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Cha Seung Won 차승원
Friend of Soompi
edited April 2009
The 39th BaekSang Arts Awards (2003)
Cha Seung-Won won Best Actor Award for movie "Jail Breakers".
Left to Right: Best Film Actress Uhm Jung-Hwa (Marriage Is A Crazy Thing), Best TV Actress Kim Hee-Ae (Wife), Best Film Actor Cha Seung-Won (Jail Breakers)
Source: BaekSang official website
Friend of Soompi
edited April 2009
Family Outing: Kim Soo-Ro VS Cha Seung-Won
Friend of Soompi
edited April 2009
Movie 'Saving My Wife'
Friend of Soompi
edited July 2009
misc pictures from Daum
Friend of Soompi
edited April 2009
Eye for an Eye(Nuneneun Nun Ieneun I)(2008)
Kwak Kyung-taek , Ahn Gwon-tae
Production Company :
Taewon Entertainment Inc.
Release Day :
Gangster, Action, Crime
Han Seok-kyu, Cha Seung-won
A cash delivery vehicle carrying 1.8 billion won is suddenly robbed during the daytime. A detective quickly comes to the crime scene, gathers the evidence and disappears. His name is Captain Baek Seong-chan, the investigation team leader at the National Police Agency. This news enrages the real Captain Baek (Han Seok-gyu), who was attending a meeting at the National Police Agency at that time.
Captain Baek receives advance notice of another robbery. According to the information, 600kg of gold bars worth 10 billion won will be smuggled in through Jeju Airport. Having determined to stage a full-scale war against the criminals to restore his pride, Captain Baek immediately dispatches some detectives to Jeju Island, but the gold bars disappear like smoke under the noses of the police hiding there. Even the genius-like criminal protagonists cannot escape from Captain Baek's sharp eyes as he always "gets his man." He identifies the suspects and arrests one of them. Like a fierce animal having an eye on its prey, Captain Baek waits for the designer pulling the strings behind them to expose his own identity. He receives a phone call. "You know me, right?" It is the bold criminal Ahn Hyeon-min (Cha Seung-won) who follows Captain Baek and notifies him of the next incident in advance.
The Korea Times 07-24-2008 16:58
'Eye' Spies Perfect Crime
By Lee Hyo-won
In the urban action film "Eye for an Eye,'' actor Han Seok-gyu, left, plays a hardball detective who's determined to catch a mastermind criminal (Cha Seung-won). / Courtesy of Lotte Entertainment
Korea's favorite leading men Han Seok-gyu and Cha Seung-won team up in "Eye for an Eye,'' an urban action flick that slithers with speed, style and substance.
Perfect crimes unfold in the tradition of the "Ocean's 11" trilogy, launching a "Public Enemy"-style cat and mouse game. Han dyes his hair silver and wears a matching gray suit and shiny Hermes belt to play the role of a suave yet gum chewing, foulmouthed detective ― the film is worth watching just to see the "Shiri (Swiri)'' (1998) star drive like a madman and mercilessly interrogate suspects.
Similar to the recent box office smash "Public Enemy Returns,'' veteran detective Baek is about to resign so he can set up his own business. But he has to postpone it when 1.8 billion won is stolen from a bank truck in broad daylight and then 600 kilograms of trafficked gold vanishes from an airport ― all under police surveillance. Someone had ingeniously impersonated Baek, and this proves to be a serious blow to the real Baek's ego.
The following day, Baek receives a package, a stash of cash signed to and from Baek. This "friendly'' gesture is from the mastermind crime-ring head himself, Ahn Hyun-min (Cha). This MBA-holding former prison guard outsmarts Baek and thwarts his plans with finesse. To add fuel to his fury, Ahn has the nerve to leave blatant clues and even appear before him. Soon, Baek realizes that he is being used as a pawn in Ahn's master plan to attack a bigger enemy.
What could have stopped short of being a string of Hollywood conventions takes on a unique Korean streak. It oozes human drama inherent to traditional stories. Here, Ahn is obviously the bad guy, but Baek, who doesn't refrain from using violence to fish for clues, seems much more despicable. Unlike "Public Enemy,'' the cat and mouse here have a common enemy, the dog ― a wicked business tycoon who wronged them both. In Korean tales, even scary ghost stories, vengeful spirits are always understandable in the end, and Ahn is just a coolheaded Hamlet driven by filial piety to take revenge.
The movie takes viewers to different corners of local cities: Busan ports and markets, local jjimjilbang (Korean sauna) and pojang macha (street food stall) as well as a well-orchestrated car race through a busy Seoul business district. It also invites you to a gay bar. Actor Lee Byung-joon disguises his deep baritone voice to play "Antonio,'' a transvestite who speaks with a high-pitched purr and sports perfectly blow-dried hair and a ring on his pinky finger. His well-tamed character portrayal provides a subtle counterpoint to the two male leads.
The visuals capitalize on the long and lean silhouette of model-turned-actor Cha, who struts around in finely pressed suits, holding his weapon of choice, a torch. Ahn Gwon-tae ("My Brother,'' 2004), who served as assistant director for Kwak Kyung-taek's hit film "Friend'' (2001), shot the first half of "Eye'' before his mentor took over. The result is something swift and glossy, full of comic strip-like split screen technique found in "Tazza: The High Rollers'' (2006).
In theaters July 31. 15 and over. 101 minutes. Distributed by Lotte Entertainment.
Friend of Soompi
edited April 2009
‘혈의 누’ (‘Blood Rain’) DVD Review
Posted by X at 11:33pm on SEP 11, 2005
혈의 누 (血의 淚)
(Blood Rain, KOREA 2005)
HyeolUi Nu (lit. Tears of Blood)
119 Minutes - 35mm Cinemascope 2.35:1 - Colour
Rating: 18 and over
Released in Korea on 5/4/2005
Total National Admissions (Approx.): 2,267,780
Produced by: 좋은영화 (Fun & Happiness)
Distributed by: Cinema Service
Theatrical Trailer (Downloadable, Windows Media, 300k)
Theatrical Trailer (Streaming, Windows Media, 700k)
(Streaming, Real Media)
Note: The review contains spoilers
김대승 (Kim Dae-Seung)
[번지점프를 하다 (Bungee Jumping of Their Own, 2001), 가을로 (Traces of Love, 2006)]
김미희 (Kim Mi-Hee), 김성제 (Kim Sung-Jae), 강우석 (Kang Woo-Suk)
이원재 (Lee Won-Jae - Original Script, Adaptation), 김대승 (Kim Dae-Seung, Adaptation), 김성제 (Kim Sung-Jae, Adaptation)
Director of Photography
최영환 (Choi Young-Hwan)
조영욱 (Jo Young-Wook)
김상범 (Kim Sang-Beom), 김재범 (Kim Jae-Beom)
정두홍 (Jung Doo-Hong), 정창현 (Jung Chang-Hyun)
민언옥 (Min Eon-Ok)
정경희 (Jung Kyung-Hee)
차승원 (Cha Seung-Won), 박용우 (Park Yong-Woo), 지성 (Ji Sung), 최종원 (Choi Jong-Won), 천호진 (Cheon Ho-Jin), 오현경 (Oh Hyun-Kyung), 정규수 (Jung Gyu-Soo), 박철민 (Park Cheol-Min), 유해진 (Yoo Hae-Jin, 최지나 (Choi Ji-Na), 윤세아 (Yoon Se-Ah)
Sitting down after a long day of work, drinking with the other staff members on the set of ’번지점프를 하다’ (‘Bungee Jumping of Their Own’), someone joked with director Kim Dae-Seung: “Shouldn’t you at least try Bungee Jumping once, like the title?&” Kim quickly answered: “Why? Did Park Ki-Hyung attend an all-female school to make ’여고괴담’ (‘Whispering Corridors’, lit. Female High School Ghost Story)?&” Kim never really liked horror, he never even enjoyed the thrill of roller coasters or bungee jumping. When producer Kim Sung-Jae approached him with the idea of directing a film tentatively titled
’혈우’ (where the English title ‘Blood Rain’ comes from)
, director Kim wasn’t exactly known for Historical Dramas: after all, his first film was a slightly off-kilter melodrama, with two big stars and a controversial story. But what could the producer do? Most of the fresh new talent in the industry was either working in producer-driven, commercially safe genre Cinema, or doing their own thing. Even though 사극 (Historical Dramas) were all over TV, most directors knew how difficult directing one was, and avoided them like the plague. Finding appropriate locations to shoot a Historical Drama in Korea was becoming increasingly hard, the dialogue was too much of a burden for most actors, and the fact that it was a genre seldom translating well on the big screen made things even worse. Attempts to make serious Historical Dramas set in the late Joseon era were made in the past, but the scale had gotten so big, the stakes so high, too much was at risk.
In 2005, could you realistically spend 7-8 Billion Won on something like Park Jong-Won’s amazing ’영원한 제국’ (‘The Eternal Empire’), a simple murder story turning into an indiction of the corruption and hegemony of the Noron Party in Joseon politics? Could you spend two hours building political intrigue that most people who go to the theater (teenagers) had only a vague idea about? There’s a reason why 70% of the Historical Drama audience on TV is made of 30 to 60 year old males. There’s also a reason why a lot of the recent big hits on TV (including 해신 (Emperor of The Sea)) made huge changes to the format of those shows, to appeal to a wider audience. ’대장금’ (‘Dae Jang Geum: Jewel in the Palace’) might be a feast for the eyes (and mouth), and a tour de force for Lee Young-Ae, but it pales in comparison to the complexity and historical relevance of its older, more prestigious colleagues. So, in making ‘Blood Rain’, they had to pack an emotional punch, involve the average viewer, satisfy genre Cinema fans, be realistic enough to convey which era the film was set it, and connect the dots to make a good film. Not the easiest of things. But Kim was chosen because he went through all that before, being a longtime assistant director and disciple of Im Kwon-Taek. They worked together on ’춘향뎐’ (‘Chunhyang’), he knew what he was getting into.
If you mentioned ‘혈의 누’ to Korean people, most would bring up Lee In-Jik’s masterpiece, one of the first Korean novels to use Western-style storytelling. But this script, written by Lee Won-Jae, had nothing to do with it. The moment Kim finished reading it, he called the producer right away: “I want to do it.&” It had that immediate human quality, like Umberto Eco’s ‘The Name of The Rose’ or Victor Hugo’s ‘Les Miserables,’ with a man coming to terms with his inner self, his emotions and weaknesses. The script had caught the attention of the film community for being a sort of ’살인의 추억’ (‘Memories of Murder’) set in the Joseon Dynasty, but Lee’s inspiration went back centuries ago. To make Lee Won-Gyu’s (Cha Seung-Won) murder investigation a little more realistic, he cross-referenced the ‘無寃錄’ (Mo Yuan Lu in Mandarin/Mu Won Rok in Korean, the ‘Book of No Resentment’), a forensic medicine book about murders in the Song Dynasty, written by Wang Yu in the Yuan Dynasty, which King Sejong’s scholars later translated in Korean as 신주무원록 (新註無寃錄, add ‘New’ to the previous title). He also distanced himself from the lavish glamour of the Joseon portrayed on TV, using the island background of the film as a sort of ‘hell on earth.’ As the film begins, we’re introduced to Donghwa Island, a small and mysterious lot of land surrounded by perennial mist. The villagers, controlled by the elder Yangban Kim Chi-Sung (the great theater actor Oh Hyun-Kyung, father of Oh Ji-Hye) and his son In-Kwon (Park Yong-Woo), run a successful mill, producing the best paper in the Province, with trade routes extending even to China. The bi-annual tribute to the King is paid through the manufacture of the best possible paper, a situation that allows the village to sustain itself independently, even if isolated from the Mainland’s affairs. It was 1808, a very turbulent period in Korean History.
Just a few decades earlier one of the most famous incidents ever recorded in the Land of the Morning Calm, King YoungJo killing his own son Prince Sado to save Joseon, under the influence of the Queen Mother Sun-Hee, ruptured the country. YoungJo worked hard to eliminate a long and agonizing strife between the Noron (노론, Old Doctrine) and Soron (소론, Young Doctrine) parties, engulfing most of the country’s political history for the better part of the 17th and 18th century. During his long rule, he promoted officials from both parties to government positions, trying to tame down all the background intrigues that influenced the fate of the throne for decades. The Noron party split in two further factions after the tragic death of Sado in 1762. Those who agreed his death was inevitable, given his madness and danger posed to the throne, formed the 시파 faction (ShiPa, 時派, Clan of Expediency). Those instead who criticized YoungJo’s move formed the rival 벽파 (ByeokPa, 僻派, Clan of Principle) party. When YoungJo’s grandson JongJo came to the throne in 1776, all the years of hard work trying to stop all the corruption created by the Noron party’s dominance and abolish party strife went to ashes. The Hong family of Pungsan (from which King JongJo’s faithful ally Hong Guk-Young came), ByeokPa members, started fighting vigourously with the Pro-Catholic ShiPa members of the Kim family from Chongpung. The ByeokPa clan subsequently tried its best to kill two birds with one stone: the increasingly popular Catholic sentiments, and any influence the ShiPa clan had.
Joseon’s fight against the Catholic ‘invasion’ might be simply seen as trying to defend their Confucian beliefs, but there’s more to it. Party strife, and also the relatively insular policies of the previous Joseon rulers were to blame. They saw the advent of Catholicism as a dangerous new wind that could corrupt the commoners’ minds. Its promise of equality was too appealing to people who had to live under corrupt Yangban for centuries, never able to make anything out of their lives. They also worried about the military consequences this new religious movement could have brought to a country which always struggled in between foreign powers. A major incident pointed out to this belief in 1801, when aristocratic Hwang Sa-Young sent two silk letters to Bishop de Gouvea, stationed in China, asking for intervention from the West, to invade the country so that freedom of religion could be obtained. Although the plan was already in motion, his attempt to steer Western sentiment towards Joseon’s problems might have accelerated that process, starting the persecution en masse. From 1801, Catholics had to either renounce their religious beliefs or be persecuted for high treason.
Some rich members of the newly established middle class (so called 중인, ‘middle people’) saw an opportunity in Hwang’s ideals, and supported him financially, going down with him when his plot was discovered. One of them was Commissioner Kang (a fictitious character, played with great panache by Cheon Ho-Jin) of Donghwa Island, who was murdered under suspicion of being a Catholic follower. He and his entire family killed in five different, cruel ways (impaling, boiling in hot dye, strangling with paper, crashing his head with an arrow, and finally tearing one’s limbs apart). The man was respected by the entire village, loaning money to many people at low interest. But for a village that lived of simple things, like work, food, the warmth of the family, the easy superstitions bandied around by the Shaman of the village, a new line of thinking clouded their mind. Greed made its unwelcome appearance in Donghwa Island, and from that moment on, their life became a living hell. People went crazy, believing the vengeful words of the dying Kang like a mantra, expecting his bloody revenge to be consumed soon. ‘Bloody rain is coming! We’re all going to suffer the consequences!’ screams one of the many people who betrayed Kang’s honesty. When the five terrible murders of Kang’s family make an unexpected re-appearance in Donghwa, seven years later, Lieutenant Lee Won-Gyu is summoned to the Island to find out the culprit.
Cha Seung-Won ironically said, in an interview after the screening of the film: “I finally graduated from middle school. Now the real studying begins.&” He’s got a point. While Koreans have elected him as one of the few bonafide box office draws, it was a long and painful process for him. Starting with modeling in the late 80s, getting a few decent roles in TV Dramas, finally debuting on the big screen, with only one-dimensional characters which did little to further his career. Then came ’리베라 메 (‘Libera Me’), not exactly a great film, but his performance there raised more than a few eyebrows. Do we have a good actors on our hands? It wasn’t until Cha met and started working with Kim Sang-Jin and writer Park Jung-Woo that his potential got fulfilled. Several surefire comedy hits followed, establishing him as the (male) King of Comedy. Women loved him because he showed warmth, he was masculine without unnecessary machismo, and had a great sense of humour; men respected him because he was like the older friend next door, who acted tough but was always great fun to deal with. But the moment you realize people really like your work, something changes. You stop thinking about the quick bucks, and start worrying about your future. For how long could he continue to do comedies? Until people got tired of him? Then that positive greed and hunger to become a better actor comes out. One could safely say ‘Blood Rain’ is the turning point of Cha’s career. Assuredly stoic and stubborn in the first part, slowly allowing his conscience to get the better of his rationality in the second, Cha gives what could be considered his best performance to date. Charisma and ability to deliver ad-lib aside, this role required a lot of focus: he couldn’t explode with his screen presence, because Won-Gyu’s tongue is sharper than his physicality. For that reason alone, his efforts doubled, and although it’ll take time for him to adapt to his new ‘clothes,’ and maybe even more to be accepted by critics as a ‘serious’ actor, I think he’s got all the potential in the world to do that.
Even the rest of the cast had that ‘comedian’ image to get rid of, at least for this film. Choi Jong-Won, a regular of TV Sitcoms and silly mid 90s comedies, but also someone who starred in great films with historical settings, like the aforementioned ‘The Eternal Empire’, Im Kwon-Taek’s ’태백산맥 (The Taebaek Mountains, 1994), 서편제 (Sopyonje, 1993) and 아제아제 바라아제 (Come, Come Upward, 1989); Yoo Hae-Jin, hilarious in many of Kim Sang-Jin’s films, but also able to show his serious acting in somber Historical Dramas like ’토지’ (‘Land’, 2005 SBS TV) and of course ’무사’ (’武士’, ‘Musa: The Warrior’, 2001); Jung Gyu-Soo (a Jang Jin regular), Park Cheol-Min, Park Yong-Woo, who played bit characters for years but then impressed in the Historical Drama ’무인시대’ (‘The Age of Warriors’, 2004). It’s a peculiar cast, but a very good one, taking advantage of the charisma of its veterans (Cheon Ho-Jin, Oh Hyun-Kyung), masking the evident weaknesses of its youngsters with less dialogue (a very uncomfortable looking Ji Sung). And, the fact even the main characters never take center stage, but instead the general sentiment and emotional statement of the film is allowed to come alive is another of Kim’s merits.
Just like the director’s intention to leave the burden of genre conventions at bay, Jo Young-Wook focuses on rhythm instead of genre preconceptions. Looking at other Historical Dramas, even the great ones like ‘The Eternal Empire,’ traditional Korean instruments - like Gayageum, Daegeum, and so on - are predominant, but Jo goes back to the basics: the music doesn’t carry the film on its shoulders, making a louder statement than the images (like the average John Williams score would do), but it slowly captures the mood, underlines the atmosphere of the scene, helps the images convey a certain tempo, rhythm, like the best Bernard Herrmann scores. For that reason, he’s not afraid of using Western inspired music, like an adaptation of Rachmaninoff’s ‘Piano Concerto No. 2 1st Mov.’ whose pumping trombones perfectly highlight the tense finale, or Chopin’s ‘Waltz No.3 in A Minor.’ But only someone unfamiliar with Jo’s style and past works would be surprised at such a choice. Since his first soundtrack, Jo has always combined Eastern and Western music, mixed genres in an almost diabolical way, and classical music has always been a staple of his soundtracks. He used an eclectic mix of Bach, Dusty Springfield, The Velvet Underground, Tom Waits and Sarah Vaughan in ’접속’ (‘The Contact’), still one of the best selling Korean OSTs of all time; Mozart, Otis Redding, Graham Nash and Carla Thomas in ‘해피엔드’ (‘Happy End’); his mixing of Enya, Placebo, and of all people Shostakovich (the same ‘Jazz Suit No. 2 - IV Waltz’ used in Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Eyes Wide Shut’) in ’텔미썸딩’ (‘Tell Me Something’); and, last but not least, Vivaldi in ’올드보이’ (‘Oldboy’). There must be a reason if every time I hear The Four Seasons (it’s all over TV!) I’m reminded of that scene. The way he’s able to mix the power and rhythm of the music he chooses with the images is something only the best can do.
What distinguishes the best Korean films of the last half decade from their foreign competitors is their ability to find a new milieu between genre fundamentals (which is different from conventions, mind you), and the creative will to distance themselves from easy labeling. Jang Joon-Hwan’s ’지구를 지켜라’ (‘Save The Green Planet’) and Ryu Seung-Wan’s films ooze love for Genre Cinema, but they’re not just content with simply following the rules, they give a fresh and invigorating personal spin to them. Embarking on a genre like that of Historical Drama was like walking blindfolded on a mine field. There are too many established preconceptions about the genre, from the obsession with attention to details, historical accuracy, traditional music and tempo. But director Kim decided to take that blindfold off, and jump the entire field, abandoning genre preconceptions, and any need to follow particular rules: if anything, he used whatever he needed from the genre (like the obvious historical setting, forensic medicine, enough political intrigue thrown in to be able to make an allegory on the modern man’s psyche), and went along on his own. That, in short, is the main reason why ‘Blood Rain’ works. Take it within the Historical Drama genre, and it might fail, for its flaws in historical accuracy (which are not many, but if you need to nitpick, you can have your day), its penchant for shying away from the period’s political and social turmoil to make a more general statement; take it as a whodunit thriller, and it might fail as well. While a lot of the tempo of the film embraces the atmosphere of many giallo’s, there isn’t any obsession towards the identity of the murderer. ‘Who’ is the murderer is not important here, it’s ‘Why’ he did it what the director cares about.
Choi Min-Shik’s character in ’주먹이 운다’ (‘Crying Fist’) talks of how boxing is a metaphor for life. In this film, the ‘collective’ personality of the Island becomes a character of its own, and eventually a metaphor for life, telling us the only thing we should be afraid of is ourselves. For greed, ambition, jealousy and envy are scarier than ghosts or superhuman appearances; for a society that places all the attention on catching the killer without trying to understand why and what led him to do it is bound to repeat the same mistakes. In a way, the final allegory of the bloody rain, more than a ‘Magnolia’-like McGuffin, is a warning that every single person’s judgment can be blinded by such weaknesses. And the fact a film can carry all the burden of genre formulas effectively, and at the same time say something so simple yet so powerful, is in itself a great feat.
AUDIO, VIDEO, SUBTITLES
Transfer is good, although not exceptional. While skin tones are quite realistic, and there’s no unnecessary digital noise, fine detail is a little lacking. Audio is nothing special. Clean and crisp dialogue, but the surround effects aren’t really taken advantage of, but I suspect that has more to do with sound design than any fault of the DVD. DTS tracks is a little better, though.
Subtitles are good. Good timing, really nice font, no grammar mistakes. One thing they do really well is never translate things they’re not supposed to. Explaining what ‘Shimheoro’ is when the next line of dialogue does exactly that is useless, so thankfully they leave the word intact. Thankfully, they never indulge in slang, which would kill this film since so much is based on complex dialogue. What I felt a little let down about was that they became a little vague during one of the most important exchanges of the film, between Kim Chi-Sung and Won-Gyu. Instead of JongJo they just say ‘The past king’ and instead of Noron ‘a rival faction.’ Those might only be details history buffs care about, but I’m sure not all people interested in Korean history speak Korean, a little help for them wouldn’t hurt. But, overall, I’m satisfied.
Note: If the feature doesn’t have a spoiler warning, it’s generally free of any major spoiler.
Director Kim Dae-Seung, Art Director Min Eon-Ok
It’s really hard to make commentaries like this exciting. I mean, how much fun can two hours of people debating the merits of magenta over white, or how bamboos look better under daily light, can be? Still, this is a Historical Drama, which puts everything in a new light (no pun intended… maybe). It’s not something I feel is essential, but the two do reveal a lot of interesting info, although I would have liked a little more meat regarding the historical setting, which is something you could realistically ask from a discussion with the Art Director. It’s also a shame that actors didn’t get the chance to talk about the film via a commentary (there’s interviews anyway), and this is just the kind of film I’d love to hear what people like Oh Dong-Jin or Kim Young-Jin have to say about. Anyhow, here’s a few of the arguments:
- They started introducing a big leit motif of the commentary: the use of colour. They used colours that would fit with the water, the blood, and the scenery at the beginning.
- Talking about colours obviously leads to the costumes. As you probably know, different classes wore different costumes (in terms of colour, style, patterns, cloth). They tried to set a mood with colours vis-a-vis the social position of the characters. And, since class distinction was paramount in the Joseon Dynasty, it was essential to differentiate between different people. They also tried to create some kind of distance to convey seniority, how the lighter green clothes of the young commoners got darker as people aged.
- The role of Kim Chi-Sung, the elder of the village, is one of those ‘movie people’ who help the story flow better. They actually ended up using a location used for Im Kwon-Taek’s Sopyonje in the past, that being the scene with the Mudang (Shaman) ritual. It was hard shooting there because many changes took place since Sopyonje’s 1993 shoot, so they had to use a lot of blue screens.
- When Won-Gyu arrives to the island, the image from the boat is CG generated. That was the only way of conveying that mysterious feeling of a place haunted by something, or someone.
- They liked the image of the killer (whose identity you should know by now, since you’re listening to a commentary), very soft, not like the average killer in other films. They thought a long time about how they could emphasize his personality with the colour of his clothes, the way he lives and talks.
- They tried to make the villagers of Donghwa carry a pain that didn’t happen in one day. Theirs are faces carrying years of struggling to come to terms with the past.
- The Art Director mentioned how, within the boundaries allowed, they tried to distance themselves from conventions of the genre. They talk about how Park Yong-Woo’s character was dressed in an unique way because his image didn’t fit with pastel tones or primary colours. That’s the reason why they had to test many different colour patterns on him.
- Discussing about the trees in the film, mostly Bamboos, they talked about how they were supposed to shoot the film with 1.85:1 lenses, but changed to 2.35:1 because it looked like the locations and general feeling of the village could be conveyed in a more effective way, using a larger scope.
- The first time Won-Gyu enters the paper mill, they wanted to create a sense of isolation from the other islanders. They used Cha Seung-Won’s tall figure to emphasize he was completely different from the others, and people made him feel that way.
- Even when they had to ‘build’ locations by themselves, they tried to set an uniquely ‘Donghwa Island’ tone and culture. With the first murder on screen, they wanted to give a sense that the paper mill sort of came alive, and the scene transition from the dye container to the well emphasized that feeling even more, and it helped people make a connection to why the water smelled after that.
- The scene inside the victim’s house used the same location for Im Kwon-Taek’s The Taebaek Mountains. Director Kim admits Im has been a big influence on his filmmaking style, and helped him a lot. The location carried a lot of island-specific traits, so they chose it.
- They had a hard time finding the right design for Du-Ho’s house, because he’s a person with conflicting emotions. He’s angry, but also a very meticulous person.
- Hunting for locations, more than just trying to find some place that looked like an island, they looked for places that would give a special feeling, recreating the desired effect. Whatever was lacking, they corrected or added via CG.
- That of the Mudang was a really important role, they wanted to give a mysterious and slightly mad aura to her persona. But they also wanted someone who didn’t look like she belonged amongst the other islanders. That’s why through her clothes, her living space and other things they established her personality.
- They start talking a little more about Won-Gyu’s character, how his conscience starts to play an important role in the way he approaches the case.
- They talked about the horse riding chase, finally revealing the killer wasn’t a spirit, but a person. How they wanted to recreate the feeling of being close to the action, right in the middle of the scene.
- They highlighted how setting up Kim Chi-Sung’s character through the way he lived was more effective. His ideology, the way the poem behind him is written (very unique calligraphy, you can barely make out the 中 in the middle).
- Dealing with the flashback concerning Won-Gyu’s father, they wanted to show how he realized his father’s faults, at last. When they looked at it in the script, they worried a lot about how much of the dismembering scene they should have shown. Where to let the prosthetics start and the real actor stop. Cheon Ho-Jin’s acting helped them a lot, and they tried to follow his performance in recreating the scene, more than going for realism at all costs until the end (would dismembered people really have the time to look at their killer’s faces?).
- They showed how Won-Gyu and the main culprits had a distinctive colour to their costumes, whereas most of the other villagers had a very similar color tone, to convey their ‘one mind’ mentality even better.
- The scene with the boat, the killer and the girl, they wanted to shoot it without most lighting, to increase its mysterious aura, but it wasn’t possible, so they just corrected it via colour grading later.
- Kim liked how they revealed the identity of the killer long before the end of the film. In a storytelling sense, that gave them more time to explain his situation.
Director Kim Dae-Seung, Music Director Jo Young-Wook
Jo Young-Wook has always been one of my favorites, his work featuring on some of the best Korean films of the last 10 years. For that reason, this commentary became all the more interesting. Jo forms a sort of ‘movie clique’ with directors Park Chan-Wook and Lee Mu-Young, who often work together, so it’s always a pleasure listening to what he has to say. The focus wasn’t always on music, so the fact there wasn’t any commentary with the actors feels a little less of a regret. Here’s a few excerpts of the discussion:
- The first scene works on a lot of levels, focusing on the costumes and colour, but also on the sound. Jo wanted to create an immediate impact, hinting to the general mood of the film that was coming. It was going to be a sad drama, so he tried to convey that with the score for the first scene.
- The two discussed how they didn’t feel the need to follow genre conventions in creating the score for the film. But, for obvious reasons, some of the music might look in a different way, because after all creating suspense is part of the genre’s conventions. They tried to avoid traditional music found in the other Korean Historical Dramas, with things like Gayageum or other instruments (in an interview Jo even said they started with techno in mind). They never tried to create music that would fit the period setting, but something that would highlight the characters’ emotional and psychological state. After all, this is a Historical Drama, but it’s not a film that thrives on revealing details about the period.
- About the image of the Island from outside, they wanted to create a ‘hell’ like feeling, something eerie that would convey Won-Gyu’s state of mind in coming to the Island.
- Jo comments how the most difficult thing was trying to follow the film’s tempo, and the camera movement. He didn’t make something that would carry the rhythm of the film, but slowly integrated itself with it, instead.
- Since it’s a Historical Drama, there are various conventions you’re almost forced to use, but Director Kim would have probably used the table scene where they eat anyway. The most important thing they wanted to establish was Won-Gyu’s pride about his father, so that the second part’s feelings for him would echo in a stronger way.
- While shooting the film, Director Kim worried a lot about the use of jump cuts. He wanted to find a way to transform real time into cinematic time, but since there are preconceptions about Historical Drama and its rhythm, it was an issue he was concerned about for a long time.
- They used closeups when the most important dialogue was used, and even thought about using similar music for each of the murders, to connect the idea of the serial killer, but the different shooting situations, and the need to highlight sound in different ways made that impossible.
- About the role of the Shaman in the film, the director thought of her as a balancing force between the world of ghosts and reality. A milieu where people could relieve their madness, fear, and stress toward the murders.
- They discussed about the music for the horse chase (Won-Gyu and the masked murderer). The unique use of the 태평소 (Taepyungso, a trumpet-like metal bell instrument. You can find a site describing its use here, and an image here). That loud crescendo in the background helped immensely with the tempo of the scene, which was the most important thing the director wanted to emphasize. Jo explained how he doesn’t like music that explains the feeling of the scene, but something subtly underlining its atmosphere.
- During one of the most important scenes of the film, Won-Gyu’s discussion with Kim Chi-Sung, Jo wondered if using music was the right idea, to underline the tempo of their debate.
- The two noted that maybe people might think the killer was discovered too quickly (30 minutes before the end), but it was an obvious conclusion given how the investigation progressed, and that Director Kim didn’t really care about following genre conventions.
- As for the last action scene in the paper mill, Kim asked Jung Doo-Hong to do something really simple and effective, action that wouldn’t convey any type of technique. He joked how the dialogue for the final confrontation between the murderer and Won-Gyu lacked punch, but the performance of the two and their intense charisma made it even better than expected.
Chapter 1: 시대와 고증 (Period and Historical Research
-19c 조선시대 사회 (Society in 19th Century Joseon) [6:25]
A Historian introduces the historical background of the film, he talks about the changes in society, the status and economy of the average people in contrast with the yangban ruling class. He talks about the 신해통공 (Shin-Hae-Tong-Gong, 辛亥通共) in 1791 (the popup mistakenly refers to it as 1971), perhaps King JongJo’s most important reform in terms of commerce. It allowed vendors without a license to operate next to the licensed ones in the capital, a sort of ‘Joint-Sales’ reform, which created a lot of conflict. He talks about the kind of goods sold in the period, like silk, fabric, cotton, paper, ramie and fish, and how people built riches in that era. He also highlights the strife between different social classes that emerged from so many changes. Before closing, he briefly mentions the Hwang Sa-Young incident (the one I mention in the review), and his reasons for sending the letters to Beijing.
- 수사과정 (Making The Investigation)[7:05]
The clip introduces the steps taken in the Joseon period to find out how the victim was murdered. They show all the tools used in the process, the ingredients (salt, herbs, rice) and the book they used to examine bodies (the Muwonrok I mentioned before). Professor Kim Ho talks about the two steps which were taken in making the investigation, 조검 (JoGeom, 助檢) and 복검 (BeokGeom, 覆檢). The first step consisted in examining the body in detail to find the causes of death. Second tried to recreate the murder scene, finding clues and asking people in the surrounding areas about the psychology of the suspect and the victim. In case the first two examinations wouldn’t have a positive result, they’d move to a 3rd or 4th step. Professor Kim then talks about the Muwonrok, how Kim Sejong tried to adapt it so that Joseon scholars would be able to use it, without having to understand the Yuan Dynasty nomenclature. This new version was the ShinJuWonRok I talked about in the review.
- 형벌제도 (Penal System)[5:30]
Jin Su-Myung talks about the punishment systems of the era. He talks about what kind of sentence was given to people who broke martial law rules. A suspect accused of breaking the law would get three trials before getting convicted. There were six kinds of punishment: 태형 (whipping) for small crimes, 장형 (flogging) for bigger crimes, 도형 (penal servitude) involving from 1 to 3 years of forced labor, 유형 (exile) to a place the convict would never be able to come back unless pardoned by the King (or if an Amnesty was issued), 사수 (Shooting) if convicted of capital sentence, and finally 삼복 (Burning Alive) for the worst deliberate acts of cruelty. Then, the five different murders in the film are analyzed, and they also talk about the chances of finding them in Joseon era-murders.
- 제지소 (Paper Mill) [7:32]
This is really fascinating. Kim Jae-Shik from Andong Hanji (the traditional Korean Paper) explains how paper was and is still made today (although in very few places). The various processes are shown, from gathering the bark of the mulberry tree, cutting young branches in late Autumn. The bark gets boiled, the external skin peeled off before being soaked in running water for half a day. After peeling, the white skin of the mulberry is revealed. The process continues bleaching the skin, picking out knots and buds by hand, and drying it exposed to sunlight. It’s a very painstaking effort, done manually since the old days. Although nowadays the tradition is kept alive by a few people to preserve its cultural uniqueness, in the Joseon era the Hanji was used for its toughness (it was nearly impossible to rip or tear), the ease with which they could dye them, and their light weight.
Chapter 2: ‘혈의 누’ 제작기 (Production Diary) - 240일 날씨와의 사투 (240 Days - Fighting with Weather)
narration by Producer Kim Sung-Jae
You know better than I do that sometimes sitting through long Making Of Documentaries can be a chore. I still remember the painful length of the 2009 Lost Memories one, or the 3 hours of the one for the LE of The Classic. Of course nobody forced me to watch, but length doesn’t always mean quality, which is why the 20 odd minutes of this Making Of could look nothing special at first glance. But the way producer Kim narrates the production diary, and the linear structure help things.
- 2004, May 6
It’s the day of the costume fitting. Cha Seung-Won, Park Yong-Woo, Ji Sung and the others try out the costumes, the make up and props, and give ideas on how to improve their image. Prosthetics, several props needed for the film (including maps) are prepared. The open set for Donghwa Island is built, after a long location hunting period.
- 2004, June 27
The crank in, first day of shooting. After the traditional ceremony, the first scene is shot, involving Choi Jong-Won drinking the stinking water. The weather is really hot, with the actors taking off all they can as soon as their scene is over. It’s three years since the film entered pre-production.
- 2004, July
Uncharacteristically, they’re all back to pre-production, after the first days of photography. To get used to the period setting, Yoon Se-Ah, Park Yong-Woo and Cha Seung-Won get lessons on etiquette, posture (both sitting and eating movements). They took the opportunity to do rehearsal while practicing that, learning each other’s rhythm in the process.
Cha and Park also get horse riding lessons, and Ji Sung took painting lessons.
- 2004, July 29
Back to the shoot, with the boat scene. Cha was a little tall for a man of the Joseon era, but the director used that to his advantage to create a sort of barrier between Won-Gyu and the villagers. Ji Sung spent the shoot asking just a few questions, remaining quiet and obedient most of the time. They prepared everything for the scene where the boat catches fire, but the weather wouldn’t help them. Suddenly it started raining, ruining things. They had to wait for the weather to fit the initial image, so the shoot took even longer.
The hard work of the actors, the stuntmen, the CG and special effects team is shown with the five deaths of the film. Yoon Se-Ah is shown struggling as the informants run after her. It was a really hard time for her, as a beginner, running in the cold weather, falling, hitting rocks.
Another hard things for the actors was riding horses. Cha fell off twice, even hurting himself and needing time between takes. Cha had other horse scenes to shoot, so he had to continue anyway. They built a prop horse head (similar to the one Liv Tyler used in Lord of The Rings) for the closeup chase scene.
Even for the final scene, they had to struggle with weather, when a storm disrupted their shoot schedule, forcing them to waste a week shooting little by little every day.
The shoot finally finishes. To film those 5 days, it took 8 months of struggling with heat, rain, and even cold weather.
Chapter 3: 1808 조선, 연쇄 살인사건 (1808 Joseon, Serial Murder Case)
WARNING! MAJOR SPOILERS!
- Production [9:27]
Producer Kim Won-Jae talks about the script by Lee Won-Jae, which started as just ‘혈우’ (Bloody Rain), and was set in a village where murders happened, which was what created the ‘Joseon era Memories of Murder’ buzz. But the moment Kim read the script, he fed some ideas into the project, like using an Island setting to better show their isolation from the Mainland, and the paper mill as their workplace. Director Kim wanted to create a sense of shame and greed with the Island setting. Even looking for locations, they couldn’t go to the Korean Folk Village, so they had to find something that would match their atmosphere, more than the usual scope of Historical Dramas. They wanted a feeling of a place where people have lived for a long time.
As for casting, they needed actors with a different image for the roles of Won-Gyu and Inkwon. And again, as far as Inkwon and DooHoo go, they wanted to recreate a sense of similarity between the two. Since one of the two was the secret missing informer, the other the killer, they had to look like if you exchanged their roles, nothing much would change. Since Cha wanted to try this new challenge, they went with him, and found out he was perfect for the role while working with him. Kim is really thankful he was able to find such dedicated actors, ready to sacrifice so much and undergo such trouble to make a better film.
Director Kim didn’t really have a general idea on how to shoot the horse chase, but Jung Doo-Hong took the ball and ran with it. Jung comments how it was really hard to shoot it, because there was little space to move, even for the truck with the camera. There were lots of trees, making tracking shots a pain in the Richard Simmons, sometimes.
Shooting the gore scenes, they thought of using the murderer’s point of view. Since the reason for the killings was revealed later, they thought of making the murders as slow and painful looking as possible (which should kill off any ‘gratuitous gore’ argument), staying with the victim longer than usual, as if someone was checking whether he really died or not.
In conclusion, Kim considered this a commercial film from the beginning, but paying attention to details a little more would have made it so much better, so they worked extra hard. All the actors and the staff members had it tremendously hard, hurt themselves, fell off horses, suffered the weather, but it was all worth it.
- Art [10:58]
The extremely talented Min Eon-Ok - who also worked with director Kim on Im Kwon-Taek’s Chunhyang - introduces the concept of the Art Design. She thought of the colour in the film as unique. The island looks like a beautiful place, which turns ugly and mad all of a sudden, that’s why she emphasized simple colors like red, green and blue. She shows and comments some stunning maps of the various locations. She wanted to create a strange, mysterious feeling with the Island. In creating the concept for In-Kwon, she wanted to convey a man living in his own world, different from his father. A man you could love, but also hate. She followed the drawings of old Joseon men by Rubens to find his image. As for So-Yeon, she wanted to give the feeling of someone who was about to die, using purple. For the village people, she wanted to create an image of people happy on the outside, but nervous inside, ready for something to happen. She used a tree branch-style for the Bloody Rain.
What follows is a commentary about designs. In creating the island, she drew many more images than she needed, to visualize in her head what those people were doing for a living, wanted to create a sense of being trapped inside the Island. She follows commenting other locations, like the Paper Mill, and the boat.
In conclusion, she thought taking this challenge of working on the film was both interesting and something really hard as a production designer. And working to help visualize the director’s ideas is both the beauty and responsibility that her line of work creates.
- Costume [5:57]
Jung Kyung-Hee talks about the concept of the costumes, conveying the harshness of life. In creating the special clothes, they use small patterns around the neck, and had to increase size. As far as the single characters go, the focused on clothes that would help Won-Gyu’s movement, with long and wide sleeves. For In-Kwon, they wanted to create a strong and beautiful image, so they emphasized green and purple tones. For Doo-Ho, khaki and dark green tones because of his darkness. The village people had two different colors: blue for the outsiders, shades of brown for the locals. They might all look the same, but some minor details were changed for each person. They talk a little about maintaining the costumes in perfect condition, and a few episodes on the sets (actors taking off all the costumes right after the cut, with all the assistants wiping sweat off their bodies with a towel.
- Make Up [5:05]
Director Kim didn’t want to use base tones that would stand out, so focused on bright colors. For Won-Gyu, since Cha had a particularly strong skin tone, they tried to match his eyes first. In-Kwon was more focused on the skin tone, and putting focus on his eyes. Doo-Ho emphasized Ji Sung’s strong image, a very masculine feeling. Cheon Ho-Jin’s Commissioner Kang had a Jesus-like concept, with long hair. They also talk briefly about blood and its importance in this film, and close with a few episodes about the extras.
- Special Art [6:57]
They show all the work that went into recreating the prosthetics, and the various techniques to make the 5 murders realistic, focusing on realism over gore. They also show the dummy horse head, looking incredibly realistic. The level Korea has reached with prosthetics is impressive, especially if you compare it with 1999 (Tell Me Something, or Shiri would do).
- CG [6:01]
The most important concept for the CG effects was making them blend perfectly with the rest of the film, so that you’d have a hard time noticing them. They show an example of that, with subtle changes, like the rocks around the port when the boat first arrives, and various backgrounds added to the scenery (with the use of before/after split screens). They also show how they added dead fish after the fire, and how they made the Shaman’s house look more dangerous. They show the fake albatross around the cliff, and the blue matte scene at the end with the murderer on the cliff. They showed the murder inside the dye tub, where they added smoke (of course the water was cold), but not so much to ruin the actor’s performance. Finally, they showed the very elaborate ‘limb tearing’ scene, explaining how they combined CG and prosthetics with live action to make the final scene. Finally, they show the ‘Day For Night’ effect (sadly, the most evident use of CG in the film), shooting a scene during the day, and color grading to make it look like it was dawn.
Chapter 4: 인물 관계도 (Connection Between Characters)
This is a table showing the relationship between each character, and of course, the way it’s positioned, it spoils the whole film, so be careful if you haven’t seen it yet. Clicking on the character will launch an interview (for the main characters) or a video profile, so if you just click without looking too much you can just watch the interviews. Of course if you can’t read Korean, there’s no problem.
- 차승원 (Cha Seung-Won) [4:27]
Cha introduces his character, talking about the challenges of playing Won-Gyu and his selfishness. He had a hard time finding the tone to use, and of course the dialogue was the hardest part. He didn’t really go in thinking of the conventions of the genre in approaching his character, but since most of his previous characters worked on facial expression alone, trying to convey that power buried inside the dialogue was really hard. He talked about his accident on the set, falling off a horse, hurting himself in the process. He closes describing the feeling of someone who’s never killed, but who stops being rational losing out to primal emotions. He talks about how it’s important to consider the image people have learned to like over the years, but used this film as a new challenge that would change his career.
- 박용우 (Park Yong-Woo) [5:13]
Introducing In-Kwon, Park talks about him as a cold and self-conscious character, one who has strong feelings inside him, but who would rather hide them. With that in mind, it was hard for him trying to convey any kind of feeling. He felt sorry about some of the deleted scenes (involving moments In-Kwon shares with So-Yeon), but he trusted the director’s vision. If he were in In-Kwon’s shoes, he would never act like that, and would try to calm down.
- 천호진 (Cheon Ho-Jin) [3:27]
There’s a textual character introduction first, then Cheon talks about Commissioner Kang. The first time they approached him with the role, he said it was too much for him. But reading the script, this new thriller set in the Joseon period could be a challenge for him. About the murder, he comments how cruel it was, how long they spent to make special make-up and prosthetics, but they really did a marvelous job, especially compared to what he was used to in older films. So he just went along, and trusted them.
- 윤세아 (Yoon Se-Ah) [2:05]
She introduces her character, the daughter of Commissioner Kang. The moment she won the audition, she felt great, and a greed to do better came out. Having to play a Joseon woman, she had to learn etiquette, posture, how to sit down, and more. She was a really feminine and tragic character, so no scene was easy for her. All she did is try to work hard, to let the beauty of the character emerge.
- 최지나 (Choi Ji-Na) [3:20]
Text introduction first. She talks about her character, being a mudang (shaman). More than following the conventions of the Mudang, they upgraded her character a little, making her more in tune with people’s psychological state of mind. For that reason, she needed a lot of 기 (Energy) in the film. They practiced a lot, but since it was such a new challenge for her, she was constantly nervous and rarely talked on the set. As for her relationship with Won-Gyu, they even had ‘melodrama’ scenes between each other, but were taken out. She just worked hard, and even if she didn’t appear on many scenes, tried her best.
- 최종원 (Choi Jong-Won) [2:42]
He introduced his character, as the investigation leader. It was a really fun character, but shooting was hard, especially because it took so long. He talked about the shooting on the boat, which took 9 hours, and other things. All in all, a difficult, but very rewarding and interesting role.
- 오현경 (Oh Hyun-Kyung) [1:35]
This is just clips of the shooting involving Oh. It’s probably because he alternates between L.A. and Korea, needing the warmer weather for his health (which is getting a little better compared to the late 90s, but is still a problem).
- 최동준 (Choi Dong-Joon) [1:31]
Again clips only, plus a textual character introduction. He plays Won-Gyu’s father in the film.
- 박충선 (Park Chung-Seon) [3:07]
He tried to find the tone of the character reading the script, more than everything else. It’s a character with no particular ability, or possession. It was really hard shooting the chase scene, because they shot the entire night. The hardest thing though was standing still while they were preparing for the dummy prosthetics. But since the result was excellent, he was satisfied.
- 장규수 (Jang Gyu-Soo) [1:54]
He was one of the assistants of Won-Gyu. Someone who was only deceptively a good person, who acted the other way in the background. The death scene, since it was upside down, was really hard. Blood was getting to his head, he couldn’t see anything. But if they kept doing NGs, they’d have to do it all again, so he tried to calm down and do it all in once. When going down, moving inside the liquid, he felt like dying in there. It was really hard.
- 유해진 (Yoo Hae-Jin) [2:30]
He’s one of the informants, he’s someone who thinks a lot about himself. They thought a long time how to approach his death (strangled with paper). They had a lot of NGs, so they shot for a long time that simple scene. He, too, describes the feeling of getting the dummy prosthetics made, having to wait a few minutes having a hard time breathing, afraid of being trapped. Some people even have a hard time accepting that feeling. It was really a scary feeling.
- 박철민 (Park Cheol-Min) [2:47]
A cruel and selfish person, even ignorant. He talks about the slapping scene, which went well the first time, then he wasn’t able to repeat it effectively. He describes his death scene, a really cruel and complicated one.
- 지성 (Ji Sung) [4:50]
Doo-Ho was a good person, but after So-Yeon’s accident he started having problems with Commissioner Kang, so rarely talked. This absence of dialogue, the need to express emotions without talking, was the difficult part about the character. He went to a painting 학원 (Academy) to get at least a feel of how to use the paintbrush, because he wasn’t really good at painting. Only two scenes involved painting (the investigation, and at the beach), but he felt confident and proud about his work there. The scene in the paper mill was really dangerous, all he had separating him from a painful fall was the stuntmen holding him. Reading the script, he loved In-Kwon as a character, so he asked who was playing him, and he would have liked to play him if possible. The role went to Park Yong-Woo (thankfully!), so he was a little envious. This was an important film for him, and for all the people who worked hard on it, so he feels happy it turned out well.
Chapter 5: ‘혈의 누’ 정신분석적 해석 (‘Blood Rain’ Psychoanalytical Interpretation)
WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS!
Doctor Ha Jin-Hyun introduces the various psychological complexes at play in the film. First is Oedipus’ Complex: this is not a film where mothers are a factor. Three relationships point out to this complex: In-Kwon and Won-Gyu’s one with their fathers, and Doo-Ho with Commissioner Kang. Won-Gyu especially buries the hostility and desire to compete with his father at the end, showing the same flaws as he did. Second is 심허로 (Shimheoro, roughly translated ‘Weakness of Heart’), which is an important part of the film. In short, it’s a phobia, the likes of which we find in today’s society: stage fright, vertigo… that kind of fear. Third is that collective state of mind at the end. When things people cannot explain happen, rather than trying to rationalize them, they become hysteric, they can’t stand it. That’s why they do things normal people would never do. He gives a few famous examples of this complex before the clip ends. Quite interesting.
Chapter 6: 직금도 (Jikgeumdo)
The ‘Jikgeumdo’ of the title was a tradition back then, of wives who sent their man away to write a sort of love letter in silk. Art Director Min Eon-Ok shows the one used in the film, and explains what was written on it. There’s a deleted scene where Won-Gyu finds the clues within the letter using a Talisman to uncover it.
Chapter 7: 사라진 단서들 (Disappearing Traces)
WARNING! MAJOR SPOILERS! Spoils who the murderer is, but also explains the end
Right after the eating scene with Won-Gyu, Inspector Choi and In-Kwon. The two go out the day after, and talk about the paper mill. Won-Gyu asks In-Kwon why he’s managing the mill while his father was the owner, he responds that he’s taking care of it in his place. Won-Gyu mentions strange happenings at the mill, and In-Kwon all points to the Shaman. Before parting, Won-Gyu makes a crack about the fire on the boat, but the way In-Kwon answers makes him suspicious.
The director said they took this scene off simply because it was unnecessary exposition. To make the other scenes involving Shimheoro more effective, they took this off. At the end though, In-Kwon finally gives away he suffers from ShimHeoRo with that comment, leading Won-Gyu to believe later that he might be the culprit. Perhaps in that sense, even if it was expository, they could have used it.
After he’s done asking people about the fire, Won-Gyu reports to his superior (while he’s eating). He brings up the idea of setting up a ‘rabbit’-like trap to find the suspect, but the superior isn’t convinced. This ties to the scene where one of the informants goes to see the prisoner.
Since the preliminary investigation was over, the superior wanted to go home fast, since the atmosphere in the island was strange. But for two reasons Won-Gyu wanted to stay and continue investigating: first, because he didn’t want to be replaced by someone else later (go back to the investigating methods featurette for this; second, because traces of his past were starting to re-emerge, he wanted to get to the end of this. Since it was more exposition and they talk about it later, Kim decided to take this scene off.
In-Kwon receives his gayageum from a servant, while Doo-Ho is hiding in ambush. Taking the chance while In-Kwon sends the servant on an errand, he enters the room. Connected to his murder attempt scene.
The director commented that this scene is more about In-Kwon testing Doo-Hoo’s knowledge, if he came to the conclusion he was the murdered, that’s why he sends the servant away. Kim thought it was too early to uncover the truth, so they just used a small part of it.
Won-Gyu is right out of the Mudang’s house, with the camera from behind. He sips a drink, and his aid comes. Won-Gyu asks if the boat was ready, then his aid apologizes. Before going home, Won-Gyu wants to deal with something. His aid asks if it’s about Commissioner Kang. Connects with the old man trying to kill himself.
Kim comments that the writer of the TV Drama ’다모’ (‘Damo’) gave him the idea for this scene. After Won-Gyu finds out it was all because of his father, he realizes he can’t really do anything about this case, but before leaving he wants to pay his last respects to Kang. That’s when what happens later puts him back on the investigation. He thought it was a nice scene, but it kind of slowed down the tempo a bit, it was a little too long, so they took it off.
So-Yeon and In-Kwon are sitting on their bedroom, he plays gayageum, she talks about animals and the sea, but he doesn’t pay attention. She asks him why isn’t he listening to her, then complains that she’s tired of seeing and doing the same things every day; that she wants to see the sea riding a boat with him. They kiss, and she shows him a painting.
This scene showed that the love between In-Kwon and So-Yeon wasn’t only on a psychological level, but had a depth. So-Yeon feels stuffy always confined in the Island, but because of In-Kwon’s Shimheoro for the sea, he obviously cannot leave. So he pretends to ignore her. Later, when she shows him the pictures, it’s actually a picture of the sea, which So-Yeon uses as a kind of photography to show In-Kwon what he can’t see with his eyes, because of his ilness. This was probably the hardest scene to take off for Kim, because it showed them at their happiest moment, but again they risked of compromising the tempo of the film. And I might add, since Yoon Se-Ah’s acting wasn’t exactly up to par, it also would have somewhat ruined the image of the woman you could do everything for. She just looked like an annoying teenager in there.
In-Kwon carries a dead So-Yeon on his back, and they go to the paper mill. While putting her on a table he starts to get angry.
This was right after it was revealed In-Kwon was the killer. He brings her to the paper mill to sort of give Commissioner Kang his daughter back. But since they had the other scene where the two part at night, it was unnecessary to use them both.
This is the final scene at the paper mill. The flashback continues with Kang looking at the workers, In-Kwon and So-Yeon are shown in the background, the two men bow, and Kang nods. The flashback moves to In-Kwon and So-Yeon leaving on a boat, ending with Won-Gyu looking at them as the flashback fades out, moving into the finale. This
explains why he threw the silk letter in the sea, to give them peace, let them fulfill their promise at the end.
Kim basically explains the end. Won-Gyu imagines the entire flashback, of those people who will now live happily without him on the Island, of In-Kwon and So-Yeon leaving to stay together, that’s why he throws the letter in the sea. It’s not a real flashback, but something his conscience created. That’s the moment he finally deals with his guilt, and even the wound stops bleeding. He only used the last part because he didn’t like the image of the two leaving on a boat.
Chapter 8: 영화에서 못다한 이야기 (Neverending Story in The Film)
2005/6/4 at Moon Studio - Video Commentary by Ji Sung, Cha Seung-Won and Park Yong-Woo
This is a nice little video commentary with the three joking and commenting some of the most important scenes. Most of the things they say were covered before, but it’s an enjoyable little featurette, with Cha cracking jokes all the time. Nothing really necessary, but it’s nice to have things like this on a DVD.
Chapter 9: Promotion
- 본 예고편 (Theatrical Trailer) [1:56]
Really good, conveys the power of the film in a nice way. Of course, as always, too many spoilers. Nice use of Rachmaninoff here.
- 티저 예고편 (Teaser Trailer) [1:22]
This gives away the more genre-specifics elements of the film, so in a commercial sense, it’s probably more effective. Still, I didn’t like it too much.
- TV Spot [0:32]
Quick, to the point, making its qualities stand out. Excellent.
Usually booklets are throwaway crap, but this one is really good. Explains the story of the film, the difficult language, the period setting, introduces the actors and crew. Excellent stuff.
That time when genre conventions don’t make the difference, while at the same time not being completely disregarded… that’s when I really enjoy genre Cinema. The power of the scenes, the impact of the ensemble acting, the superb technical achievements, those are the hallmarks of a good film. Comparing it to ‘Memories of Murder’ might stand on a pure structural basis (the stories are vaguely similar), but it’d be too cruel to expect this film, or any Korean film of this genre made in the last 2 years really, to live up to that kind of expectations. But I enjoyed Blood Rain on many levels, even though I expected something completely different. Bury all your expectations and preconceptions about the genre, how they approach it on Korean TV and past Korean Historical Dramas on the big screen. Just enter this experience expecting to be entertained, and I’m pretty sure you’ll be satisfied. The film might show a few false steps, but you shouldn’t fail it for not living up to expectations it never planned to fulfill from the beginning. Think ‘energy’ more than ‘history’; think ‘acting’ more than ‘dialogue.’ Think ‘adrenaline’ more than ‘action’ or ‘gore.’ That’ll make your viewing experience a little more fulfilling.
As for the DVD, it’s a predictably excellent one. Although the quality of the extras varies, from the exceptional (the first few featurettes) to the predictable (all the deleted scene and what you have), overall the content is extremely solid. Good presentation too, so there’s no reason to miss this release.
Friend of Soompi
edited April 2009
Cha Seung-Won + Jang Jin = The Next Big Scene at the Box Office?
Posted by X at 12:49am on AUG 09, 2005
After two weeks of great praise, for “Lady Vengeance” and “Dongmakgol,” Korean critics have gone back to their favorite pasttime, trashing domestic films. At least that’s what happened to ’가발’ (‘The Wig’), getting a nice strikeout of 4 thumbs down.
’박수칠 때 떠나라’ (‘The Big Scene’)
fared much better, with 4 Up and 2 Down.
박수칠 때 떠나라 (The Big Scene)
UP Yang Sung-Hee: “Even when the smooth workmanship (of the film) goes down, Jang’s original storytelling style is still there.”
UP Park Eun-Joo: “An exciting homerun from former single hitter Jang Jin”
UP Lee Sang-Yong: “A film taking advantage of Jang’s skillfull, voluble uniqueness. As a thriller it’s boring, though.”
UP Kim Young-Jin: “Fantastic volubility, images slowly losing their touch with reality, and that last counter punch…all in one.”
DOWN Lee Ji-Hoon: “Do we need all that overbearing structure and density to this investigation’s mindless beating? I think not.”
DOWN Jang Byung-Won: “I can’t really find what the movie-like beauty of this successful stage play is.”
Again good news for Jang Jin’s film. Maxmovie ran a poll about which August movie its netizens were most excited about. Out of the 7,405 polled netizens,
’박수칠 때 떠나라’ (‘The Big Scene’)
was first with 48.18%. Second place went to Fantastic 4 with 24.69%.
The high expectations for the film can be pointed at Jang Jin’s popularity with Korean audiences, especially after
’아는 여자’ (‘Someone Special’)
. And, of course, Cha Seung-Won’s drawing power. His last film
’혈의 누’ (‘Blood Rain’)
had similar numbers, being May’s most anticipated film with 47.39% of the votes.
Outside the first two, numbers for both ’가발’ (‘The Wig’) at 9.7% and ’왕후 심청’ (‘Empress Chung’) with 6.24% don’t give much hope to the two films.
Twitch January 02, 2006
[KOREAN DVD REVIEWS] 박수칠 때 떠나라 (Murder, Take One)
박수칠 때 떠나라
Murder, Take One (a.k.a. The Big Scene) - KOREA 2005)
Baksu-Chil Dde Ddeonara (lit. Leave When They're Applauding)
115 Minutes - 35mm Panoramic 1.85:1 - Colour
Produced by: 어나더선데이 (Another Sunday), 필름있수다 (Film It Suda)
Distributed By: 시네마 서비스 (Cinema Service)
International Sales: CJ 엔터테인먼트 (CJ Entertainment)
Opening Day: 08/11/2005
Box Office: 2,475,291 admissions nationwide (815,497 Seoul)
DVD (English Subtitles)
(Streaming, Real Media)
Note: The review contains (minor) spoilers.
Director/Writer - 감독/각본:
장진 (Jang Jin)
[거룩한 계보 (Divine Lineage) - 2006, 다섯 개의 시선 (If You Were Me 2) - 2006 OMNIBUS, 아는 여자 (Someone Special) - 2004, 킬러들의 수다 (Guns & Talks) - 2001, 간첩 리철진 (The Spy) - 1999, 기막힌 사내들 (The Happenings) - 1998]
Executive Producer - 제작:
이택동 (Lee Taek-Dong)
Producer - 프로듀서:
김운호 (Kim Woon-Ho)
Cinematography - 촬영:
김준영 (Kim Joon-Young)
Lighting - 조명:
정영민 (Jung Young-Min)
Music - 음악:
한재권 (Han Jae-Kwon)
Editor - 편집:
김상범 (Kim Sang-Beom) and 김재범 (Kim Jae-Beom)
Art Director - 미술:
김효신 (Kim Hyo-Shin)
차승원 (Cha Seung-Won), 신하균 (Shin Ha-Gyun), 신구 (Shin Goo), 정동환 (Jung Dong-Hwan), 김진태 (Kim Jin-Tae), 공호석 (Gong Ho-Seok), 정규수 (Jung Gyu-Soo), 이한위 (Lee Han-Hwi), 이용이 (Lee Yong-In), 류승용 (Ryu Seung-Yong), 임승대 (Im Seung-Dae), 장영남 (Jang Young-Nam), 박정아 (Park Jung-Ah), 황정민 (Hwang Jung-Min), 이해영 (Lee Hae-Young), 박선우 (Park Seon-Woo), 김지선 (Kim Ji-Seon), 김지경 (Kim Ji-Kyung), 이철민 (Lee Cheol-Min), 윤진호 (Yoo Jin-Ho), 이재용 (Lee Jae-Yong)
김지수 (Kim Ji-Soo), 정재영 (Jung Jae-Young)
Yoo Hwa-Yi: 첫눈 오면… 뭐하니? (If the first snow comes... what do you usually do?)
Jang Deok-Bae: 뭐하긴… 눈 쓸지 (What do you think.... I shovel)
- from the play
서툰 사람들 (Wretched People)
- Jang Jin
A lot of people go to the movies to find something exciting, something which will take them somewhere different than the reality they're living in; others look for a challenge, thought provoking films which question their preconceptions about society, politics, history, everything. Because we are animals addicted to brand, classify and dissect just about everything we come into contact with, from books to music and inevitably even films, words like 'genre' were born. And the primal, the first real distinction many people tend to make when discussing films is between what is considered art, and what's just mass entertainment.
But, just like superficial ways of classifying ideology ('left wing', 'right wing') can make politics become a mere slugfest between rival tribes, one risks becoming a victim of this labeling game when watching films. What if something doesn't exactly fall into the boundaries of what is considered art, nor is an empty exercise in mass entertainment? Then you have two ways to deal with the problem: you exclude this 'third choice' for being a half-breed, neither black nor white; or, maybe, you consider the possibility there might be a center, a gray area, a kind of 'nongenre' where films are just films; neither pretentious and pseudo-intellectual 'art', nor dumbed-down and superficial 'mainstream' fare. Korean Cinema is a bit like that: often misunderstood because it doesn't offer clear-cut genre cinema (horrors that don't feel like horrors, comedies which turn into melodramas, action films not solely concerned with spinkicks and punches), difficult to get into because it spreads all over the spectrum, covering just about every 'genre' that's available, while at the same time deviating -- frustratingly, for some people -- from such formulae with reckless abandon.
While you can easily categorize people like Kim Ki-Duk and Hong Sang-Soo as auteurs, and Kwak Jae-Yong and Kang Woo-Suk as producers of mass entertainment, things become a little harder to pinpoint when you talk about people like Park Chan-Wook, Bong Joon-Ho, Ryu Seung-Wan, or Kim Ji-Woon. Some of the best directors the country has to offer, but are they black or white, populist filmmakers or auteurs? The fact Park's films can travel overseas and either be considered substance-less 'stylish pulp' for fanboys, or masterfully orchestrated trips into our subconscious, just shows how getting rid of those labels from the beginning would pretty much solve the problem. Take Jang Jin for example: his films are much smarter and wittier than most commercial films out there, but he's never showed even a hint of pretentiousness. Just for the sake of contradicting what I just wrote, let's give him a label. Would 'populist auteur' do the job? He led a very intense life, but it's hard to understand why his films operate the way they do without looking at his personality, and at his past.
Someone who rarely watches films, who spends entire nights writing scripts, sleeping just a couple of hours a day, constantly thinking about his next step, Jang Jin's life has always moved fast. When he was in middle school, he kept dreaming of becoming a skilled musician, one with the ability to move from one instrument to the other effortlessly. But fate led him somewhere else, when he saw his first theater play in his freshman year of High School. Beginning his acting career, it looked like he would become an actor after all, as many of the 40+ plays he acted in received good reviews, and he himself collected a few awards for his performances. But after majoring in theater he started writing, and another chapter of his professional life opened. He was part of the writing team for a SBS variety show in the mid 90s, and created his own corner, 헐리웃통신 (Hollywood Message). What was so special about it?
Jang, who wrote and edited this part of the show alone, would take famous scenes from some of the most popular Hollywood films showing in theaters, and make parodies, add silly popups, mix scenes from different films together to form a bizarre, unique collage of images. Apparently he wasn't the only one enjoying that, as ratings for the show, called 좋은 친구들 (Good Friends), surged to unexpected heights. Jang was already working in Yeouido (the area of Seoul where two of the three main TV stations in the country house their headquarters), and the other two big roads -- Chungmuro (Movies) and Daehakro (the Broadway of Korea) -- were just behind the corner.
The country's most popular daily Chosun Ilbo was running its annual literary contest, and Jang entered with 천호동 구사거리 (Cheonho-Dong Crossroad), his first full fledged script. Using three characters which would feature in most of his theater plays and early films (Hwa-Yi, Dal-Soo and Deok-Bae), his new and creative brand of storytelling won over the judges, who awarded him the top prize. It was January 1995, and the film industry was already showing sign of the recovery which would bring it to today's splendor. Jang quickly seized his chance, and wrote 서툰 사람들 (Wretched People), which not only granted him lots of praise, but was also a big success, and allowed actress Song Chae-Hwan to win the Best Actress Award at the Seoul Theater Festival. But theater wasn't the only thing keeping Jang occupied, as he helped Director Lee Min-Yong, Jo Min-Ho and Lee Kyung-Shik adapt Song Jae-Hee's original into what became 개같은 날의 오후 (A Hot Roof). A glorious 'feminist' comedy and one of my all time favorites, the film sees a group of women from all walks of life (normal ajumma's, rich wives, single room salon girls, and even a transsexual) protest their position in society from the roof of a building, while their husbands and the rest of the city try to cope with all that in the midst of one of the hottest summers Korea had ever seen.
It would take another few years before Jang could start working full time in Chungmuro, but during that time, he build a reputation as one of the most brilliant theater directors in the country, with unique scripts and characters who had that 사람 냄새, that realistic 'smell of people' which came through even in the most surreal of situations. His masterpiece is probably 택시드리벌 (Taxi Driver) (nothing to do with Scorsese's film), in which he displayed all his wit and talent for snappy dialogue. The play was a huge success, so much that it was later repeated in 2000 and 2004. The original 1997 version starred Choi Min-Shik as Deok-Bae, a taxi driver from the countryside who decides to come to the city, buys a 개인택시 (Private Taxi) after his mother sold some land, and hopes to finally make an U-Turn in his miserable life.
He's trying to forget the past, change himself, and starts studying English (the English title should be 'Taxi Drivel', as Deok-Bae only learned so much English, and can't pronounce 'Driver' yet). What follows is basically one day in the life of a Korean taxi driver. He meets an ajumma who starts talking about vegetables with him, a bunch of crazy women, gangsters who swear a storm, and then two old men from two different parts of the country, who start fighting over then President Kim Dae-Joong (a scene which, if turned into film, could be incredibly funny, as it manages to talk about regionalism, Korean politics, society and more). Later versions would be played by Kwon Hae-Hyo, Jung Jae-Young and Kang Sung-Jin, and if Jang ever decides to make this into a film, it could become one of the funniest black comedies Korean Cinema has ever seen, a sort of new age 넘버 3 (No. 3) with taxi drivers instead of gangsters.
The success of his theater plays alerted some big suits in the industry, but he had a hard time starting. While Kim Jong-Hak's 쿠데타 (Coup D'Etat) was proceeding at snail pace, the veteran TV Drama producer called Jang, and he quickly wrote the script for 기막힌 사내들 (The Happenings). But as 'Coup D'Etat' kept getting postponed, went through several re-writing sessions and faced more problems, Jang decided to shop around to see if anyone was willing to get his first film started. He finally landed a contract with Hyunjin Cinema, but at the end of the day, only half of what he shot for the 1998 comedy ended up in the final cut. Still too much focused on the elements which made his theater plays great, but didn't necessarily translate well on the big screen, 'The Happenings' was a potboiler of various uneven elements, and even though it had some fantastic little moments -- the interrogation scenes with the dictionary, the commentary on TV about the murderer, and of course the telephone pole killers, speaking in dialect while hilarious subtitles in normal Korean try to make light of what they're saying -- as a whole it still wasn't a good film. But it showed promise, and it definitely brought something new to the table, in an era when commercial Cinema was still trying to find its identity.
Jang returned to theater, working on 매직타임 (Magic Time) for the first three months of 1999, while he was shooting his second film. The North/South divide was ready to be exploited for tremendous success by a certain film called 쉬리 (Shiri), but in the midst of Korean Cinema's revolution, Jang's wonderful little gem 간첩 리철진 (The Spy) was sort of forgotten, even though it did OK at the box office. Starring Yoo Oh-Sung as a North Korean spy trying to steal the magic formula of the South's 'super pig' to combat the famine, the comedy featured Jang's regulars (Jung Gyu-Soo, Shin Ha-Gyun, Jung Jae-Young) and brought back some of the elements which made his theater plays major successes, like the inspired dialogue, creating hilarious moments without even a hint of slapstick, and just using the surreal situations to develop high octane humour.
The rest of Jang's career brought him to the top of Chungmuro's A-list directors, with the same brand of 'Jang Jin style' crowd pleasers, like 킬러들의 수다 (Guns & Talks) and the lovely 아는 여자 (Someone Special). But multitasker Jang had another card to play, that of his new film company 'Film It Suda', which he used to take care of his 'family' of fellow writers, producers and directors -- some of whom were colleagues from his theater days, like the Park Gwang-Hyun who went on to direct this year's monster hit 웰컴 투 동막골 (Welcome To Dongmakgol). The omnibus comedy 묻지마 패밀리 (No Comment) was the first fruit of their hard work, a wild three-part comedy which reminds of Four Rooms (at least in structure), but also featured the great little short 내 나이키 (My Nike), by none other than Park Gwang-Hyun.
All seemed to go well, with big successes in theater, the 'Suda Family' doing well in Chungmuro, and Jang finally able to move on to producing and his real passion, writing. But the huge flop of the 2003 melodrama 화성으로 간 사나이 (A Letter From Mars) (which Jang wrote) brought the company's future to a serious crossroad: either focus on hot items or risk losing everything. The aftermath of the film's failure was felt even in 2004, as Jang wrapped up 'Someone Special' quicker than any other film he ever directed. But the results were encouraging, with a pretty decent box office performance despite the film's low budget, and top notch acting from Lee Na-Young and someone who had been silently rising up the ranks of the Chungmuro totem pole under Jang's eyes, Jung Jae-Young. Things became a little easier to handle, and Jang could finally focus on a project which had been under planning for a while, even before 'Someone Special': adapting his successful theater play 박수칠 때 떠나라 (Leave When They're Applauding) from 2000 on the big screen.
It wasn't easy. Jang had always dealt with small scale projects, but this film cost much more, and he couldn't just take the bizarre episodes of the play and put them straight back in the film. Also, the play lacked drama, as most of the fun was based on the actors' interaction and how surreal those incidents were, mood which is well reproduced in the film. All the regulars who worked in 'Suda Family' films or plays would be there: Jung Gyu-Soo, Shin Ha-Gyun, Jung Jae-Young (in a hilarious cameo), Jang Young-Nam, Ryu Seung-Yong and more. Veteran Shin Goo came on board, as well as Kim Ji-Soo and singer and sometimes actress Park Jung-Ah... now all they needed was the big star, Prosecutor Choi Yeon-Gi. The role was played by Choi Min-Shik in the theater version, and Jang needed someone who could carry the charismatic character, but also have an effect on the box office. After all, he wasn't sure 'Welcome To Dongmakgol' (which he produced, and went almost 1 Billion Won over budget) would be a success, and even though 박수칠 때 떠나라 (Murder, Take One) was produced by the Cinema Service of his good friend Kang Woo-Suk, it was still a big risk.
The script was sent to heavyweights Seol Kyung-Gu and Han Suk-Gyu, who both refused for different reasons -- Han was working with Im Sang-Soo on 그때 그사람들 (The President's Last Bang), and Seol didn't want to play a prosecutor once again after 공공의 적 2 (Another Public Enemy) -- so the final choice went to Cha Seung-Won. Jang wasn't completely sure Cha could handle a role like this, but he couldn't ignore the drawing power of the talented actor, who was close to reaching the 20 Million tickets sold with all his films. But he effectively transformed in 혈의 누 (Blood Rain) and responded instantly to Jang's filming style, more focused on rehearsals and direct interaction than storyboards and camera tricks.
The main reason why the film works, outside of Jang's usual creativity, is that Cha was able to quickly absorb the working style of the director, so he didn't feel out of place. But out of place might be the reaction of many of the viewers who approach this film as a simple mystery thriller, especially those not familiar with Jang Jin's style. The secret, as I said at the beginning, is abandoning any expectations genre tropes cause on viewers. Just go into the film expecting the usual dose of snappy dialogue, bizarre and almost surreal situations which still give that pleasant, familiar feeling of realism, even though the way Jang used to convey those sentiments might not be as flashy as other directors.
A good looking, young copywriter called Jung Yoo-Jung is killed in her hotel room, and the investigation team led by Choi Yeon-Gi and Chief Yoon (Shin Goo) seem to have the culprit on their hands already: it's Kim Young-Hoon, who was caught running from the scene. What's different this time is that the investigation will be recorded live 24/7 for a TV show, complete with recaps of the major events of the day, like an interrogation, or inspectors discussing clues together. What this causes is not only headaches for the prosecutors, who have to deal with producers and TV viewers' sensibilities, but also the manifestation of mass media's power itself, often changing how truth and justice is perceived. Remember the accident months ago when a beautiful young thief was pardoned, some argue because she was too pretty to be a criminal? Similar forces are at play here, with popular mood swinging depending on the new clues the prosecutors find.
Through their investigation, they question the daughter of the man who was having an affair with the victim, a bizarre Japanese couple who mostly keeps asking themselves why there's no 4 on Korean elevators (if you really wanted to know, it's because 4, 사 in Korean, sounds exactly like the 사 of 'death', so Koreans consider it bad luck, and just write F for 'four'), a blind woman who mistakenly entered the victim's room before she died, and more. But what's interesting is that the audience doesn't really care about the development these clues bring to the table, no, they just want excitement. They want new things, something which will make their viewing interesting. So new things have to be introduced, even if they tarnish the reputation of inspectors all over the country, like a shamanic ritual (굿 in Korean).
Without a doubt, this is the most 'theater-like' of Jang's films since his debut. If you treat it as a simple mystery thriller, the drama might fall flat, as it lacks intensity and you're never really given any reason to care about who killed Jung Yoo-Jung. But, just like 'Someone Special' was Jang Jin's idea of melodrama, this is his idea of the mystery thriller. It's his way of adding thinly veiled criticism about the craze for reality TV which is permeating our society (although thankfully it has not invaded Korea to the extent you see in the West, at least on network TV). It might feel strange I'm praising a film which lacks power and intensity, when it's always the first thing I look for in films. But after all those years I think I'm getting used to Jang Jin, to the pleasant familiarity of his films. Despite adding some new tricks to the body language of his films, the ingredients are always the same: hilarious episodes, realistic characters in surreal situations, and especially sophisticated comedy without the need to resort to toilet or physical humour. The biggest problem, like in Hong Sang-Soo's films, is that a lot of the peculiarities of Jang's wonderful use of dialogue will be lost on foreign audiences, and if you have the tendency to fall into the traps genre expectations create, this film is bound to bore you to death. Or possibly even irritate you.
It's for that reason I hesitate to recommend this film if you've never seen a Jang Jin work. Your best choice would be starting with 'Someone Special', his most accessible to date, then maybe moving to 'Guns & Talks', which already starts to show in which direction Jang's comedy goes, and finally landing with 'Murder, Take One'. As a longtime fan of Jang, not only as a director but of his way of dealing with certain facets of the business (always using a backbone of regulars used to his style, never forcing over the top comedy on the viewer, always coming up with fresh new things), I enjoyed this film quite a bit. But, even though you don't necessarily need to go through all his previous works to enjoy it, like for Lee Myung-Se's films a little background would certainly help. Because, even though he might be a 'populist auteur', offering the best of both worlds to the average viewer, that doesn't mean everyone will consider him as such. So pick you colour: will it be black, white... or the Jang Jin one?
AUDIO, VIDEO, SUBTITLES
The usual good presentation by Cinema Service, although it's far from impressive. Contrasts are nice, colour saturation and details satisfactory, and there's no major problems in terms of edge enhancement or compression. Audio is not good, but much responsive, although that's always been a feature of Jang Jin films, mostly confined to the front channels, to give a more theater-like feeling. The subtitles are quite disappointing. This film doesn't have the amount of comedy of past Jang Jin works, but it's still an extremely important aspect of the film, and something which will surely fly over people's heads, if they need subtitles to follow the film. The subtitles lack the verve and quirky wit of Jang's dialogue, there's excessive cursing even when there's none, and the usual cultural appropriation -- 수사반장 (Inspector Chief), a hugely popular police procedural TV Series which lasted for almost 20 years on TV, and was also mentioned in Bong Joon-Ho's 살인의 추억 (Memories of Murder), suddenly becomes C.S.I. A lot of the more colourful comedy, like Jung Jae-Young's 'Six Party' joke, some more dialogue between the Japanese couple and the translator, it's all missing. Sure, you'll understand the film more or less (and there's no major spelling mistakes, or timing issues), but when half the fun lies in the little details, the playful theater-like dialogue, speech patterns and the like, if the subtitles don't deliver you're essentially robbing the audience of the ability to fully enjoy the film.
DISC 1 - EXTRA FEATURES
Audio Commentary with Director Jang Jin, Cha Seung-Won and Shin Ha-Gyun
Considering how entertaining Jang's commentaries usually are, I can't help but feel disappointed about this one. It's not bad, especially for the film's first half. But it seems the three either got tired or bored, and just degrades into a 'oh... we did this, and this guy came out, and that was the first day of shooting' and so on. For once, Shin talks quite a bit, compared to his other commentaries, and Cha is entertaining as always. Wish this could be a little more informative, but it's a decent listen, at least for an hour. Here's some of what was discussed:
- They start discussing the very impressive first scene. After a closeup of the victim's feet, the scene moves to an overhead shot of the victim on her death bed, slowly panning out, revealing not only the forensic officers working around the area, but also the hallways, and all the other apartments of that building. Think of as a 'Sims 2' like angle, all in one shot. Director Jang was thinking about how to start the film, introducing the theme and the victim, and this was what they decided on. They shot all the different apartments separated, and put them back together for one fluid shot via CG. He commented the CG Team worked really hard, since they started this shot around the beginning of the shoot, and completed it near the end.
- Cha and Jang comment that the interrogation room scene was quite comfortable to act (and direct) because they rehearsed it so much before, so it was much more realistic and flew better. They discussed about the first interview the press has with a convicted killer (played by Lee Moon-Soo), asking him what he felt when he first committed a murder. Jang commented that, rather than forcing a kind of style on the actors, he discusses a lot with them about the content, and lets them find their own flow. Cha said the scene was really funny when he read the script, but it had a different feeling in the film, as Jang didn't really want to create any comedy on purpose out of this. They also discuss the scene at the Busan Grand Hotel, where the crew received a lot of help, and Jang takes the opportunity to talk about the different approaches to handheld shooting, and how they helped the film.
- They talked about one of my favorite scenes in the film, the one with the Japanese couple. The two, Hayashi Chieko and Shima Hideyoshi (I'm sure I've seen them somewhere, anyone else recognizes them?), are longtime theater actors from Japan. They flew to Korea together, practiced the entire night, shot their scene, and flew back to Japan on the same day. Jang also talks about the translator, a producer he knew from his theater days, who came back to Korea after studying in Japan (and starred in several Jang films, even his first one). They praise Shin Goo for his vitality (despite the image he carried over the years, of a very gentle and quiet person), and Shin Ha-Gyun recounts a few anecdotes he learned from acting with people who knew and worked with him. They talked about his early days as an Art Director, how talented he was, and about his love for smoking and drinking. Seemed like a pretty interesting youth.
- During the polygraph scene, Cha joked that probably nobody knew where to look at, and asked if those machines existed at all (Jang said it was a real polygraph, but the various switches and buttons were made up). The three really liked the scene when Shin Ha-Gyun and Cha Seung-Won look at each other, separated by the mirror, even though they can only see themselves. Jang just trusted the DP for this, and let the actors go at it, but he really liked the final result, and is thankful to both, for showing such energy.
- The three discuss what's probably the funniest scene in the film, Jung Jae-Young's cameo as a drug dealer. It was actually the very first scene they shot, and even though it was the end of March, it was still very cold. The people around him were really foreigners (and since they were six, with one American and one Chinese, Cha Seung-Won made the joke: "니네 무슨 6자회담하러 가냐? Are you going to the Six Party Talks or something?" even though the subtitles completely ruin the scene). They note how the scene where Jung Gyu-Soo appears behind Cha's back is a classic Jang Jin shot (he also uses it in Guns & Talks), and that the atmosphere of the whole scene gives a certain 70s vibe.
- Kim Ji-Soo shoot her scenes over 3 days, but she did well, especially considering she was really busy back then, with a cameo in 러브토크 (Love Talk) and the shoot for her latest film 로망스 (Romance) with Jo Jae-Hyun. They also talked about the Hwang Jung-Min cameo -- this is not the Hwang Jung-Min (male) of 너는 내 운명 (You Are My Sunshine), but the theater actress who appeared in Jang Joon-Hwan's 지구를 지겨라 (Save The Green Planet). The haircut she had was right from her latest theater play, but they decided to keep it as it were, as it fit well with the character. Shin talks about working with her in the past (Save The Green Planet), and praises not only the way she acts, but also how she communicates with her fellow actors. He, Hwang and Jang Young-Nam (the female prosecutor) actually worked twice for the same theater company.
- They note that since they rehearsed a lot, any scene which had to showcase their feelings wasn't really that hard, and they didn't feel the pressure usually associated with such scenes, which made everything much more comfortable and natural. This has always been Jang's style, ever since his first film, perhaps because of his theater background, or his own personality in directing actors. They talk about the various supporting characters who appear in very small roles. One of them is Han Seung-Hee, who plays one of the employees at the management agency (actually Cinema Service's offices!). She was in Ryu Seung-Wan's 다찌마와 리 (Dajjimawa Lee), and played the thief's wife in Jang's own 아는 여자 (Someone Special). Jang actually felt sorry for her, as he couldn't find an actress for the role, and they called her in a rush, offering her a role with only a scene. They also talk about Jang Young-Nam, and how she was so interested in her career as a theater actor that she doesn't appear in movies too often.
- Shin comments that the scene in the forest (the flashback with the girl) was not only Cha Seung-Won's last day of shooting, but also Shin's first day of shooting for 웰컴 투 동막골 (Welcome To Dongmakgol), which shot near the same forest in Haenam. They closed talking about the final scene, where Jang decided to just use the music, shooting angles and actors' facial expressions without a single line of dialogue.
DISC 2 - EXTRA FEATURES
- 증거 (證據, Evidence)
- 현장감식 (現場鑑識, Scene Investigation)
A rather straightforward Behind the scene featurette, mostly dialogueless, with a few small interviews where the actors talk for a few seconds about their characters. Covers the polygraph scene, the Jung Jae-Young cameo -- the 6 Cha Seung-Won going at him were actually his 6 sidekicks -- Cha's scene with Kim Ji-Soo, and more. Not really illuminating or exciting, but it's decent fun and shows some of the major scenes and how they were shot. Should be enjoyable even without subs.
- 재현 (再現, Reconstruction)
The first part of the clip shows Jang at work doing rehearsals with Cha Seung-Won and Shin Ha-Gyun. This would be for the interrogation scene. It's quite interesting how Jang never really tells the actors how to react, he just shows them a basic mood he wants from the scene, and then lets them act it out. Once the mood is not what he wants, he just tells them 'do this faster', or similar things. Again, this is the big difference between Jang and other major directors in Chungmuro, other than the fact he rarely uses storyboards to the extent a Park Chan-Wook or Bong Joon-Ho would. He focuses on interaction between the actors, practicing enough to make them comfortable. Which, after all, is just like what you do in theater. The second scene is the pre-polygraph one with Shin Ha-Gyun and Ryu Seung-Yong. Third part shows Hwang Jung-Min and Cha Seung-Won's scene. The three discuss the best way to create comedy out of their meeting, and Cha also gets involved in her scene quite a bit, helping out. Fourth part deals with Jung Jae-Young's cameo scene. Jang shows Jung Gyu-Soo how to hide behind Cha's figure, and later come out in a familiar Jang Jin-style shot. The same routine happens for several other scenes: the questioning inside the hotel, Shin Ha-Gyun walking in the hotel's hallway before entering the room, and finally Cha Seung-Won's scene in the bathroom with the shaman's daughter. It's not your usual behind the scene featurette, it just effectively shows the way Jang Jin works on the set.
- 조망 (眺望, Outlook)
DP Kim Joon-Young starts introducing the film, and explaining the kind of style he used. Since it was a crime thriller pairing a suspect and an investigator playing psychological games with each other, he focused more on closeups to bring out their psychological state. While films of this genre are usually very dark and with strong contrasts, they emphasized brighter, more 'modern' looking tones because of the effects of the Media in the investigation. He adds that, to shoot that great looking first scene, they used a new camera called Spydercam (cable camera). This would be for the fast shot which goes from the overhead view quickly to the street with the suspect and all the reporters around him. Directors Jang adds that the major benefit of this camera is you can do those surprising, very quick shots without the use of computer graphics, which adds a layer of style to the shot, without excessive effort. Lee Sang-Hyung, the operator of the 'Rollvision' (the cable camera) explains that, since they discussed with the directors what could be done and what couldn't right from the pre-production stage, they didn't need to waste time going through trial and error on the set. He says this was crucial in working with this camera, because it has a clear limitation: that of not being able to move freely (since it uses a cable, it only can move where the cable allows it to, I suppose). We're shown the remote control for the camera, and the various pieces of equipment making up the cable camera, and those that make it move. This is much more convenient than doing expensive Helicopter shots.
- 미제 (未濟, Pending Issues)
Deleted Scene No. 1 (2:24)
I bet Jang agonized over this, because it's one of those scenes you often find in older Jang Jin films, especially his debut 기막힌 사내들 (The Happenings). Basically the Variety Show panel reviews the interrogation between Cha Seung-Won and Shin Ha-Gyun via CCTV. While the action goes on, three small PIP on the bottom of the screen show the three commentators analyzing Inspector Choi's modus operandi. A sort of 주요장면 (Main Highlights) like you see on several TV shows recapping TV Dramas. Has some great little moments, like when Choi gets angry and swears, and the panel comment that it's because he's playing a psychological game on the suspect. I'm ambivalent on this. On one hand, it's classic Jang Jin to add scenes like this, but viewers have already seen the scene before, and a lot of the comedy might slow down the pace of the film, which is probably why it was deleted (commentary would help here, but alas it's not available).
Deleted Scene No. 2 (1:47)
This is priceless, but perhaps too weird for its own good. You know the guard who looked at the CCTV? He's shown here looking at various cameras, and when the culprit (with the cap on) flashes by, he can't notice him because he's slowly falling asleep. But, as he regains consciousness, here's our capped culprit once again... only this time, the camera suddenly zooms on him (wasn't it supposed to zoom only in the movies?), and it's not our culprit, but a bald headed trot singer, who starts dancing. Later a group of backdancers join him, and it all looks like your average Music Show on TV, except this is kind of crazy. As Jang Young-Nam (the female inspector) enters the room, the music goes off, everyone runs away while she questions the guard, and with a dorky face he just says: "I think I've seen something strange." Indeed.
Deleted Scene No. 3/4 (1:02)
Boy, I love this scene, more of the Japanese couple! In Japanese with Korean subs. This is right after the interrogation. There's a middle shot on the couple sitting, while in the background the translator is reading something, walking around (such a theater setup!). Here's their dialogue:
WOMAN: But, why did that woman have to die?
MAN: Ahhh... so it's true that beautiful women die earlier...
WOMAN: Uhhh... was there ever a saying like that?
MAN: What are you talking about? It's even in schoolbooks...
Now the translator butts in, and says:
TRANSLATOR: Don't believe everything you read in schoolbooks. (Obvious reference to the Japan-Korea schoolbook controversy)
WOMAN: BTW, did they say we were the last people she met?
MAN: Yeah... the last caught on camera.
WOMAN: But technically speaking, we weren't...
Now the scene moves to an overhead, b&w shot of the elevator. While the Japanese couple is arguing, you can see the victim standing behind them. This would be the moment when they started asking themselves about the F instead of the 4 in the elevator, just like they tell the prosecutors later. Only difference, this time it's sped up so we don't have to watch it all over again. Don't know if they took this off for time constraints, because the joke was too obvious (still, it's pretty funny, and totally theater-like in its delivery), or because of plot issues, but it's a lovely little scene, displaying the great comic timing of the couple.
Deleted Scene No. 5 (1:53)
Another funny scene. This is right after Cha Seung-Won beats up Jung Jae-Young in that hilarious cameo. They're sitting while Choi is writing on his laptop:
JUNG JAE-YOUNG: Can I ask you something?
CHA SEUNG-WON: Your ID...
JUNG JAE-YOUNG: Actually we were supposed to do this yesterday, but if you got the information right, you should have known it would take place on the 28th, uhh? Why did you come today? While getting beat up, I was curious...
CHA SEUNG-WON: Uhh?
JUNG JAE-YOUNG: I mean, the one who informed you, he must have said it was the 28th, I can't really understand why...
CHA SEUNG-WON: Today is the 28th.
JUNG JAE-YOUNG: What?
CHA SEUNG-WON: Yeah... [turns to Jung Gyu-Soo] Today's the 28th, right?
JUNG GYU-SOO: 27th...
Jung Jae-Young starts moving, swearing a storm....
CHA SEUNG-WON: Oh... wait a moment [runs to the door]
JUNG JAE-YOUNG: Wait what, it's the 27th... see, I did nothing wrong, take these off... ahhh mini cooper...
Perhaps they took this off for time constraints, but it's not bad. Actually, it's only 7 Minutes of deleted scenes, so they're probably all because of time. Add 7 to 115 Minutes of the main feature and you pass the magic number (120), which would mean less screenings per day.
- 증인 (證人, Witness)
- 취조 (取調, Questioning)
You're not going to get an interview like this on Hollywood DVDs... ever. Why? Because it's like eavesdropping a conversation between friends at a bar, talking about whatever they want in a very honest and upfront manner. There's none of that forced glamour, that 'we're stars granting you the privilege of hearing what we have to say' aura. It's just three good friends sharing a few words about the film and other things. It's not really informative or anything, but I'm really glad they added it, as it brings people like Cha and Shin down to earth for people who think they're these iconic superstar figures with all the baggage that comes with those labels. In short, I liked it a lot, although if you go in expecting a long and meticulous discussion about the film, you'll leave disappointed. The three start slowly, fooling around. Cha says they haven't met together for about 2 months, and then starts talking about Jang's latest theater play. Then they start commenting about the film itself. Cha notes that Jang is one of the most active people in the business, as the moment he finishes a film, he's instantly right back into writing another script -- his new film Divine Lineage, producing -- 웰컴 투 동막골 (Welcome To Dongmakgol) -- and even theater, he wonders how he can do all that. Jang's answer? When you have a debt to pay, things flow much quicker than you could possibly expect.
Jang talks of how actors are often like family for directors, when they shoot films. You share a lot of moments together, you spend months seeing each other every day, but then when the film is over, you feel both relieved you're done with it, and also a little sad. It's like sending your daughter away after a wedding, a similar feeling. But he still cares a lot about the two's future in films, and continues talking about his next projects with Shin, who Jang has seen grow up as an actor right under his eyes. Again, talking about Shin, Jang thinks he's at his best when working with someone next to him. Even Cha says that he knew he was a good actor, but he realized how he can improve just by working next to people like him. Jang talks about how nervous he was about the film itself, for costing 5 Billion Won, and having to deal with the pressure associated with the two big stars he had cast. But while he had known Shin for a long time, the biggest stress was with Cha, who ended up helping him a lot, taking of all the pressure by making everything really comfortable.
So in conclusion, did I learn much about the film? No. Did I learn about the three's working style? Not really. But I think this 20 Minutes clip is something we should get a chance to see more often on DVDs. It just shows the real face behind the camera, instead of feeding off someone's questions.
- 대질심문 對質審問 (Cross-Examination)
Director Jang talks about the major differences about the theater play and the film, adding a lot more details. He starts commenting that there wasn't really any major change between the two, if not for adapting the story to fit the format. The theater play was much more focused on the single episodes, which were more unique and striking, whereas the film focuses more on realism, the psychology of the characters and the message itself. The story was a little weak in the play, sustained by the kind of interaction only theater can give you, and by the originality of the accidents. But through the film he was able to give a little more weight to the story, by toning down a bit the uniqueness of the various episodes, without losing that characteristically bizarre Jang Jin colour. About the music, at first he wanted something to distance the story from the play, something movie-like, but when the Music Director got involved, and decided to just adapt the original theme, he found out it fit pretty well with the storyline and the rhythm of the film, so he eventually was satisfied by his choices. The characters in the film maintained that 'smell of theater' from the play, and he never really intended to change anything about that on purpose. About the shooting style, since the story wasn't traditional, he wanted to use something not traditional to express it in a visual sense, which is why the film looks more expertly shot and sophisticated in its cinematography than his previous films.
In talking about his relationship with actors, he comments that more than trying to dictate the way they have to play their characters, he gives them a basic feeling of what he wants from them during rehearsals. Then, depending of the actors' style, he lets them develop that feeling using their own imagination and expression. He thinks the two leads had a nice chemistry together, and more than anything accepted and understood what they were getting into: the fact this wasn't a really straightforward commercial film, and that if the kind of unusual feeling which permeates Jang's film wasn't well interpreted, the film could have started feeling like a B-Movie. During casting, he needed a very stylish prosecutor, so choosing Cha was a good idea, as he not only had the image, but also the skills to understand what the director wanted. He comments that his style of comedy is not something that's necessarily unique to himself, it's just the kind of comedy he enjoys, just like lots of other people do. So if he had to give the colour in his comedy a name, he'd call it something really comfortable and familiar, but still funny. He concludes the interview talking honestly about his feelings about the film. He feels he hasn't done enough, and wants to do much better next time. He simply wanted to do more, add more style, stranger episodes, just more. Because of the pressure and time constraints, he had to give up a lot, so there were things he didn't like, and feels even a little embarrassed about. A very honest and interesting interview.
- 수사본부 (搜査本部, Investigation Headquarters)
Director Jang introduces an interview with Art Director Kim Hyo-Shin, saying that since he respected her and knew how she worked, he didn't really need to ask her anything in particular, when designing the set. He just wanted to use the set (the investigation HQ) as a sort of 'small world', just like the society we live in, and show how the mass media society we live in affects the way the prosecutors deal with the case. He wanted a very structural and sophisticated place. Kim first talks about the set in general and its basic design: more than worrying about size, or where cameras would go, they went for realism, trying to build the kind of set which would be functional in real life. As for the questioning room, they decided to give it a different feeling, a lot bigger and brighter than what you see in other films (generally dark, with just a small light focusing on the suspect and the questioner, and almost always very small, to emphasize tension), emphasizing white to focus on the questioning itself, and the relationship between the two. The room with the polygraph was also a little different from what you'd expect: since Jang works without storyboards, she built it like a set for a theater play, without worrying about where cameras would go, or which angle they'd use. Finally, she talks about the larger set they had built in Gwangju, but which caught fire by accident. They had to be quick in rebuilding, and ended up making one which was smaller. She jokes that since the set caught fire, the film was going to be a success. The clip closes with a look at the prosthetics (the victim's body), and she's sorry about getting so little out of it in the finished product, since they worked really hard to make it.
- 녹취 (錄取, Recording Choices)
A really fascinating interview with Music Director Han Jae-Kwon. He's worked with Jang Jin for a long time, even directing the music for some of his theater plays, including the one which was adapted for this film. He begins by introducing the main tone of his work in the film. It's been 5 years since the play, and he had a longtime to think about the direction he wanted to follow in writing the score for the film. Even when they were working with the play, people felt it had a very 'movie-like' feeling, not necessarily because of its scale, and the two felt the same thing. Han had a lot of ambition for this project, and tried to find the right style, keeping in mind how Jang does things usually. He kept the main theme of the play more or less in line with the final main theme for the film, even though he made some cosmetic changes, to adapt to the new format. Han doesn't really think he's found a particular style so far, but compared to other music directors, he likes to use repetition, to a certain extent, to highlight the mood of the scene. He compares the role of music in films as that of actors. Using Sylvester Stallone's role in Rocky (!) as an example, in the film the actor shows different faces of the same character: his past, the moments with his wife, his feelings in the ring, and so on.
Those are just small but significant changes to an overall tone which repeats itself. So, in the same exact way, he repeats nuances of the main theme in a lot of other scenes, sometimes just hinting at it while going in another direction. That, in short, is the major difference between him and other directors, along with the 'live' feeling his music conveys, and how familiar it sounds (in fact you can instantly recognize one of his scores, at least when it comes to Jang Jin films). More than going for wild and spectacular sounds, he rather tries to create a more comfortable, familiar mood. He also talks about his little fights with the director, about the tone of the music in the film. He thinks, since a Music Director spends 5-6 months on a film, he should be able to be rewarded for that, and using his own instincts to make the music he wants in the end credits is a reward in itself. He sees end credits as a sort of presentation music directors make to their fans, so that's why he fought to have carte blanche, at least when it came to the ending credits music. The most difficult and unique scenes for him were the opening, and especially the 굿 (the exorcism by the shaman), which had more traditional instruments.
- 예고편 (豫告篇, Trailer)
As always with Trailers for Jang's films, you can never quite figure out what you're going to see. This trailer pushes the whodunit/investigation elements of the film, with all the gadgets and technical trickery employed in the film. It also effectively conveys the chemistry between Cha Seung-Won and Shin Ha-Gyun, but I would have liked a little more emphasis on the comic aspects. Extremely well edited, but lacks power.
A big, sturdy keepcase in line with Cinema Service's recent big releases holds two digipacks, and a booklet. It's very stylish and informative, with a creative design. Nothing compared to this year's big enterOne releases, or even some other Cinema Service ones -- 혈의 누 (Blood Rain) or 썸 (Some) -- but does its job quite well.
Have to say I expected a little more as far as extra features. This was one of the biggest films of the year (still in the box office Top 10 as I write this, but will likely pushed off in a couple of weeks), and Jang Jin DVDs have always been interesting. What we get is good material, and enough to satisfy the casual viewer who wants to know more about how the man works, but it all seems a little... low key? I don't know, there's really no passion in all these extra features with a few exceptions (interview with the Music Director is probably the highlight of the DVD, along with the honest talk Jang, Cha and Shin have), and a little more attention to detail, like adding a commentary to the deleted scenes, a more involving audio commentary for the main feature, some NGs, and perhaps a look at the Theater play itself. Still, it's around 90 Minutes of extras, and the commentary is decent fun if you don't go in expecting something really informative. Presentation is good, with subtitles the only (predictable) letdown.
The film will have its share of detractors and big fans, and I'd advise to look for other Jang Jin films before you see this. The wild mix of genres, the dry black comedy, the snappy theater-influenced dialogue and characters might not be to everyone's taste, and the lack of intensity compared to other Korean films of a similar genre might let you down. But, for Jang Jin fans, this is a return to his theater roots, much more so than in any other Jang film since his debut in 1998. What I love about the film are the small details, like the usual array of Jang regulars (Jung Gyu-Soo on top, and Jung Jae-Young does wonders with the few minutes he's given), the Japanese couple, the pungent little 'psychological wars' between Jang Young-Nam and Park Jung-Ah -- who does well again in another small role on the big screen. Why do her TV Dramas suck so bad, then? -- and Shin Goo's slick and quick tempered chief. The film's a bit uneven, and a few things feel a little out of place (I liked the shaman and her ritual, but the scene when Im Seung-Dae gets 'possessed' goes overboard). A little more comedy and this could have been one of the biggest surprises of the year. But, as it is, still a very good film, and another sign that Jang Jin is one of the most talented directors in the country at the top of his game.
VALUE FOR MONEY:
(Film Rating is counted twice): 7.29
» Posted by X at January 2, 2006 09:06 AM
Friend of Soompi
edited April 2009
Small Town Rivals (Yi-jang-gwa Gun-soo)(2007)
Production Company :
Sidus FNH Corporation
Release Day :
Cha Seung-won, Yoo Hae-jin, Byun Hee-bong, Choi Jeong-won
Born and raised in a rural town, Choon-sam lives a relatively normal life, taking care of his father. When the village chief passes away through an accident, the villagers unanimously decide that young Choon-sam should be perfect to fit in the job. Choon-sam soon has to deal with adversity as his old friend and school election rival Dae-gyu becomes the county magistrate. This anticipated rivalry has them fight desperately for not only predominance, but also for pride.(KOFIC)
[The Korea Herald 2007/03/23]
[MOVIE REVIEW] 'Small Town Rivals' puts comic twist on friendship
Rivalry is a double-edged sword: It can be a bitter yet healthy pill to accelerate sound competition, or it can cut into a formerly amicable relationship, driving a wedge between friends.
Either way, rivalry is an interesting theme for filmmakers, and director Jang Gyoo-seong has attempted to dissect what underlies a bittersweet competition between close friends in his latest flick "Small Town Rivals (Yijanggwa gunsu)".
The Korean title offers a clue about the film's structure. "Yijang" refers to the head of a small town, a nominal title that does not carry much public authority. "Gunsu", meaning magistrate, is one of the highest positions in a provincial government. Their gap is as wide as, well, the stylistic discrepancy between Cha Seung-won and Yoo Hae-jin.
Cha is widely recognized as Korea's fashion icon. In fact, he used to be a top-rated fashion model. Yoo does not have such fashionable credentials because his strength lies in comic roles that do not require good looks in most cases.
A logical step would be to cast Cha as the majestic magistrate who competes with a low-ranking town chief played by Yoo. But director Jang seems to have concluded that such obvious role assignment does not fit the movie's underlying identity as a comedy. Roles are rightly switched: Cha plays Cho Choon-sam, a 37-year-old man who is pushed to assume the leadership of a small town, and Yoo assumes the role of up-and-coming magistrate, Noh Dae-gyu, who responsible for a fairly large rural district.
As expected, the film's comic relief largely comes from the unlikely images attached to the rival characters. Cho Choon-sam is a typical country bachelor: a tanned face, plain clothes (mostly an unbearably tacky training suit), and a grin that reveals a humble farmer's innocence. Accepting Cha Seung-won in the rustic role is no easy task for the audience.
Noh Dae-gyu, a no-nonsense politician who cares about his old friend and the district population, does not match Yoo Hae-jin's previous roles, but it's not an outrageous miscasting, either.
The confrontation starts when Choon-sam realizes that his friend Dae-gyu is elected as the magistrate of the province in which they have been brought up together. The development is the least expected turn of events for Choon-sam, largely because he never imagined Dae-gyu to step ahead.
The rivalry traces back to their elementary school days when Choon-sam was always class president, and Dae-gyu was the perennial vice president. Dae-gyu even bribed Choon-sam to give up the much-coveted post, but to no avail. Choon-sam's greedy pursuit of the class presidency was unstoppable.
Choon-sam would not admit his defeat to Dae-gyu. Despite his not-so-spectacular status, Choon-sam makes an effort to mount a counterattack. A turning point comes when Dae-gyu decides to host a nuclear waste dumpsite within the rural province in order to bolster the declining budget.
Choon-sam takes to the street, leading a campaign against the move to host the supposedly dangerous facility in the peaceful county. The two men stage a make-or-break showdown with each other, while a local businessman hatches a secret plan to exploit the conflict to his favor.
Director Jang and Cha Seung-won previously worked together in the 2003 hit comedy "My Teacher, Mr.Kim", and their partnership seems solid considering Cha's willingness to take on a role that conversely exploits his famously fashionable image. Yoo Hae-jin's calm and gentle image-making as a public servant is also a pleasant surprise.
The only trouble with the comedy is that it's not a truly 100-percent slapstick comedy. Director Jang has incorporated a political satire into the film, weakening its already fragile comic underpinnings.
Byeon Hee-bong ("The Host") plays an evil businessman and TV actress Choi Jeong-won makes her feature film debut in this Sidus FnH production's comedy to be distributed by CJ Entertainment.
"Small Town Rivals" will be released nationwide on March 29.
By Yang Sung-jin
[The Korea Times]
'Rivals' Is Funny With Clumsy Story
By Kim Tae-jong
You might think that the new comedy "Small Town Rivals" was made by those who ought to know the ingredients of a good comedy.
In his new film, director Jang Gyoo-seong, who has shown talent in such previous hit comedies as "My Teacher, Mr.Kim" (2003) and "Lovely Rivals" (2004), teams up with veteran actors Cha Seung-won and Yoo Hae-jin _ well known for their comic performances in the past.
Cha and Yu don't deliver anything especially new _ they are quite comfortable in such roles with Cha playing a corruptive teacher in "My Teacher, Mr.Kim" and Yoo a talkative gambler in "Tazza: High Roller" ("The War Of Flower" - 2006). But the two combined to produce satisfying results, eliciting bursts of laughter from audiences in this new film _ a story about rivalry and friendship between two old friends.
But the director may have tried too hard to be smart and ambitious in this movie. He unsuccessfully tries to weave heavy issues, such as politics, into the comic storyline _ a formula that falls flat. It only adds unnecessary sequences and disturbs the storyline.
In the film, Cho Chun-sam (played by Cha) and Noh Dae-gyu (by Yoo Hae-jin) are both in their late 30s, old time friends from the same elementary school in a small town. The friends reunite after 20 years, but find they have traveled very different paths in life.
Back in elementary school, Cho was always a class leader while Noh played second fiddle. But now Cho is a poor farmer and serves as a village headman, a position usually reserved for an old man. Noh is the newly elected county headman.
As an old friend, Cho asks Noh many favors. Favors including repairing a village road and investing money for the development of the village. But when his favors are turned down he feels ignored and Cho decides to turn his back on his old friend.
Noh wants to build a radioactive waste disposal facility in his county, but this meets strong opposition from the public, especially from his friend Cho. He simply doesn't like the plan as Noh suggests it.
Cho even leads demonstrations against the idea, and the two old friends become worst enemies.
The two actors deliver impeccable performances of the slapstick variety in the wacky situations they act in. And Cho deserves a standing ovation for his silly tactics in opposing his friend's idea to build a radioactive waste facility.
But the funny moments often sidetrack from the storyline and do not successfully intermingle with the heavy sarcasm placed on political issues. The story should have been better thought out for such an attempt.
Many clumsy flashback scenes also disturb the development of the story and the last 20 minutes are packed to produce a moving ending, which could be a bit painful for some.
Friend of Soompi
edited April 2009
I think these are pictures from his upcoming drama City Hall.
Friend of Soompi
edited April 2009
Sorry for the dumping random articles all over this thread, I'll clean up later.
YONHAP NEWS 2007-12-13
Winners of Korea Fashion & Design Award
Dec. 13, SEOUL, South Korea -- Winners of the 2007 Korea Fashion and Design Award pose for the camera during a ceremony in Seoul on Dec. 12. From right are actor Cha Seung-won and actress Sohn Ye-jin, who were chosen as Fashion Icons, Namgung Won, actor and chairman of the award, and actress Kim Hee-ae, winner of the Best Dresser Award.(END)
Fashion Icon award winner
Dec. 13, SEOUL, South Korea -- Actor Cha Seung-won makes a speech after he was given the Fashion Icon award during the 2007 Fashion & Design Awards at the Grand Hyatt Seoul on Dec. 12. (Yonhap)(END)
Dec. 13, SEOUL, South Korea -- Actress Sohn Ye-jin makes a speech after she was awarded the Fashion Icon award during the 2007 Fashion & Design Awards at the Grand Hyatt Seoul on Dec. 12. (Yonhap)(END)
[The Korea Herald 2007-12-14]
Kim Hee-ae named best dressed 2007
TV actress Kim Hee-ae was named as the best dresser of the year Wednesday in an event organized by Herald Dongah TV, a major cable television channel specializing in fashion and beauty.
Kim, one of the top-rated television actresses in Korea, won praise from the public for her excellent fashion choices in the hit TV drama "Naenamja-eui Yeoja (My Husband's Girlfriend)." Demonstrating her exquisite fashion sense, the 40-year-old celebrity was dressed in white V-neck mini dress with a big gold-print ribbon on the front.
Meanwhile, the Fashion Icon Award went to actor Cha Seung-won and actress Son Ye-jin. Son was dressed in a gold satin dress with an eye-catching fur-print tote bag. Model-turned-actor Cha wore a modern version of the tuxedo, which highlighted his simple but sexy character.
This year's Best Fashion Designer Award went to Andre Kim, while Jung Yoon-ki, president of Intrend, received the Best Stylist Award.
In the business category, KUHO of Cheil Industry Inc. received the Best Fashion Brand Award and Sulwhasoo of Amore Pacific won the Best Beauty Brand Award.
"The 2007 Fashion & Design Awards" was held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Seoul with over 800 guests attending. The list included Hong Jung-wook, chairman of Herald Media Inc. and Herald Dongah TV, Won Dae-yeon, president of the Korea Fashion Association, TV presenter Baek Ji-yeon, TV actresses Lee Young-a, Lee Mi-jin and Roh Sun-mee.
The fashion and design awards also held a fashion show by the house of J. Roseroco and a mini concert by two talented K-pop divas: Park Jung-hyun and Yoonha.
Cho Chung-un (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Obsessed with City Hall and GuMi couple!
edited April 2009
thanks for the updates
i saw this last night...is this CSW?
, I'm going to post the one from Naver to City Hall thread....he's definitely rocking those suits!!!
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QUOTE (mzpakipot @ Apr 19 2009, 08:34 AM)
Hey i just have a question how tall is Cha, they say he is pretty tall but I don't see it maybe it's just the camera.
Friend of Soompi
edited June 2009
QUOTE (tanio12 @ Apr 19 2009, 09:09 AM)
Hey i just have a question how tall is Cha, they say he is pretty tall but I don't see it maybe it's just the camera.
188cm. He's very tall; he's a top model turned actor.
QUOTE (mzpakipot @ Apr 19 2009, 07:34 AM)
i saw this last night...is this CSW?
***Yonhap News 2008-JUL-02***
Actors Han Suk-kyu and Cha Seung-won
July 2, SEOUL, South Korea -- The stars of the new movie "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" -- Han Suk-kyu (L) and Cha Seung-won -- pose for a photo during a press briefing at the Seoul Lotte Hotel on July 2. The movie will be released on July 31. (Yonhap)(END)
Actor Cha Seung-won
July 2, SEOUL, South Korea -- Popular South Korean actor Cha Seung-won poses for a photo during a press briefing for the new movie "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" at Lotte Hotel in Seoul on July 2. The movie will be released on July 31. (Yonhap)(END)
*** Sportsworldi.com 2008.07.04 21:17 ***
Actor Cha Seungwon declared that he will no longer appear in comedies.
Cha Seungwon, wearing a reggae hair style, said at the ’Eye for an Eye, Tooth for a Tooth’ movie production press conference held at the Lotte Hotel in Sogongdong, "I don’t want to appear in comedies anymore."
Cha Seungwon, who has gained great popularity through movies such as ’Kick the Moon’ and ’815 Day,’ said "I appeared in comedies just because I wanted to try them. I will appear in comedies again when I want to, but for now, I don’t want to anymore. From now on, even if it means that I have to lessen the number of movies I appear in, I will only take the role of characters that I want to try. I hope that the next character I take is not a set character and a visually fancy one." Cha Seungwon will take the roll of Ahn Hyunmin who fights against adept detective Baek Sungchan’s, who will be played by Han Sukgyu, in the movie ’Eye for an Eye, Tooth for a Tooth,’ which will be released on the 31st.
***Yonhap News 2008-JUL-21***
Movie 'Eye for Eye, Tooth for Tooth'
July 21, SEOUL, South Korea -- The stars of the new movie "Eye for Eye, Tooth for Tooth" -- Han Suk-kyu (L), Cha Seung-won and Lee Byung-jun (3rd and 4th from L), along with director Kwak Kyung-taek (2nd from L) -- pose for a photo during a press briefing at a Seoul theater on July 21. The movie will be released on July 31. (Yonhap)(END)
Actor Cha Seung-won
July 21, SEOUL, South Korea -- Popular South Korean actor Cha Seung-won poses for a photo during a press briefing of the new movie "Eye for Eye, Tooth for Tooth" at the Seoul Theater on July 21. The movie will be released on July 31. (Yonhap)(END)
Actors Han Suk-kyu and Cha Seung-won
July 21, SEOUL, South Korea -- The stars of the new movie "Eye for Eye, Tooth for Tooth" -- Han Suk-kyu (L) and Cha Seung-won -- pose for a photo during a press briefing at a Seoul Theater on July 21. The movie will be released on July 31. (Yonhap)(END)
Actors Han Suk-kyu and Cha Seung-won
July 21, SEOUL, South Korea -- The stars of the new movie "Eye for Eye, Tooth for Tooth" -- Han Suk-kyu ® and Cha Seung-won -- responds to reporters' questions during a press briefing at a Seoul hotel on July 21. The movie will be released on July 31. (Yonhap)(END)
Actor Cha Seung-won
July 21, SEOUL, South Korea -- Popular South Korean actor Cha Seung-won responds to reporters' questions during a press briefing of the new movie "Eye for Eye, Tooth for Tooth" at the Seoul Theater on July 21. The movie will be released on July 31. (Yonhap)(END)
Actor Cha Seung-won
July 21, SEOUL, South Korea -- Popular South Korean actor Cha Seung-won greets reporters during a press briefing of the new movie "Eye for Eye, Tooth for Tooth" at the Seoul Lotte Hotel on July 21. The movie will be released on July 31. (Yonhap)(END)
***Yonhap News 2008-JUL-23***
Actor Cha Seung-won
July 23, SEOUL, South Korea -- Popular South Korean actor Cha Seung-won, one of the stars of the new action movie "Eye for Eye, Tooth for Tooth," which will be released in South Korea on July 31. (Yonhap)(END)
edited April 2009
wow he's really hot for being almost 39/40. by the way, what ethnicity is he? his son looks pretty cute too. ahh and his little daughter looks soo cute!
for some reason i feel that he gives off this johnny depp aura. i haven't seen any of his works but looking forward to his subbed episodes on family outing. he seems rather playful and competitive but friendly and nonchalant. he was crazy at catching those fish.
I will never understand why people like to insert pictures instead of just commenting. I came to a thread not to keep scrolling over your pictures.
vote JDG for President!
The Castle Of Zoltar
Friend of Soompi
for more articles on him n his movies..awesome stuff. I saw the movie with Han SukYu but i prefer
. Han SukYu is another super actor which is so underrated in soompi and i cant find his thread here...btw..but i like the story in BR maybe coz i find CSW looks cool in period costume too.
OOh he's so sexy in white but then he is sexy in everything and nothing..hehe..such a hottie!
Wait..can someone tell me what
he thinks of JDG
Words sound stupid -- look into my eyes ~ Anonymous
Bukan Cinta Biasa ~ No Ordinary Love...
The Wild Soul in Minnie
available in CB
Thanks a bunch, tam!
[HQ] New Good Sunday - Family Outing (2009-04-19).avi [797.3MB]
Cha Seung Won, Dae Sung, Kim Jong Kook, Lee Hyori, Kim Soo Ro, Lee Chun Hee, Park Ye Jin, Yoo Jae Suk, Yoon Jong Shin
File renamed in clubbox to
Excursion to the rural area
in folder SHOW // Old Bad Weekend
for direct CB links
Cashewmania Kpop has moved to KPOPELLA.COM
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He and Han Go Eun in Bodyguard is the coolest couple EVER, they are like Mr and Mrs Smith Korea, how i wish they could team up in another project.
Friend of Soompi
edited June 2009
QUOTE (kdramafanusa @ Apr 21 2009, 02:44 AM)
The Korea Times 04-21-2009 17:25
'City Hall' to Bring Public Officials to TV
By Han Sang-hee
Actors Cha Seung-won, left, and Kim Sun-ah pose for the cameras at the press conference of the new drama “The City Hall.” The two actors will play public officials, both vying for success and of course, love. The drama will start airing at 10 p.m. on April 29 on SBS. / Yonhap
The makers of hit dramas and some of Korea's favorite actors are getting together to bring the life, passion and love of public officials working at city hall.
Created by producer Shin Woo-chul and writer Kim Eun-sook, who brought hit television series such as "Lovers in Paris'' (2004), "Lovers in Prague'' (2005) and "On Air'' (2008), the new drama "The City Hall'' portrays the story of public officials working in a small town finding their way to success, plus a bit of romance along the way.
"We were not going for a political drama. We just wanted to talk about people, and a lot of them, and that's how we set the backdrop in a city hall. The drama will be about people we meet and see everyday,'' said the producer at a press conference held in Incheon.
Kim Sun-ah, 33, who played the quirky and lovable character Sam-soon in the hit drama "My Lovely Sam-soon,'' will appear as Shin Mi-rae, a low-ranking official who's been making coffee for her superiors for the last seven years. Her life takes a turn when she wins a pageant and later becomes the mayor. Her name literally means "the new future.''
"Shin is the brightest, cutest and most lovable character I've ever portrayed. But, to be honest, it was also the hardest drama I've ever worked on. I was able to focus on acting only because my counterpart was so great,'' Kim, who surprised reporters with her slimmer figure, said.
The counterpart Kim mentioned is model-turned-actor Cha Seung-won.
"There was nothing particularly difficult, but it was hard to be hit in the head so many times,'' Cha said, laughing.
The 38-year-old actor has returned to the small screen after
six years as a smart and passionate official named Cho Guk, which means "home country,'' dreaming of becoming the next president. Expectations are naturally high.
"Of course I'm happy to be back. It's been a while but I think I've learned to release the stress of working on dramas. We have so many talented actors, and it really means a lot to be working with them happily for this series,'' he said.
Famous for their comic characters, the two actors will be able to show their funny sides, as the writer herself said that the soap was going to be her funniest work.
"This drama is really a romantic comedy. I had a difficult time understanding the true meaning of humor in the past, but I've finally overcome my difficulty,'' Kim said, smiling.
Known for her quick and catchy lines in her previous dramas, starring top actresses such as Kim Jung-eun (Lovers in Paris),
Jeon Do-yeon (Lovers in Prague) and Kim Ha-neul (On Air), the writer said that she always left some space for the actors to fill in themselves.
"When they have a space within the script where they can experiment, it really makes a difference. The script for this drama also offers that and both Kim and Cha said they were thrilled,'' she added.
Despite the colorful characters and the catchy names, the title "The City Hall'' still begs the image of a political drama, and both the producer and writer made sure that they made their points clear.
"Politics just happened to appear because of the backdrop. But that's not what the series is about. I wanted to show our ideals: ideal mayors, politicians and public officials as ordinary people, just like us,'' Kim said.
"The City Hall'' will start airing April 29 at 10 p.m. on SBS.
Friend of Soompi
edited April 2009
Recent articles on Cha Seung-Won:
1) April 19th episode of Family Outing (featuring Cha Seung-Won's appearance)
Compared to last week's episode with Hwang Jung-Min, the rating of this episode increased.
2) At the press conference of MBC drama "My Wife Is A Superwoman" on April 21st, lead actor Oh Ji-Ho revealed that his role model is Cha Seung-Won. He would like to become to like him.
Have to get off now, i will try to add more details later.
Friend of Soompi
edited April 2009
Thanks to a friend who sent me this.
The 1st 2 pictures were taken at the end of 2008 (at Kwon Sang-Woo's wedding).
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