/10/14 | Permalink

The closer we get to Da-il's body, the further away it is, as what our titular hero feels may be a solution is almost at the hands of our villains. "The Ghost Detective" has reached a point where a lot feels like a delay to the inevitable, whatever said inevitable may be. There may be miraculous solutions yet, and we have plenty of time to discover them. I hope they bring answers on all of our players with them...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Miss Baek"

2018/10/13 | Permalink

Sang-ah (played by Han Ji-min) is a cynical woman who focuses on survival, rather than thinking about a long-term future. Sang-ah's mean and bitter outlook is largely justified by the brutal and impoverished environment she lives in. Sang-ah's boyfriend, cop Jang-seop (played by Lee Hee-joon) is constantly witness to the senseless brutality committed by people who live on the margins. And Ji-eun (played by Kim Si-ah) is an elementary age student who is a living victim to that brutality...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Autumn, Autumn"

2018/10/13 | Permalink

While "Autumn, Autumn" premiered at the Berlin Film Festival back in 2017 and apparently even had a limited release in the United States shortly after, it was only last month that the film finally received a domestic release in South Korea. The success off "The First Lap" probably has something to do with it- writer/director Jang Woo-jin-II did a lot of production work for that generally well-regarded film. As for "Autumn, Autumn" though, I'm not actually sure what this movie is even about...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Water Mill" + Full Movie

2018/10/13 | Permalink

Lee Man-hee-I is one of the most significant Korean directors that worked in the 60 and the 70s', with films like the present one, "The Marines Who Never Returned", "Late Autumn" (a now lost film which has been remade a number of times in Korean cinema), "Break up the Chain" and many more. "A Water Mill" is among his greatest works...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Ghost Detective" Episodes 19-20

2018/10/11 | Permalink

With Hye somehow managing to find a nastier helper than Jeon Deok-joong, and Da-il's soul being in bigger danger than his body, Team Good of "The Ghost Detective" is starting to feel the strain of their responsibilities. At the same time, help arrives from new, surprising places, but at this dire point in time, the group would and should take anything they can get. Can sacrifices be avoided? Probably not, but everyone will try...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Ghost Detective" Episodes 17-18

2018/10/07 | Permalink

With Da-il's body possibly back in the race for survival, and Hye becoming more of a threat as we go along, a lot changes for our heroes. Between navigating the emotional maze of what this means for their relationships and future, and trying to keep Hye's manipulation at bay, Team Good is juggling a lot, and so is the plot. A very soapy twist is tossed into the mix, but I hope that we will avoid it...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Dark Figure of Crime"

2018/10/06 | Permalink

Detective Km Hyeong-min (played by Kim Yun-seok) investigates cold cases in Busan. This work leads him to cross paths with local thug Tae-oh (played by Ju Ji-hoon), a very unpleasant man who brags about violent things he probably never did. And that's where the conflict in "Dark Figure of Crime" comes from. Hyeong-min is willing to deal with the devil if it means bringing closure to the family members of missing persons, and Tae-oh is that devil...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Soul-Mate"

2018/10/06 | Permalink

Going by promotional materials one would probably be inclined to think of "The Soul-Mate" as being a typical supernatural odd couple buddy cop comedy. Jang-soo (played by Ma Dong-seok) is a beefy middled-aged judo instructor. Tae-jin (played by Kim Young-kwang) is the currently incorporeal young cop who only Jang-soo can see. Together, they fight crime. In actuality Jang-soo and Tae-jin spend a ridiculous amount of time engaging in petty bickering before the ghost thing comes up at all...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Early Rain" + Full Movie

2018/10/06 | Permalink

The film that launched Moon Hee's career is a testament to its times (1966), particularly regarding the youths of the country and their search for an identity after the Korean war, when the whole country was experiencing a crisis on all fronts...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Ghost Detective" Episodes 15-16

2018/10/05 | Permalink

In what is another two episodes of writer Han Ji-wan-I toying with our heart, "The Ghost Detective" smacks us right across the feels with a twist we may have seen coming a mile away, but which could have still never come. There is room for a fake-out yet, but a lot could possibly change about how the story moves forward regardless. With Hye's mayhem escalating, and new figures of interest popping up, we have a lot going on here...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Fengshui"

2018/09/29 | Permalink

In the final scene of "Fengshui" we see elderly feng shui expert Jae-sang (played by Cho Seung-woo) recounting to a couple of guys in suits about how he and his fellow geomancer Ha-eung (played by Ji Sung) witnessed the destruction of the Joseon government over a bizarre dispute concerning royal gravesites. This epilogue really should have been the framing device. "Fengshui" has a transparently ridiculous storyline that makes a lot more sense if you know ahead of time that the whole thing is a metaphor for the late Joseon government's absurdly skewed priorities...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Boing The Play Ranger: Super Secret Transformation"

2018/09/29 | Permalink

So apparently way back in 2013 a new children's cartoon appeared on South Korean television called Boing The Play Ranger. The setting is Playville, where all the residents are based off of playground toys. The titular Boing (voiced by Jeon Tae-yeol) is a spring-based riding lion. And apparently some five years after Boing The Play Ranger first premiered the cartoon is only just now getting an origin story depicting how Boing became a play ranger in the first place...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Ghost Detective" Episodes 13-14

2018/09/28 | Permalink

There is no bigger cautionary tale about the value of communication than a superpowered walking dead terrorist going loose as a result of its lack, and "The Ghost Detective" crew has just learned that. Episodes thirteen and fourteen start showing some internal logic issues, and I am worried about what the romantic angle might be doing to our leads, but the drama's emotional core and compelling mysteries hold everything together...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Great Battle"

2018/09/22 | Permalink

In the first epic war scene of "The Great Battle" high-ranking Goguryeo warrior Sa-mool (played by Nam Joo-hyuk) experiences a disastrous loss against Tang forces led by Emperor Taizong (played by Park Sung-woong), who boast superior numbers, tactics, and technology. In the aftermath Goguryeo command blames the loss on Ansi Fortress general Man-chun (played by Jo In-sung), who failed to reenforce them. So Sa-mool is sent to assassinate him. No on asks why Man-chun chose to disobey orders- although this question is at the heart of what "The Great Battle" has to say about the meaning of war and nationalism...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "After Spring"

2018/09/22 | Permalink

The three highlighted survivors in the "After Spring" omnibus embody haunted existences as they are trapped by memories of lost loved ones. Sin-ae (played by Jeon Mi-sun) lives in desperation for some means, any means, of seeing her daughter again to make right their strained final encounter. Sang-won (played by Yoo Jae-myung) lives in quiet terror of what he could not make right with his own daughter. Suk-ho (played by Jun Suk-ho) doesn't live at all- he barely even moves from the house, so paralyzed the man is by grief regarding his dead wife...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Ghost Detective" Episodes 11-12

2018/09/21 | Permalink

There is a lot to unpack in episodes eleven and twelve of "The Ghost Detective", as we have new characters and new revelations piling up on top of fast-paced developments. Da-il and Yeo-wool learn more about their abilities, but that knowledge comes with burdens they might not be ready to bear. How far can our heroes and their friends go to protect one another and everyone out there facing such a formidable enemy...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Ghost Detective" Episodes 9-10

2018/09/19 | Permalink

I am fully invested in this whirlwind mystery that is "The Ghost Detective", as the series goes deeper into what now feels like a big web of connected lives and deaths. Da-il is discovering new abilities and dangers, Team Good is now complete, a new character seems to hold vital information, and with a hint of romance being created, our two heroes are about to meet new challenges...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Monstrum"

2018/09/15 | Permalink

The opening scene of "Monstrum" definitely gives the impression that it's not the titular monster we should be worrying about. Long before we hear its ominous growls the film is witness to the spectacle of a senseless massacre- royal soldiers against civilians. The lone survivor of this scene, Myeong, grows up into Hyeri, and has learned several fine investigative arts from her adoptive father and Yoon-gyeom (played by Kim Myung-min) and his comic relief sidekick Seong-han (played by Kim In-kwon), which are put to the test as they investigate the monster's path of destruction...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Omok Girl"

2018/09/15 | Permalink

Ba-dook (played by Park Se-wan) is a former Go prodigy turned early twenty-something ronin, who has to make a living via odd part time jobs of various dignity levels. A chance encounter with An-kyeong (played by An Woo-yeon) leads Ba-dook to become interested in Gomoku, a simplified variant of Go where the objective is to get five stones of your color in a row. Gomoku is a more complex game than Ba-dook gives it credit for, and must train for her ultimate goal- a surprisingly good payout for second place...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Ghost Detective" Episodes 7-8

2018/09/14 | Permalink

The Woman in Red has finally met worthy challengers in "The Ghost Detective", and she is one mighty sore loser. With her psyche becoming more unstable, and our heroes a bigger thorn in her ghostly side, things are about to escalate. A new character appears, and the time has come for Sang-seob to learn of Da-il's current situation, which gives birth to a Subway product placement scene I never thought could make me cry...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Ghost Detective" Episodes 5-6

2018/09/13 | Permalink

Serial killers are scary, but serial killers with superpowers are terrifying. "The Ghost Detective" brings more twists, leaving our heroes with little time to process what is happening to them, and what has happened in their now shared past. The Woman in Red has a lot of secrets, and I am starting to wonder if several of the characters we have met so far are part of a common, supernaturally skilled group...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Life" Episode 16 Final

2018/09/13 | Permalink

To quote someone we all know and love, "Life" finds a way, and this is the best possible outcome we can hope for in regards to the future of Sangkook University Hospital, as well as our own world. The drama has been through a rough patch lately, but it bows out as gracefully as it can manage, leaving no magical solutions behind, but leaving us and its own characters some valuable food for thought...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Life" Episode 15

2018/09/11 | Permalink

We are approaching some form of closure for "Life", but the ship of what was a cohesive whole has sailed long ago. Character alliances and interpersonal, but also work relationships change in unexpected ways, and the drama is trying to stretch all of its resolutions to the very last minute. Perhaps this is the series that "Life" wanted to be all along, but it sadly did not get to it soon enough...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Butterfly Sleep"

2018/09/08 | Permalink

Ryoko (played by Miho Nakayama) is an aging Japanese novelist who has spent her career shying away from interaction with readers. But now? She's teaching a graduate class on creative writing. It's quite some time before we find out what, exactly, is the real reason for the change in her attitude. Until then, Ryoko gets acquainted with Chan-hae (played by Kim Jae-wook), a Korean transfer student who struggles to pay his tuition...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Into the Night"

2018/09/08 | Permalink

The Monotones are an independent rock band operating out of Seoul. Well, they were anyway. While much of the drama of "Into the Night" centers around whether the band will survive the filming of the documentary (which took place in 2015), the fact that they won top rock prize at the Korean Music Awards in 2016 and successfully produced albums renders the survival question a moot point. Then, right before "Into the Night" received an official domestic release in March, the band collapsed...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Ghost Detective" Episodes 3-4

2018/09/07 | Permalink

Take me out for detective trash day, because I did not see this twist coming, especially so early on. Sadly, neither did our poor Da-il. What happens in episodes three and four will likely change a lot about the story that "The Ghost Detective" and Yeo-wool will be in need of adjusting to, while somehow making it all work to their advantage. Can this lovely duo crack the case, and what future awaits them after this major shift...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Ghost Detective" Episodes 1-2

2018/09/06 | Permalink

"The Ghost Detective" is here to sink his figurative teeth into the case, and his physical ones into demons. In what is one of the most exciting premieres I've seen in a while, the resilient, highly intelligent, spirit-biting detective and his resourceful, stubborn sidekick are up against a terrible foe working with - or perhaps on - equally terrible living persons. Join me for good ol' horror and mysteries...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Life" Episode 14

2018/09/05 | Permalink

People have been keeping things to themselves for a long time at Sangkook University Hospital, but my guess about Seung-hyo's noble intentions might have picked up on a plan or backup plan devised even longer before the president's arrival. Jin-woo is finally facing things out in the open and head on, but we have a lot to get through in a small amount of time. Can "Life" wrap it all up, and does it even want to...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Life" Episode 13

2018/09/04 | Permalink

After dropping that confusing cliffhanger last week, "Life" opts for a little break from the power play kerfuffle in episode thirteen. What is obviously a move to stall plot progression leaves room for focus on matters outside of Sangkook University Hospital. While some of them are welcome, the series is increasingly scrambling for drama in all the disappointing places. Can "Life" find its way back before the end...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "On Your Wedding Day"

2018/09/01 | Permalink

In 2005, rowdy yet well-meaning South Korean teenager Woo-yeon (played by Kim Young-kwang) is living in Gangreung when he becomes smitten with Seung-hee (played by Park Bo-young), a spunky transfer student. "On Your Wedding Day" chronicles their love story through 2005 and 2007 and 2012, before finally ending on a twist in 2018- Seung-hee is getting married, just not to Woo-yeon...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "High Society - Movie"

2018/09/01 | Permalink

Tae-joon (played by Park Hae-il) is a well-liked college professor who does mild advocacy for labor-related causes. His wife Soo-yeon (played by Soo Ae) deals in art. They have a boring but functional marriage. That's not an intentional construction. "High Society - Movie" takes outrageous setpieces like one man setting himself on fire, another man dressing up like a Mexican wrestler to beat up on snitches, and an extended racist sex scene featuring excessive lube then somehow manages to make all that seem incredibly dull...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Life" Episode 12

2018/08/30 | Permalink

I am not sure where "Life" has run off to, but its place is now taken over by a suspense thriller about Evil Rich Dudes™. The series has gone through a major shift in tone and focus during the last two episodes, and the pivotal decisions that come with it feel rushed and forced. If this is what we can expect from the final four episodes, I wonder why it was not introduced sooner, and more smoothly...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Life" Episode 11

2018/08/29 | Permalink

Crimes have been abundant in "Life", but its characters are faced with the most dangerous one yet, as political and company conspiracies start seeping into Sangkook University Hospital. Someone close to Jin-woo becomes involved, raising the tensions between him and Seung-hyo, as well as the sacrifices which may have to be made in order to fight this new, and very powerful set of foes. I just hope that this will not turn "Life" into the typical drama of its kind...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Soldier's Mementos"

2018/08/25 | Permalink

Young naïve farmhand Jang-goon (played by Maeng Se-chang) is sent to war. While Jang-goon and his fellow soldiers are decked out in gear reminiscent of the Korean War and frequently watch planes fly overheard, there's also the occasional moment where we see a giant blue beautiful planet hanging in the sky. This sort of begs the question- in a film environment where Korean War stories are considered relevant and cutting edge, why did director Kim Jae-han choose to make a deliberately generic war movie?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Witness"

2018/08/25 | Permalink

The first thing we see suspicious-looking cap-wearing Tae-ho (played by Kwak Si-yang), we learn that he failed to knock out his would-be murder victim. We then learn that Tae-ho does not know how to tie a proper knot. So right from the beginning, Tae-ho comes off looking rather incompetent. It was with great irritation that I realized that for the rest of the movie Tae-ho would demonstrate superhuman powers including, but not limited to, teleportation, omniscience, immunity to physical damage, and invisibility...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Life" Episode 10

2018/08/24 | Permalink

The never ending power play of "Life" hits a deciding moment, as the new Director steps into power, and new games of pull and push begin between the hospital's ethical integrity and Hwajeong Group's ambitions. Jin-woo and his allies are up against powerful  opponents with what feels like the battle equivalent of a butter knife, and the personal crises that they face make everything all the more challenging...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Life" Episode 9

2018/08/21 | Permalink

There is no helping those who will not help themselves, and the elite of Sangkook University Hospital are too busy fighting over the Director position to care about what it will mean for their organization. Jin-woo's newfound confidence pushes him a little further, which motivates Kyeong-moon to take a stand that is about to turn sour. Will our young doctor finally stop expecting others to make the sacrifices he should be partially shouldering himself...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Land of Happiness"

2018/08/18 | Permalink

The first scene in "Land of Happiness" depicts an unfortunate series of events on the subway, back in the days before walls were installed to separate commuters from the tracks. The silent grainy closed circuit television footage is hauntingly effective, and appears multiple times through the duration of the film. But equally haunting is the distant look on the face of Min-soo (played by Ji Yong-suk), a man so spiritually unnerved it's interfering with his job of washing cars- not exactly a profession that requires people skills...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Haunted House: The Secret of the Cave"

2018/08/18 | Permalink

One of the more popular cartoons on South Korea's Tooniverse channel is...apparently called Haunted House. That's a bad name. The main gimmick of the series is that it actually takes place in a relatively modern haunted apartment complex. The protagonists, spunky older sister Ha-ri (voiced by Kim Young-eun) and her chubby younger brother Doo-ri (played by Kim Chae-ha) work together with the small, big-eyed green goblin Sin-bi (voiced by Jo Hyeon-jeong) to catch ghosts. The meaning of Sin-bi's name doubles as mysterious or haunted in Korean, so the title is also a pun...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Life" Episode 8

2018/08/15 | Permalink

Jin-woo is finally pushed to some necessary limits, as his brother's involvement drags him to the spotlight of this battle. At the same time, a worrying twist has surfaced regarding Seon-woo, and I am hoping that the creators will not do what I fear. Seung-hyo is starting to see the value of this hospital's work among the organizational filth and personal ambitions of its top brass, but will his master allow him to achieve something for all...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Life" Episode 7

2018/08/14 | Permalink

The time has come for Seon-woo to enter the fight for Sangkook University Hospital, and the plans hidden behind his involvement strengthen the front forming against the hierarchy's worst. No-eul gets a little wake up call about Seung-hyo's methods, which nonetheless seem to have some genuine concern behind them, at least on a personal level. Our president dearest is slowly waking up to the realities of healthcare that need his consideration...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Goose Goes South"

2018/08/11 | Permalink

Woozoo (played by Kang Doo) is a company worker. I wasn't totally clear on what Woozoo's company actually does, but apparently they do a lot of business in Osaka, since that's where Woozoo hangs out for pretty much the whole movie. Almost all of the dialogue is in Japanese. Incidentally, Woozoo is a really weird way to transliterate that name. Usually it's just written in English as Woo-joo. That name has the same common meaning as universe, although the Chinese characters probably mean something more poetic than that...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Soseongri"

2018/08/11 | Permalink

In the outskirts of Daegu, roughly equidistant from Seongju, Gimcheon, and Gumi, "Soseongri" is a rural farming district that's not too different from most others in South Korea. The population consists almost entirely of old people. Director Park Bae-il asks the old women there about their life stories, and they tell it, in between long shots of their everyday life of wandering around from place to place...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Life" Episode 6

2018/08/08 | Permalink

A surprising decision by Seung-hyo turns the tables and brings the planned strike to a halt, leaving everyone in "Life" wondering where to go from here, right before they find another obstacle in their way. What has begun as looking like an outrage-du-jour plot waiting for us gets a welcome injection of intrigue, as Seon-woo seems to have a lot more weighing on his shoulders than he lets on, opening a whole new can of works for the drama's mysteries...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Life" Episode 5

2018/08/07 | Permalink

As the hospital prepares for a strike to end what they see as upper management tyranny, Seung-hyo gets a taste of the differences between spotting problems, and understanding them. With the press and the public becoming aware of the ongoing situation, Jin-woo has an important meeting with a more impartial force that puts some things into perspective for him as well. Communication is what the characters of "Life" are in most dire need of...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Life" Episode 4

2018/08/06 | Permalink

Episode four of "Life" keeps pushing the envelope on how far Seung-hyo will go to have control, despite his obvious reservations. From stealing land built on blood and tears to using a human shield in order to control a rogue element within the hospital, the man is determined. As morally reprehensible as he is, he is up against equally sordid foes, which brings us to the theme of the day; cowardice in the face of responsibility...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Life" Episode 3

2018/08/05 | Permalink

What I thought was an expert at playing it safe is just a rebel without a plan, as Jin-woo lacks the necessary strategic thinking to handle the Pandora's box that he has single-handedly opened. More importantly, he lacks the conviction to do so. Once again, Seung-hyo does what he knows best, and brings Jin-woo face to face with these lackluster efforts. Seung-hyo is clearly winning, and Jin-woo needs to catch up...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Life" Episode 2

2018/08/05 | Permalink

The fight for Sangkook University Hospital has begun, and the arrival of someone probably already being burned in effigy by the staff brings a lot of nastiness to the surface. While Jin-woo struggles to find information and allies for his plans, the aforementioned Seung-hyo is already reworking the hospital from the ground up, eager to cut away the parts that do not suit his needs and the greater ambitions hidden behind them...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Life" Episode 1

2018/08/04 | Permalink

"Life" starts with a thud, rather than a bang, and the ripples caused by one's tragic fall that sparks everything already brewing under the surface begin showing immediately. The drama's sleek, dark and intense first episode introduces its characters and their basic connections, but it wastes no time in setting up the main mystery, the power play, as well as some more surprising elements, fueling my excitement for the story...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Spy Gone North"

2018/08/04 | Permalink

Director Yoon Jong-bin wastes no time in having National Intelligence Service administrator Hak-seong (played by Cho Jin-woong) bully former intelligence operative Black Venus (played by Hwang Jung-min) into infiltrating the North Korean nuclear weapons program. "The Spy Gone North" takes place some twenty years ago, so the veracity of Hak-seong's nuclear tip is questionable from the very beginning. But the bigger problem is that Black Venus's cover story of engaging the North Korean government in trade deals starts to take on greater importance than his actual mission...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Illang : The Wolf Brigade"

2018/08/04 | Permalink

In the far-off year of 2029, reunificiation between South Korea and North Korea is imminent. There are riots in the street. So the South Korean government makes use of "Illang : The Wolf Brigade", a paramilitary task force that attacks anti-reunification terrorists. Jin-tae (played by Jung Woo-sung) leads the brigade. Cheol-jin (played by Choi Minho) gathers intelligence for them. Our main character Joong-kyeong (played by Gang Dong-won) agonizes over his past role in the death of a large number of innocent schoolgirls, taking solace upon meeting the mysterious Yoon-hee (played by Han Hyo-joo) at Seoul Tower...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Along With the Gods: The Last 49 Days"

2018/07/28 | Permalink

While taking place immediately after the conclusion of "Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds" it soon becomes clear that "Along With the Gods: The Last 49 Days" has surprisingly little to do with the first movie's premise. I mean sure, Kang-rim (played by Ha Jung-woo), Seaman Mac (played by Ju Ji-hoon), and Deok-choon (played by Kim Hyang-gi) are still heralds who negotiate lost souls into their proper berth in the afterlife. But their new charge Soo-hong (played by Kim Dong-wook) is a sharp cookie who quickly notices the ethical inconsistencies in Kang-rim's legal advocacy...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Zak Storm"

2018/07/28 | Permalink

With minimum prompting Zak (voiced by Um Sang-hyun) grabs a necklace to use as an accessory for his surf stream video only to discover that it has the power to activate a portal to another dimension. Note that Zak found the necklace in question being used as a wall ornament. Now that's some questionable judgment when it comes to interior decorating. Most people who hang up guns on their walls at least have the sense not to have them loaded...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Sunset in My Hometown"

2018/07/21 | Permalink

Hak-soo (played by Park Jung-min) is an aspiring rapper living in Seoul. He's actually really good, and reliably gets past the initial stage of the popular South Korean rap competition variety show Show Me the Money. The problem is that Hak-soo has a lot of feelings of unresolved rage toward his country bumpkin hometown of Byeonsan in Jeolla province. While this is good material for rap, the lack of emotional closure frustrates Hak-soo's ambitions. Fortunately circumstances contrive to force him back home, however temporarily...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Whispering"

2018/07/21 | Permalink

A gaggle of idiot high school friends have been worrying about Eun-ha (played by So Ju-yeon) who has been on the emotional outs following the death of her best friend Ji-eun (played by Lee Yoo-mi). So they do what any good friends would do, and take her out to a creepy abandoned amusement park on the outskirts of Ulsan. This culminates in a trip to an old haunted cavern that rather ominously bolted shut at the worst possible moment in the movie's cold open...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "I Have a Date with Spring"

2018/07/14 | Permalink

Director Gwi-dong (played by Kang Ha-neul) is hanging out in the woods with a busted arm eating a birthday cake and checking out his own profile on South Korean film websites. He made "Members of the Funeral", a reference to actual director Baek Seung-bin's first movie. But anyway, Gwi-dong is sad, pathetic and lonely looking. Then there's an ominous explosion and some weird hikers pop up out of nowhere. One of them claims to be a big fan of Gwi-dong's work, and asks to see his next scenario...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Herstory"

2018/07/14 | Permalink

Joong-sook (played by Kim Hee-ae) is a bespectacled Korean woman who runs a travel agency in the early nineties. Joong-sook's success as a small businesswoman has greatly elevated her social standing. The beautiful opening shot of "Herstory" depicts Joong-sook and her equals sitting on elevated chairs opposite a mirror, making them seem like giants compared to the adoring aspirational women on the other side of the table. But Joong-sook is no mere capitalist. Her housekeeper Jeong-gil (played by Kim Hae-sook) was a comfort woman during the Japanese Occupation, and Joong-sook wants justice...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Mother" Episodes 31-32 Final

2018/07/08 | Permalink

Understanding what you need to hold on to and what to let go of is difficult, but that first step can make or break you. It is a step made by many characters in "Secret Mother", and one Jae-yeol could never take. There is little to be said and done about a past so tainted, but Yoon-jin and Eun-yeong have to build a future through its consequences. The ending is uplifting for some, tragic for others, and ultimately a result of their decisions and actions...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Mother" Episodes 29-30

2018/07/07 | Permalink

Denial is a force to be reckoned with in the hearts of humans, and it is an ongoing theme in "Secret Mother", as Jae-yeol falls deeper and deeper into a losing battle with his past. Yoon-jin and Eun-yeong need to be smarter as they prepare one final push to discover what happened that night. With the source of the phonecall confirmed and holding vital information, the heroines must face their demons in whichever form they meet them...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Lawless Lawyer" Episode 16 (Final)

2018/07/07 | Permalink

For all the courtroom theatrics the final episode of "Lawless Lawyer" feels oddly anticlimactic. This is fairly unavoidable, though, considering we already know what Sang-pil's ace-in-the-hole is for proving Moon-sook's guilt. I really don't get why "Lawless Lawyer" felt the need to directly tell us that Hyeon-joo was saved right when it happened. I mean sure, her coming in to save the day would still have been fairly predictable, but at least it wouldn't have been one hundred percent obvious...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Lawless Lawyer" Episode 15

2018/07/07 | Permalink

First the stand-off regarding Jae-i's kidnapping has to be resolved. I have to admit, I was rather disappointed to find that after all that scheming this was the best plan Oh-joo could come up with. His only back-up is this one guy who's not very competent and appears to be a named character but I can't remember him ever doing anything important prior to this episode. Oh-joo's actions in the closing scenes come off as even more perplexing...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Witch : Part 1. The Subversion"

2018/07/07 | Permalink

Highly presumptuous English title aside (the Korean one just uses the first two words), "The Witch : Part 1. The Subversion" isn't the blatant sequel bait you're likely expecting. The movie's storytelling tradition is actually surprisingly out of date. We've got Ja-yoon (played by Kim Da-mi), who is obviously a witch, but does not seem to realize that she's a witch. Then we have to spend ninety minutes watching Ja-yoon pretend like she's not a witch before someone finally pops up to explain her backstory...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Cinema with You"

2018/07/07 | Permalink

The first episode of the three-part "Cinema with You" omnibus features Seon-mi (played by Kim Ye-eun), a woman who works at the guide desk in a large building somewhere in Daegu. Her existence is meaningless, and portrayed in black-and-white. Every morning she reaches a gangly arm out of a tiny hole in her door to grab her daily milk delivery. As opposed to just, you know, opening the door...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Mother" Episodes 27-28

2018/07/01 | Permalink

The mysterious phone call made by Hyeon-joo, or someone pretending to be her complicates what would have otherwise been a simple, albeit terrible indication of Jae-yeol's guilt. There are two possibilities for his crimes, and they are both equally tragic and horrifying. Jae-yeol has done something terrible, and we will soon find out who the main victim of it is. Yoon-jin and Eun-yeong have different goals, but the women know it is time for closure in "Secret Mother"...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Mother" Episodes 25-26

2018/06/30 | Permalink

The sordid affairs of "Secret Mother" just keep getting nastier and nastier, but Yoon-jin and Eun-yeong are no longer in denial or running away. On the other hand, Jae-yeol is very much doing both things the more he is backed into a corner by the two women, and a voice of questionable origin on the phone is not enough to convince me that he has not directly harmed Hyeon-joo or even Min-ji. For the sake of his family, I hope he has done neither...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Lawless Lawyer" Episode 14

2018/06/30 | Permalink

I like how even though we understand how Moon-sook's scam works, Soon-ja is still completely oblivious. As tempting as it is to write Soon-ja off as just being really dumb for failing to realize that Moon-sook set her up, it's worth noting that all of Moon-sook's cronies have been rationalizing Moon-sook's failure to act the same way. It's just that back then we (and they) were inclined to see Sang-pil as the real threat, such that Moon-sook's actions could be justified under the auspice of self-preservation...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Lawless Lawyer" Episode 13

2018/06/30 | Permalink

Now that Hyeon-joo is captured, Jae-i and Sang-pil have to race to save her. Well, not really. There's not as much urgency to Hyeon-joo's situation as we would expect because Moon-sook only wants Hyeon-joo liquidated under extremely specific circumstances. That's because Moon-sook actually doesn't really care about Hyeon-joo that much and never did. The Hyeon-joo situation is just an excuse to shake up Moon-sook's existing personnel...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Ayla: The Daughter of War"

2018/06/30 | Permalink

Süleyman (played by Ismail Hacioglu) is a Turkish dandy hanging out with his buddies in Istanbul in late 1950. They decide to enlist to fight in the Korean War for nationalist pride. Why it would be patriotic for Turkish men to volunteer to fight in a random civil war on the opposite side of the planet is not discussed. Nor is it especially relevant. After some token scenes establishing that the North Koreans are indeed evil "Ayla: The Daughter of War" moves on to its core concept- the relationship between Süleyman and Ayla (played by Kim Seol), a young war orphan...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Student A"

2018/06/30 | Permalink

The original webcomic version of "Student A" is very soft and introspective. Keep that in mind while watching the film version, which has surprisingly low dramatic gravitas even in its most shocking moments. Sure, Mi-rae (played by Kim Hwan-hee) has an abusive home life. She also has little to no social life, and is completely absorbed in a dying MMORPG. Mi-rae ends up getting embroiled in a vicious plagiarism scandal, and the opening scene of "Student A" strongly implies that the movie will end with Mi-rae committing suicide. Yet for all that, Mi-rae is fine...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Mother" Episodes 23-24

2018/06/24 | Permalink

I have rarely been so delightfully frustrated while watching a drama, as "Secret Mother" is hitting a lot of sweet spots with its relentlessly obscure truth. The things I thought I knew are looking much worse, but it only takes one ominous phone call to throw all those theories right back into the humble pile of speculation. Yoon-jin and Eun-yeong have a complicated truth to untangle, and it now includes yet another victim...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Mother" Episodes 21-22

2018/06/23 | Permalink

"Secret Mother" is finally back after a long absence, and the drama carries on taking its heroines' lives from bad to worse, but hopefully towards resolution. The contents of the warehouse are revealed, lies are crawling left and right, and there are now very few doubts left as to who has done what. Unfortunately for Yoon-jin, Eun-yeong, and everyone touched by the evil that is lurking, it looks like we have plenty of suffering left to go...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Lawless Lawyer" Episode 12

2018/06/23 | Permalink

So Hyeon-joo is forcing Sang-pil not to tell Jae-i about the full situation. While Hyeon-joo's motherly concern is understandable, the woman could really use a comparable sense of self-preservation. For that matter, Sang-pil also should have shown more interest in Hyeon-joo's welfare for Jae-i's sake. Even if Hyeon-joo was going to continue to go undercover, imagine the drama that could have been avoided if Sang-pil had insisted on giving her a GPS device...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Lawless Lawyer" Episode 11

2018/06/23 | Permalink

So Oh-joo's motivation for helping out Sang-pil is both a lot more complicated and a lot more simplistic than I was expecting. Like Moon-sook, Oh-joo is dismissing Sang-pil's potential as a threat. Which makes sense considering how easy it was to frame Sang-pil for murder. Why bother worrying about Sang-pil at all when Oh-joo has his own domestic problems to worry about? Not to mention, political problems in that people still tend to think of Oh-joo as being a thug?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Land of Sorrow"

2018/06/23 | Permalink

Fifty seven years ago South Korea's government created a forced labor camp in the coastal Seosan district to the southwest of Seoul. To populate this camp South Korea's government kidnapped people from the southeastern part of the country. Though some had expressed disagreeable political opinions in general these state-sanctioned kidnappings were random. "Land of Sorrow" tells the story of the people who worked the Seosan prison camp and through them, director Lee Jo-hoon tries to parse what exactly the purpose of camp was...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The End"

2018/06/23 | Permalink

The Korean title of "The End" directly translates as the couple that lives in the forest. By choosing this very generic English title writer/director Jeon Kyu-hwan has made "The End" nearly impossible to search for. Then again the couple that lives in the forest doesn't even show up for over half an hour. The extended cold open is just an unrelated short film about Joo-hee (played by Lee Joo-hee-I) a college student who must resort to increasingly sordid activities in order to make rent...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Lawless Lawyer" Episode 10

2018/06/16 | Permalink

So now Sang-pil is stuck in the hospital. Everyone comes by to cheer him up, not that Sang-pil needs much cheering up. I'd like to think this is mainly just a matter of his being smug. That incomprehensible Sang-pil made to just stab himself in the middle of a fight is actually give a really good explanation here. And of course, there's more of those romantic conversations between Sang-pil and Jae-i, where they emphasize their renewed commitment to each other through the mutual goal of the investigation...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Lawless Lawyer" Episode 9

2018/06/16 | Permalink

It's very obvious to us that Sang-pil did not murder Dae-woong, since we saw that whole scam play out directly. So all the usual noble hero wrongly accused stuff "Lawless Lawyer" is getting into right now? That's pretty well-worn. What's a lot more interesting is how all the other characters react to the accusations, because they don't know what really happened. Well, except Oh-soo, but even his storyline here hits some surprisingly unsuspected snags...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "On the Road, Khaosan Tango"

2018/06/16 | Permalink

Ji-ha (played by Hong Wan-pyo) is an aspiring director who travels to Thailand in order to research a film project. His idea involves a story about a Korean husband and wife who travel to Thailand and get separated. We never actually get to hear the end of this story, because the first time Ji-ha starts to get into details, another character interrupts him, saying that Thailand expatriates know all about this story and they hate it...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Accidental Detective 2: In Action"

2018/06/16 | Permalink

Right away "The Accidental Detective 2: In Action" gets on my good side by reminding us how working dad Dae-man (played by Kwon Sang-woo) and former cop Tae-soo (played by Sung Dong-il)...actually kind of suck at business management. Sure, in "Accidental Detective" these two managed to solve an exceptionally complicated and high profile case. But a lot of that was through dumb luck, and besides that, who can afford to hire private detectives in this economy?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Mother" Episodes 19-20

2018/06/10 | Permalink

It feels good to get some confirmation on the morality of key persons in "Secret Mother", and unfortunately for Yoon-jin, Jae-yeol is at the terrible end of the spectrum. His mother finally reveals her goals, but I am having an alarming suspicion about the motivation behind them, which could make Yoon-jin's marriage even more painful. Eun-yeong gets a second chance at life, and perhaps her sister shares her luck...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Mother" Episodes 17-18

2018/06/09 | Permalink

I am rarely mentally outdone by a drama's mystery, and the fact that "Secret Mother" manages to keep me so delightfully confused, but not bewildered is commendable. Just when I think we are being given a major clue, it just adds on to the uncertainty. We are only half way in, and Yoon-jin is faced with several terrible possibilities, while Eun-yeong is struggling to wake up and share what she has witnessed...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Lawless Lawyer" Episode 8

2018/06/09 | Permalink

The romantic storyline between Sang-pil and Jae-i has become a serious problem, albeit not for the reasons I was expecting. Out of context the romance actually works pretty well. There's drunken walks on the beach, extended climbs up stairs in heels, and even the pointless obfuscation of their relationship around the office is pretty cute. The main issue is that Sang-pil and Jae-i aren't really paying much attention to the villains right now, which is a pretty dumb move considering they both taunted the villains directly last episode...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Lawless Lawyer" Episode 7

2018/06/09 | Permalink

Hyeong-man (played by Lee Dae-yeon) is the hapless corrupt prosecutor who Sang-pil and Jae-i rescued last episode. The only problem is, Hyeong-man didn't really want to be saved in the first place. And his newfound sense of moral clarity is accompanied by an equally strong desire to avoid taking orders from anyone, including Sang-pil and Jae-i. So after he leaves them some critical clues, Hyeong-man is on his own doomed solo attempt to take down Oh-joo single-handedly...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Home"

2018/06/09 | Permalink

Joon-ho (played by Lee Hyo-je) is a middle school student with a lot of problems that aren't his fault. Joon-ho loves soccer, but is bullied mercilessly when he underperforms- and whenever another excuse is handy. Joon-ho's mom Seon-mi (played by Kang Yeon-jeong) is always home late from work, having had a bit too much to drink and their apartment is falling apart. The main bright spot in Joon-ho's life is his adorable younger brother Seong-ho (played by Im Tae-poong) who is indirectly the source of much of this misery...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Her Husband and His Wife"

2018/06/09 | Permalink

Joo-mok (played by Lee Sang-hyun) is a ballet instructor. As a man, this sometimes makes him idly wonder if he is sufficiently masculine. This is especially a problem since Joo-mok's wife Soon-jong (played by Go Ae-ri) is a tough-as-nails police detective- the kind that chases down suspects and knocks them to the ground personally. Interestingly, Joo-mok's agitation is mostly abstract. He has no apparent self-confidence issues except when it relates to his wife. The guy drinks soda while his buddies drink soju for pity's sake...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Mother" Episodes 15-16

2018/06/03 | Permalink

We have finally caught up to the night of Eun-yeong's fall, and the future is going to be mighty interesting. The past always comes back to bite you, and several people are now feeling its merciless jaws snapping at their back. Jae-yeol has a lot to hide, and if everything is as it appears to be, a lot of it is criminal as well. Yoon-jin has quite the work ahead of her, but will Eun-yeong be there for her or against her...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Mother" Episodes 13-14

2018/06/02 | Permalink

"Secret Mother" definitely means business as it approaches its mid-point, because all hell breaks loose in episodes thirteen and fourteen. We have some major, gigantic revelations for ourselves, but also ones happening between characters. With so many secrets brought to the surface, even new ones form, and the drama masterfully makes pinpointing guilty parties and their crimes delightfully challenging...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Lawless Lawyer" Episode 6

2018/06/02 | Permalink

Earlier this week I read criticism about the sudden romance that popped up in "Lawless Lawyer" and thought to myself, was it really bad? Then I watched the drama myself and yeah, it was pretty weird. The first scene we get is Jae-i (played by Seo Ye-ji) confronting Sang-pil (played by Lee Joon-gi) over why there are pictures of her mother (as well as Jae-i herself) on Sang-pil's investigation board. Even when Sang-pil provides a reasonable explanation, it's still fairly creepy how he didn't tell her this sooner...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Believer"

2018/06/02 | Permalink

Won-ho (played by Cho Jin-woong) is a prosecutor who works in narcotics. We're first introduced to him via his bratty niece Soo-jeong (played by Keum Sae-rok). Then out of nowhere "Believer" jumps into drugs and death. Yeon-ok (played by Kim Sung-ryung) decides to cooperate with police after a business meeting fails to go as planned, and it isn't long before Won-ho is running a sting on international crime lords Ha-rim (played by Kim Joo-hyuk) and Bo-ryeong (played by Jin Seo-yeon), who are also loony drug addicts...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Papa Oranghutan"

2018/06/02 | Permalink

The opening scene of "Papa Oranghutan" features Korean pastor Park Cheol-yeon and several of his congregants decked out in traditional Malaysian hunting gear (think blowguns and foliage) hunting monkeys. Eh, I never liked monkeys anyway. The purpose of this sequence is to show off the extent to which Park Cheol-yeon is embedded with his congregation. Park Cheol-yeon is a guy who lives, thinks, and breathes the Malaysian jungle. His mission? To bring them the loving words of our savior Jesus Christ...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "After Diving Bell"

2018/06/02 | Permalink

Four years ago director Lee Sang-ho made "The Truth Shall Not Sink with Sewol" or, as it is called in Korean, Diving Bell, after the titular object which could have been used to expedite rescue efforts during the Sewol tragedy yet was left unused. "The Truth Shall Not Sink with Sewol" was rushed to reach an audience while Sewol was still in the public mind. "After Diving Bell" chronicles Sewol's evolution from a national tragedy to a cultural movement, with "The Truth Shall Not Sink with Sewol" itself being used as a cultural touchstone...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Mother" Episodes 11-12

2018/05/29 | Permalink

I never thought a fever would be a joyous event, but mine has jolted my memory, and possibly solved one of the big recent mysteries of "Secret Mother" so far. Episodes eleven and twelve of this suspenseful womance thriller start with a bang, end with a bang, and bring a lot of secrets, nastiness and important connections to the surface. It is time for our heroines to face the past and start unraveling it, even if it hurts them the most...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Mother" Episodes 9-10

2018/05/26 | Permalink

Skeletons in the closet are very last century, so we keep them in our back yards these days. "Secret Mother" episodes nine and ten take a turn for the grim, and the list of suspects for the greatest of crimes aside from all the terrible parenting is starting to become uncomfortably small. Meanwhile, Yoon-jin and Eun-yeong start bonding more deeply, but our undercover sister is struggling with new information...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Thorn Flower" Episodes 1-3

2018/05/26 | Permalink

Earlier this week we learned that Kang Kyung-joon and Jang Shin-young are getting married, having met on the set of "Thorn Flower" some five years ago. I was a little curious about how this romance started and uh, wow. The first thing we see is Se-mi (played by Jang Shin-young) getting chased around by Hyeok-min (played by Kang Kyung-joon), who is trying to rape her. I get that Kang Kyung-joon is crazy handsome, and has an amazing chest, but wow, what a way to meet a guy...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The March for the Lost"

2018/05/26 | Permalink

At first glance "The March for the Lost" appears to be an experimental film, as writer/director Park Ki-bok shows us a bunch of weird abstract imagery- mostly imagery related to the 1980 Gwangu Uprising interspersed with Swan Lake. Then we're in the present day. Hee-soo (played by Kim Kkobbi) is getting married, yet somehow or other her senile mother Myeong-hee (played by Kim Boo-sun) has escaped from what appears to be a mental institution with very bad security...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Meeting: Coffee Shop Chat"

2018/05/26 | Permalink

In "Meeting: Coffee Shop Chat" seven thirty-something men talk and act like men while wearing suits and drinking coffee at a café. That really is the entire movie. From the beginning some questions are begged. Why are they wearing suits, when half of them have jobs that don't even require suits? Also, why are they drinking coffee when these are clearly guys who usually talk about life over rowdy beers? Worry not- by the end, a very good explanation is given for these questions...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Burning"

2018/05/26 | Permalink

Jong-soo (played by Yoo Ah-in) lives on a decrepit family farm in Paju and takes on lousy part-time jobs in order to make ends meet. Over the course of one such task, Jong-soo meets Hae-mi (played by Jun Jong-seo), who is also apparently from Paju, in about as bad a financial situation as Jong-soo, yet is also planning a trip to Africa. Hae-mi asks Jong-soo to look after her cat while she's gone. And so begins the first of many irrelevant mysteries in "Burning"- does Hae-mi indeed own a cat?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Mother" Episodes 7-8

2018/05/21 | Permalink

Relationships continue to be strained, and the past comes back to the forefront in episodes seven and eight of "Secret Mother". Eun-yeong faces Yoon-jin's trauma head on, and Min-joon's repressed pain shakes his mother's resolve. The Daechi-dong trio are now fully on board the efforts to get rid of the admissions tutor, while Jae-yeol's own connections to key figures start being built...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Mother" Episodes 5-6

2018/05/20 | Permalink

Daechi-dong is drowning in secrets, and Eun-yeong is slowly dragging them out as "Secret Mother" develops. Yoon-jin is being shaken by the appearance of a witness, but her reluctance to involve those she cares about leave her with Jeong-wan as her only aid. What she does not know is that everyone is still very much involved. Meanwhile, we get to know the Daechi-dong families better, and boy are they one increasingly messed up bunch...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Yeah, That's How It Is" Episode 30

2018/05/19 | Permalink

So an old kiss scene from "Yeah, That's How It Is" has been in the news lately, so I thought I'd check it out. This being episode thirty of a weekend drama, there's obviously a lot of context that I'm missing. "Yeah, That's How It Is" is an ensemble piece, and we don't actually get to see Se-joon (played by Jung Hae-in) or Na-yeong (played by Nam Gyu-ri) until about the nineteen minute point. But from that point on they're a constant fixture. The production team definitely recognized their excellent chemistry...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "LOVE+SLING"

2018/05/19 | Permalink

Initially the narrative arc of "LOVE+SLING" seems obvious. Seong-woong (played by Kim Min-jae-I) is an aspiring Olympic wrestler. He's coached by his father, the ever cheerful single dad Gwi-bo (played by Yoo Hae-jin), and is in an as-yet still platonic relationship with obvious love interest Ga-yeong (played by Lee Sung-kyung). They're childhood friends, what with Ga-yeong being the middle daughter of Gwi-bo and Seong-woong's neighbors Seong-soo (played by Sung Dong-il) and Mi-ra (played by Jin Kyung)...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Haewon"

2018/05/19 | Permalink

In "Haewon" director Gu Jahywan takes us on a road trip to a series of sites wherein civilians were massacred in between the end of the Japanese Occupation and the close of the Korean War. Really, the opening subtitles spell the situation out pretty well. Everyone thought it was great that the Japanese were gone, but that hope didn't last long. The more the citizenry tried to express themselves democratically, the more the South Korean government became determined to stomp out dissent by any means necessary...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Gateless Gate"

2018/05/19 | Permalink

The opening scenes of "The Gateless Gate" dramatize the legendary historical event that led to the creation of the Zen Buddhist koans of the same name. After the dramatization, "The Gateless Gate" transitions into a documentary depicting eleven practitioners of Korean Buddhism who undergo a ritual inspired by the teachings of those koans. They isolate themselves into a small locked room with an adjoining yard for a thousand days, and spend that time meditating...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Switch - Change the World" Episodes 31-32

2018/05/17 | Permalink

We open up with a scheme on Do-chan's part to trick Tae-woong into buying a fake diamond. What possible purpose this scam could serve was not made clear to me. Was the idea to deprive Tae-woong of funds so that he would be unable to mount an effective legal defense? Except that the big breakthrough in the case comes from Tae-woong's goons just arbitrarily deciding to turn state's evidence against their boss so...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Switch - Change the World" Episodes 29-30

2018/05/16 | Permalink

Mr. Kim (played by Song Won-seok) is Tae-woong's right-hand man, and can usually be counted on to threaten people when Tae-woong himself is not available. Unfortunately Mr. Kim has never had much in the way of personality traits. Indeed, we know so little about Mr. Kim that attempts on the part of Joon-soo and Ha-ra to threaten him come off somewhat ambiguously. Before, when Tae-woong's associates were nabbed, their silence was assured by various extended implied blackmail...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Mother" Episodes 3-4

2018/05/13 | Permalink

The perfect facade of the Daechi-dong crowd is slowly starting to crumble, and past trauma puts those bearing it in a fight or flight mode in episodes three and four of "Secret Mother". Eun-yeong is getting closer to a truth different people seem to know different sides of, and she is starting to bond with Yoon-jin and Min-joon in the process. The gaping wound that this family has will need to grow bigger before it can close...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Exit" Episodes 3-4 (Final)

2018/05/13 | Permalink

Conceptually, "Exit" is a satire of the illogical means by which bad dramas attempt to brute force a happy ending since there's no way to resolve the conflict plausibly, especially when too little time remains to do so. At least, this is the most reasonable way to interpret how Kang-soo finally relocates the mother who abandoned him decades ago with an ambiguously abusive father. Every step of the way, said mother simply placidly reassures Kang-soo that everything will be all right...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Mother" Episodes 1-2

2018/05/12 | Permalink

Grab a self-care kit of calories and water, because "Secret Mother" is here to put us through the wringer. The mystery womance thriller does not fool around with its themes, and if the suspense of a whodunnit and who will make it through unscathed is not enough, wait until you dive into the almost surreal world of academic and social pressure that the featured families are drowning in...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "True Fiction"

2018/05/12 | Permalink

Usually when movies do psychopaths they're either of the disarmingly charming variety or they act like crazed lunatics every waking moment. "True Fiction" takes the seldom-traveled middle road. Kyeong-seok (played by Oh Man-seok) is an aspiring politician who doesn't respect boundaries. His mistress Ji-yeong (played by Lee Na-ra) helps him be a jerk, without actually liking him all that much to begin with. Then they meet Soon-tae (played by Ji Hyun-woo), a bestselling novelist who tells elaborate implausible stories in such a way that implies he is actually being truthful...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Intention"

2018/05/12 | Permalink

Jung Woo-sung narrates a reversal of format as "Intention" starts off on the moment the tragic accident was first reported (8:52 AM April 16th 2014) and works backwards. Eyewitness testimony from Sewol survivors indicates that around twenty minutes prior to that, Sewol made a lurch so sudden that crew members watched in shock as a refrigerator flew halfway across a room. Every minute lost was a nail in the coffin to the people who died that day. So why the delay in calling for help?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Stand By Me"

2018/05/12 | Permalink

Deok-goo (played by Jung Ji-hoon) is an elementary school student who's still reeling from separation anxiety. His father's dead, and his mother's been chased out of the house. The latter is the fault of Deok-goo's grandfather (played by Lee Soon-jae), who loves Deok-goo dearly, but is old enough to realize that he isn't really a feasible sole long-term guardian for a child as young as Deok-goo, even if his birth mother is Indonesian...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Switch - Change the World" Episodes 27-28

2018/05/10 | Permalink

As Tae-woong recuperates from his vigorous physical assault at Do-chan's hands, there's discussion of how alarming it is that this time, Do-chan was actually seriously going after Tae-woong. And yet Tae-woong recovers from his real injury about as quickly as he did from the fake one. And despite the implication being made that Tae-woong needs to take the situation more seriously, by and large the man just acts the same as he always did...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Switch - Change the World" Episodes 25-26

2018/05/09 | Permalink

Tae-woong's status as a credible villain continues to plummet. The whole scheme involving his elaborate fake injury was bad enough. Tae-woong's schtick has been his ability to single-handedly run a room even when other people who technically outrank him are inside. Fake pity doesn't really work with that. Besides that issue Tae-woong's grudge with Do-chan has become increasingly petty and personal, such that Tae-woong no longer much acts like the leader of a criminal empire...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Exit" Episodes 1-2

2018/05/05 | Permalink

Kang-soo (played by Choi Tae-joon) has a sympathetic backstory. He's deep in debt, thanks to his father Jeong-man (played by Woo Hyun) and works this debt off by doing odd jobs for loan shark Tae-bok (played by Park Ho-san). Unfortunately Kang-soo is also not very smart, especially when it comes to money. We see Kang-soo make frivolous purchases large and small, effectively making his poverty cyclical. So it is that Kang-soo searches for an "Exit" to his dilemma, however exotic that solution may be...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Shadows in the Palace"

2018/05/05 | Permalink

The time is eighteen century Joseon. There's been a murder at the royal palace. Medical examiner Cheon-ryeong (played by Park Jin-hee) can tell that much from the condition the body is in, but is currently under pressure from Chief Maid Gam-cheol (played by Kim Sung-ryung) that the death is to be recorded as a suicide, owing to a delicate political situation between the Queen Dowager (played by Ye Soo-jung) and the royal concubine Bin (played by Yoon Se-ah). Predictably, Cheon-ryeong concludes that these are not mere coincidences...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Portrait of a Beauty"

2018/05/05 | Permalink

Yun-bok (played by Kim Gyu-ri) is a talented young painter in the Joseon era. Unfortunately, she is also a woman. The first plan Yun-bok's family comes up with is to just have her brother take credit for the art. That doesn't go well. So it's with a sense of resignation that we see Yun-bok going about her career, studying under master painter Hong-do (played by Kim Young-ho), and falling in love with Kang-moo (played by Kim Nam-gil), knowing that inevitably, Yun-bok's ambitions are doomed...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Memories of the Sword"

2018/05/05 | Permalink

Hong-i (played by Kim Go-eun) is a talented young martial artist living in the Goryeo era. Hong-i is so jazzed about being able to achieve an obviously impossible acrobatic feat over a sunflower that she celebrates by running off into town and impulsively entering a martial arts tournament. But before we get to know Hong-i too well, her mother Wol-so (played by Jeon Do-yeon) and archenemy Yoo-baek (played by Lee Byung-hun) take over the movie, with Hong-i only making fleeting appearances...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Switch - Change The World" Episodes 23-24

2018/05/03 | Permalink

Do-chan and his dad finally meet up for the first time in ages- and with that, the two conspire to become an impeccably effective con artist team. Unfortunately there's very little follow-up to this. It's never completely clear how Mister Ppeong is going to be able to assist Do-chan when Do-chan already seems to be doing well enough on his own. This ignoring that Tae-woong has finally gotten suspicious enough about the relationship between Joon-soo and Do-chan to run some tests...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Switch - Change The World" Episodes 21-22

2018/05/02 | Permalink

So Joon-soo was working with Do-chan all along. That's unavoidable, since Joon-soo is trying to cover up the fact that he's violently ill- a fact of which we are quickly reminded. Now Do-chan has to take up the mantle again, and pretend to be Joon-soo. While I can kind of get everyone at the office being accepting of Joon-soo's abrupt personality changes, Tae-woong's tacit acceptance of Joon-soo is starting to make the drama's chief villain come off as a lot less threatening than he used to be...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2018.04.20 - 2018.04.22

2018/04/30 | Permalink

Marvel's "Avengers: Infinity War" arrives and rules...

Marvel's "Avengers: Infinity War", one of the most anticipated films of the year, hit Korea last Wednesday across a massive 2,553 screens nationwide. The nineteenth film in the so-called Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), which began with "Iron Man" almost exactly a decade ago, captured an unprecedented 95.11% of the sales over the last weekend of April...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Prison Playbook"

2018/04/28 | Permalink

There are all manner of slice-of-life stories out there, but it is a genre not as loved by Korean drama as it is by other industries. The famous "Reply" series' creators take a bold step in creating "Prison Playbook", a slice-of-life story you never knew you absolutely needed in your life. From the most mundane luxury of a hot shower, to the bonding forming in a place where privacy and freedom are a concept of the past, the drama dives right into its themes...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "A Korean Odyssey"

2018/04/28 | Permalink

There are few Korean drama writers more familiar to and loved by international audiences than Hong Jeong-eun and Hong Mi-ran, but the sisters have been having a bit of a hit and miss career with dramas. "A Korean Odyssey" (also known as "Hwayugi") is their first work for cable television, and an ambitious project full of potential for supernatural ensemble goodness during its conception. Delivery is a whole other matter, however...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Gangnam Blues" Revisited

2018/04/28 | Permalink

I'm a bit embarrassed as to the flippant tone in my original review for "Gangnam Blues". Everything I wrote about the movie was accurate. Most people liked to discuss Lee Min-ho's status as a massive star and writer/director Yoo Ha's status as a noir film auteur, so the absurdity aspect seemed like a more unique and interesting angle. But three years and a couple of rewatches later, I've come around to seeing "Gangnam Blues" in a far more serious and relevant light- as a tacit, dark, and mostly true origin story as to where the glitz in Hallyu Wave really came from...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "So I Married An Anti-Fan"

2018/04/28 | Permalink

Fang Miao Miao (played by Yuan Shanshan) is an incompetent Chinese paparazzi. No, seriously, from the very first scene we see that Fang Miao Miao is very bad at taking salacious photographs in a subtle, non-suspicious manner, which is kind of an essential skill in the paparazzi business. She also resorts to violence at the slightest excuse. When Korean star Hou Zhun (played by Chanyeol) comments on how Fang Miao Miao should be in jail, that just ends up begging the question. Why isn't Fang Miao Miao in jail anyway?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Making Family"

2018/04/28 | Permalink

A pretty animated sequence opens up "Making Family" and explains the childish logic by which Tae-bong (played by Moon Mason) understands how he was created- via sperm donation. Tae-bong is not to be underestimated. The adorable ragamuffin has a highly adapatable scheme by which he plans to discover the identify of his birth father Julien (played by Aarif Rahman). Meanwhile, Tae-bong's mother Mi-yeon (played Kim Ha-neul), struggles to find her lost son...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Bad Sister"

2018/04/28 | Permalink

Ershan (played by Ivy Chen) is a Chinese astrologer. No, no, "Bad Sister" takes place in the modern day, and oddly enough, I can believe that Ershan is paid serious money just to rig up astrology charts. Especially since as far as "Bad Sister" is concerned, Ershan's charts appear to be completely accurate. It's Ershan's personality that causes trouble, as the woman gets to know older amateur astronomer Joon-ho (played by Ji Jin-hee), who thinks little of Ershan's vocation...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Switch - Change The World" Episodes 19-20

2018/04/26 | Permalink

Joon-soo doesn't do anything all that helpful in regards to Do-chan's big egg heist. Do-chan's big egg heist doesn't really do much either, though. Do-chan just gets yet another opportunity to act really smug. There's a very episodic feel to the schemes lately. There aren't any long-term consequences, so it's difficult to feel very invested in the endings. Tae-woong's criminal enterprise still doesn't seem to be suffering very much in terms of structural consequences, considering how many of his underlings end up in jail...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Switch - Change The World" Episodes 17-18

2018/04/25 | Permalink

The immediate question begged by Joon-soo's apparent betrayal is whether it's sincere. Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth episodes, we are given every reason to believe that Joon-soo is indeed working against his prior motives of justice. Well, sort of. While Do-chan is fighting the good fight, he has no respect for the rules. Nominally this isn't a big deal. But remember that Joon-soo's entire authority for going after Tae-woong in the first place is that Tae-woong doesn't play by the rules...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shall We Kiss First" Episodes 39-40

2018/04/24 | Permalink

There are no big dramatics for the final episode of "Shall We Kiss First", which instead focuses on the joyful monotony of daily life. Moo-han may have the occasional scary moment, but he is still able to persist normally, and in fact makes a continued point of doing so. The whole storyline with the cat is great because the old Moo-han would have just decided this wasn't worth the effort. But now? He sees inconvenience, too, as a part of life...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "That Man Oh Soo" Episode 16 (Final)

2018/04/24 | Permalink

Explanations have never been a strong part of "That Man Oh Soo" and I never had any expectations otherwise for the final episode. I figured there would be some weird loophole used to explain how Oh Soo could save Yoo-ri without killing himself, when Oh Soo had already initiated the whole noble suicide process. But what exactly that loophole was, um...I'm still not sure. Somehow "That Man Oh Soo" manages to get to the end without explaining what happened even to Yoo-ri, so of course we get nothing either...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shall We Kiss First" Episodes 37-38

2018/04/23 | Permalink

I like how Soon-jin is treating Moo-han's stay in the hospital as a stay in the hospital while Moo-han is acting like this is hospice care. Of course Moo-han's outlook has not actually changed in any meaningful way. He's spent the entire drama in self-imposed hospice care, it's just a lot more obvious now because everything is out in the open. Which also adds a morbid sense of humor even to scenes as mundane as Soon-jin eating some fried chicken...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "That Man Oh Soo" Episode 15

2018/04/23 | Permalink

All right, so there appears to have been another angle to the night stalker subplot. Not that this is all that important. Oh Soo resolves it over a single disaffected scene, wherein he ominously implies that civil liberties don't matter when it comes to crooks. I would have thought it would make more sense to have Yoo-ri solving crimes, what with her being a cop and all. Although Yoo-ri is busy elsewhere here, what with all the moping around over her having lost another boyfriend...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2018.04.20 - 2018.04.22

2018/04/23 | Permalink

"Rampage" reigns while local documentary "Intention" rises...

The Rock's "Rampage" remained unmoved at the top of the pile over the second last weekend of April. The film, based on the classic video game by Midway Games, arrived in the Land of the Morning Calm two weeks ago. From 886 screens nationwide, "Rampage" claimed 34.17% of the sales (363,703 admissions, or $3 million) and moved its total tally to 1.2 million: $10.2 million. Worldwide, director Brad Peyton's action adventure film has earned just over a quarter of a billion US dollars (the film was produced for $120 million)...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Queen of Mystery Season 2" Episode 16 Final

2018/04/22 | Permalink

After two whole seasons of "Queen of Mystery", it is time for "Queen of Mystery Season 2" to wrap everything up, or at least provide us enough answers to make the slow trudge through some confusing, often lacking in direction content to have been worth it. It may be the time for that, but the disappointing second season of this beloved show chooses to explain next to nothing, while creating more questions and pulling key episode plot points out of a magician's hat...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Blue Mouthed Face"

2018/04/21 | Permalink

Seo-yeong (played by Jang Liu) is being crushed under the weight of having to work miserable jobs in order to pay for her mother's medical expenses. Her physically handicapped older brother Yeong-joon (played by Jin Yong-wook) is capable of working, but business at the small sewing company where he works is not going well. The relationship between brother and sister is further strained by vile suggestions Seo-yeong pushes in order to deal with their poverty...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Farming Boys"

2018/04/21 | Permalink

The three young men spotlighted in "Farming Boys" are wwoofers. That is, they're participate in WWOOF (World-Wide Opportunites on Organic Farms), an organization of farms which take on foreigners as temporary workers. That "Farming Boys" never actually explains what a wwoofer is is the most obvious omission in the documentary's educational purpose. Although there's also all the traveling they apparently did in Southeast Asia, which is mentioned in the epilogue but doesn't appear anywhere else in the movie...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "All Day Candles"

2018/04/21 | Permalink

The Gwanghwamun Candlelight Rallies were mass protests every Saturday from late 2016 to early 2017 demanding the removal of President Park Geun-hye from office. The first short docuemntary of the "All Day Candles" omnibus, "Square@People" (directed by Kim Hwan-tae) is a dialog between two organizers of the Candlelight Rallies explaining the origins of the rallies, and relating the rise of the rallies to ongoing political events at the time...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Queen of Mystery Season 2" Episode 15

2018/04/20 | Permalink

With Secretary Kim out in the open and probably mildly intimidated by the ones trying to force him out, the ever so hyped up figure starts making mistakes. Wan-seung also gets a rude wake up call in regards to his brother, however, when they meet on opposite sides of the latest murder case. Seol-ok moves past her grief for Min-joo, but Kim's efforts to create a scapegoat for the case might just cost him dearly...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Switch - Change The World" Episodes 15-16

2018/04/19 | Permalink

In episode fifteen, we see Do-chan swagger in with a nice suit, completely in his element as the guy who is always running a con, to the point he'll even say so directly. Then, in episode sixteen, we see Tae-woong walk down the stairs in a typically loud brightly colored outfit, knowing full well that everyone takes orders from him and that's what matters. Here are two very different, yet equally effective ways of running a room...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Switch - Change the World" Episodes 13-14

2018/04/18 | Permalink

The investigation has stalled here, mostly as a result of mutual disinterest. Ha-ra already has enough high-level crooks that there's not really much impetus to go chasing after any more right this minute. Meanwhile, Tae-woong has been so spooked by recent reversals he's decided to hold back. Well, not really. It turns out that Tae-woong has been running a pretty long con on Jeong-pil, which somewhat awkwardly puts the more publicly powerful man in the position of technical victim...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Laughter in Waikiki" Episode 20 (final)

2018/04/17 | Permalink

The ending to "Laughter in Waikiki" goes a lot better than I was expecting mainly because recent episodes have surged in quality. The immature, obnoxious Dong-goo who was always picking fights with Joon is gone. The more restrained Dong-goo we have now isn't just funnier, he's also a lot more introspective. Sure, he's a bit of a jerk to Yoon-ah's ex-boyfriend (played by Kim Jin-woo), but then by his own admission, Yoon-ah's ex-boyfriend deserved it...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shall We Kiss First" Episode 35-36

2018/04/17 | Permalink

For these episodes, if I just de-emphasize the content of the dialog, ignore the scenes at the candy company, and instead just focus on the ambience, there's that same beautifully bittersweet tone which characterized the first half of the drama's run. When the increasingly artificial conflict between Moo-han and Soon-jin is de-emphasized, we can see these two as lonely, older people who are filled with regrets. They fix that feeling by trying to act without regrets for whatever time they have left...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "That Man Oh Soo" Episode 14

2018/04/17 | Permalink

So the night stalker storyline appears to have been resolved almost entirely by accident. I can't decide whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. On one end this plot was undeveloped from the very beginning, so I'm glad it's out of the way. But on the other end, the remaining storylines aren't that much better. Eventually the issue with the murderous magic tea is the preview. I can't figure out why this basic worldbuilding has been held back for so long...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "That Man Oh Soo" Episode 13

2018/04/16 | Permalink

So right away we get an extended flashback wherein Oh Soo as a child learns about the terrible power of the magic tea. But because these scenes are taken from the vantage point of a child, the explanation for why the magic tea is so dangerous is completely dumbed down and censored. Consequently, Oh Soo's journey to find a cure is bereft of context. We can't even guess at loopholes because so far as the script is concerned this tea just kills people, end quote...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Laughter in Waikiki" Episode 19

2018/04/16 | Permalink

I like the storylines where Joon-ki is forced to do weird stuff for the sake of his acting career. Because actors do really weird things, compared to other jobs. The whole executive meeting where everyone has to brainstorm ideas for the first pitch is great, because we could tell they were going to come up with something weird. Just not that kind of weird. Although it's a letdown how after all that practice we never actually get to see Joon-ki do that very strange first pitch...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shall We Kiss First" Episodes 33-34

2018/04/16 | Permalink

There's an interesting moment in the thirty-fourth episode where reference is made to the candlelight rallies. For most of the candy company plot in "Shall We Kiss First" I'd actually been thinking the same thing. The superpowered corporation that can obliterate obstacles by waving a magic public relations wand is a dinosaur of a trope at this point, and calls attention to just how corny the story in "Shall We Kiss First" really is. Especially since Moo-han himself was their public relations wand and knows all their secrets...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2018.04.13 - 2018.04.15

2018/04/16 | Permalink

The Rock's "Rampage" rules...

Jeong Beom-sik's sleeper hit "Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum" was denied a third-straight week at the top of the pile with the arrival of "Rampage" and John Krasinski's "A Quiet Place". Based on the video game series by Midway, "Rampage" follows a primatologist (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) and an albino gorilla who, due to rogue experiments by a greedy genetics company, grows to King Kong proportions. The film arrived in Korea last Thursday and claimed pole position over the weekend with 608,122 admissions ($4.9 million, or 35.19%) from 909 screens...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Queen of Mystery Season 2" Episode 14

2018/04/14 | Permalink

There are enough secrets in "Queen of Mystery Season 2" to make one's head spin, but it looks like we might be solving them all in what now feels like a series ending. Any developments happening here will still leave a lot to be desired, but there is one specific twist which is at the very least unpredictable and genuinely sad at the same time. Wan-seung is about to discover some more terrible things about his life and his past. Let us hope he can handle it...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mother - Drama"

2018/04/14 | Permalink

"Mother - Drama" is the kind of work that one enters with a suspicious mind and a hardened heart, as adaptations and remakes carry an unfortunate stigma. What one leaves this series with, however, is much more valuable and fulfilling than I could have imagined going into it. "Mother - Drama" gathers a great cast to tell a simple, human, personal story of a bond that can do terrible damage when bad, and hold someone up for life when good...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mad Dog"

2018/04/14 | Permalink

Why take revenge alone when you can do it in a group with unlimited funds and technology? "Mad Dog" takes the basic premise of a revenge story, it adds a ragtag group of heroic stereotypes, and some equally standardized villains to produce its take on a Korean drama classic. This should have been entertaining, at the very least, but when my only take away is how much I love properly used ties, I would say something went wrong...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Duck Town"

2018/04/14 | Permalink

Suseong Lake is a location in Daegu. It's just a normal lake, and as is common in South Korea, there are swan boats that people can use to paddle around. It's the job of Hee-jeong (played by Lee Se-young) to manage those swan boats, although she has dreams of bigger and better things. Like transferring to a university in Seoul. Why does Hee-jeong want to go to Seoul so badly? Well's a goal in search of a motivation. But at least it keeps her from going suicidal...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Someone Behind You"

2018/04/14 | Permalink

Ga-in (played by Yoon Jin-seo) is a likable high school student from a good family who's a crackerjack fencer. These combat skills prove helpful against the major supernatural threat in "Someone Behind You" although it's not quite what she's expecting. Sure, there are plenty of freaky hallucinations, but the reason why the movie is called "Someone Behind You" is because the real threat always ends up being one and only one person who's in the same room as Ga-in at any given time...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "My Wife is a Gangster 3"

2018/04/14 | Permalink

Ah-ryeong (played by Shu Qi) is the heir to a Cantonese criminal empire. In the opening setpiece of "My Wife is a Gangster 3" she and her father Lim (played by Ti Lung) are attempting to make nice with a rival gang but it doesn't go so well, since apparently some people find the idea of a woman mafia heir to be an object of amusement. So Ah-ryeong gets sent off to Korea under the protection of Gi-cheol (played by Lee Beom-soo) and his crew. They're really more incompetent chaperones though, since Lim can take care of herself...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Queen of Mystery Season 2" Episode 13

2018/04/13 | Permalink

The time has come to pull back the curtain on the woman we know as Hee-yeon in "Queen of Mystery Season 2", and the stage set behind it is not surprising. Some long-held suspicions are proven true about other characters as well. Our leads remember that Hyun-soo's case exists again, after wrapping up the latest disappearance case, which also comes to an unsurprising ending. It looks like this season will be the final one, so prepare for a lacking ending...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Switch - Change The World" Episodes 11-12

2018/04/12 | Permalink

Do-chan's motivation is a mystery not just to Ha-ra, but also to his team of con artists. While there's no major conflict about this yet, I mostly just liked the moment where they're eating cheap pizza and talking about all the money they're going to get, while apparently unable to tell the difference between different kinds of premium cheap pizza. The con artists in "Switch - Change The World" are not a particularly discriminating lot when it comes to the finer things in life...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Switch - Change The World" Episodes 9-10

2018/04/11 | Permalink

Right away there's a snag to Do-chan's brilliant deduction. He can't really explain where the idea came from. More importantly it's a bad idea for him to explain where the idea came from, because the main factor inhibiting the villains right now is that they're not sure how their criminal enterprise has been compromised. It was a nice touch, watching Ha-ra drag Do-chan away from the cameras since nearly anything he could say for a multitude of reasons could put them at a future disadvantage...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Laughter in Waikiki" Episode 18

2018/04/10 | Permalink

There's a very good establishing scene starting out this episode wherein we see what it's like for Joon-ki, having co-workers with loads of fangirls. It's only natural for Joon-ki to feel deficient in this environment. And so begins a very weird storyline wherein Joon-ki is extremely slow to catch on to obvious hints that the current guest star is very creepy. This then naturally leads into Joon-ki's own behavior taking a turn for the bizarre...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "That Man Oh Soo" Episode 12

2018/04/10 | Permalink

Right when I thought "That Man Oh Soo" was done with hospital scenes we end up right back there again. Thankfully the trip to the hospital is not a long one, although the main thing that happens there is a mildly amusing gag involving one character being confused by how Yoo-ri appears to have multiple identical boyfriends. He doesn't say anything about Oh Soo and Ji-won being identical. That's just what I was thinking during that scene...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shall We Kiss First" Episodes 31-32

2018/04/10 | Permalink

It's hard to imagine there was once a time when I was genuinely enthralled with the brisk pacing in this drama. Time was we were always getting new, meaningful revelations about Moo-han and Soon-jin's backstory. Now they just keep having moments over whether or not they should be breaking up or moving out or whatever. There's only so many times a couple can have that argument before their entire relationship starts to come off as incredibly fickle...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Laughter in Waikiki" Episode 17

2018/04/09 | Permalink

In a nice change of pace, the storylines in this installment of "Laughter in Waikiki" are structured like mysteries, where we as viewers are invited to guess at possible resolutions to apparently inexplicable situations. Take the first and most prominent storyline. By all accounts Yoon-ah's confession to Dong-goo was completely sincere. So what to make of her attitude? We are given the clear impression that Joon-ki and Doo-sik's assumptions are wrong, because they are idiots. But clearly an explanation of some sort is forthcoming- and it's a good one...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "That Man Oh Soo" Episode 11

2018/04/09 | Permalink

The affected voice Oh Soo talks with now is starting to drive me crazy. It makes him sound weirdly effeminate. Although that's really just part and parcel for Oh Soo's whole personality change, wherein he is just too unconditionally nice and lovey-dovey all the time. That's not romantic, it's just corny. Romances are effective because we see characters get together in spite of their flaws, and even loving each other all the more because of them. Now? Oh Soo has no flaws, and is even explicitly described as virginal. Now there's an odd trait for a leading man...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shall We Kiss First" Episodes 29-30

2018/04/09 | Permalink

Heartless though it may be for me to write this, I really don't care about Soon-jin's dead daughter. In narrative terms, the daughter is only relevant to the extent that she caused Soon-jin's trauma, creating the Soon-jin that exists in the present. The daughter has never been a character in her own right for us to care about. Indeed, by centering so much of the action around the lawsuit, "Shall We Kiss First" actually makes it more difficult for Soon-jin to let go of the past...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2018.04.06 - 2018.04.08

2018/04/09 | Permalink

Local horror narrowly retains pole position amid stiff competition...

The low-budget horror "Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum" by director Jeong Beom-sik managed to hold off serious challenges from both "Ready Player One" and the recently released local comedy-drama "What a Man Wants" to retain the top stop. Jeong's surprise hit outplayed Steven Spielberg's adaption last weekend with 40% of the sales (983,018 admissions), and with the 513,673 (27%) admissions the film scored here, its total tally now stands at 2.2 million ($16.7 million)...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Microhabitat"

2018/04/07 | Permalink

Once upon a time, Mi-so (played by Esom) had friends. There was no specific falling out that splintered their social circle. They all just moved on. But not Mi-so. She's happy cleaning apartments, scoring some smokes, sipping whiskey at a favorite bar and maybe playing an aggressive game of pattycake with her boyfriend Han-sol (played by Ahn Jae-hong). Sadly, an increase in living expenses has made this lifestyle increasingly untenable. So Mi-so seeks out her old friends, in hopes of finding a solution...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "I'll Just Live in Bando"

2018/04/07 | Permalink

Joon-goo (voiced by Lee Seung-haeng) teaches acting at the university level as an adjunct. In practical terms an adjunct is just a normal professor except with less pay and no job security. Though popular with his students, their sincere praise of Joon-goo's acting abilities tends to stoke Joon-goo's dreams. Sure, the guy's in his forties and supporting a family. But don't television dramas need short, homely, middle-aged balding characters too?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Like a French Film"

2018/04/07 | Permalink

The four short movies in the "Like a French Film" omnibus all deal with obstructed love. The nature of that obstruction changes from piece to piece. For an aging mother (played by Lee Young-ran), it's entirely her decision. For the bartender (played by Lee Yoo-mi), it's sincere disinterest. For the internationally inclined couple of So-yeon (played by Kim Soy) and Steve (played by Steven Youn), it's fate. For Soo-min (played by Shin Min-chul) it's...circumstance?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Queen of Mystery Season 2" Episode 12

2018/04/06 | Permalink

"Queen of Mystery Season 2" manages to get more confusing the more it reveals, but an actually challenging standalone case has appeared to bring back some of the sorely lacking mystery challenge of the series. The fact that it does this in a satisfying manner is a pleasant change from the season-long mystery's nature delivering very little pay-off. As for said mystery, Inspector Woo and Wan-seung go deeper, but we still do not know where...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Queen of Mystery Season 2" Episode 11

2018/04/06 | Permalink

The wave of guest stars continues, but at least the latest one has been teased before, and he brings a case as a present. At the same time, standalone cases are now a distraction from a main story aching to happen, which thankfully gets a good chunk of plot dedicated in episode eleven of "Queen of Mystery Season 2". While Wan-seung and Seol-ok are still largely in the dark, we finally take a peek behind the curtain...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Switch - Change the World" Episodes 7-8

2018/04/05 | Permalink

The first five minutes of episode seven are a recap of "Switch - Change The World" so far along with the full cliffhanger from last time, now with an explanation. I can't decide whether the production team is trying to cut costs or if they really are that self-indulgent about how clever the turnabout was. It was a decent turnabout. Do-chan may not be a real prosecutor but he's definitely observant. But personally I'm more concerned about the ongoing effort to murder Joon-soo...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Switch - Change the World" Episodes 5-6

2018/04/04 | Permalink

Seong-doo (played by Kwon Hwa-woon) is Tae-woong's ruthless enforcer. The original plan was just to kill Joon-soo outright, but the apparent failure of the first assassination attempt coupled with Joon-soo's confusing behavioral changes afterwards have left the villains of "Switch - Change The World" struggling to figure out the best course of action. Obviously there is some sort of hustle going on here...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Laughter in Waikiki" Episode 16

2018/04/03 | Permalink

Right away we start out with a reckoning. Dong-goo rather sensibly demands an explanation for the elaborate web of lies Joon-ki and Seo-jin have devised to ineffectively avoid publicly acknowledging that they have a relationship. Even granting that the characters in question are all adults, and owe each other no explanations, what Joon-ki and Seo-jin did was very hurtful. But then Dong-goo chooses to have a temper tantrum and any ambiguity in that situation is lost...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shall We Kiss First" Episodes 27-28

2018/04/03 | Permalink

There's a lot more of Soon-jin pretending like she doesn't know what Moo-han is up to here. Couple that with Moo-han agonizing in general about leaving Soon-jin alone and not telling her everything and well, "Shall We Kiss First" is pretty hopelessly depressing. The drama is also fairly pointlessly depressing. Since the main chararacters are not communicating honestly with each other, the plot has slowed to a crawl. Only the legal case takes on much prominence...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "That Man Oh Soo" Episode 10

2018/04/03 | Permalink

Oh Soo's intonation is now so chipper I barely recognize him as being the same character. It's not just the weird way he talks. I remember Oh Soo as being a generally crabby young man who doesn't especially care what other people think, yet has a kind heart in spite of that. Oh Soo in full-on lovey-dovey mode is a substantially less interesting character, since he just does that aggressive romantic comedy pursuit thing that's supposed to be cute but frequently comes off as stalking behavior...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Laughter in Waikiki" Episode 15

2018/04/02 | Permalink

Dong-goo's latest devious scheme to insure that Yoon-ah and Joon don't spend any time together involves organizing a workshop for the guest house. Which involves them going to...another guest house, where they act as guests on vacation. At times like this I can't help but think about how badly "Laughter in Waikiki" has been wasting its own premise. How does one successfully manage a guest house anyway? Surely there are better ways to find guests than to just drag them in from off the street...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shall We Kiss First" Episodes 25-26

2018/04/02 | Permalink

There's several minutes of happiness as "Shall We Kiss First" focuses on events immediately preceding the cliffhanger before getting back to where the story left off- with Soon-jin discovering the pen and all of its horrible implications. Not that this has any apparent effect on her relationship with Moo-han. Soon-ji appears to be making a deliberate point of not destroying her relationship with Moo-han, when you'd think some form of revenge would be on her mind...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "That Man Oh Soo" Episode 9

2018/04/02 | Permalink

More of a big deal is made out of how Yoo-ri is having a hard time because of her mother's illness, yet is so fortunate to have not one but two men eager to offer emotional support at the slightest notice. That melodrama doesn't last very long, though, since the surgery ends up going well. I never especially liked the sick mother storyline, but the sheer anticlimax of its ending was a little much for me. The pacing was just not as good as it coud have been...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2018.03.30 - 2018.04.01

2018/04/02 | Permalink

"Gonjiam" rises and outplays "Ready Player One" over Easter weekend...

Jeong Beom-sik's "Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum" enjoyed a successful limited release last weekend (fifth with 54,780 admissions) and has risen to the top of the chart following its official released last Wednesday. From 1,124 screens around the country, "Gonjiam", Jeong's second feature-length film as the sole director after "Casa Amor, Exclusive for Ladies" (2015), earned 39.62% of the sales, or 983,045 admissions ($7.6 million). The local horror/mystery managed to outplay Steven Spielberg's action-packed adaptation "Ready Player One"...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Seven Years of Night"

2018/03/31 | Permalink

It is time to take a look at the depths human darkness and pain can reach in "Seven Years of Night"; the story of a broken man spiraling down his own abyss, and a predator out for revenge. Boasting great performances by Ryu Seung-ryong and Jang Dong-gun, what might seem as a standard revenge piece at first, reveals itself as the fierce battle of the characters against their own demons, whether they are open to facing them or not...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum"

2018/03/31 | Permalink

The Gonjiam Mental Hospital has a suitably horrific backstory regarding the abuse of mental patients, and there are plenty of eerie pictures floating around the Internet of the abandoned building's creepy interior. The disappearance of a couple of teenagers whose last known activity was investigating the site for kicks and giggles has further improved the Gonjiam Mental Hospital's mystique. So it is that Ha-joon (played by Wi Ha-joon) puts together a team to investigate the facility and posts their findings via a live online stream...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Be With You"

2018/03/31 | Permalink

The opening to "Be with You" is a cute animated story about a penguin mother who has gone away to the cloud country, but returns home for one last stretch before finally leaving again forever. The book's author, Soo-ah (played by Son Ye-jin) gave the book to her elementary school aged son Ji-ho (played by Kim Ji-hwan-I) shortly before her death. Ji-ho religiously anticipates the circumstances under which Soo-ah will return while his now single father Woo-jin (played by So Ji-sub) tries to hold the household together...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Field Day"

2018/03/31 | Permalink

The Korean title of "A Field Day" literally means "exercise meeting" and has multiple contextual interpretations. It can refer to a sports festival at a school. It can also refer to labor action. It can also refer to political protests. The point is, "A Field Day" is a day when you exert yourself to win. That's the moment the movie is building up to, when for various convoluted reasons, husband Cheol-goo (played by Yang Ji-woong), wife Mi-soon (played by Lee Jung-bi), brother-in-law Min-seok (played by Choi Hyuk-I), and father Soon-dol (played by Park Chan-young) find themselves aligned with different factions in a labor strike...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Queen of Mystery Season 2" Episode 10

2018/03/30 | Permalink

While Seol-ok and Wan-seung are busy being confused about the ring, I am busy being confused about everything in "Queen of Mystery Season 2". Hee-yeon's identity is still a mystery, as she can be anyone from a random person, to Hyun-soo, to someone involved with Kim. We still have no reasoning behind her plans, but perhaps Wan-seung's brother dearest has plans of his own. As confusing as it is, at least the main plot is finally moving...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Queen of Mystery Season 2" Episode 9

2018/03/30 | Permalink

We enter the second part of "Queen of Mystery Season 2" with a shocking revelation about Ji-seung, but definitely not the kind I was expecting. The main story is being given by the drop, but at least our probably-antagonists are making more major moves. Meanwhile, Seol-ok and Wan-seung solve another case before focusing on the mystery of the missing ring, while Kyeong-mi makes her return, and Inspector Woo gets ready to dive into Hyun-soo's mystery...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Switch - Change the World" Episodes 3-4

2018/03/29 | Permalink

While Do-chan and his team may have initially felt ever so smart for having outwitted the cops, the victory proves pointless almost immediately. In addition to there being yet further interference from still another faction, it turns out that Ha-ra had a back-up plan in case Do-chan turned rogue. Naturally, she still feels the need to swear profusely that the con artist who her colleagues warned her against trusting in the first place ever so predictably tried to double cross the investigation...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Switch - Change The World" Episodes 1-2

2018/03/28 | Permalink

Joon-soo (played by Jang Keun-suk) is a high profile prosecutor in the thick of a huge investigation. Joon-soo is so in the thick of the investigation that "Switch - Change The World" doesn't even bother to explain what exactly it is that he's been doing. So we're mostly on the same page as prosecutor Ha-ra (played by Han Ye-ri), who understands what Joon-soo was trying to do in broad strokes, but is in a bit of a fix when a mysterious car crash incapacitates Joon-soo indefinitely...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "539 Yeonnam-dong" Episode 12 (Final)

2018/03/28 | Permalink

So it turns out that Tae-yeong had correctly sussed out the fitness center scam pretty much the exact same way I did. Which makes the opening summation of the previous episode's events fairly anticlimactic. "539 Yeonnam-dong" has been very bad when it comes to properly utilizing cliffhangers. Stories should always be self-contained when possible. Putting the summation and only the summation off until next week just gives viewers more time to figure it our on their own, and that's no fun...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "That Man Oh Soo" Episode 8

2018/03/27 | Permalink

So apparently Jin-woo also owns a car. Why does everyone own a car except Yoo-ri anyway? Maybe she has to spend all her money on medical bills, or possibly looking after her teenage sister who spends all her time coming up with complicated bullying schemes instead of studying. Soo-jeong is less proportionately important to the story than you'd think. Although then again, there's so little story in "That Man Oh Soo" there's not much for her to do anyway...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shall We Kiss First" Episodes 23-24

2018/03/27 | Permalink

One nice aspect to "Shall We Kiss First" is that the drama doesn't waste a lot of time stringing us along with important revelations while insisting on maintaining the ignorance of the main characters. Simply being confronted by people who want to talk about his horrible secrets is enough to force Moo-han into letting his guard down. We actually see Moo-han legitimately frightened by the threat of Soon-jin leaving. Note the quivering in his voice, and the highly abstract nature of the movie he watches, which is only identified by film company...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Laughter in Waikiki" Episode 14

2018/03/27 | Permalink

I was inititally fairly excited about the return of Joon-ki's terrible car. That was one of the better gags of the earlier episodes, with near perfect set-up and delivery. Unfortunately, the follow-up leaves a lot to be desired. The car literally just starts going around in circles. There's frustratingly little physical humor to speak of. I'm not asking for elaborate stunts or anything, I was just hoping that Soo-ah and Doo-sik were going to have to work together to reclaim the cell phone...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Laughter in Waikiki" Episode 13

2018/03/26 | Permalink

Dong-goo's character is substantially improved here because he's actually trying to avoid being a completely petty jerk for once. I liked the conversations with Yoon-ah, where Dong-goo clearly wants to abuse his power as landlord, but gives up when suitable excuses for trying to keep Yoon-ah away from Joon are not forthcoming. The excuse Dong-goo comes up with in the second storyline is so on-the-spot it's hard to hate him for premeditation. And besides, Dong-goo ends up getting what's coming to him...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shall We Kiss First" Episodes 21-22

2018/03/26 | Permalink

So the honeymoon's over. Granted, the honeymoon was pretty sad, so that phrase doesn't quite mean what it usually implies here. Instead what we get is Moo-han and Soon-jin transitioning to basic domesticity. Or at least, that's what Soon-jin thinks is happening. Normally domesticity is for the long term. Instead, Soon-jin is making a life for herself that will predictably get wrenched away and leave her right back where she started...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "That Man Oh Soo" Episode 7

2018/03/26 | Permalink

I finally figured out what critical advantage Oh Soo has that has been allowing him to eclipse Jin-woo as a romantic rival. Oh Soo owns a car. That's really about it. Yoo-ri is frequently forced into having to get help from Oh Soo entirely thanks to the fact that he owns a car and apparently taxis are hard to come by in this neighborhood. Transparently absurd as this fact may be in the romantic comedy context, a funny joke is still a funny joke however unintentionally...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2018.03.23 - 2018.03.25

2018/03/26 | Permalink

"Pacific Rim" sequel narrowly outplays local drama "Be with You"...

Director Steven S. DeKnight's "Pacific Rim: Uprising", the sequel to Guillermo del Toro's 2013 kaiju blockbuster, entered the fray last Wednesday and came out ahead of last week's number one, "Be with You". From 1,143 screens, "Uprising" topped the chart with $5.2 million from 655,193 admissions (39.76%). The fantasy melodrama "Be with You" (starring So Ji-sub and Son Ye-jin), director Lee Jang-hoon-I's debut, had 57 more screens to pool from, but the 577,032 admissions (33.88%) it walked away with at the end of the weekend were not enough to secure a second straight week at the top...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Notebook from My Mother"

2018/03/24 | Permalink

Ae-ran (played by Lee Joo-sil) is a grandmother who runs a small shop selling side dishes. Ae-ran is an obsessive perfectionist when it comes to how her livelihood is organized, to the point it seems unlikely that her apprentice Yoon-ja (played by Kim Sun-hwa) will ever be able to manage the shop herself. Of course, since Ae-ran owns the shop, possession if it would pass down to her adult son Gyu-hyeon (played by Lee Jong-hyuk). Well, also to her daughter Hye-won (played by Lee Young-ah), but Gyu-hyeon is the main perspective character here as Ae-ran's family comes to terms with her dementia...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Bullies"

2018/03/24 | Permalink

Yeong-ho (played by Lee Seung-yong who looks way too old for the part) is a transfer student. There are bullies at his new high school who hustle money from weaker students via intimidation. There's a surprisingly complicated hierarchy at play here, such that I initially thought "Bullies" was going to be about the hierarchy. Alas, these dynamics are ultimately left unexplored as Yeong-ho instead runs up against mid-level enforcerer Gi-tae (played by Go Jin-soo). Long ago, these two were friends...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Cheese in the Trap - Movie"

2018/03/24 | Permalink

Having seen the "Cheese in the Trap" drama I already knew what to expect from the film version. Seol (played by Oh Yeon-seo) is a college student who is convinced that popular man on campus Jeong (played by Park Hae-jin) is secretly evil. Oddly enough this does not prevent her from entering into a relationship with him. The key difference between the two versions is that the world of the film version is quite a bit more dangerous. Several characters are straight up psychotic, to the point that Seol's concerns of being caught in a trap come off as well warranted...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Queen of Mystery 2" Episode 8

2018/03/23 | Permalink

Disaster keeps following Seol-ok, and as regretful as it is to have guest reigning supreme over the rest of the main and supporting cast half way into the season, this is the hand we have been dealt and we must roll with it. The Noryang-dong crew sans Park Ki-beom are unlucky enough to be participating in our heroine's boarding school, which is seeing a sudden increase in murdered bodies. Wan-seung and Seol-ok are on the case, but without backup...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Queen of Mystery Season 2" Episode 7

2018/03/22 | Permalink

The ever so elusive Kim has made a move, at least as far as I can tell. Ji-seung is arrested, and perhaps we will be finding out why the seemingly oblivious older brother or the company itself poses a threat to the mysterious figure. Meanwhile, Seol-ok and Wan-seung solve the Noryang-dong case, but our heroine is about to foolishly stumble onto another one, against what should have been her better judgment. Hello, remote crimes...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "539 Yeonnam-dong" Episode 11

2018/03/21 | Permalink

The storyline here is dominated entirely by the appearance of a rival fitness center next to the one that I-na manages. I spent most of the runtime wondering how a neighborhood that can barely support one fitness center could possibly support two, especially when the new one is offering extremely good incentive packages to customers and inflated salaries to staff. So yeah, the ending is kind of predictable...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Laughter in Waikiki" Episode 12

2018/03/20 | Permalink

In what has to be the weirdest gimmick yet, "Laughter in Waikiki" presents us with the character of Chang-ho (played by Kim Byung-se) whose main trait is that he gives endlessly complicated and pointless rambling answers to mundane questions. Does that really count as a joke? Boring the audience to death with nonsense? That sounds like the exact opposite of a joke. Which I'll admit, on a conceptual level, is an interesting if obviously stupid idea...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shall We Kiss First" Episodes 19-20

2018/03/20 | Permalink

I can actually mostly empathize with Moo-han's unwillingness to tell Soon-jin how sick he is. I kind of wish I didn't know either. Knowing the full extent of Moo-han's illness creates a fantastically depressing undercurrent to everything Moo-han and Soon-jin do regardless of how outwardly cheerful they are. Their whole trip to the countryside is actually pretty fun outside of that one factor. And then there's the ending. I mean yikes...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "That Man Oh Soo" Episode 6

2018/03/20 | Permalink

There's a scene early on where Yoo-ri and Jin-woo go to Oh Soo's tea shop. Or is it a café? Oh Soo serves them coffee and claims that he doesn't have anything else, but it's possible Oh Soo is just lying because he doesn't want them there in the first place. Yoo-ri and Jin-woo then leave without drinking their coffee. That ninety second scene was, as far as I can tell, completely pointless, even if it was frequently on the edge of being almost interesting...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Laughter in Waikiki" Episode 11

2018/03/19 | Permalink

Yoon-ah has some pretty sensible reasons for rejecting Dong-goo's love confession. I'd be impressed, except that Yoon-ah's newfound sense of maturity is somewhat at odds with the generally naive way her character has been portrayed up until now. Also there's the tonal issue of Dong-goo's personality. Soo-ah also provided very good reasons for breaking up with Dong-goo, yet Dong-goo has completely failed to take those criticisms to heart, much as he fails to really listen to Yoon-ah's criticisms...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shall We Kiss First" Episodes 17-18

2018/03/19 | Permalink

Considering how the final scene ends up being a wedding the sheer scale of the depression in "Shall We Kiss First" here is pretty harsh. Moo-han just mopes around listlessly, refusing to accept Soon-jin's attempts to cheer him up because, mostly because Moo-han knows that he is behaving selfishly. Which is the main irony. Soon-jin by far stands to gain the most from marrying a rich man who is soon to die, yet Moo-han feels the need to shield her from that...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "That Man Oh Soo" Episode 5

2018/03/19 | Permalink

The "This Is Not Real" wall from "Oh Hae-Young Again" makes a special appearance here. I love that wall. That whole area is a great shooting location. Like most small neighborhoods in Seoul, it's filled with hills- yet the scenery is quite a bit mroe picturesque than the average neighborhood. The architecture is very nice. And the layout makes it plausible that Oh Soo and Yoo-ri are always running into each other by accident, because shortcuts will do that...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mother - Drama" Episode 16 Final

2018/03/18 | Permalink

Life has brought Soo-jin and Hye-na a long way in a very short amount of time in "Mother - Drama", but nothing feels longer than the time spent apart. After Yeong-sin's peaceful passing, a considerable amount of time goes by, and many things change. What does not change is the love between our heroines, and the fact that they need each other. With Hye-na facing great difficulty, and Soo-jin unable to let go, the brave mother makes another bold decision...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Save Me"

2018/03/17 | Permalink

In a rare, yet beautiful moment of inspiration to tackle a different type of criminal activity, OCN brings us "Save Me"; a drama about a terrible cult meeting its match in a woman whose sheer strength and resilience will set her free. Taking a breaking from the procedural, "Save Me" portrays the slow and silent crime of this cult's manipulation, and the human decency it takes to brings that crime to light...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Vanished"

2018/03/17 | Permalink

The first character we see in "The Vanished" is a security guard at the morgue. He's only vaguely paying attention to the closed circuit television when a sudden blackout turns everything just a little spooky. By the time the police arrive discrete facts are at a minimum. The corpse of recently departed rich corporate bigshot Seol-hee (played by Kim Hee-ae) has mysteriously disappeared. Also her husband professor Jin-han (played by Kim Kang-woo) was applying fake tears at the memorial service...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Parallel"

2018/03/17 | Permalink

Sledge hockey is a Paralympic sport that's pretty much the same as regular hockey except that the players (who typically do not have functioning legs) move around on sledges propelled by sticks in their hands. It's an exceptionally aggressive sport, even compared to regular hockey, since the athletes are constantly swinging their arms around and moving a lot faster than you'd think would be possible without legs. "Parallel" is the story of the South Korean sledge hockey team and their experience at the 2012 Ice Sledge Hockey World Championship in Norway...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Singing with Angry Bird"

2018/03/17 | Permalink

When orchestra conductor Kim Jae-chang first arrived in Mumbai in India, his hair was still black. Several years later, it has shades of white. The children in Kim Jae-chang's choir have nicknamed him Angry Bird, on account of his round head and also because he gives them loud loving instructions in broken English spoken via an Italian accent. Once "Singing with Angry Bird" gets Kim Jae-chang's background out of the way, it's on to the children's choir itself...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Queen of Mystery Season 2" Episode 6

2018/03/16 | Permalink

"Queen of Mystery Season 2" is finally settling into its investigative roots, and this time around we have minimal distractions. Those minimal distractions also come in the form of a certain wavy-haired weirdo haunting the police department's forensics lab, which adds a lovely new touch to the proceedings. Seol-ok and Wan-seung are carefully sorting through an increasingly confusing list of suspects, with Yoon Mi-joo's freedom on the line...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mother - Drama" Episode 15

2018/03/16 | Permalink

The time has come for Yeong-sin to exit the stage in "Mother - Drama", but there are matters that need closure, and secrets that she needs to address with her family. While Soo-jin, I-jin and Hyeon-jin face the new information, and the idea of a future without their parent, Hye-na is determined to make another daring trip to her mother. Soo-jin is faced with the terrifying feat of providing Hye-na with strength for a future she may not be in for a while...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Queen of Mystery Season 2" Episode 5

2018/03/14 | Permalink

Seol-ok is determined to study diligently, but cram school is a ruthless place. Things become more challenging when a temptation in the form of a crime happens nearby, sparking our heroine's usual hound-like fixation for crime solving. Episode five takes a step back from the main plot and a lot of the main characters, but we have new and guest stars popping up left and right. Can "Queen of Mystery Season 2" fit all of this and its main story in...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "539 Yeonnam-dong" Episode 10

2018/03/14 | Permalink

The follow through on Bong-tae's asexuality is disappointing. Asexuality just means that Bong-tae has a minimal sex drive. It doesn't preclude the prospect of Bong-tae entering into a relationship with romantic feelings, it just means that Bong-tae can't get aroused very easily. Then again the main evidence we've been given regarding Bong-tae's condition was a test administered while he was watching pornography. Maybe Bong-tae just doesn't like pornography...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shall We Kiss First" Episodes 15-16

2018/03/13 | Permalink

One aspect of Soon-jin's characterization that's been kind of glazed over is how she was initially interested in Moo-han solely for his money. Well, that's not true, Soon-jin's weirdly self-conscious seductress pep talk monologues have been a fairly constant staple of the drama's comic relief. It's just easy to forget that because whenever Soon-jin is talking to Moo-han directly, she's being perfectly sincere. Soon-jin has started to rely on Moo-han as a crutch in her weaker moments...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "That Man Oh Soo" Episode 4

2018/03/13 | Permalink

Of the many random chance meetings Oh Soo and Yoo-ri get into, one of them actually results in their relationship progressing beyond mild mutual annoyance. Oh Soo discovers that Yoo-ri likes cats. Apparently Oh Soo likes cats too. How cute! I also like cats! Unfortunately Ga-na then manages to sabotage that moment and we're right back where we started, with Oh Soo and Yoo-ri always being in the same place at the same time and resenting each other for it...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "That Man Oh Soo" Episode 3

2018/03/12 | Permalink

So apparently the whole thing with the magic tree suddenly dying because of...uh...I assume because Yoo-ri drank Oh Soo's magic tea doesn't become an ongoing crisis. Oh Soo's grandfather Man-soo (played by Park Geun-hyung) simply solves the problem with his own magic powers, warning Oh Soo that next time the younger man will have to do it himself. So what we have is a possible future conflict, not something that's happening right now...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shall We Kiss First" Episodes 13-14

2018/03/12 | Permalink

So the dog dies. That was, of course, inevitable. What was less inevitable is that something serious happens while Soon-jin was doing silly stuff with Moo-han. Naturally, she apologizes, even though this wasn't her fault. But how does Moo-han respond? He doesn't actually. Moo-han just looks on in his usual defeatist stone-faced silence. There's no anger, no guilt, nothing. Moo-han has long since decided that this was just the way things have to be. If Soon-jin wants to apologize, that's her business...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2018.03.09 - 2018.03.11

2018/03/12 | Permalink

Local thriller "The Vanished" and the new "Tomb Raider" reboot take the top spots...

Lee Chang-hee's "The Vanished", his debut, arrived last Wednesday and topped the Korean box office during its first weekend out. "The Vanished" follows a detective (Kim Sang-kyung) and a married couple (Kim Kang-woo and Kim Hee-ae) as they probe the mysterious disappearance of cadavers from the National Institute of Science Research. From 919 screens nationwide, Lee's thriller claimed 519,991 admissions (32.84%), or $4 million, to supplant Hong Chang-pyo's "The Princess and the Matchmaker" at the top...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Queen of Mystery Season 2" Episode 4

2018/03/11 | Permalink

Wan-seung and Seol-ok are faced with the difficult case of an underage arsonist, made worse by his selfish and negligent parents. The trauma of the little girl and her mother greatly affects Seol-ok, and memories of her own parents make her determined to get justice. Meanwhile, Wan-seung's father is released from prison, and the mysterious Mr. Kim keeps a close eye on him and his elder son. As we learn more about our new characters, a sinister possibility surfaces...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Queen of Mystery 2" Episode 3

2018/03/11 | Permalink

The case of the cheesy arsonist becomes much more complicated when a copycat is discovered, sending Wan-seung and Seol-ok into a chase without any support from the precinct eager to keep them out of their way. The duo use their existing allies, and they rope in a new one with some promising skills. Meanwhile, Inspector Woo has come across the trail of the mysterious Hyun-soo...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mother - Drama" Episode 14

2018/03/11 | Permalink

Never have victories felt so disappointing, as a lot of things are set right in episode fourteen of "Mother - Drama", but with "right" not being closer to the reality our heroines wanted. A lot of pain, regret and relief come to the surface, and a lot of scores are settled. Yet the reality of things remains, and that reality will not tolerate the reunion of a victim and a kidnapper. However, Hye-na and Soo-jin go through their respective, separate journeys with only each other in mind...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Little Forest"

2018/03/10 | Permalink

Hye-won (played by Kim Tae-ri) was raised on a small farm out in the countryside. As a teenager, Hye-won had ambitions to do something greater with her life, but after going to college and getting various jobs in the city...well, nothing Hye-won did seemed to have much point. So Hye-won moved back into her old home, all alone. Well, she does have a couple of friends her own age. Eun-sook (played by Jin Ki-joo) is the woman. Jae-ha (played by Ryu Jun-yeol) is the man. There's also a dog. And there's also the most important friend of all- delicious fresh food...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Gate"

2018/03/10 | Permalink

So-eun (played by Jung Ryeo-won) has a problem. Everyone in her apartment building has been getting ensnared in bad contracts from loan shark Min-wook (played by Jung Sang-hoon) and his gang of obvious crooks, so So-eun decides to take a stand against them. Neighborhood ex-cop Gyoo-cheol (played by Im Chang-jung) also insists on helping, though that ridiculous yellow track suit and subservient attitude makes him rather non-threatening...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Princess and the Matchmaker"

2018/03/10 | Permalink

Deep into his reign, King Yeongjo (played by Kim Sang-kyung) faces a serious crisis. There's no rain, which means a bad harvest, which mean food shortages, which means bad times for everyone in Joseon. There's only one possible solution- marry off the homely Princess Song-hwa (played by Shim Eun-kyung) to someone with a particularly well correlated marital horoscape. It falls to Do-yoon (played by Lee Seung-gi), a prodigy horoscope technician, to find a match that will maximize the approval of the heavens and bring about the much needed rain...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mother - Drama" Episode 13

2018/03/09 | Permalink

Separation and the choices we make when faced with it is the theme in episode thirteen of "Mother - Drama", as our mother and daughter duo feel the law closing in on them, and the possibility of them being torn apart becoming more and more of a reality. Soo-jin and Hye-na do their best to tackle that possibility, and they meet a father and son duo who have a similar experience. Meanwhile, detective Chang-geun presses on, despite being visibly conflicted...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "A Korean Odyssey" Episode 20 Final

2018/03/07 | Permalink

There is no way but down in terms of dramatic escalation after a near-apocalypse, and the final episode of "A Korean Odyssey" tries to wrap up whatever loose ends it can without trying to top it. Worthy effort aside, the creators spend time reminiscing about events and characters which were, for the most part, kept as mere decoration to a story that could have been, but never really quite was...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "539 Yeonnam-dong" Episode 9

2018/03/07 | Permalink

Soo-ri is back again, providing us with more reminders of why I-na doesn't especially like her mother. Overall the portrayal is a bit more nuanced this time. Soo-ri starts out with a fairly serious problem and petitions Bong-tae for help. While Soo-ri naturally has an ulterior motive in mind, and the original motive isn't quite what it looks like, fundamentally, her situation remains sympathetic. So for all I-na's frustrations when it comes to her mother, we can see how a lot of this is tied up in just bog standard worry...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Laughter in Waikiki" Episode 10

2018/03/06 | Permalink

Soo-ah gets a really good storyline this episode, and it looks to be a continuing one- she's now on a stake out at the convenience store, and is shocked to discover what Doo-sik has to deal with there. I was too. I refuse to believe that people act like that at convenience stores. But then, I've never worked at one. And neither has Soo-ah. Luckily, it turns out that Soo-ah can use her powers of being a mean girl for good instead of evil, even if the closing tagline was kind of ambiguous...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shall We Kiss First" Episodes 11-12

2018/03/06 | Permalink

At long last something happens to Kyeong-soo that leaves me feeling somewhat sympathetic to his situation. He ends up getting confronted by Soon-jin's sister Hee-jin (played by Shin So-yul) and their mother Geum-soon (played by Sung Byung-sook). Remember all that toxic clingy behavior Kyeong-soo has been engaging with in regards to his ex-wife? Apparently Hee-jin and Geum-soon are of the opinion that Kyeong-soo is actually not being clingy enough...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "That Man Oh Soo" Episode 2

2018/03/06 | Permalink

I like how Yoo-ri is short. I mean, women are short in general, but it's rare to see a drama actually take advantage of this thematically. Since Yoo-ri broke her heels as part of that horrible, horrible day, Yoo-ri has to be aggressive with Oh Soo to get what she wants. it's an accurate metaphor for Yoo-ri's character as a whole. The first we see saw of her Yoo-ri was going after the weights really are and now we know why she compensates so much. It turns out Yoo-ri is a police officer...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "A Korean Odyssey" Episode 19

2018/03/05 | Permalink

The ground is shaking with the sounds of a waking dragon, but the plot in "A Korean Odyssey" shakes with it. The time has come for the epic battle, but there is so much to wrap up around it, that the episode feels like a mad dash to a finale the creators were not quite prepared for. With Oh-gong and Seon-mi each having self-sacrificial thoughts, a lot goes wrong within the story as well...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Laughter in Waikiki" Episode 9

2018/03/05 | Permalink

So Soo-ah is now my favorite character, solely because she points out the sheer stupidity of Dong-goo trying to keep his feelings for Soo-ah a secret for no good reason. Actually a lot of this episode is better than usual because there's a lot more shame. Observe how Joon-ki eventually realizes he was being a jerk to Seo-jin for no good reason. I mean come on, the stove wasn't working. That's not the fault of the first person to notice it...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shall We Kiss First" Episodes 9-10

2018/03/05 | Permalink

Considering their story for most of episode nine is just an extended bed scene it's surprising just how mundane and boring Moo-han and Soon-jin are together. Their relationship is not terribly romantic but in a nutty way it's actually kind of the platonic ideal of married life. They have trouble sleeping. They embarrass themselves. Yet oddly enough none of that really matters. They both just kind of shrug their shoulders and go, whatever, life could be worse...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "That Man Oh Soo" Episode 1

2018/03/05 | Permalink

It takes quite some time for "That Man Oh Soo" to actually get to its own premise. Yes, obviously, Oh Soo (played by Lee Jong-hyun) is supposed to get romantically entangled with Yoo-ri (played by Kim So-eun), some way or another. The drama is a romance after all. But these characters are far more reactive than proactive. The first major thing we see Oh Soo do is break up with a woman by proxy as a stand in for his brother Ga-na (played by Heo Jung-min), who's just a tad immature...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2018.03.02 - 2018.03.04

2018/03/05 | Permalink

Homegrown dramas dethrone Marvel's "Black Panther"...

For the past two weekends, the latest dimension in the Marvel Cinematic Universe ("Black Panther") has ruled proceedings, but Hong Chang-pyo's debut feature, "The Princess and the Matchmaker", and Yim Soon-rye's "Little Forest" both arrived last Wednesday and denied "Black Panther" a third straight weekend at the top of the Korean box office...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mother - Drama" Episode 12

2018/03/03 | Permalink

There are no easy or happy solutions for Hye-na and Soo-jin's situation, as the system favoring biological parents would surely turn a blind eye to what Ja-yeong has done. With the situation Seol-ak has set up escalating and the police being but a breath away, Soo-jin has to make quick and desperate choices. The police want results, but Detective Chang-geun is starting to get a clearer picture of the loyalty the pair inspires in people...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Guest House"

2018/03/03 | Permalink

Jung-woo (played by Kim Sungje) is an actor. Since acting work is not generally reliable, Jung-woo works at his family guest house out on South Korea's northeastern coast. One day, Jung-woo's older sister Seon-woo (played by Baek Seon-woo) instructs Jung-woo to show Japanese tourist Hiroko (played by Chisun) around Gangreung, since Seon-woo is busy doing work related to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Jung-woo is not the best tour guide, since he does not speak Japanese, and Hiroko does not speak Korean...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Puzzle"

2018/03/03 | Permalink

Do-joon (played by Ji Seung-hyun) is a respected, successful corporate type. He even wrote a book! Everyone wants to hang out with Do-joon, especially women. He has a good relationship with his staff. And yet there's something missing from Do-joon's life. His wife and daughter are gone, because Do-joon is paying for them to live overseas, so night after night, Do-joon is bored out of his mind, eating instant noodles and watching old family videos. Then, in short order, life for Do-joon suddenly becomes very violent. A clown suit is involved...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Live Again, Love Again"

2018/03/03 | Permalink

In "Live Again, "Love Again" two storylines take alternate turns in focus. The first is about Vietnamese barista Mi (played by Chi Pu), a piano player living in Ho Chi Minh City who composes music and posts it on YouTube. She's suffering from strange nightmares (or memories? It's never really all that clear) about a run-in with a South Korean soldier during the Vietnamese War. Then there's Pil (played by San E), a popular South Korean recording artist who's in a slump because he keeps thinking about his ex-girlfriend Yoon-hee (played by Jung Chae-yeon)...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mother - Drama" Episode 11

2018/03/02 | Permalink

Motherhood is a wonderful and terrible thing in "Mother - Drama" and in life, and the time has come to witness some of its most damaging aspects in the lives of those who need it to grow. With the police hot on her track, Soo-jin tries to get herself together and save Hye-na, while the little girl tries to hold on. The deciding factor here is Ja-yeong, who makes a decision I never thought she would even consider...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "A Korean Odyssey" Episode 18

2018/03/02 | Permalink

Ma-wang is having one of those good days again, and the silly old bull gets sentimental over Oh-gong's possible demise, which leads him to an experiment that ends with an important discovery. The time has come to solve the Geumganggo issue once and for all, but Seon-mi is closer to the truth of her mission and she chooses to bravely face it. Enter a round of who gets to be a better noble idiot...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Queen of Mystery Season 2" Episode 2

2018/03/01 | Permalink

It is time for us to meet the cheesy arsonist seen in the highlight reel, as he is the first culprit Seol-ok gets to practice her newfound authority through. Life is not easy or glamorous for her and Wan-seung, and there are more enemies and rivals around than there are currently allies. Friends from the past are cold, while new faces enter the game, some friendly and some overly so. Then again, you do not get proposed to by drunk strangers every day...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "A Korean Odyssey" Episode 17

2018/02/28 | Permalink

It may have taken an entire series for "A Korean Odyssey" to get the ball on the doomsday rolling, and it is a very confusing, haphazardly done final act, but it is exciting nonetheless. While Seon-mi is still figuring out her powers and why she has such a bad feeling around Kang Dae-seong, Oh-gong starts an unorthodox plan to get closer to his enemy. Meanwhile, another trap has been set for Ma-wang, who needs a lot of help to think clearly once more...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Queen of Mystery Season 2" Episode 1

2018/02/28 | Permalink

The time for crime solving with a hefty dose of chaos and cutesy romantic antics has come, as "Queen of Mystery Season 2" brings back all the things we love, and adds a fresh and thrilling wrapping. The episode wastes no time in getting us all caught up with where everything and everyone stands, and there are a lot of things currently happening in our heroes' lives, including the most awkward and sweet romance...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "539 Yeonnam-dong" Episode 8

2018/02/28 | Permalink

The normally broad storylines of "539 Yeonnam-dong" are condensed into just two this time. Bong-tae's confrontation with the mysterious masked villain is comically anticlimactic, as we end up lingering on Bong-tae still tied up for a moment and feeling a little ridiculous at the lack of drama. Going forward Bong-tae makes no progress in any kind of relevant investigation, instead running across a small child who happens to be I-na's daughter Chae-won...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shall We Kiss First" Episodes 7-8

2018/02/27 | Permalink

What with all the sexual propositions and the preview where Soon-jin is blurred out and naked, you'd think "Shall We Kiss First" was taking a turn for the raunchy. Actually the intimacy is more subdued and weird than that. To start out with, Moo-han and Soon-jin end up going to a themed love hotel and make fun of the generally peculiar devices other people apparently use to arouse themselves...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Laughter in Waikiki" Episode 8

2018/02/27 | Permalink

There's one really funny gag this episode - the climax of Joon-ki's mukbang storyline ends with the guest house earning a lot of money. How Joon-ki was able to get success out of such a fundamentally stupid idea, well, that's where the humor comes from. There's also really good synthesis to the joke, because other characters and plotlines are also involved, and one accidental revelation from the broadcast sets up another storyline...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Laughter in Waikiki" Episode 7

2018/02/26 | Permalink

So apparently Soo-ah's new boyfriend was a con artist, and Soo-ah is forced to endure even further humiliation before being able to show enough humility to move into guest house. Was I supposed to feel like Soo-ah deserved this? Now, if Dong-goo's roomates expressed consternation about Soo-ah moving because they always disliked her, that would be one thing. But "Laughter in Waikiki" is acting like Soo-ah is an unsympathetic character simply for breaking up with Dong-goo in the first place, when all of her reasons for doing so have since been vindicated...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shall We Kiss First" Episodes 5-6

2018/02/26 | Permalink

So Moo-han has finally figured out that Soon-jin is the woman who lives in the apartment underneath his, with whom he has been fighting over the whole leak issue. That's one coincidence on top of the blind date. A second one pops up in episode six in the form of Moo-han's estranged daughter, the now teenaged I-deun (played by Jung Da-bin), who's riding in first class. As Soon-jin notes, the main mystery behind I-deun is how she could have been raised in such a way as to become such a little monster...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2018.02.23 - 2018.02.25

2018/02/26 | Permalink

"Black Panther" still rules...

The King of Wakanda, "Black Panther", continued its reign atop Korea's box office this past weekend by securing 43.34% of the sales. From 1,242 screens (down from 1,620), the eighteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe added 708,800 admissions ($5.7 million) to bring its total gross in Korea now to $35.8 million (4.4 million admissions). Director Ryan Coogler's recording-breaking blockbuster is now the highest-grossing foreign film of the year in Korea and the third overall; worldwide, since its release in America just after Valentine's Day, "Black Panther" has amassed an impressive $548.9 million...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mother - Drama" Episode 10

2018/02/25 | Permalink

Our heroines have been through a long and arduous journey, but the nature of their bond, and the beast stalking them would not remain at bay forever. Hye-na's guilt-ridden escape and the law's discovery of Soo-jin's actions pushes everyone to reveal their honesty enough for the bonds between them to show themselves for how strong and irreplaceable they really are. With Soo-jin and Hye-na officially on the run and in danger, is a happy ending possible...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Queen of Mystery Season 2"

2018/02/24 | Permalink

Bring me all the terrible crimes and cheese villains, because "Queen of Mystery Season 2" is here, and it brings familiar and new faces into new and exciting adventures. Our beloved crime solving duo has evolved, and so have the cases they tackle. Ready for another round...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Golden Slumber"

2018/02/24 | Permalink

Life has never been more exciting, or more terrifying for Kim Geon-woo (Gang Dong-won). This deliveryman's routine as an ordinary, and even model citizen is upturned by a conspiracy using him as its puppet, fueling a journey of survival, nostalgia and strengthening bonds. Noh Dong-seok's "Golden Slumber" is a chase thriller, but there is a surprising amount of heart in it...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Detective K: Secret of the Living Dead"

2018/02/24 | Permalink