Assassination Review – Assassination is a South Korean action thriller released in 2015. During the Japan’s rule over Korea, an assassination is planned against the governor general and a pro-Japanese business man.
After director Bong Joon-ho, Choi Dong-hoon becomes my favorite director in the South Korean film industry. Choi Dong-hoon makes very stylish movies with an engaging screenplay with plots and subplots backed by high production value. I had liked his movie The Thieves. Assassination is, even more, a visual grandeur than Choi Dong-hoon’s previous movies. The movie is a set in a period of the early 20th century. The sets and costumes are created with much detailing to make it convincing. The plot is equally engaging and keeps you hooked on till the end. The movie begins with a bang with the first assassination attempt and then jumps 20 years later where yet another attempt is made. The characters flow through the 20 years and there are some surprise twists with their transformation during this period. Although there are multiple characters in the movie every character connects with you and have some significant screen time. The stunt sequences are well choreographed with the highlight being gun fights. In particular, the final climax gun fight has been done well with so many characters. Choi Dong-hoon thinks ahead of the audience so you are always in for surprises.
Jun Ji-hyun delivers a very contrast performance compared to her role in My Sassy girl. Her performance is one of the highlights of the movie. Lee Jung-jae and Ha Jung-woo’s performances stand out.
High Points: Very stylish visuals, Period based sets, and costumes, Jun Ji-hyun’s performance the assassination attempt at the gas station, characterization of Hawaii Pistol, the Climax fight.
Low Points: There was never a dull moment for me in the movie so the shortcomings are too hard to catch.
Overall, Choi Dong-hoon has created a visual grandeur combined with some clever screenplay. If you love espionage movies or stylish action movies then you would love this one.
The Wailing Review – The Wailing is a South Korean horror movie released in 2016. A policeman with the help of a shaman sets out to find the mystery behind the killings and illness spreading in the village.
I had the opportunity of watching The Wailing in Bangalore International Film Festival 2017. I had read about the accolades garnered by the movie both at the box office and in many film festivals. Although I am not a major fan of the horror genre, I found this to be surprisingly engaging with many, edge of the seat moments. This is not one of the movies which are going to make you wait and pounce upon you with a surprise, rather the scenes here are very explicit and the director has used the mystery behind the situation to keep the audience engaged and create the thrills. When the movie finished I walked out with a lot of questions in my mind as there were many layers that had to be understood. This is a movie that makes you think much after the movie is over. With the help of some very good discussions online I was able to verify my assumptions on the plot points.
On the whole, this movie is more of the battle between the good and the evil which is manifested using the horror stories in the village. The scenes involving the shaman performing the rituals and the sound created for it is the high point in the movie. It is so realistic and keeps your heart pounding. The parallel cuts done during this ceremony has some brilliant editing.
High Points: The metaphorical points in the movie about good vs evil. There is also some biblical references cleverly used for the plot line, The shaman ceremony and the climax thrills. The performances of the lead characters. In particular, the performance of the little girl Kim Hwan-hee.
Low Points: If you are a fan of horror movie you may be disappointed as there are only a few sequences which deal with horror. I felt the ending was left too open-ended for interpretation.
Overall The Wailing deserves a watch for the brilliant plot line and the thrilling sequences. This may not be suitable for kids due to the violence involved.
Worth a Watch
Train to Busan Review – Train to Busan is a Korean zombie apocalypse horror movie released in 2016. Seok-Woo, a divorced fund manager travels with his daughter to Busan on a train to meet his ex-wife on the occasion of their daughter’s birthday. The journey turns out to be a nightmare as the zombies attack the people on the train and making them into one.
I am not a huge fan of zombie movies. However, I decided to watch this one due to the positive reviews it has been getting. The movie gets to the core plot within minutes. There is no unnecessary melodrama and you find yourself in the middle of the action in 15 minutes. The plot gets gritty when there is a clear separation between the zombies and the un-infected humans. In the middle of the apocalypse is a beautiful father-daughter relationship which takes a new shape and each of them gets to understand each more. As with many other Korean movies, there is the core conflict between what is ethical vs what would benefit you. The tension surmounts when people stop trusting each other.
The kid Kim Su-an steals the show with her performance. Initially desperate to see her Mom and sad for not getting her father’s attention, to the point where she starts questioning her father’s ethic she performs so well. Her performance in the climax sequence is very impactful. Gong Yoo too, has played his role very well ably supported by Ma Dong-seok and Jung Yu-mi. The role of Kim Eui-sung as a selfish man adds a new dimension to the screenplay and makes it more engaging.
The Cinematography is done very well. The scene of the train crash and the humans escaping from the zombie on a running train is a treat to watch.
High Points: The performance of Kim Su-an, Gripping screenplay, Visuals brought to the Canvas by excellent cinematography, the climax of the movie is very impactful.
Low Points: Hardly any low points. The explicit violence sequence is not suitable for kids and family audience.
Overall Train to Busan is a well-made horror thriller. If you are a fan of zombie movies you would love this one. If you are like me still you have a lot to look forward to in this movie.
My Sassy Girl Review – My Sassy Girl is a South Korean romantic comedy movie released in 2001. Gyeon-woo an engineering college student meets a girl who is very bizarre. But circumstances make them meet frequently and he falls in love with her. Will they get together is the plot of My Sassy Girl.
A feel good romantic comedy script’s success depends upon the uniqueness of the characters and the situation although the overall plot is going to be the same. The script should introduce the lead pairs and make the audience want them to get together. My Sassy Girl does that perfectly. The movie is so fresh due to the characterization of the lead characters and the unique situations they are seen in. The movie throws a surprise to the audience in the way the characters react at every scene. It thus makes it a very interesting watch. For instance, the habit of the girl to create screenplays for movies based on some popular blockbusters and bringing in a twist to the ending is a brilliant ploy. The director Kwak Jae-yong has not given into the temptation of creating the usual cliches of a romantic movie. Rather he has travelled along with his characters throughout and the suspense he has held till the end makes it a very interesting watch.
The script also brilliantly leaves certain aspects to the viewers discretion. For instance, the girl’s name is not told throughout the movie and if she actually meets an old man at the end is left for interpretation.
High Points: The plot situations are crafted well, The characterizations of the lead protagonists are done well. The suspense held till the end gives a high degree of satisfaction to the viewers, the fresh visuals are of a great strength for the movie. The flash sequences of the story written by her.
Low Points: Not much of low points here
Overall My Sassy Girl is a great example of how a romantic comedy script should be. This is a must watch for all romantic comedy lovers.
Seven Days Review – Seven Days is a South Korean crime thriller movie released in 2007. Yoo Ji-yeon is a successful lawyer. Her daughter is kidnapped and she has to win a case to release a convict with death sentence for a murder to save her daughter.
The movie is very slick and engaging throughout. The suspense of the plot is maintained throughout and keeps you guessing on what is going to happen next. Yunjin Kim has performed her role very well. She comes across very convincingly for a lawyer and a mother trying to save her daughter. The scene in which she is interacting with the criminal with utmost confidence and the scene in which she breaks down for her daughter there is a sharp contrast and powerful.
The script keeps building up well and knots tighten as they try to break it. In the end everything falls in place. The movie has a strong take on the moral values and the conflict between moral values versus the selfish benefit for one’s own family.
High Points: The script is very thrilling and engaging throughout, Yunjin Kim’s performance, suspense maintained throughout the movie.
Low Points: Not many for this movie.
This movie is remade in Bollywood as Jazbaa featuring Aishwarya Rai and Irrfan Khan. From the trailer it seems to be neatly done, maintaining some of the core essence of the movie. It definitely promises to be a good movie and has a very promising cast for the roles that had been in the original.
Overall Seven Days is a treat for crime thriller fans and it does go beyond dealing with emotional dilemma of ethics. If you love crime thrillers, this one is a must watch for you. This one has some explicit violence scenes and viewers discretion is required.
Mother Review – Mother aka Madeo is a South Korean crime mystery released in 2009. A mother has to find the killer of a girl murdered in the neighborhood to save her son from being convicted for the murder.
The premise is very interesting and is set in a small town in South Korea. Director Bong Joon-ho yet again comes up with a brilliant script with full of suspense and mystery around a crime after his Memories of Murder. A mother’s love towards her son is universal. How far a mother would go in order to save her son when all the odds are pointing against him is a very interesting plot line. The screenplay is very intense and starts getting gripping once the mother start her journey of finding the killer. The opening shot of the movie itself is a brilliant one and keeps you interested till the end. Kim Hye-ja has performed the role very well and is the backbone of the movie.
The scene in which she is trying to hide in one of the suspect’s house to take an evidence of crime and the attitude in her walks is simply amazing. The entire scene is very gripping. She can turn her expression from anger to guilt to love in seconds. The suspense is maintained till the end of the movie and the ending is just brilliant. I had a very long reflection process after watching this movie. It was quiet overwhelming for me to see the ending anything I speak about it I would give the movie away.
High Points: The screenplay of the movie, acting performance by Kim Hye-ja, gripping moments, background score
Low Points: There are no much low points. I felt the script was bit longer for its content.
Overall the movie is brilliant and is very different from the movie you would have seen. Watch it for the unique script and power packed performance by Kim Hye-ja. This is a must watch for all suspense thriller fans.
The Thieves Review – The Thieves is a South Korean heist movie released in 2012. A group of thieves come together in Macau to rob one of the most precious jewelry from a Casino.
Before I review this let me get a perception out of the way. The poster and the plot involving casino would remind you of the Hollywood blockbuster Ocean’s Eleven. But this one according to me is manifold of the Hollywood movie. This one is lot different. Imagine if Ocean’s team did not work for Ocean and every one of them had an individual plan. Sounds complicated right… then that is The Thieves for you. Anything more I say here would become a spoiler.
Now that the perception is out of the way let me cover the review of the movie. The movie has a star studded cast. Even though I haven’t watched a lot of Korean movies the entire screen looks sparkling with all the cast. The movie is very stylish as it goes with any heist movie. As I had mentioned the plot is very complicated. As the movie progresses the knots get even more complicated and until the end you keep guessing as to what would happen. Almost every scene of the movie would spring upon a surprise to you. There is a sequence in which two of the thieves try to steal the access key from the manager. They plan that the lady would seduce the manager and the guy would steal the card. But it turns out the manager is gay and shows interest in the guy. It is hilarious and brilliant screenplay. So is the entire flavor of the movie. Director Choi hong-don should be credited for the brilliant screenplay and how he has managed to make this with a large ensemble of cast. The climax fight scene on the ropes around the hotel is a treat to watch. Although the entire fight sequence is close to 15 minutes long it is still very enjoyable. Kim Yeon-seok has delivered a very nice performance. So are the other actors.
The way every character is built up is enjoyable to watch. It is not an easy job to create a screenplay with so many characters and have unique voice for each of them.
Overall this one would top the list of my favorite heist movies. If you are a fan of heist movies then this one would be a treat for you.
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