Must-See Films in 2008

Star Power Reigns Big Screen

By Lee Hyo-won
Staff Reporter

This year, a long lineup of star-studded movies, both homegrown and Hollywood imports, awaits release with Korea's hottest stars and bona fide actors gracing the silver screen throughout 2008.

While a high profile cast hasn't always guaranteed a sellout, it would be hard to walk past movie posters featuring top stars.

The New Year starts off with a bang. Jun Ji-hyun (also known as Gianna Jun) makes her long-awaited comeback after a two-year hiatus opposite Hwang Jung-min in "A Man Who Was Superman", to open across theaters Jan. 31.

The movie garnered attention by butchering down Jeon's "wholesome" image for the role of a chain-smoking, tomboyish filmmaker. Meanwhile, fans are anxious to see how Hwang will pull off his interesting role as an unconventional Superman.

The red poster of "Hellcats" features three female stars representing their own generation: 47-year-old actress Lee Mi-sook ("Untold Scandal", 2003), whose sex appeal seems to grow stronger with each passing year; 25-year-old fashion icon Kim Min-hee, who appears onscreen for the first time in six years; and 15-year-old Ahn So-hee of the sensational K-pop group Wonder Girls, who is making headlines with her acting debut.

Tracing the highflying romances of these three women, this ultimate "chick flick" is slated for release Jan. 17.

A host of films boasting macho star power will be released this year. In March comes "Nuneneun Nun, Ieneun I" "Eye For and Eye" ("Eye For and Eye, Tooth For a Tooth") starring two household names, Han Suk-kyu ("Shiri", 1998) and Cha Seung-won ("My Teacher, Mr. Kim", 2003). In his 16th film, Han gives an edge to his soft charisma as a merciless cop while Cha pumps up his muscles to play the perfect criminal.

The poster for "Sukmyeong" ("Fate") steals women's hearts and provokes men's jealousy as two "momjjang" or "hot body" actors appear together -- topless. Song Seung-heon makes a big comeback -- after serving in the military -- opposite kwon Sang-woo in this action-packed drama about a friendship that goes sour.

Director Kim Jee-woon ("A Bittersweet Life", 2005) brings a "Korean-style Western" movie, "The Good, the Bad, the Weird", to the screens starring three of Korea's A-list male celebrities: "certified" actor Song Kang-ho, hallyu megastar Lee Byung-hun and heartthrob Jung Woo-sung.

The movie is set in the 1930s, during the Japanese occupation of Korea. Far away in Manchuria, the Good (Jeong), the Bad (Lee) and the Weird (Song) become entangled in a train robbery case over a treasure map. This larger than life story becomes even more complicated as Japanese authorities and Korean independence fighters enter the scene.

Another highly anticipated film is "A Frozen Flower", coming to theaters this summer. It combines the star power of Jo In-sung ("A Dirty Carnival", 2006) and Joo Jin-mo ("200 Pounds Beauty", 2006). Director Yoo Ha takes the two handsome actors back to Goguryeo Kingdom (37 B.C.-A.D. 668). Zo and Joo play the parts of a king and bodyguard, respectively, who become involved in a homosexual romance.

Other long-awaited films include low-budget projects that still shine with star power. Korea's celebrated director Kim Ki-duk brings together Korea's popular actress Lee Na-young and Japan's heartthrob Joe Odagiri in "Bimong" ("Dream"), which will be in theaters this fall/winter.

Actress Jeon Do-yeon, undoubtedly the biggest headline maker of 2007, continues her post-Cannes acting career through a small, mellow film "Meotjin Haru" ("One Fine Day - Movie", working title - "My Dear Enemy"), which is also slated for release in the fall/winter.

Filmmaker Park Chan-wook, whose name alone is enough to attract crowds, has fans anxiously waiting with "Bakjwi" ("Bat", scheduled to show this spring, "Thirst") as well as a "Hongdangmu" ("Miss Carrot" - "Crush and Blush"), a film he is producing for the first time.

Meanwhile, Hollywood films starring top Korean talent make 2008 an exciting year for fans: "Speed Racer" starring pop star Rain (Jung Ji-hoon) and Joon Park (Park Joon-hyung), a former member of K-pop group G.O.D.; "Laundry Warrior" ("The Warrior's Way") with hot actor Jang Dong-kun (Jang Dong-gun); "Blood: The Last Vampire" with Jun Ji-hyun (Gianna Jun); and "Fetish" with Song Hye-kyo.

Other big movies to look forward to this summer are the latest installments of Hollywood blockbusters: the 22nd of the James Bond series and the fourth Harrison Ford classic "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" in May, as well as the Sylvester Stallone-helmed "Rambo 4" (release date in Korea to be announced).
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