Tag Archives: Yeong-wook Jo

The Tiger: An Old Hunter’s Tale (2015, Park Hoon-jung)

The Tiger: An Old Hunter’s Tale is a rather ambitious piece of work from director Park. Maybe too ambitious. It’s not just about juxtaposing old aged hunter Choi Min-sik against the last tiger in Korea (the film’s set during Japanese occupation when the Japanese were having all the tigers exterminated), it’s also about juxtaposing almost as middle aged hunter Jeong Man-sik against Choi. And sort of the tiger. And then there’s this juxtaposing of Choi’s son, Sung Yoo-Bin, against the military officer in charge of this particular tiger hunt who’s a Korean in the Japanese army. That officer, played by Won Jung-suk, employs Jeong in the tiger hunt.

All of the performances are excellent, including Kim Sang-ho as Jeong’s amusing sidekick. Not particularly funny because there’s nothing funny in The Tiger. It’s about dead wives, dead brothers, dead kids, foreign occupation, starvation. Nothing happy. When Park will do something cute with the tigers, it comes off as fantasy. Similarly, and successfully in terms of the juxtaposing attempts, when the film flashbacks to Choi’s younger, happier days, it also comes off as fantasy. Some sort of idealized memory, with cinematographer Lee Mo-gae letting some saturation into the frame.

It’s a long film and very deliberately told. Only since Park’s busy working up the juxtaposition of the old hunters–Choi and the last tiger–he doesn’t do enough to tie Choi into the main plot. Because even though Choi’s ostensibly the lead, the film plays far more from Jeong’s perspective. Or even Won’s.

There’s also a lyrical quality to the film. Park wants to showcase the majesty of the mountain setting, using CGI to get the point across when need be. He’s pretty good at augmenting with the digital effects, but he and cinematographer Lee don’t have a scale for their exterior shots. They’re far more comfortable in medium shots on the ground than the extreme long shots of the mountains, which may or may not be entirely digital. It’d help if Park could have done the majesty.

Jo Yeong-wook’s score is a great metaphor for the film itself. Jo delivers a fine score with some great moments, but it’s not what the film needs. It knows what the film needs, it just doesn’t deliver it.

The Tiger’s got the performances going for it and some excellent sequences. Park doesn’t get where he’s trying to go, unfortunately. The narrative is methodical and it needs to be jumpy, in a lyrical sort of way.

Very nice digital effects on the tigers too. Not so much on the other wildlife–it’s always fine, but the the tigers are just phenomenal.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Written and directed by Park Hoon-jung; director of photography, Lee Mo-gae; music by Jo Yeong-wook; produced by Park Min-jung; released by Next Entertainment World.

Starring Choi Min-sik (Chun Man-duk), Sung Yoo-bin (Suk-yi), Jeong Man-sik (Goo-gyeong), Kim Sang-ho (Chil-goo), Won Jung-suk (Military Officer Ryu), Ôsugi Ren (Government Official Maezono) and Kim Hong-pa (Herbal shop owner).


RELATED

Advertisements

Tell Me Something (1999, Chang Yoon-hyun)

Tell Me Something is, for a graphically violent serial killer movie, kind of goofy. It mixes genres–well, but it leads to the problem–starting off a straight cop movie, moving to the serial killer, then bringing in Shim Eun-ha as the damsel in distress. The serial killer aspect slows over time (especially since the killings, all related to Shim, disqualify the killer from actually being a serial killer). Where it gets goofy is in the conclusion, the surprise ending. None of it makes sense and not an after watching the movie senseless, it’s obviously problematic when it goes on, because once it stops being about a serial killer (or close to it), the question of motive comes up. And that question is never answered. Now, ending without revealing the motive is fine, but here the big problem is the lack of explanation for the murders starting. That detail, the impetus event, needed addressing if the utterly goofy conclusion was going to be palatable.

Besides the plot, it’s a decent movie. It moves real well for a two hour thriller, even if another five or ten minutes would wrap up all the first act loose ends (the straight cop stuff) and maybe have a nice bridging scene for one of the big discoveries. The acting from the leads–Shim and detective Han Suk-kyu–is fine. Unfortunately, their chemistry isn’t what it could be… another genre-mix problem. The first act establishes Han one way and, when Shim enters, it’s clear they aren’t going to have much deep interaction. Shim’s playing the riddle in the mystery in the enigma, which closes her off a lot too. The gore factor and the imminent danger do a bit to make them sympathetic, but there’s very little development. Jang Hang-seon plays the personable sidekick cop and does a great job.

The most interesting part of Tell Me Something is the music. While I’m guessing the Nick Cave is in there for a Scream reference, all the music is excellent. The direction’s adequate, but when the music fits well, it makes for some great sequences. There’s one in particular–the cop racing through traffic jams, down hilly streets, et cetera, et cetera, and the music really makes it pay off cinematically. The music’s even good enough to make the conclusion effective, if not particularly well thought out.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by Chang Yoon-hyun; written by Chang, In Eun-ah, Kim Eun-jeong, Kong Su-chang and Shim Hye-weon; director of photography, Kim Sung-bok; edited by Kim Sang-beom; music by Bang Jun-seok and Jo Yeong-wook; produced by Chang and Ku Bon-hau; released by The Klock Worx Company Ltd.

Starring Han Suk-kyu (Detective Cho), Shim Eun-ha (Chae Su-yeon), Jang Hang-seon (Detective Oh), Yum Jung-ah (Oh Seung-min), An Seok-hwan, Park Cheol-ho, Yu Jun-sang (Kim Ki-yeon) and Lee Hwan-Jun.


RELATED

Some (2004, Chang Yoon-hyun)

I love genre-breaking. It doesn’t happen much in film. Something like Blade Runner mixes genre, but little ever really breaks the genre mold anymore. I mean, the American romantic comedy has been around since in 1938 with The Cowboy and the Lady. I’ve seen strict genre films from Korea and I’ve seen loose ones (comedies with severe dramatic turns, for example), but Some sticks out. It’s kind of cute and light-hearted, but never comedic, but still violent and dark. I suppose it’s like an early color Hitchcock, which were still fun, but somebody could, conceivably, die.

More surprising is that Some has a huge gimmick. A huge precognition gimmick. I don’t know how well the film would have worked without the gimmick, because by the time it was fully defined, I was already wrapped up in it. The two leads are great and elicit concern early on–through extreme peril, another Hitchcock method–and I was already committed to the film, so I just let the gimmick pass. I’m not advocating such gimmicks, but the gimmick doesn’t run Some, even though it… kind of does. The film’s focus is on its characters and their immediate danger, not the gimmick, which makes the film an example of a gimmick working (to some degree, the film still only gets a one, I mean, it’s a cute, light-hearted cop movie set in twenty hours).

Not surprisingly, however, Some is from the writer of Il Mare, which failed because it got too wrapped up in gimmick. I guess she’s gotten better. I mean, I support this film even in light of its stupid teenager gangster subplot… but that’s probably just because the acting is so good.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Chang Yoon-hyun; written by Kim Eun-jeong and Kim Eun-shil; director of photography, Kim Seong-bok; edited by Nam Na-yeong; music by Jo Yeong-wook; produced by Kim Hye-suk; released by Cinema Service.

Starring Go Soo (Kang Seong-ju), Song Ji-hyo (Seo Yu-jin), Lee Dong-kyu (Min Jae-il), Kang Shin-il (Chief Oh), Kang Seong-jin (Officer Lee), Jo Kyeong-hun (Officer Chu), Jeong Myeong-jun (Chief Kim), Park Cheol-Ho (Kwon Cheol-woo), Kwon Min (Jong Chan) and Jo Mun-hong (Black King).


RELATED

Joint Security Area (2000, Park Chan-wook)

If you try one Korean film, please don’t let it be Joint Security Agency. It’s like hearing alcoholic liquids are good and drinking rubbing alcohol instead of wine.

Maybe that’s a little harsh, but Joint Security Area is a really big piece of shit. It’s not without some merits, some of the acting is good–but a lot of it is atrocious too, and in an offensive way. Park’s got a bunch of English speaking Swedes hanging around–who wear t-shirts that say “ARMY” and they run in formation too–and the boss has a pipe he smokes. I could go on about how awful the lead investigator is, but I won’t.

Joint Security Area is a decent idea for a film, soldiers on both sides of the Korean border becoming friends and the tragic outcome, but Park is so incredibly full of shit, the movie is a painful experience. Park’s direction is terrible. I just had a conversation about whether or not sentimental can be good. Sentimental can, of course, be good (it can be wonderful). I think I’d describe every great director as, to some degree, sentimental. John Carpenter might be the only exception. Now, Park proves that sentimental direction can be unbearably terrible too. His composition and this film’s editing are eyesores.

Still, I’ll point out, I have never turned off a Korean film. In the case of Joint Security Area, it has to do with some of the acting, not with the filmmaker… who really, really wants to come to Hollywood, or at least did when he made this film. Maybe he’s gotten over it, but I can’t imagine anything can improve his filmmaking proficiency.

Oh, I watched some terrible region 1 release of the film from Tai Seng, who are terrible. At least the subtitle spelling was correct this time though….

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Park Chan-wook; screenplay by Park, Jeong Seong-san, Kim Hyeon-seok and Lee Mu-yeong, based on a novel by Park Sang-yeon; director of photography, Kim Sung-bok; edited by Kim Sang-beom; music by Bang Jun-seok and Jo Yeong-wook; produced by Lee Eun Soo; released by CJ Entertainment.

Starring Lee Yeong-ae (Maj. Sophie E. Jean), Lee Byung-hun (Sgt. Lee Soo-hyeok), Song Kang-ho (Sgt. Oh Kyeong-pil), Kim Tae-woo (Nam Sung-shik) and Shin Ha-kyun (Jeong Woo-jin).


RELATED