Marathon (Korea) 2005


Rain Man meets Chariots of Fire in Jeong Yun Cheol’s directorial debut Marathon, the box office hit that critics have dubbed “the feel-good movie of the year”! Also known by the alternative title Running Boy, this poignant human drama stars Cho Seung Woo (The Classic, Raging Years) as Cho Won, a twenty year old autistic man with a passion for running track.

Encouraged by his mom (television actress Kim Mi Sook in her first major film role), Cho Won begins to participate in small-scale races at the local
level, all in preparation for the ultimate goal – competing in an actual marathon! To help him achieve his dreams, Cho Won’s mother finds her son a
track coach in the form of washed-up marathon champion Jeon Wook (The Quiet Family’s Lee Ki Young). But can the bitter coach overcome his personal skepticism and give Cho Won the expert training he so desperately needs? The answer awaits you in Marathon, a heartwarming film that explores one boy’s drive to succeed in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds!

Review: This is a film that captures the fine nuances of human emotions (or the inability to express them in the case of the autistic character). It explores in a realistic and heartfelt manner a family with an autistic child, and the outside world from which the child is protected. Thanks to a good script, good acting, and good production all round, their story was brought to life and we can really feel for the characters in this movie. On the one hand, this film is complex as it touches on many different themes, but on the other, it is so simple as it touches on the deepest of our roots and emotions.

Cast: Jo Seung-Woo, Kim Mi-Sook, Lee Gi-Young
Directed: Running Boy, Malathon
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 117 minutes
Also Known As: Running Boy, Malathon
Country: Korea
Language: Korean
Subtitles: English

Chihwaseon (Korea) (2002)


In a time of political and social unrest in 19th century Korea, an uncouth, self-taught painter explores his natural talent amidst the repressive world around him.

Renowned director IM Kwon-taek’s ninety-fifth film tells the story of renowned nineteenth-century painter JANG Seung-up (Choi Min-Sik), an artist whose revolutionary work – and persona – has forever changed the face of Korean art.

The story begins in the 1850s, when KIM Byung-moon (AHN Sung-ki) saves the young JANG Seung-up from being beaten by a group of drifters. In return, JANG draws him a picture, and as Kim carefully examines the child’s rough drawing, he notices the extraordinary potential of the young boy. Years later, KIM Byung-moon becomes JANG Seung-up’s mentor and encourages him to pursue the life of an artist. KIM eventually gives JANG the pen name of Oh-won.

JANG Seung-up eventually leaves his house and wanders about in pursuit of “true art,” soon realizing that it is through pleasure that he can produce his greatest works. Oh-won’s life is thus marked by the paradox of his inspiration derived by addiction to alcohol and convoluted love affairs with women.

As JANG continues to search for artistic transcendence, he stretches the limits of traditional Korean art, rapidly becoming a worldwide artistic reference – and one of Korea’s national legends.

Cast: Min-sik Choi, Sung-kee Ahn, Ho-jeong Yu, Yeo-jin Kim, Ye-jin Son
Directed: Im Kwon-Taek
Genre: Drama/Historical
Runtime: 117 minutes
Also Known As: Strokes of Fire, Painted Fire, Drunk on Women and Poetry
Country: Korea
Language: Korean
Subtitles: English

15: The Movie (Singapore) (2003)


Fast, frenetic, and furious, 15 is the story of five Singaporian teenagers who, abandoned by the system and estranged from their parents and life in general, build their own world in which gangs, drugs, fighting, piercing, self-harm and suicide are common and brotherhood is important above all else. Shot in stunning, jarring style, Royston Tan manages to brilliantly capture the chaotic lives of these boys, living in the shadows of a sprawling metropolis and with only each other to rely on.

The film stars three real-life juvenile gangsters, aged 15, giving an honest and accurate depiction of Chinese teenage gang-life in the Singapore suburbs and features two more gangsters as characters as well as a fight sequence with more affluent English-educated Singapore youths. Rather than scripting the movie or employing professional actors, Tan attempted to capture the troubled lives of his characters in cinéma vérité fashion. While 15: The Movie was initially banned in Singapore, the Singapore board of censors later ruled that the film should be rated R(A) and made 27 cuts to the film. Opposition was also raised against the heavy use of the Hokkien language in the film, which is discouraged by the Singapore government in favour of Mandarin and English. These restrictions infuriated Tan, and would later lead him to create his satirical short film Cut.

Melvin Chen, Erick Chun, Melvin Lee, Vynn Soh, Shaun Tan
Directed: Royston Tan
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Runtime: 1:32:51
Also Known As: 15
Country: Singapore
Language: Hokkien/Mandarin
Subtitles: English

Devils on the Doorstep (Chinese) 2000

Devils on the Doorstep

During the Japanese occupation of China, two prisoners are dumped in a peasant’s home in a small town. The owner is bullied into keeping the prisoners until the next New Year, at which time they will be collected. The village leaders convene to interrogate the prisoners. The townspeople then struggle to accommodate the prisoners. One is a bellicose Japanese nationalist, the other a nervous translator. Will the townspeople manage to keep the prisoners until the New Year?

Devils on the Doorstep is an award-winning Chinese black comedy produced, directed and starring Jiang Wen. Shot in black and white to mimic old-time war movies, the film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on 12 May 2000 and clinched the Grand Prix but was subsequently banned in its home country.

Cast: Wen Jiang, Kagawa Teruyuki, Yuan Ding, Jiang Hongbo
Directed: Wen Jiang
Genre: Black Comedy/War/Historical
Runtime: 2:14
Also Known As: Guizi lai le
Country: China
Language: Mandarin, Japanese, English
Subtitles: English, Chinese

Jasmine Women (China) 2004

Jasmine Women

Three stories, three generations, one family in Shanghai.

Told in three segments spanning three distinct time periods Jasmine Women casts both Zhang and Chen in multiple roles as it tells the stories of three generations of of an all female family and their very poor choices in men. The first segment casts Zhang as A Mo – the only character who recurs through all three segments – with Chen as A’s mother, while Chen taking over the A Mo role in both the second and third segments with Zhang playing A’s daughter and granddaughter, respectively.

The strength of Jasmine Women is very obviously the attention to period detail and the recreation of these distinct times. The opening segment, in particular, is gorgeously detailed and beautifully shot, many sequences very strongly reminiscent of the old MGM musicals. This was a vibrant time period lovingly recreated and there are much worse things in the world than looking at Zhang done up in period glam. And while the later two pieces may not be as flashy as the opening salvo they are also recreated with a remarkable attention to detail.

Cast: Ziyi Zhang, Joan Chen, Wen Jiang, Ye Liu,
Directed: Yong Hou
Genre: Drama/Romance
Runtime: 130 Minutes
Also Known As: Mo li hua kai, Blossoming Jasmine, Jasmine Flower
Country: China
Language: Mandarin, Shanghainese
Subtitles: English, Chinese

Buddha Mar Gaya (India) (2007)

A rich industrialist drops dead just before the IPO of his company – the family must now conceal his death till all the shares are sold.

Cast: Anupam Kher, Om Puri, Paresh Rawal, Rakhi Sawant, Ranvir Shorey, Mukesh Tiwari
Directed: Rahul Rawail
Genre: Comedy
Country: India
Language: Hindi
Subtitles: English