Little Prince (Korean) 2007

Little Prince (Korean) 2007

Synopsis / Plot
Regret is the driving emotion behind “The Little Prince (Eorin wangja),” director Choi Jong-hyeon’s debut feature, loosely inspired by Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s most famous novella known for the wise-cracking fox who says, “It is the time you have spent with your rose that makes your rose so important.” The Korean movie puts a reverse spin on the line: a sound-effects technician Jong-cheol (Tak Jae-hoon) does NOT spend time with his family — a fatal mistake that he deeply and constantly regrets. The healing process begins when he comes across a pure-hearted child, modeled after the world-renowned French story. But it is a bit of a stretch to compare Jong-cheol’s encounter with the boy with the one in the original “The Little Prince.” After all, the Korean movie does not feature the rose the Little Prince really truly loved or the fox he famously tamed. Jong-cheol is no pilot, either. But the overall plot — an adult learning something from an innocent kid — is roughly in the same category of a fable rich in symbolism. In the movie to be released on Thursday, an urban fable begins with Jong-cheol’s self-contradicting life. He makes a living producing various sound effects for movies; he juggles different gadgets and props to create sound that is more realistic than, well, natural sound. This requires a high level of auditory perception. Yet Jong-cheol is a tone-deaf — not to sound for movies, but to the voices of his son and wife. He rarely spends time around his family. When he does come home, he sleeps on the sofa, not in the bedroom. He does not care about vacationing with his own family; he does not go with his son and wife for a holiday visit her parents’ house. Nor does he get a distress call from his wife seeking help. Fast forward the plot a bit, and Jong-cheol meets Yeong-woong, a boy who cares about fish in general and a baby shark, named “Shakil,” in particular. The two hit it off well not least because Jong-cheol sees his own deceased son in the boy who has sensitive ears and can identify his friends by the mere sound of their footstep. Yeong-woong’s gifted ears also help restore some warmth in the deeply depressed man, touching off a new “taming” process to which Saint-Exupery’s fox points out as key to human relationships. But the taming zigzags for a while as Jong-cheol keeps revisiting his failed relationship with his loved ones and blaming himself for a tragic incident. He had missed something essential in life, preoccupied with his “busy” career, evoking Saint-Exupery’s grown-up characters. Like the Conceited Man, he wanted to be admired by everyone, but led a lonely life. Like the Drunkard, he drank heavily to forget. Like the Businessman, he was constantly busy counting the sounds he thinks he owns. All with other earth-bound adults who see things with their eyes only, Jong-cheol failed to see his family’s real needs for his affection. His belated realization that he could not reverse the clock to reunite with his son and wife generates searing guilt and regret. Jong-cheol struggles to pull himself out of the emotional abyss by taking care of the boy who has a sick heart and yet keeps his warm heart open for Jong-cheol. In the movie, singer-turned-actor Tak seems as serious as he can get, but he is still less than convincing as a complex character who supposedly embraces an internal transformation. In contrast, Kang Su-han, a promising eight-year-old actor who has already three TV dramas under his belt, seems to have a firm grip on his role, outclassing his adult counterparts. Children, after all, have the gift of seeing the invisible with their hearts, while grown-ups rely only on their eyes — or ears in Jong-cheol’s case

AKA: Little Prince
Year: 2007
Directed: Jong-hyun Choi
Genre: Family/Drama
Runtime: 94mins
Country: South Korea
Language: Korean
Subtitles: Korean/English

Jae-hun Tak
Su-han Kang
An Jo
Mu-song Jeon
Choi Ju-bong
Won-sang Park

A.F.R.I.K.A. (Korean) 2002


Ji-Won (Lee Yo-Won) and So-Hyun (Kim Min-Seon) are two college students bored with their tiresome lives. Looking for some kicks, they take a short trip to the beach, and borrow a car from a friend for the drive. Unfortunately, the car provided turns out to be stolen from a low-level gangster who had just won some high stakes poker. Among the winnings were two guns which were won as collateral, which the girls immediately assume are toys.
That fantasy is shattered when the girls accidentally discharge one round, and soon things escalate way out of control. They end up taking along two other girls (Cho Eun-Ji and Lee Young-Jin), and before you know it they’re on a crime spree. Things like chauvanism, annoying previous employers, and general boredom send the girls into a tizzy, making them wanted fugitives AND media heroes. An Internet fan club is born called A.F.R.I.K.A. (Adoring Four Revolutionary Idols Korea Association), which extols the virtues of the daring four-girl gang. Sadly, the cops aren’t in the fan club, and neither are the people who really own the guns. Not surprisingly, the latter party want the guns back.

Year: 2002
Directed: Shin Seung-Soo
Genre: Drama / Action
Runtime: 112 min
Country: South Korea
Language: Korean
Subtitles: English
Cast: Lee Yo-Won, Kim Min-Seon, Cho Eun-Ji, Lee Young-Jin, Sung Ji-Roo, Lee Je-Rak, Cho Yeo-Jong, Park Young-Kyu

Black Society Trilogy (1990’s) (Japanese)

Takashi Miike’s famous trilogy!


If you’re a fan of Miike, these come recommended. All three films are solid works which show how he’s developed as a film-maker, and showcase different facets which prove he’s much more than a sex ‘n’ violence purveyor. Not that these films will be mistaken for Disney flicks, of course. Novices to his offbeat world should probably start with Shinjuku Triad Society, as it’s the most accessible, and work out from there. You’ll soon discover that no-one in the West makes films anything like Takashi Miike.

The first film in this collection does follow in the vein of dead or alive and ichi the killer in its subversive, twisting craziness. However, the second film, Rainy Dog, is much more conventional character study, and far less extreme than the majority of Miike’s work. This film is beautiful and leisurely paced, using the literary device of pathetic falicy, where the external rain of the environment parallels the emotional states of its central characters. Ley lines is harder hitting with its look at racial bigotry, through its use of sex and violence. All three films are of his best caliber work and solidify the character’s feelings of alienation by their own systems (governmental,yakuza/organized crime,family,racial circles).

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Directed: Takashi Miike
Genre: Action/Gang/Crime
Also Known As:Shinjuku kuroshakai: Chaina mafia sensô, Nihon kuroshakai, Gokudô kuroshakai,
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Subtitles: English
IMDb link: Shinjuku Triad Society Rainy Dogs. Ley Lines

Les Formidables (2006) (Korean)


Su-hyun wants to leave the syndicate and opens a small restaurant. Helping his life-long friend from an orphanage, he gets arrested for a murder that he didn’t commit. To catch the real killer, he hurts himself in prison and is transported to the hospital. Sung-woo is a homicide detective. His wife has left him, and his son’s life is in jeopardy. He can’t afford to pay the hospital bills, not to mention the liver transplant needed to save his son’s life. To make matters worse, he gets reprimanded at work for walking out on his undercover post, which led to the death of his partner. Having gotten drunk out of guilt, he creates a scene at the funeral for his late colleague and gets kicked out, only to end up becoming a hostage of a jail breaker, Su-hyun.

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Cast:Hyeon-jin Baek,Jeong-myeong Cheon,Chang-min Choi,Myeong-su Choi,Hak-seon Kim,Jung-ki Kim
Directed:Min-Ho Cho
Runtime:118 min
Also Known As:Gang-jeok
Subtitles:Eng Subs from kLoofy
Release Date:22 June 2006

I Like It Hot – Hellcats (Korean) 2008

I Like It Hot - Hellcats (Korean) 2008

Synopsis / Plot / Review

A-mi, for instance, keeps sleeping with her boyfriend Heung-soo, but she knows too well that this rocker-wannabe does not have any real chance to succeed in this tough world where there is no protection whatsoever for talentless men. A-mi willy-nilly stumbles into a better choice — this time, a capable man named Seung-won (Kim Seong-su), who is an accountant for Deloitte’s Seoul office. Except for this guy’s dreadful sense of humor, A-mi vaguely assumes that her life would change for the better if she tied the knot with him.

But what really concerns her is neither of these men. She is, after all, an aspiring screenwriter, and she is determined to finish her first project, no matter what. When it comes to determination and toughness, A-mi is portrayed as a cinematic macho who used to be a hardcore chainsmoker, but resolutely quits cigarettes once she gets serious about her career — a far stronger, almost traditional alpha male approach that is prominently lacking in the movie’s male characters.

Young-mi is psychologically a big girl, too. She falls into a deep sense of loss and disappointment when she a callous (yes, male) doctor tells her that her menopause is the cause of her latest mood swings. Undaunted, she keeps her chin up, and tries not to lose her control when dealing with her sexual partner who wants to have an emotional tug of war.

Young-mi’s cute daughter, Kang-ae, is depicted as a cute seductress. She wonders why her boyfriend has not attempted to kiss her in the past three years, and one of her close friends rightly suggests that he might be gay. Kang-ae is not a sit-and-wait type, so she sets up a private meeting, in her own house, and ventures to initiate what she thinks will be the most erotic moment in her life, only to find that something goes embarrassingly wrong…

Also Known As:…: Hellcats 뜨거운 것이 좋아 (Ddeugeoun geotsi joa)
Year:…………….. .: 2008
Directed:………….: Kwon Chil-In
Genre:…………….: Drama / Romance
Runtime…………..: 112 mins
Country:…………..: South Korea
Language:………..: Korean
Subtitles:…………: English / Korean
Cast:………………: Lee Mi-Suk, Kim Min-Hee. Ahn So-Hee, Kim Seong-Su, Kim Heung-Su, Kim Beom

Once Upon a Time (Korean) 2008

Once Upon a Time (Korean) 2008

Synopsis / Plot / Review

In this film, Park played as Bong-ku, a man of wealth who’s also one of the most notorious swindlers of his time. When a national treasure called “The Light of Dong-Bang” which is a priceless diamond represented the Silla kingdom’s 1000 year history has appear, Bong-ku started to plan a stealing scenario for the diamond before it taken from Korea by the Japanese government. The legendary diamond believed to have mysterious power, but what’s more important is its bright shine and gigantic size. Bong-ku has a competitor, Chun-ja (Lee Bo-yeong), a jazz singer who rules the night of Gyeongseong as masked thief. As the party for sending the diamond to Japan has opens, Bong-ku who had attracted to Chun-ja proposes her to go to the party as a way to use her beauty on a diamond stealing. But what he doesn’t know that Chun-ja also has a hidden agenda and calculated plans to steal the diamond. Bong-ku, Chun-ja and Korean officers of the Japanese army become entangled in a struggle for a phenomenal treasure, while freedom fighters and pro-Japanese Koreans collide during the final days of the Japanese occupation.

Also Known As:…: 원스어폰어타임
Year:…………….. .: 2008
Directed:………….: Jeong Yong-Gi
Genre:…………….: Action / Comedy / History
Runtime…………..: 110 mins
Country:…………..: South Korea
Language:………..: Korean
Subtitles:…………: English / Korean
Cast:………………: Park Yong-Woo
Lee Bo-Young
Kim Su-Hyeon