Tag Archives: Next Entertainment World

For the Emperor (2014, Park Sang-jun)

For the Emperor is a combination of bloody and pointless. Director Park is sort of impersonal about the violence–even though it’s usually very personal (knife fights)–as though giving it some distance will make the characters seem less reprehensible. Lee Yong-soo’s screenplay barely shows any of the victims of the gangsters; it’s all just tough bad men versus other though bad men.

They’re just boring tough bad men.

Lee Min-ki’s the lead. He’s a disgraced, betting baseball player who ends up collecting for loan sharks. Because in addition to being a not so great relief pitcher, he’s unbeatable in a fight (until the plot requires him to lose one) and really good at gambling. Park Sung-woong, as an established mid-level gangster, takes him in and cultivates him into… well, into a focused psychopath.

Park Sung-woong’s really, really good in the film. He just doesn’t have anything to do. Lee’s not really good, but he’s decent enough for the script. There’s very little ambition to Emperor, though director Park tries to do a lot of flashy montages (often well edited and occasionally with good music) to hide the weak plot twists.

There’s some good direction, but then Park will do one of the terrible sex scenes between Lee and his madame girlfriend (Lee Tae-im); they’re terrible and go on forever. Occasionally nicely scored though.

Emperor isn’t tough enough or ambitious enough to be offensive. It’s competent and occasionally interesting and mostly decently acted. Mostly.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Park Sang-jun; screenplay by Lee Yong-soo, based on a comic book by Kim Seong-dong; director of photography, Cha Taek-gyun; edited by Kim Chang-ju and Park Kyong-sook; music by Dalparan; production designer, Park Je-hyeon; produced by Lee Tae-hun; released by Next Entertainment World.

Starring Lee Min-ki (Lee Hwan), Park Sung-woong (Jeong Sang-ha), Lee Tae-im (Cha Yeon-soo), Kim Jong-gu (Han-deuk), Jeong Heung-chae (Straw Cutter) and Lee Jae-won (Kyeong-soo).


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New World (2013, Park Hoon-jung)

It never occurred to me there might still be significant mileage in the undercover cop melodrama. Or, for that matter, in the gangster melodrama. New World proves me uninformed on both points. Writer-director Park mixes both genres, somewhat unequally, and creates this unbelievably good film.

I use the adjective “unbelievably” because, for the most part, Park isn’t doing anything new. Sure, it’s modern and set in Korea, but there’s a lot of gangster standards at play. He just remixes them perfectly–there are a couple new features, of course–and has an amazing cast act them out.

For about half the film, Lee Jung-jae’s the lead. But then it switches over to Hwang Jeong-min, who kind of runs off with the picture. A lot of it is him facing off against villain Park Seong-Woong. Watching these two makes one forget Lee’s even in the picture–much less Choi Min-sik as the cop out to take down the gangsters–but director Park is able to bring it all back together.

Park never gets particularly showy with the direction. Beautiful photography from Chung Chung-hoon too. They’re both very controlled, making World an exceedingly measured, precise picture.

It’s hard to say who gives the film’s best performance. It wouldn’t work without Lee’s quiet turn as the primary lead, but it also wouldn’t work without Hwang’s viciously affable performance. And Park Seong-Woong just oozes controlled evil.

New World takes a while to get there, but it’s revelatory.

4/4★★★★

CREDITS

Written and directed by Park Hoon-jung; director of photography, Chung Chung-hoon; edited by Nam Na-yeong and Moon Sae-kyung; music by Jo Yeong-wook; produced by Kim Woo-taek and Park Min-jung; released by Next Entertainment World.

Starring Lee Jung-jae (Lee Ja-sung), Hwang Jung-min (Jung Chung), Park Seong-woong (Lee Joong-goo), Choi Min-sik (Kang Hyung-chul), Song Ji-hyo (Shin Woo), Kim Yoon-seong (Seok-moo), Na Kwang-hoon (Yang Moon-seok), Park Seo-yeon- (Joo-kyung), Choi Il-hwa (Director Jang Su-gi), Jang Gwang (Director Yang), Kwon Tae-won (Director Park), Kim Hong-pa (Director Kim) and Ju Jin-mo (Police commissioner Go).


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The Outlaw (2010, Kim Cheol-han)

The revenge thriller isn’t a new genre. Even if it only got mainstream popularized in its current (and lengthy) violent incarnation with Death Wish, one can look back to the beginning of cinema for entries. In other words, The Outlaw‘s nothing new… at all. But the particular Korean filmmaking sensibilities added to this particular revenge thriller makes it a little–graphic violence aside–tame.

A lot of the film seems all right, or at least like an earnest effort. It’s about a cop who marries the victim of a horrific crime and goes through lots of turmoil as they work to make things okay. Or it could have been about that relationship. Instead, it’s The Punisher… only really boring.

When it’s about the relationship and boring, it’s something else, it’s all right; it’s a relationship drama masquerading as a revenge thriller. But when it becomes a melodramatic, melancholy revenge thriller? That point–over halfway through the film–is when The Outlaw becomes trying. Then Kim decides to do all these split screen sequences… it’s annoying.

As the lead, Kam Woo-seong is solid. He’s playing the sensitive cop pushed to the edge (though we hear more about him on the edge than see it). He unfortunately disappears for long stretches.

As his wife, the victim, Lee Seung-min does better than the script. Kim adds a second female principal–Jang Shin-yeong–and it’s a terrible mistake. Jang’s supposed to be cute and precocious, but her presence ruins the film.

1/4

CREDITS

Written and directed by Kim Cheol-han; director of photography, Kim Young-Chul; edited by Moon In-dae; produced by Lee Sang-Min and Yoon Kyung-Han; released by Next Entertainment World.

Starring Kam Woo-seong (Oh Jeong-soo), Jang Sin-yeong (Han So-yeong), Lee Seung-min (Jeong Ji-hyeon), Choi Won-yeong (Park Seong-cheol), Yoon Ji-min (Lee Kyeong-jin) and Jeon Seong-hwan (Judge Lee).


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