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Photos: Sports Chosun user posted image

 

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user posted image SONG KANG HO, Best Actor at the 38th Blue Dragon Awards

 

“Even aside all the politics and history, ‘A Taxi Driver’ is about what’s within our hearts; I wanted to get across the feeling of remorse that we all have as humans,” said Song in his acceptance speech. “The trophy is important, and the 10 million tickets sold are important, too. But the biggest honor I’ve had with this movie is that I was able to take a look at my heart with ‘A Taxi Driver.’ I think this [trophy] is given to me by the amazing audience. Thank you.” (INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily

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November 25, 2017

 

[Guest Film Review] "The Age of Shadows"

 

Source: HanCinema.net
 

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South Korea's contender for the 89th foreign-language Academy Award, and the first Korean-language production for Warner Bros is a blockbuster in every sense.

 

"The Age of Shadows" screened at Five Flavours, that will be on in Warsaw November 15-22. 

 

The film is set at the end of the 1920's, in Korea, during the Japanese occupation. Lee Jeong-chool is a Korean working for the Japanese police, whose mission is to uncover members of the Resistance, and particularly Kim Woo-jin, one of its central figures. Lee has some successes, but the Japanese do not fully trust him, and attach to him Hashimoto, supposedly as his assistant, but actually as the man in charge. In this power struggle, both sides use their moles and their informants, and a series of events take place, that lead Lee and Kim to meet, although none of them reveals that he knows the other's identity.

 

Soon the scenery changes, as all the players move to Shanghai, where the members of the Resistance have moved to avoid investigations and to obtain explosives. Kim soon tricks Lee into a meeting with the leader of the Resistance, Jung Chae-san, and now Lee has to choose sides, as he is blackmailed by the Koreans and suspected by the Japanese. A deadly cat-and-mouse game initiates.

 

Kim Jee-woon directs and pens a spy thriller that also combines elements of film-noir with action and drama. There is also a minor romantic concept, but it's not actually examined at all, since women are in the definite background. The script is quite elaborate, with constant betrayals and changes in the upper hand, as spies fight against other spies. These notions are chiefly materialized through Lee Jeong-chool's character, who incorporates all of them.

 

Spoiler

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In terms of direction, the film is a true masterpiece. Kim creates a great atmosphere that is shaped through a number of "confrontations", usually between two characters, with the ones between Lee and Kim standing apart. The noir element is chiefly present in these scenes. The highlight of his direction, though, is the sequence on the train, where he manages to retain the agony through an astonishing number of events, which occur despite the restricted space. The bloody finale of these events is another highlight of the film.

 

After that point, the dramatic element also enters the movie, along with the most violent scenes, which include graphic depiction of torturing. In that fashion, the action scenes are another point of excellence, with the aforementioned and the introductory one, with the magnificent shots on roofs, being the ones that stand apart. The film's large budget ($8.62 million) becomes quite evident in these scenes, which highlight Kim Ji-yong's magnificent cinematography and elaborate editing. The same applies to the utterly detailed depiction of the era, which includes costumes, the setting in both Korea and Shanghai, even cars and rickshaws.

 

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Song Kang-ho is great as always as Lee Jeong-chool, in a very difficult role that demands a constant state of inner struggle. His chemistry with Kim Jee-woon, that has been shaped through three previous collaborations ("The Quiet Family", "The Foul King", "The Good, the Bad, the Weird") is quite evident, and one of the biggest assets of the film. Gong Yoo is also great as the highly intelligent Kim Woo-jin, in another difficult role that has him portraying a character who must hide his angst under a rather cool facade. The one who steals the show, though, is Um Tae-goo as Hashimoto, a truly great villain, both in concept and in materialization. The fact that he oozes evil and threat from every part of his body is a definite point of excellence, as is his constant, covered threat towards Lee Jeong-chool. The scene where he is first introduced, when he hypocritically acts as if he has respect for him, is one of the greatest in the film. Lee Byung-hun also appears in the movie, in a small role, once more looking as smooth as possible.

 

"The Age of Shadows" is a film destined to succeed, both commercially, since it includes a favorite theme, some of S. Korea's most popular actors, and a rather large budget that was implemented wisely, and artistically, particularly due to the acting and the masterful direction, and it absolutely deserves it.

 

Review by Panos Kotzathanasis

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November 27, 2017

 

'A Taxi Driver' Sweeps Blue Dragon Awards

 

By Lee Tae-hoon The Chosun Ilbo


"A Taxi Driver" and "I Can Speak" swept the annual Blue Dragon Film Awards on Saturday evening.

 

"A Taxi Driver" won best picture, best actor (Song Kang-ho), most watched, and best music (Jo Yeong-wook). "I Can Speak" bagged two important categories -- best actress (Na Moon-hee) and best director (Kim Hyun-seok).

 

"A Taxi Driver" was this year's only film to draw over 10 million viewers and tells the story of a taxi driver who takes a German journalist to Gwangju during the democratic uprising in May 1980.

 

"I Can Speak" is a comedy about an elderly woman who constantly files complaints with the local office but also touches on the serious topic of Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery by imperial Japan during World War II.

 

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Actors pose with their trophies at the annual Blue Dragon Film Awards in Seoul on Saturday. From left, Jin Seon-gyu, Do Kyung-soo, Na Moon-hee, Song Kang-ho, Kim So-jin and Choi Hee-seo

 

Cha Tae-hyun stood on stage while the event paid tribute to fellow actors who died this year, including Kim Ji-young, Yoon So-jung, Kim Young-ok, and Kim Joo-hyuk.

 

"I remember the year 2017 as a year when many of my beloved colleagues left us," Cha told the audience.

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December 1, 2017

 

Big budgets don’t guarantee big success:

Some of 2017’s most highly anticipated films flopped after audiences found them to be unoriginal

 

Source: INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily

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[CJ E&M, 20TH CENTURY FOX KOREA, LOTTE ENTERTAINMENT, MEGABOX PLUS M, OPUS PICTURES]

 

In the beginning of 2017, moviegoers were excited about a number of star-studded, high-budget flicks scheduled for release throughout the year. But of the many that hit the big screens, only a few, like "A Taxi Driver," “Confidential Assignment” and the currently running “The Swindlers,” managed to draw large audiences while others like “Real,” “The Battleship Island” and “Warriors of the Dawn” failed to drum up interest after their release.

 

From January to October, the number of tickets sold for locally produced movies dipped by more than 10 million year-on-year to 88.8 million, according to a report by the Korean Film Council. During the same period, however, the number of admissions sold for foreign movies surged by nearly nine million to reach 94.03 million, accounting for 51.4 percent of the market share.

 

The primary reason for the decline in sales can be explained by the disappointing performances of highly anticipated local blockbusters which cost at least 10 billion won ($9 million) to make.

 

CJ E&M’s mega-blockbuster “The Battleship Island,” starring Hwang Jung-min, So Ji-sub and Song Joong-ki, only sold 6.59 million tickets and faced backlash after being accused of monopolizing movie screens and distorting history. Though ticket sales were not low, they were not high enough, considering the 20 billion won it cost to make the period epic. 

 

“Real,” featuring superstar Kim Soo-hyun and singer-turned-actor Sulli, did not satisfy audiences either. Despite Kim being praised for his performance in the film, the 10-billion-won movie ended up selling merely 470,000 tickets after being criticized for its obscure plot.

 

Spoiler

 

Additionally, the number of crime and historical movies with unoriginal plots have prompted moviegoers to turn away from local films. 

 

“Over the past few years, most Korean movies have been confined to similar genres with similar stories,” said film critic Kim Hyung-suk. “Most high-budget flicks made with more than 10 billion won have been either crime or historical films due to their assumed commercial appeal, and audiences have grown tired of them.”

 

Kim also explained that the switch to a liberal government has affected moviegoers’ choices. Most crime movies are about good triumphing over evil, “which the current administration is attempting to achieve in reality,” while the majority of historical epics attempt to arouse nationalism. 

 

The growing monopoly of major film distributors has also contributed to the lack of diverse genres on offer, according to Kim, as “many of the flicks they chose to invest in have been either crime or period flicks.”

 

Making up for the poor performances of the big-budget movies, smaller budget films with well-organized plots had a relatively strong showing this year.

 

Action crime film “The Outlaws,” starring Ma Dong-seok, and action comedy “Midnight Runners,” which both cost seven billion won to make, sold an impressive 6.87 million and 5.65 tickets, respectively. 

 

The relative success of smaller films reflects the audience’s growing interest in unique and lighter films, according to movie critic Hwang Jin-mi.

 

“It seems that moviegoers have a growing preference towards characterheavy and less serious movies instead of giant blockbusters that attempt to satisfy everyone through similar characteristics, like being male-centered and adding emotional elements. [To further develop the local film industry], changes need to be made,” Hwang said.

 

But before 2018 arrives, two more local blockbusters may raise the annual performance of local films. “Steel Rain,” an action drama revolving around a former North Korean intelligence agent and a senior member of the Korean security services working on a secret mission to prevent the breakout of a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula, hits theaters on Dec. 14, while the fantasy drama “Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds,” which centers on the sudden death of a man and his afterlife trials that evaluate how he lived his life and determine where he will spend the rest of eternity, will be released on Dec. 20. 

 

BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]

 

 

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November 27, 2017

 

MyDaily-MaxMovie: Song Kang Ho with highest ticket power for second consecutive year; Sul Kyung Gu and Ma Dong Seok round up the top 3

 

Source: MyDaily (ELBH Google-gist)

 

Celebrating its 13th anniversary, Korean news portal MyDaily, along with movie site MaxMovie, conducted an online survey on movie actors with the best ticket power. A total of 12,690 people participated in the survey that was held from November 3 to November 20. 

 

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The final ranking:

 

1. Song Kang Ho   (25.49%)

2. Sul Kyung Gu   (10.8%)

3. Ma Dong Seok   (5.6%)

4. Ha Jung Woo   (5.4%)

5. Hwang Jung Min   (5.4%)

6. Kang Dong Won   (5.2%)

7. Lee Byung Hun   (4.0%)

8. Choi Min Sik   (3.5%)

9. Ryu Jun Yeol   (2.3%)

10. Lee Je Hoon   (1.9%)

 

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Details of survey participants:

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The list in 2016

Spoiler

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MyDaily-MaxMovie list for movie actresses with the highest ticket power (here)

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December 13, 2017

 

More top actor awards for Kang, Na
 

Source: INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily

 

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Actors Song Kang-ho and Na Muni were selected as the best actors of 2017 by the Korea Film Producers Association on Tuesday. The two actors were previously given the Best Actor and Best Actress awards at the 38th Blue Dragon Awards, held on Nov. 25.

 

In “A Taxi Driver,” Song, left, plays a driver who courageously takes a foreign reporter to the scene of the 1980 Gwangju Democratic Uprising. It is the only movie this year that has sold more than 10 million tickets in Korea, and became the ninth best-selling movie in Korean film history.

 

Na, right, played a surviving “comfort woman” in “I Can Speak,” a movie which illustrates how she strives to learn English from a public officer in order to speak up about her painful past. This year is the fourth year the Association has given awards. The event was organized to show gratitude to the cast and crew who produce movies in Korea. 

 

The ceremony for awards will be held next Tuesday at Myeong Films Art Center located in Gyeonggi. 

 

By Hong You-kyoung

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December 13, 2017

 

Koreans Choose Top Film Actors Of 2017

 

Source: Soompi by J. K 

 

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Gallup Korea has released the results of their poll to determine Korea’s favorite big screen actors in 2017!

 

The research survey company Gallup Korea polled 1,700 Korean men and women aged 13 and older from November 8 to 28 to find out who they thought was the most outstanding actor this year. Each respondent wrote in the names of two actors.

 

Song Kang Ho came in first place with 35 percent of the votes. The actor previously took the title in 2008 and 2013, and earned rave reviews once again for his starring role in the 2017 film “A Taxi Driver.”

 

In second place was Ma Dong Seok with 17.8 percent of votes, after he starred in films including “The Outlaws,” “The Bros,” “Wonderful Ghost,” and more this year. This is a significant rise in the poll as he came in No. 10 last year.

 

Lee Byung Hun came in third with 12.6 percent of the votes following roles in films including “The Fortress” and “Single Rider.” Lee Byung Hun previously came in first place in the years 2009 and 2012.

 

Notably, all actors in the top 10 this year were male. Actresses Kim Hye Soo, Na Moon Hee, and Jun Ji Hyun appeared in the top 20.

 

Check out the full top 10 below!

 

1. Song Kang Ho (35 percent)
2. Ma Dong Seok (17.8 percent)
3. Lee Byung Hun (12.6 percent)
4. Hwang Jung Min (8.1 percent)
5. Ha Jung Woo and Sol Kyung Gu (tied with 6.3 percent)
7. Gong Yoo (6.2 percent)
8. Song Joong Ki (5.8 percent)
9. Jung Woo Sung (5.2 percent)
10. Yoo Hae Jin (5.1 percent)

 

Actors who ranked in the top 20 (with some spots tied) included Choi Min Shik, Kim Hye Soo, Hyun Bin, Yoon Kye Sang, Na Moon Hee, Han Suk Kyu, Jo Jin Woong, Lee Jung Jae, Kim Joo Hyuk, and Jun Ji Hyun.

 

Source (1) (2)

 

Top Photo Credit: Xportsnews

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December 26, 2017

 

THE FORTRESS Tops Korean Film Producers Association Awards
KFPA Hands More Acting Honors to SONG Kang-ho and NA Moon-hee

 

by Pierce Conran / KoBiz // SBS

 

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The Korean Film Producers Association (KFPA) handed their top prize this year to the period siege drama The Fortress, from director HWANG Dong-hyuk. HWANG’s film also took the prizes for Best Editing (NAM Na-young) and Best Sound for CHOI Tae-young, who previously won for period drama The Throne (2015). The 4th KFPA Awards, which were hosted by actor KWON Hae-hyo (The Day After), took place on the 19th at the Myung Film Center in Paju.

 

SONG Kang-ho’s performance in A Taxi Driver earned him another Best Actor prize, following wins at the Blue Dragon Film Awards and the Seoul Awards this year, while NA Moon-hee continued her prize run for I Can Speak, snagging her fifth Best Actress Award, and seventh prize overall this season. Meanwhile Best Supporting Actor went to KIM Hee-won for The Merciless and Best Supporting Actress went to The King’s KIM So-jin.

 

Best Director went to LEE Joon-ik for Anarchist from Colony, I Can Speak earned YOO Seung-hee the Best Screenplay award, The Merciless won Best Cinematography (CHO Hyoung-rae) and Lighting (PARK Jung-woo), and The Battleship Island took home prizes for Best Art Direction (LEE Hoo-kyoung) and Best Music (BANG Jun-seok). This year’s Technical Award went to the martial arts choreography of THE OUTLAWS by JEON Jae-hyeong and HA Myung-haeng.

 

A Special Award went to indie film production company ATO, behind The World of Us and Yongsoon, among others, while the Kreative Thinking Award went to production company Idioplan, behind this year’s New Trial.

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December 26, 2017

 

Best Korean movies of 2017

 

By Rumy Doo The Korea Herald

  
Another year has come to a wrap up the Korean film industry. 

 

Genres continue to be limited to political thrillers and crime flicks, and the scarcity of female roles persists. Despite the relative lack of diversity, however, 2017 turned out to be a year that offered several pleasant, unexpected surprises for moviegoers. Quieter, more pensive films excelled this year, offering insight into humanity and the everyday. 

 

Okja
Adventure, fantasy 
Directed by Bong Joon-ho 
Distributed by Netflix, Next Entertainment World

 

“Okja” is a film full of heart, an optimistic story that also peers into some of the most twisted aspects of a social order mankind has created for themselves. 

 

Vegetarians and environmentalists hailed the film as an effective campaign tool against the mass-production of meat, and though it makes an excellent case, the film is much more than an advocate for green eating. It speaks of universal issues such as the need for empathy, the inevitable pang of growing up and facing a vicious world, the inhumane order of capitalism and the terrible consequences that one person’s envy can cause. 

 

At once a coming-of-age tale, satire and good old-fashioned adventure ride, led by the indefatigable young heroine Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun), “Okja” once again proves director Bong’s unique sensitivity and intellect. It includes picturesque Korean landscapes, large-scale yet detailed chase scenes, a richly layered story and an equally diverse cast. 

 

The Fortress
Historical drama
Directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk 
Distributed by CJ Entertainment 

 

In Korea, dozens of period pieces are made every year for both film and television, but “The Fortress” is that rare example of a historical drama that appreciates history in all its complexity. 

 

It also invites viewers to ponder philosophical issues through characters who seem to adhere to a higher moral standard than the modern bureaucrat. 

 

The year is 1636. The location, Namhansanseong, a mountain fortress southeast of Seoul. Joseon’s King Injo (Park Hae-il), his advisers and people are trapped within its walls in the freezing winter, unable to escape from or fight against a Chinese invasion. 

 

At the center of the film lies the ideological struggle that ensues as the king’s two highest advisors -- Choi Myung-gil (Lee Byung-hun) and Kim Sang-hun (Kim Yoon-seok) -- fiercely debate on the course of action to take. Choi opts to surrender, arguing that life and survival precede lofty ideals, while Kim, staunchly believing that the only meaningful life is one with honor and dignity, argues Joseon should fight even if it means death. 

 

The film’s debate mirrors the philosophical tension that was pervasive throughout the Joseon era; some scholars today argue that it was Joseon’s excessive emphasis on form and formality that led to its demise. In the film, both arguments, meanwhile, pale when compared to the brutal reality of people dying from frostbite and starvation.  

 

The Running Actress
Drama, comedy
Directed by Moon So-ri 
Distributed by Metaplay

 

Humorous, intelligent and reflective, this is a gem of a film and the directorial feature debut of acclaimed actress Moon So-ri, known for films such as “Oasis.” Moon, who penned, directed and starred in the film, tells a semi-autobiographical three-part story about the daily life of an actress, which usually begins and ends in a breakdown in her van. 

 

Moon struggles with the gap between the cachet people place on actresses -- “You must not eat (cheap) food like this!” -- and the painfully menial, often demeaning, details of her actual daily routine. With a livelihood that relies so heavily on “personal charm” and “beauty,” the actress perennially wavers between confidence in her skills, the courage to ask for better roles and intense insecurity. The film ends with a stirring contemplation on art and life. 

 

The First Lap
Drama
Directed by Kim Dae-hwan 
Distributed by Indieplug 

 

With his sophomore feature, Kim Dae-hwan proves once again that he has a keen eye for capturing the real Korean family. His debut work “End of Winter” observed how deep-seated resentments begin manifesting themselves after a family is snowed in in their hometown. 

 

“The First Lap” focuses on a young couple as they attempt to navigate adult life, meet each other’s families and evade, for as long as possible, that daunting institution of marriage for fear of turning out like their respective parents. In two achingly naturalistic performances that were in large part adlibbed, according to director Kim, Jo Hyun-chul and Kim Sae-byuk bring to life a thoroughly average millennial Korean couple and all their blunders. 

 

The Merciless
Crime, action
Directed by Byun Sung-hyun
Distributed by CJ Entertainment 

 

Director Byun made an explosive debut with the stylish noir “The Merciless,” which was invited to Cannes Film Festival’s midnight screenings in May. 

 

The value of this film lies in its style -- its bold, vintage colors, the meticulous arrangement of the buildings and people -- and how it follows the emotions of its two lead characters, the seemingly hardened gangster Han Jae-ho (Sol Kyung-gu) and reckless young delinquent Jo Hyun-soo (Im Si-wan). Their relationship evolves to become deeper than a bromance and more calculated than a romance.  

 

The film’s box office numbers, meanwhile, received a blow due to public outrage at director Byun’s sexual tweets about his actors, for which the director subsequently apologized. 


Distinctly ‘Korean’ films that soothed the souls of Koreans


"A Taxi Driver" (Showbox)

 

“A Taxi Driver,” directed by Jang Hoon, became the 11th most-viewed Korean film of all time. Through the movie, we see that through the efforts of one taxi driver -- played by the always enjoyable Song Kang-ho -- and a relentless German journalist, Korea’s May 18 Democratic Uprising, where hundreds were killed while protesting the military government, became known to the world.


"I Can Speak" (Lotte Entertainment)

 

“I Can Speak,” directed by Kim Hyeon-suk, also deals with Korea’s lingering pain from history. The elderly Na Ok-boon (Na Moon-hee) is a neighborhood busybody who pesters civil servant Park Min-jae (Lee Je-hoon) for English lessons. It turns out that Na was forced into military sexual slavery in her youth by the Japanese. By learning English, she exposes Japan’s crimes on the international stage. 

 

Spectacular computer graphics 


"The Battleship Island" (CJ Entertainment)

 

Ryoo Seung-wan’s “The Battleship Island” recreated almost in its entirety Japan’s Hashima Island, where Korean people were forced into slave labor by the Japanese, both using a set and through computer graphics. The film shows large-scale explosions in the narrow underground coal mines, Korean laborers’ decrepit living conditions and a rebellion that breaks out among the workers. 


"Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds" (Lotte Entertainment)

 

Kim Yong-hwa’s “Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds” offered another example of sheer scale and spectacle. It created a vast fantasy world of the afterlife, from the burning hell of lava to sprawling deserts and towering waterfalls. The graphics were undertaken by Kim’s Dexter Studios, one of Asia’s leading motion picture production studios.    

 

Daring films that attempted to transcend genre 


"Real" (CJ Entertainment)

 

Director Lee Sa-rang’s “Real,” starring Kim Soo-hyun, caused a small sensation when it was released in June. With blaring electronic visuals (so much red lighting), a plot that attempted to intertwine the present, the past, the psyche, and reality, and explicit sex scenes, the film was incomprehensible and utterly new -- though perhaps not in the best way. It is worth noting for its courage to break all rules.


"Glass Garden" (Little Big Pictures)

 

Shin Su-won’s “Glass Garden” features a scientist (Moon Geun-young) who isolates herself in the forest to research blood. She discovers a way to create “green blood” by infusing blood with chloroplasts, and dreams of one day turning into a tree. The novelty of the premise led the film to open this year’s Busan International Film Festival.   

 

By Rumy Doo (doo@heraldcorp.com) 

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December 29, 2017

 

Major flops cause a weak year at the local box office: Foreign flicks nearly surpass local movies for first time since 2010

 

Source: INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily

 

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Among this year’s releases, only “A Taxi Driver” sold more than 10 million tickets as of Wednesday. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” was the top-selling foreign feature with 7.25 million tickets sold, while animation “Your Name” became the best-selling Japanese movie in Korea.[SHOWBOX, SONY PICTURES RELEASING INTERNATIONAL, MEGABOX PLUS M]

 

It’s hard to say that 2017 has been an impressive year for the local box office. Of the 1,731 movies that hit theaters this year (158 more than last year), only the period epic “A Taxi Driver” starring Song Kang-ho surpassed 10 million ticket sales, with 12.2 million admissions sold.

 

Korean movies in particular failed to fulfill expectations despite a string of ambitious, big-budget movies like “The Battleship Island” and “The Fortress” which both cost at least 10 billion won ($8.97 million) to make. 

 

Of the 10 highest-grossing movies this year, three spots were taken by foreign films, including “Beauty and the Beast” and “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” as of Dec. 27. In fact, for the first time in seven years, the total ticket sales for local films came close to being outpaced by foreign movies. 

 

As of Dec. 25, Korean films have pulled in a total of 853.1 billion won with 175.6 million tickets sold, accounting for 50.5 percent of the market share. The performance is weaker than the 927.8 billion won raked in last year. Foreign movies, on the other hand, sold 152.3 million tickets this year, taking in a total of 848.2 billion won. But considering the popularity of “Steel Rain” and “Along with the Gods,” which sold more than three million admissions over the Christmas holiday, the gap is expected to widen slightly, with an additional boost from “1987: When the Day Comes,” which sold 332,000 tickets in its debut on Wednesday. 

 

One of the biggest contributors to Korean films’ relatively weak box office outcome is the poor performance of this summer’s big-budget films. Historical action drama “The Battleship Island,” and adventure drama “Okja” were both tent-pole movies for studios, but they failed to draw large audiences, hinting at the waning influence of seasonal releases, possibly due to the growth of streaming services like Netflix and Watcha Play.

 

Among domestic films, political thrillers, crime action flicks and period films were particularly abundant this year. Of the limited genres on offer, action flicks were especially well-received, as can be seen by “Confidential Assignment,” “The Outlaws” and “Midnight Runners” which ranked in the second, fourth and seventh spots on the top 10 best-selling movies of this year.

 

Movies that raised civic awareness captured moviegoers’ attention throughout the year. “Our President,” a documentary shedding light on late president Roh Moo-hyun, became the best-selling documentary this year. The film, which focuses on the miracle of Roh winning the Millennium Democratic Party’s primary in 2002 by unexpectedly defeating frontrunner Rhee In-je, sold 18.5 million tickets. Also, “The King,” about two corrupt prosecutors that director Han Jae-rim made “to portray the absurdities of Korean society with satire and farce,” sold 5.32 million tickets. 

 

Unsolved historical issues were also commonly depicted in films this year. “The Battleship Island,” which drew an audience of 6.59 million, portrayed Korean forced laborers on Japan’s Hashima Island during World War II, while “I Can Speak” (3.28 million) dealt with “comfort women,” a euphemistic term for victims of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery, and won actor Na Mu-ni multiple awards. 

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Among foreign releases, superhero movies were well-received, as expected. Audiences especially enjoyed films that got creative with the genre. Marvel and Sony’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming” was similar to a high school comedy while Hugh Jackman-fronted “Logan” was more of a modern-day Western about family, love and redemption. 

 

Another notable trend among foreign features was the increased popularity of Japanese romance dramas. Japanese films drew around 7.92 million audiences to cinemas, which is more than double last year’s 3.45 million. The number of audiences that watched Japanese films accounted for four percent of the entire ticket sales. This was the first time that Japanese films took up more than three percent of the market share since 2003. 

 

Director Makoto Shinkai’s animated feature “Your Name” became the highest-selling Japanese movie ever in Korea with 3.67 million admissions sold. Backed by the popularity, the animation will be re-released in theaters on Jan. 4, exactly a year after its initial release date. 

 

BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]

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January 4, 2018

 

A TAXI DRIVER Catches a Ride to Palm Springs
Korean Political Drama Kicks off 2018 Festival Calendar in California

 

by Pierce Conran / KoBiz

 

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Last year’s biggest Korean hit will also be the first Korean film to screen at a major film festival in 2018 as JANG Hun’s political drama A Taxi Driver has been invited to the 29th Palm Springs International Film Festival. The festival runs from January 2nd to 15th. 

 

The only Korean film to be featured at the California festival this year, A Taxi Driver will screen in the ‘Awards Buzz’ section, as it was Korea’s official submission to this year’s foreign language category of the Academy Awards, though ultimately it did not make the final shortlist for the ceremony. In Palm Springs, the film will vie for the FIPRESCI Prize.

 

Based on a true story, the film features SONG Kang-ho as a taxi driver who brings the German reporter Jürgen Hinzpeter (played by Thomas Kretschmann) from Seoul to Gwangju to cover the violent political demonstrations that took place there in May 1980. A Taxi Driver was released in late summer in Korea and amassed 12.19 million viewers (USD 89.94 million), making it the tenth most successful Korean film of all time.

 

In addition to its commercial success, the film has screened around the world, with stops at the Busan, Mar Del Plata, Hawaii and Tallinn Black Nights International Film Festivals, among others. SONG earned the Best Actor award for his part at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal, as well as several Best Actors awards in year-end industry events in Korea.

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January 5, 2018

 

Ambitious slate of movies ahead in 2018:

Local film industry looks to build on the success of December’s releases

 

Source: INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily

 

Bucking expectations, the number of movie tickets sold last year jumped by 2.84 million year-on-year. Thanks to three Korean blockbusters unveiled in December - “Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds,” “1987: When the Day Comes,” “Steel Rain” - last year’s seemingly bleak box office performance surged to a total 219.86 million, the highest in record. Among the three, the ticket sales for “Along With the Gods” was particularly surprising after having reached 10 million only two weeks after its release.

 

With hopes of becoming the next box office success, major distributors are preparing to release ambitious lineups of films this year. 

 

(Many of the film titles listed are direct translations of their Korean names. When released, the movies may have different English titles.)

 

CJ Entertainment

 

The first film from the nation’s largest distributor CJ Entertainment is “Keys to the Heart.” The comedy, starring Lee Byung-hun, Park Jung-min and Youn Yuh-jung, centers on a washed-up boxer (Lee) who one day learns that he has a younger brother (Park) with savant syndrome. The film opens on Jan. 17. 

 

CJ’s lineup also includes “Golden Slumber,” a Japanese novel adaptation revolving around a parcel delivery man (Gang Dong-won) who is falsely framed as the person behind the assassination of a presidential candidate; an espionage film titled “Operation,” about a South Korean spy agent (Hwang Jung-min) in the mid-1990s who infiltrates North Korea to learn about its nuclear development; and “Marital Harmony,” which tells the story of Princess Songhwa (Shim Eun-kyung), who refuses to marry a man her family has chosen, and a matchmaker (Lee Seung-gi) who connects potential partners based on their compatibility. 

 

Showbox

 

Coming off the success of 2017’s biggest-selling film, “A Taxi Driver,” Showbox will release the third part of the “Detective K” franchise in February. Set in the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), Kim Myung-min will once again play Detective K and Oh Dal-su will play his sidekick. 

 

Showbox will also release “Inside Men” director Woo Min-ho’s next feature “Drug King.” One of the most anticipated films of the year, the crime drama is based on a drug dealer (Song Kang-ho) in Busan and a lobbyist (Bae Doo-na). It will be the first time for the two actors to work together since “The Host” (2006). Other releases on Showbox’s slate include “Money,” about an aspiring young stockbroker (Ryu Jun-yeol) who finds himself caught up in a stock market scam, as well as the thriller “Murder of Man or Woman.” It follows the face-off between a detective (Kim Yun-seok) and a serial killer (Ju Ji-hoon) who confesses to committing seven murders while imprisoned. 

 

NEW

 

Next Entertainment World (NEW), which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, will begin the year with “Psychokinesis,” coming later this month. Directed by Yeon Sang-ho, who was behind the box office hit “Train to Busan” (2016), the comedy centers around a father (Ryu Seung-ryong) who sets out to save his daughter (Shim Eun-kyung) and others around him with his newly-discovered superpowers. The film has been picked up by the streaming giant Netflix.

 

NEW will also release “Drug War,” which explores the story of a drug ring boss (Kim Joo-hyuk) who gets chased down by a detective (Cho Jin-woong) that teams up with a gang member (Ryu Jun-yeol). It stars the late actor Kim Joo-hyuk, who died in a car crash in October. Another film, “Herstory,” depicts the true story of the 10 female plaintiffs during the trials of Shimonoseki, from 1992 to 1998, which ended in a partial victory against the Japanese government. It stars Kim Hee-ae and Kim Hae-sook. Period epic “Ansi Fortress” will be NEW’s tent-pole movie of the year. Starring Zo In-sung and Nam Joo-hyuk, the big budget movie depicts the Siege of Ansi, the 88-day war between Goguryeo and the 500,000-member army of Tang who attempted to take over the Ansi Fortress.

 

Lotte Entertainment 

 

Lotte Entertainment, which is currently relishing in the success of “Along with the Gods,” has filled up this year’s lineup with “Heungbu,” which revisits the Korean traditional folktale “Heungbujeon,” and the comedy “Wrestler,” which centers on a former wrestler (Yoo Hai-jin) and his son (Kim Min-jae), a rising star. “Heungbu” will arrive in theaters during the Lunar New Year holidays on Feb. 15-17. The film also features Kim Joo-hyuk.

 

Romantic drama “I’m on My Way to Meet You,” an adaptation of a Japanese novel of the same title, will diversify Lotte’s lineup. The movie is about a woman (Son Ye-jin) who makes the seemingly impossible promise to her husband (So Ji-sub) before she passes away to return a year later on a rainy day. 

 

Above all, the second part of “Along With the Gods” will be one of the year’s most anticipated releases.

 

Megabox Plus M

 

Thanks to the surprise performances of crime movie “The Outlaws” and historical period “Anarchist from Colony,” Megabox Plus M had a strong 2017. This year, the distributor aims to take a bigger leap with director Lee Joon-ik’s “Byeon San,” about a rapper (Park Jung-min) who returns to his hometown and reunites with his elementary schoolmate (Kim Go-eun), and “Little Forest,” about a woman (Kim Tae-ri) who returns to the countryside after feeling exhausted by city life.

 

Foreign releases

 

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel will present “Black Panther” in February and “Avengers: Infinity War” in the spring. Other superhero movies on the calendar include “The New Mutants” (April), “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” “Deadpool 2” and “Aquaman.”

 

Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi flick “Ready Player One,” Tom Cruise’s action classic “Mission: Impossible 6” as well as Matt Damon’s comedy drama “Downsizing” and Disney-Pixar’s heartwarming “Coco,” both of which are set to arrive in theaters on Thursday, are a few other movies that will hopefully diversify genres offered to local audiences this year.

 

BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]

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January 7, 2018

 

HanCinema Awards

Best Actor in a Film for 2017 - And the Winner Is....

 

Source: HanCinema.net

 

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From January to December, 2017 cast an array of talented men in film who rounded out the viewing experience and helped draw us into new worlds. You've cast your vote for your favorites and now it's time to see who won. Let's take one more look at our powerhouse nominees:

 

Kim Yun-seok for "The Fortress"

Kim Jae-wook for "Another Way"

Hyun Bin for "Confidential Assignment"

Yoo Hae-jin for "Confidential Assignment"

Jo In-sung for "The King"

Jung Woo-sung for "The King"

Ki Joo-bong for "Merry Christmas Mr. Mo"

Song Kang-ho for "A Taxi Driver"

Lee Je-hoon for "Anarchist from Colony"

Lee Byung-hun for "A Single Rider"


And the winner is...th_winnersmiley.gif

Song Kang-ho for "A Taxi Driver"

Congratulations to Song Kang-ho for this nuanced and sensitive performance!

 

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-Yours, the HanCinema Team

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January 12, 2018

 

Snowpiercer’ to become TV show

 

Source: INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily

 

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The 2013 film “Snowpiercer” starring Song Kang-ho, pictured, and Chris Evans will become a television series in the U.S., and CJ Entertainment will be co-producing the series with Tomorrow Studios and Turner’s Studio T.

 

According to the report by ComingSoon.net on Wednesday, a U.S. news outlet that covers the entertainment industry, Turner’s TNT network will begin producing the “Snowpiercer” series soon. The cast will include Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly, Tony and Grammy Award winner Daveed Diggs, Mickey Sumner and more.

 

The movie depicts the rebellion of passengers on a huge train that is divided by class, with the rich in the front and the poor in the back. The film touches on issues of social injustice, equality and morality.

 

Bong Joon-ho, the director of the movie, Marty Adelstein of television series “Prison Break” and Becky Clements of “Good Behavior” will be the executive producers of the show.

 

By Hong You-kyoung

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January 17,  2018

 

[Upcoming DVD Release] Korean Movie "A Taxi Driver"

 

Source: HanCinema.net

 

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Korean movie "A Taxi Driver" is available to preorder on DVD (2-disc edition) with English subtitles from YESASIA.

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January 24, 2018

 

Bong Joon-ho’s next film has a cast
 

Source: INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily

 

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The cast of director Bong Joon-ho’s new movie “Parasite” has been confirmed, according to BarunsOn E&A, the film’s production company on Tuesday.

 

Veteran actor Song Kang-ho, pictured, will play the film’s main protagonist, and joins Lee Sun-gyun, Cho Yeo-jeong and Park So-dam, who will also star in the movie.

 

During an interview with the Los Angeles Times in June 2017, the director mentioned that the movie will be “an all-Korean production... featuring a dysfunctional family of four.” 

 

According to the company, in addition to the family of Song’s character, there will be another family of four with Lee and Cho playing husband and wife. 

 

Actor Jang Hye-jin, who starred in 2016’s “The World of Us,” (2016) Choi Woo-shik who starred in Bong’s most recent movie “Okja,” and Park So-dam who appeared in 2015’s “The Priests” will play the other members of Song’s character’s family.

 

The film is the director’s seventh feature film and is slated for a 2019 release. 

 

By Hong You-kyoung

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January 25, 2018

 

Song Kang-ho’s ‘Drug King’ set for summer release
 

Versatile actor Song Kang-ho will take on the role of a 1970s drug lord in the upcoming film “Drug King,” set for release this summer.

 

Producers of the film on Thursday released a still that showed Song as the movie’s protagonist Lee Doo-sam. 

 

image
A film still from “Drug King” (Showbox)

 

The photo shows Song sitting in what appears to be his office, which has lavish decorations and guns hanging on the wall. The shot is somewhat reminiscent of an iconic scene from the 1983 movie “Scarface,” starring iconic actor Al Pacino as Tony Montana.

 

“Via the character of Lee Doo-sam, which is a culmination of the people who lived in the 1970s, I sought to shed light on the eras that we’ve lived through,” said Song.

 

Inspired by a real-life crime boss, the crime drama is directed by Woo Min-ho, who was behind the 2015 political thriller “Inside Men,” which delved into the corruption among political, business and legal circles.

 

The upcoming movie’s cast includes Jo Jung-suk, Bae Doona, Lee Sung-min and Lee Hee-jun. 

 

By Yoon Min-sik (minsikyoon@heraldcorp.com)

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