Camel(s) (Korea) (2002)

An unremarkable man in his forties spends a weekend at a South Korean coastal resort with a female acquaintance. They talk, eat, and, though both are married elsewhere, have sex. So little ‘happens’ that we must pay close attention to every tiny detail, though the couple’s lengthy conversations are as banal as the decor of their hotel room. Using austere b/w digital video, writer/director Park Ki-Yong observes the pair with ostentatiously protracted takes that owe more to video installation art than conventional cinema. Adventurous souls willing and able to adjust to Park’s rhythms may be absorbed and rewarded.

Cast: Dae-yeon Lee, Dae-yeon Lee, Myeong-shin Park, Myeong-heuiMyeong-shin Park
Directed: Ki-Yong Park
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 91 Minutes
Also Known As: Nakta(dul)
Country: Korea
Language: Korean
Subtitles: English

Dry Wood, Fierce Fire (Hong Kong) 2002

Alice Tsui works as a columnist for a female publication called ‘Lady’. But when Michelle, a famous novelist, buys up the magazine the staff of ‘Lady’ has to merge with the former staff of ‘Gent’ magazine to create a publication called Boku. Alice falls for the new editor Ryan Li, but Ryan seems to only have eyes for his new boss Michelle. When Alice learns about his affection towards their boss, she decides to help him to win her over. But at the same time her own affection for Ryan seems to be growing.

Cast: Louis Koo, Miriam Yeung Chin Wah, Flora Chan, Man Man Chan, Nelson Cheung, Tat-Ming Cheung, Matt Chow, Fung Li, Meng Lo, Monica Lo
Directed: Wilson Yip
Genre: Romance/Comedy
Runtime: 97 minutes
Also Known As: Gon chaai lit feng
Country: Hong Kong
Language: Cantonese
Subtitles: English

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