Seen in Jeonju

The Puppet (2013)

19th July 2013

The Puppet– 꼭두각시directed by Kwon Yeong-rok. Starring Lee Jong-soo (as Ji-hoon), Ku Ji-seong (as Hyeon-jin), Won Gi-joon (as Joon-ki), Han So-yeong (as Yoo-ri). Running time: 85 minutes. Release Date: June 20, 2013.puppet

This is just going to be a short review. This is a newer film so I feel the need to avoid spoilers so I will keep this post to just my quick impressions. The movie has some good points and several disappointing parts, The good in this film is the pacing. I really had absolutely no idea that I was at the end of the film when it came. There are many movies that I start checking my watch to figure out how much longer until the end comes, and many others…especially when thinking about Korean horror films that don’t seem to know when to end. The Puppet, although it could have continued on, chose to end the film on a very disturbing image and let our imagination take over as to what, if anything, would happen next in the story of these characters.

What is the bad? Well, much of the film seemed like a male’s erotic fantasy. It was certainly the director’s intention to have some of these scenes be uncomfortable because of that situation that led up to them which is understandable in terms of story.And of course, the script justifies ..or perhaps ‘redeems’ this situation by the conclusion.

Another problem I had was the absolute wasted use of the puppets. There are lots and lots of puppets.. I would have used them more. Yes, they were symbolic when used.. the director hits us over the head with that, but I would have liked to seen them used more in the horror/thriller elements of the film.

Actually, I question the need to classify this film as horror.. thriller definitely, but horror..not so much.

I would like to say more about the film, but I would rather not spoil it Honestly, the more I think about it the more I have to say. I was originally going to give the film a rating of 4 out of 10, however, the fact that I have a lot to say about it and it has gotten me thinking as I write the review makes me raise my original evaluation to a 6 out of ten. Perhaps, at a later date, a second viewing is in order.

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Index of the 70s: Director Kim Tae-jong

17th July 2013

Director Kim Tae-jong has just a single movie to his name,

kimtaejong1979 whiteeagle This is something that may look familiar to anyone who was alive in the late-70s. When I was a child in the USA, an animated television program debuted in 1978 called Battle of the Planets starring a team called G-Force. Much later, I learned that this was actually modified Japanese program called Gatchaman. What you are looking at however, is not Gatchaman. It is a much inferior knockoff that would certainly land a lawsuit for copyright violation today. How inferior was it? Well, take a look below. The first video you will see is the opening for Kim Tae-jong’s White Eagle. Below that is the opening from Battle of the Planets. Judge for yourself.

White Eagle

Battle of the Planets

Waitaminute! That was terrible too! I had totally forgotten about the stupid robot.. Turns out, the original Gatchaman beginning is superior to both of the previous videos.

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New Films Opening 2013-07-18

15th July 2013


I pray that the inflight magazine I sometimes write for does not contact me to see this film…. (opening on the 17th, a day earlier than this week’s other debuting films)


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Index of the 70s: Director Kim Soo-yong

14th July 2013

Kim Soo-yong was born September 23, 1929 in Anseong, Gyeonggi Province. Almost immediately after graduating from what is now known as Seoul Sabeom University, he joined the army as an English translator and later transfered to the film division of the army’s PR Department. In 1955 he made a dozen films for the army. By 1957, Kim was out of the army and began work in the film industry, debuting with his own film in 1958. In the 1970s, Kim directed no less than 33 films. Some of these I had previously uploaded information about, here are images of the films I had not yest posted. To view the rest of the movies of this director, or others from the 70s, just click the tab at the top of this page marked ‘The 1970s.” Click the thumbnails to view a larger image.

kimsooyong1974 earth, kimsooyong1974 instinct, kimsooyong1975 birdofparadise, kimsooyong1975 truthoftomorrow, kimsooyong1975 wasteland, kimsooyong1976 myloveelena, kimsooyong1976 similartoes, kimsooyong1976 windmillofmymind, kimsooyong1976hotwindinarabia, kimsooyong1977 forestfire, kimsooyong1977 scissorsrockpaper, kimsooyong1977 splendidouting, kimsooyong1977 twodecades, kimsooyong1977 voyagedenuit, kimsooyong1978 firebird, kimsooyong1978 soundoflaughing, kimsooyong1978swampofexile, kimsooyong1979 conditionsoflove, kimsooyong1979 lonelinessofthejourney, kimsooyong1979 rainbow, kimsooyong1979 runmanseok

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Trailers of Revenge- Final

13th July 2013

black design scarf
This will be the final entry that I have for REVENGE WEEK and I wanted to save the best for last. Yesterday’s theme of having a hitherto unknown family member exacting revenge on a victim touches a little on today’s theme of a stranger in the house.

Home and hearth hold a special place in our hearts. A home is supposed to be a refuge from the work, stress, confusion and peril of the outside world. However, that does not mean that one can stay in isolation within the house. Friends, family and possibly repairmen come and go and domestic staff may need to be hired to handle excessive work around larger homes. These maids or butlers move among and around the family members, always present but outside. Korean films, especially from the sixties and seventies, often contain a maid, a cook or a driver. A week could be spent on the housemaids themselves because they come in such a variety of styles—the comic country bumpkin, the saucy loving type and the sultry seductress. There are also the innocents who fall in love with the family’s eldest son, those mortally in fear of losing their jobs because they are supporting their entire families, and the vengeance-filled lunatics.

Of course, for Revenge Week, I will be looking at one in that final category from the 1960s. She appears in a Kim Ki-duk (I) film from 1966 called The Black Design Scarf. When her child is killed in a hit and run accident, this woman played by Kim Ji-mi, does a little research and finds the owner of the car. She learns that this wealthy driver is having an affair that she does not wish her husband to know about, hence the reason for speeding. The grieving mother steels her nerves and hides her raw emotions beneath an increasingly cold exterior and manages to get herself hired as a housemaid in the rich woman’s home. The goal she has set for herself is nothing less than killing the murderer’s child.

For a long time she watches and waits for the perfect opportunity but after several missed chances, she realizes that she does not wish to become a killer herself. Breaking down, she confesses everything to her employer and forgives her. The wealthy woman surprisingly does not fire her on the spot but guilt-ridden over her own crime, she kills herself, leaving her child to be raised by the housemaid.
Unfortunately, this movie is lost, existing only as scenarios, advertisements and images so I cannot provide more details…

Wait a minute.. forgiveness? Redemption? Those are not part of a revenge film, are they? Well, yes they are. At any point, in any revenge film, these elements are an option but depending on the genre, we don’t often expect to see them. In the case of Black Design Scarf, the film is a melodrama—and starring Kim Ji-mi, so we could expect a lot of crying. Other films containing revenge-crazed housemaids may be horror or thrillers and thus we can expect a different end.

For housemaid madness, you can’t beat the original. Here is a recently-made trailer for the 1960 classic The Housemaid. C’mon Myoung-ja, you crazy nicotine fiend, show us how revenge is done right!

Finally, I would like to thank Modern Korean Cinema for opening up Revenge Week and for Pierce Conran for inviting me to take part. I look forward to any other events MKC may consider hosting!

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Index of the 70s: Director Kim Soo-hyeong

13th July 2013

Kim Soo-hyeong was born in Paju, Gyeonggi Province on March 26, 1945. From a very early age, he was encouraged to become a movie director by his father. Kim’s father was a influential member of the police department and with his help, Kim could make his dreams reality. After graduating from Geongook University in the Korean Literature Department, Kim Soo-hyeong started to work on the staff of various directors including Kim Soo-yong, Choi Ha-won and Lee Seong-goo. He debuted as a film director in the early 1970s and continued through the mid-90s. The majority of his films from the 1970s are shown below. To view images from the rest–and to view posters or advertisments from other directors from this period, click the tab marked ‘The 1970s’ at the top of this page.

kimsoohyeong1974 girlwhosenameisunknown, kimsoohyeong1976 ascetic, kimsoohyeong1976 seventomboys, kimsoohyeong1976 wearefriends, kimsoohyeong1977 littlenamgungdongja, kimsoohyeong1977 ourworld, kimsoohyeong1978 seasidevillage, kimsoohyeong1979 barefootyouth, kimsoohyeong1979 viciouswoman

You can also click on the thumbails to enlarge the plates!

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Revenge Week: Day 5

12th July 2013

Incest as a tool of revenge must surely be one of the most shocking methods of achieving vengeance. The role it played in the most popular of Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy shocked audiences around the world with both its venom and its creativity. The more recent Dirty Blood features a young woman intent on getting revenge on her father and begins a sexual relationship with him without him knowing her real identity. Are these cases unique in Korean cinema? The answer, of course, is ‘No.’

Back in 1971, we have another example of a young woman out for revenge against her biological father. The movie this occurred in is called I’m Your Daughter and it was directed by Jo Moon-jin and it had some big-named stars in it. The incomparable Moon Hee played Baek Yeon-hee opposite Shin Yeong-gyun who played Mr. Baek and Shin Seong-il who played her former lover, Seong-ho. Two other major actresses of the time, Ko Eun-ah and Hwang Jeong-soon also appear in the film.

In the story, Yeon-hee lives in poverty. Her mother bore her out of wedlock when she had an affair with Mr. Baek and never recovered after he abandoned her. After her death, Yeon-hee turns to her boyfriend, Seong-ho for comfort and becomes pregnant with his child. Seong-ho attempts to do the right thing and marry her, but cannot oppose his family who object to the marriage because of Yeon-hee’s background. Instead, Seong-ho is married off to Mr. Baek’s legitimate daughter, Ja-myeong and Yeon-hee is left to fend for herself and raise her son on her own.

To support herself, Yeon-hee becomes a hostess—entertaining men at a bar. She moves closer to Seong-ho’s house so her son can get to know Seong-ho a little. It is there that she is presented with a chance to avenge her mother, and Yeon-hee hatches a dreadful plot. The womanizing Mr. Baek frequents the bar in which Yeon-hee works. Throwing all morals to the wind, Yeon-he gradually becomes closer to him, seducing him and allowing Baek to fall in love with her. When sh is ready, Yeon-hee finally reveals who she is, taunting him with the information and blaming him for her mother’s death and her own ruin. It turns out that Yeon-hee had concocted the ultimate revenge against Baek. Upon learning of his incestuous relationship with his daughter, Baek has a heart attack, keels over and dies. Yeon-hee leaves her son in Seong-ho’s care and leaves for parts unknown.

A decade earlier there were a couple of other films where adult children enter their fathers’ lives without their identities being known, to wreak havoc on his family and business. There is one where a son comes back, gets a job with his father, and attempts to make his stepsister fall in love with him as revenge before having a change of heart and another from 1966 where a young woman gets a job in her father’s office as his personal secretary and feeds confidential papers to rival companies for revenge.

Unfortunately, while these films still exist, a trailer or film clip is not available. So instead, I will leave you with the clip from Who Broke the Red Rose Stem? (1990). A more typical revenge film where a woman sets out to avenge the deaths of her father and husband as well as her daughter’s lost sanity against a cooperate director responsible in his effort to steal the company from her. Five years later she has reinvented herself as a fashion designer and with her model bodyguards enacts revenge on the businessman only to have it revealed that her husband is alive and was manipulated by the evil corporate heads into killing her father. She decides to take her vengeance out on everyone involved, manipulated or not…

Trailer of Revenge 5!

Don’t forget to head over to Modern Korean Cinema for more Revenge Week

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Revenge Week: Day 4

11th July 2013

canton viper
It was only a matter of time before I had to touch on the kung fu craze that dominated Korean action films for more than two decades. They are unavoidable when discussing revenge and Korean cinema unless you are limiting the discussion to just recent films. From the mid-60s to the late-80s, literally hundreds of these martial arts action films were created either as co-productions with Hong Kong film companies or as imitations of that popular style. The background of the movie could be different—set in the distant past the film would often be about an evil bandit or warlord and his gang that are terrorizing the countryside and who may have killed the hero’s family. Or it might be set in pre-World War II Asia where the Japanese army is moving gold or supplies through the region and the best friend of the hero’s, more likely than not working for the Independence Army, is killed fighting for a cause that the hero will pick up. Set in modern times, the movie was likely to involve drug trafficking where, once again, the family and/or friend of the hero is killed or the movie would be about two martial arts academies/temples/schools of thought that are rivals and the bad school winds up killing a student or teacher from the good school, so revenge becomes the goal of the day.

In fact, I think it is nearly impossible to separate the element of vengeance from the vast majority of Korean action films from this period. So why not tackle it directly? That is exactly what actor/director Hwang Jeong-ri did in his 1983 creation Canton Viper aka Kwangdong Viper. The story begins typically enough in that the truly despicable villain of the piece, Cheon-soo, is on the loose in the region, killing, raping and stealing wherever he wishes. One of his victims is the mother of young Ma-ryong. Left to his own devices, the child vowed revenge against the murderous Cheon-soo. Ma-ryong spends the next two decades training himself in various forms of combat for the fateful day when he challenges Cheon-soo.

Unlike many similar films, that climatic battle does not occur at the end. Normally in a kung-fu film, if the hero meets the villain early, it results in the hero getting soundly thrashed and nearly killed, sending him back for a montage of recovery and training. Not so in Canton Viper. Ma-ryong defeats and executes the villainous Cheon-soo, but the story does not end there. Instead the focus switches to pre-teen Il-pyeong, the son of Cheon-soo. The boy vows vengeance against whoever it was who killed his father—he is a little unclear on the matter—and sets off into the mountains to find a master of the martial arts to train him in fighting. The mountains are no place for a child on his own, and Il-pyeong barely survives the trek. He is discovered by Ma-ryong and his companion and the pair nurse the boy back to health. Ma-ryong agrees to train the boy in how to fight but it is not long until the child realizes Ma-ryong is the man who killed his father. Ma-ryong decides to spare the boy decades of bitterness and stop the cancerous desire of vengeance before it can take root in the boy’s soul. Giving the boy a trident, Ma-ryong allows himself to be run through, allowing the boy to fulfill the promise he made to his father’s memory and freeing him to grow up with the gnawing thoughts of revenge that had haunted Ma-ryong all his life.

It is an interesting touch that the name of the main character Ma-ryong is generally a villain’s name (Ma literally meaning ‘devil’—Ma-ryong’s name literally means Devil Dragon). I think the point that Hwang wanted to get across is that in another story, Il-pyeong would have been the hero seeking revenge against the man who killed his father, the evilly named Devil Dragon.

I have included two links below. The first is for a website that shows the last two minutes of the film. The second is for the trailer which, to be honest, is not the better of the two things to watch. The trailer consists entirely of fight scenes and they are not the best choreographed that I have seen.

I admit that I have a hard time sitting through this style of action movie… But the ending is really quite good.

The end of Canton Viper (광동살무사 aka Kwangdong Viper)— Only visible if you have a NAVER Id… if you don’t have one, you can view the the scene near the end where Il-pyeong is goaded into stabbing his teacher– just they don’t show the very touching death scene… However, the whole movie is available to view on Youtube, so you can see it that way..


Now head over to Modern Korean Cinema and see what other films are being covered for REVENGE WEEK

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Revenge Week: Day 3

10th July 2013

Report of Daughter in Law FlowerIt is day three at Modern Korean Cinema’s REVENGE WEEK and I continue looking back at forgotten movies of past decades where vengence plays a major role. Today’s film is the awkwardly titled Report of the Daughter-in-Law’s Rice Flower as it is called on the KMDb but also known as Report of Cowwheat (Daum). It is a film from 1989 directed by Ryu Jae-moo and starring Na Yeong-hee. In this film, Soon-yi has tragedy after tragedy heaped on her before she finally snaps and seeks revenge. She started out as a small town girl who becomes pregnant after sleeping with her best friend, Chang-soo. However, he leaves before learning that she is carrying his child. Much later, she goes to Seoul to be with him only to be surprised that he wants nothing to do with her. Distraught, but unwilling to remove Chang-soo from her life, Soon-yi gets a job in her former lover’s company and works under him just so she can be near him. Whether or not her plan to win him back would ever work becomes a moot point when Soon-yi sees the terrible conditions at the workplace and comes to the conclusion that the workers need to unionize. This does not go over well with Chang-soo who arranges for the troublesome Soon-yi to be kidnapped and held in the red-light district to work as a sex slave.

Soon-yi does not take this quietly and she kills one of her captors in an escape attempt. This lands her in jail where her bitterness grows. Eventually released because of the circumstances in the case, Soon-yi goes back to work in the garment factory but she is harassed by the sewing machine repairman. He eventually attempts to kill her at Chang-soo’s request. She kills him first, but realizes that a second murder in self-defense, especially of a man whom she was not getting along with at work, would not be treated as leniently as her first killing. Knowing that she is likely to lose her freedom and all chances that she has at getting revenge for her predictment against the man behind it, Soon-yi goes through with her plan to kill Chang-soo who was on his way to kill her personally. Soon-yi then attempts to flee Seoul but finds she has to shoot her way out as the police are out in force to stop her killing spree. Alas, Soon-yi does not survive to see the credits role.

refusing the tofuI might not have considered this film too seriously for REVENGE WEEK except for one major point. There are points in the film where I was strongly reminded of Sympathy For Lady Vengeance. Oh, the reason for vengeance is entirely different and, let’s face it, Soon-yi is no Geum-ja. The latter planned everything down to the smallest detail while Soon-yi just has things happen to her. One of the most obvious ones is Soon-yi’s refusal of the tofu after being released from prison. If you watch any number of Korean films involving crime or gangs, you will have seen someone eating a hunk of bean curd immediately after being released from prison. This is to symbolize a new start– the pure white tofu reprsenting the ex-con’s spirit which has paid for its sin and now has the change to live ‘white’ (pure) as famously said in Sympathy for Lady Vengeance before Geum-ja drops her face in the cake. Soon-yi is having none of that. She is already planning revenge against Chang-soo and no such desire to be innocent of crime exists in her heart at that point.

The ‘Be White’ line in Sympathy For Lady Vengeance is also said here, but in a much longer style. In the trailer below you will hear Soon-yi talking with her daughter at the table and telling her to live with a “Clean heart, body and soul” to which her daughter replies that she will “be clean.” What triggered the connection for me was one small visual. You will see in the trailer a clip where Soon-yi is marching down the street wearing a spotted scarf. I thought to myself, “She looks like Geum-ja with the polka-dot dress” before realizing that there would be several other connections in the film.

Meaningful connection or not, watch Soon-yi as she lashes out against Chang-soo and his friends in the trailer for Report of the Daughter-in-Law’s Rice Flower… (sigh– there is just no way to make that title sound good..)

Report of the Daughter-in-Law’s Rice Flower

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Trailers for Korean Movies Opening July 11, 2013

9th July 2013





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