Archive for Korean

Flu (film)

Posted in Entertainment, foreign films, Korean films, Movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2015 by urbannight

Flu is a Korean disaster film that is very good.  Like a lot of Korean disaster films, there is a lot of humor in them.  Although the serious parts are very serious indeed.

The more I like a movie the less I have to say about it.  The less I care about spoilers.

The writing is good.

The acting is excellent.

The drama is intense.

You should watch this.  Everyone should watch this.  It is like the American film from a few years ago, Outbreak, only much better.

I group of illegals are transported into South Korea via a shipping container.  One has a cough as they take off.  They arrive in Korea with only one survivor.  He gets away but a lethal and very fast acting flu starts to spread through the city.  The city is quarantined.  Things go from bad to worse after that.

CDC people from the US come in and some politico types and they try to take over and eventually want to solve the problem by bombing the city to make sure the flu doesn’t get out of the city.    The Korean president has some difficulty wresting control back from the American’s who think they have the right to tell every other country what to do.

Well, that does sound about accurate.

Go watch it.  Go watch it now.  It is on Netflix at the moment.

Jagnhwa Hongreyeon Jeon and A Tale of Two Sisters – Cinderella by another name.

Posted in Entertainment, Movies and Theatre with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2012 by urbannight

A Tale of Two Sisters

A Tale of Two Sisters may be a Korean Horror at it’s finest.  Not as gory as some of it, but very psychological with an interesting twist.  Apparently, The Uninvited was an American remake of this film.   I never saw The Uninvited. 

It is based on a story called Jagnhwa Hongreyeon Jeon.  The Story of Rose Flower and Red Lotus.  A Tale of Two Sisters is similar and yet very different form this story.  But what is really interesting are the parallels with Western Fairy Tales, such as the evil nature of Stepmothers, only, as in many Eastern Folk Tales, the main female characters die and are only able to find justice after haunting and tormenting those who were responsible. 

It starts out much like Cinderella, where a man and woman have two daughters who are loved.  Prior to the birth of each girl, the mother had a dream about each one.  The mother dies when they are young.  The father remarries and the stepmother provides him with more children.  In this case she has three sons who will inherit.  The stepmother is cruel to the children from the first marriage and begrudges them anything spent on their upkeep. 

When the father arranges for his oldest daughter’s (Rose Flower’s) marriage, he orders the stepmother to plan the wedding.  (parallel to Cinderella going to the ball) Not wanting to spend any money on the daughter, the stepmother tricks everyone into thinking Rose Flower had a miscarriage, accusing her of unchaste behavior.   Rose Flower flees the house and Stepmother sends First Son to push Rose Flower into the pond where she drowns.

Karma, to steal a point from another culture, is fast.   A tiger comes out of the nearby forest and attacks First Son, taking one leg and one arm.  (sounds a bit like the part where Cinderella’s Stepmother cuts off the toes and heals of her own daughters to make the glass slipper fit)

Now, the Stepmother is even more hateful towards the younger sister, Red Lotus, who follows Rose Flower by dying in the pond in order to escape the unbearable treatment.

After this, Rose Flower and Red Lotus haunt and kill the mayor and anyone who becomes the mayor.  I’m going to make a guess here because it makes no sense that they would be killing the mayor.  Not knowing the civic structure of Korea during the Joseon period, and since it goes from 1392 to 1897, that structure probably changed several times.  I would make an educated guess that the Mayor was responsible for investigating and punishing crimes.   Since Rose Flower’s murder was thought to be a suicide, it was never investigated and this could by why their ghosts fixated on the Mayor rather than the family.

A young man comes to the village to be the new mayor.  He is aware of the deaths but refuses to be intimidated.  So when the ghosts come to him, he asks them who they are, why they are doing these things, and what do they want.  They tell him the story of what happened to them.  And ask him to examine the ‘miscarried fetus’ that the Stepmother used to condemn Rose Flower.

The young mayor summons the Father, Stepmother, and First Son and exhumes the ‘fetus’.  Examining it, he proves it to be a skinned rat.  The Stepmother and First Son are sentenced to death and the Father allowed to go free.  The abuse the Stepmother inflicted had always been hidden from Father so it was believed he knew nothing of this plot against his daughter.

Father marries a third time.  And this time the father dreams about his first children, who want to come back to him, and his new wife becomes pregnant and delivers twin daughters who he names after the first two daughters.  The new family lives happily ever after. 

I have no idea what happened to Stepmother’s second and third sons.  The only English version I can find of this story is on Wikipedia.  Everything else leads to the movies based on this story.  I cannot find a good date for when the folk tale first turns up and I can’t find out what happened to the other sons.


Of course, this leads me back to the movie, A Tale of Two Sister.  Like a lot of Korean Horror movies, it is told partly in this time and partly in flash backs.  Near the end, it becomes more difficult to tell what is what and sometimes the Western viewer is lost and confused by the ending. 

In a Tale of Two Sisters, the girl’s names mean Flower and Lotus but the language itself seems to have changed a lot.  The movie starts near the end of the tale; the girls come back from a psych ward after their mother’s death.  Their mother had been ill for a long time.  So the father hired a nurse to help tend to her.  The nurse wasn’t very nice to the girls.  Father became attracted to the nurse and one of the daughters sees them.  She runs to her mother who comforts her.  Not long after, the same daughter goes to see her mother again and finds that the mother has killed herself by tying a noose to the wardrobe and letting her weight bear down and asphyxiate herself. 

The daughters, once they come home again, keep trying to convince the father of what a bad woman the nurse was.  As the flashbacks get more frequent, the rest of the back story is revealed and to discuss anymore of it is to reveal the twist.

H is for Horror and Halloween – Tell Me Something

Posted in Movies and Theatre with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2012 by urbannight

Tell Me Something is a 1999/2000 Korean Thriller.  (The double year is because every site says 1999 except IMDB which says 2000.  This is not the first time I have come across the duality of dates with Korean films.)

The basic plot is that bodies are being found with parts belonging to more than one person.  They have been dismembered and organs removed with great precision and skill and anatomical knowledge.  The third body is the first that enables the police to start ID’ing the bodies.  His ‘next of kin’ is an artist who is a bit shocked to discover that she knew ALL the men.  They were all former lovers of hers.

The movie itself is very dark. Many scenes are night scenes.  Day scenes are often shot in dark buildings or on cloudy days or with lighting to make the day look like it might have been cloudy.

While in color, the movie has a black and white feel as the men are almost always in black suits and the women in black slacks with white tops.  So during the night shots, this gives the impression that the men are just disembodied heads and hands.

This makes sense, stylistically, because the major theme in this movie is objectification.  Though the course of the movie, we find out that the woman,Chae Su-Yeon,  was the daughter of a famous artist.  As she was growing up, her father was obsessed with her in very inappropriate way and used her as a model for much of his art. One boyfriend had cameras installed to get images of her.  Even the police spend a lot of time viewing her through surveillance cameras.

Suspicion has been cast on her fourth boyfriend, of whom she is already tired, and she is attacked after they release.  A search of his place finds cameras hidden behind artwork and body parts in the refrigerator.  Su-yeon flees to the small family home her father keeps.  Although he has been missing for 5 years.

There is a lot of action in this movie even thought it is very quiet and the violence all occurs off-screen.  No one is frantically racing around the screen.  Dialogue is limited and to the point.  Many shots are of people sitting at desks.  But this is by no means a slow movie.  It is just very different from Hollywood fare.

We find out that Su-yeon’s friend is a doctor, a woman.  She has had several suicide attempts in the past and another one now.  But the police never get to see or speak to her because the friend keeps them away.  The fourth boyfriend is found dead and suspicion falls on the missing father.  They think he is stalking Su-yeon. She has had several suicide attempts in the past.  Detective Cho, who is trying to keeps her safe, is believed to be targeted because of his growing closeness to her as she is sent to stay with him so he can better protect her.  The relationship remains chaste.

He himself is on thin ground with the department.  He has just returned from work after a suspense for an investigation.  His mother had died after a long illness and it was thought he had been accepting bribes in order to pay for her medical care.

The relationship between Su-yeon and her doctor friend is important.  The fact that her father has been missing for 5 years is as well.  The movie is grisly, but I was able to get through it as once you really look at it, it looks somewhat fake.  But that doesn’t take away from the fact that it is a good movie and worth viewing.

So I won’t give anything else away.  Some people thought there was a twist at the end.  I don’t view it that way.  Though it may get a little confusing. There are many theories out there on what really happened.  The straight forward one I guessed at the beginning still fit with the ending.  So it will be more fun for you to watch it yourself and make up your mind.

Like most Korean films I’ve seen, not everything is clearly explained and you remain wondering a bit about what had really happened.  This one was actually clearer than most.  And perhaps that is why my initial reaction to it proved to be the correct one.  Or maybe I’m finally getting the hang of Korean movies.  But I think it is the former because it was filmed with the idea of marketing it in the West.

It is in subtitles.  Which turns some people off.   I would say, give it a try anyway.

My only complaint is that I never got the title.  I don’t know why it is called Tell Me Something.  I suppose, because I was watching parts of it through the pass-through window between the kitchen and living room as I was making dinner, I might have missed a line.  Maybe the title is just a line from the movie.  I don’t know.  Maybe the Korean words that mean Tell Me Something have more interpretations or nuances that the selected English translation.