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Director Kim Jee Woon 김지운 Kim Ji Woon

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June 19, 2018

 

Kim Jee-woon Teases His Remake of Japanese Film

 

Source: The ChosunIlbo

 

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Filmmaker Kim Jee-woon's new film is set for release next month.

 

A teaser poster from the action-packed film "Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade," based on the Japanese animated film, was released on Monday, ahead of its release on July 25.

 

The film tells the story of conflicts between terrorists, government officials and paramilitary squads and their undercover operations.

 

The film is already receiving much attention with its star-studded cast including Kang Dong-won, Han Hyo-joo and Jung Woo-sung.

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July 18, 2018

 

Kim Jee-woon's 'Wolf Brigade' advances to San Sebastian film fest
 

SEOUL, July 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korean director Kim Jee-woon's latest, "Illang: The Wolf Brigade," has been picked to compete in this year's San Sebastian International Film Festival, the film's local distributor said Wednesday.

 

The action thriller is among the first seven titles competing for the 66th Spanish festival's top Golden Shell along with French director Claire Denis' "High Life" and Japanese director Naomi Kawase's "Vision," Warner Bros. Korea said.

 

"Wolf Brigade' is the second film from the famed Korean director to compete in the festival, following "I Saw the Devil" in 2010. South Korean director Hong Sang-soo won the best director award for "Yourself and Yours" in the 2016 festival.

 

The film, previously known as "Inrang," is a live-action adaptation of 1999 Japanese animation "Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade."

   

Set in 2029 with the two Koreas having agreed to launch a unified government, the film revolves around the actions of a special police unit organized to stop an anti-reunification terrorist sect. It has a star cast that includes Gang Dong-won, Jung Woo-sung and Han Hyo-joo.

 

The 66th edition of the festival is set to run on Sept. 21-29. Director Kim and lead actor Gang will attend the festival.

 

sshim@yna.co.kr

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July 18, 2018

 

‘Illang: The Wolf Brigade’ nominated for San Sebastian International Film Festival

“Illang: The Wolf Brigade,” starring Gang Dong-won, Jung Woo-sung and Han hyo-joo, has been nominated for the 66th San Sebastian International Film Festival. 

 

According to Warner Bros. Korea, the upcoming film has been nominated for the competitive section of the festival. 

 

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Director Kim Jee-woon and lead actor Gang will attend the festival held in Spain in September. This is Kim’s second nomination for the festival after his 2010 film “I Saw the Devil.”

 

The San Sebastiano International Film Festival, established in 1953, is the oldest and most influential film festival among Spanish-speaking countries.

 

Roberto Cuerto, a member of the selection committee, praised the film, saying, “‘Illang’ is the perfect balance of action, mystery, fantasy and psychological thriller. The film’s political subtext is firmly supported by Kim’s impressive production design and talented cast.”

 

“Illang: The Wolf Brigade” is a sci-fi film set in the year 2029 when the two Koreas are preparing for unification. The story centers on battles between an anti-reunification terrorist group and Wolf Brigade, a special unit of the South Korean police. 

 

By Park Jin-won (jpark13@heraldcorp.com)

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July 24, 2018

 

(Movie Review)

'Illang: The Wolf Brigade' eventually loses its way

By Shim Sun-ah

 

SEOUL, July 24 (Yonhap) -- "Illang: The Wolf Brigade," director Kim Jee-woon's live-action adaptation of the popular 1999 Japanese animation "Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade," aims to deliver spectacular and thought-provoking sci-fi thrills but gets a bit lost along the way.

 

The Korean film relocates the setting from '60s post-World War II Japan to South Korea in 2029. With war clouds hanging between China and Japan over a territorial dispute, South and North Korea decide to launch a unified government for their survival.

 

However, the continuing economic sanctions by powerful nations lead to economic instability in South Korea, which leads to the emergence of a terrorist sect opposing the reunification.

 

A still from "Illang: The Wolf Brigade" (Yonhap)

A still from "Illang: The Wolf Brigade" (Yonhap)

 

The government then launches a special police unit to stop the terrorists. As the state intelligence agency plots to destroy the unit, feeling threatened by its growing influence, Im Joong-kyung (played by Gang Dong-won), a highly trained member of the unit, sees "a girl in a red cape" detonate herself right in front of his eyes.

 

Joong-kyung visits the girl's older sister, Lee Yoon-hee (played by Han Hyo-joo), to give her the girl in the red cape's belongings. After the encounter, he is torn between his mission that forces him to be a beast and his feelings toward her.

 

After the press screening of the film Friday, director Kim Jee-woon said he wanted to tell a story of an individual who becomes determined to flee an organization that forces inhumane actions to find his true self. Kim also said he gave the originally dark and depressing film a commercial touch so it can perform well at the box office.

 

A still from "Illang: The Wolf Brigade" (Yonhap)

A still from "Illang: The Wolf Brigade" (Yonhap)

 

Sure, the result is a stylish action thriller with dazzling scenes of gun battles involving men in iron suits and masks, car chases and a high-rise building action scene backed by its star cast that also includes Jung Woo-sung and Choi Min-ho from popular K-pop boy band SHINee.

 

The problem is its relatively weak story. This lack of connection and overall jarring storytelling robs "Illang" of any suspense.

 

Most of all, the film falls short of properly delivering the intense inner conflict felt by Joong-kyung, a leading member of the Illang (man-wolf) troops, who are made into lethal human weapons by the government.

 

A still from "Illang: The Wolf Brigade" (Yonhap)

A still from "Illang: The Wolf Brigade" (Yonhap)

 

"Illang" had an admirably ambitious idea of what kind of movie it wanted to be. Unfortunately, it spent so much time trying to recreate the world from the animated movie and remakes it into a big-scale action blockbuster that it never got the simple things right. The romance between Joong-kyung and Yoon-hee is not captivating because the characters and their relationship are not given depth.

 

The Warner Bros. Korea release is set to premiere in Korea on Wednesday.

 

sshim@yna.co.kr

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July 25, 2018

 

(Yonhap Interview)

Director Kim Jee-woon: Che Guevara inspires me to constantly challenge myself


By Shim Sun-ah

 

SEOUL, July 25 (Yonhap) -- Kim Jee-woon, one of the three most prominent Korean directors, along with Park Chan-wook and Bong Joon-ho, has many films of all different genres under his belt.

 

His filmography includes comedy-thriller "The Quiet Family" (1998), comedy-drama "The Foul King" (2000), horror-thriller "A Tale Of Two Sisters" (2003), action-noir "A Bittersweet Life" (2005), postmodern spaghetti western "The Good, The Bad, The Weird" (2008) and period action flick "The Age of Shadows" (2016).

 

Kim has returned with the Korean-style sci-fi action movie "Illang: The Wolf Brigade." The film, which just opened, is a live-action adaptation of the popular 1999 Japanese animation "Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade" and cost well over 20 billion won (US$17 million) to produce.

 

This photo provided by Warner Bros. Korea shows Kim Jee-woon, director of "Illang: The Wolf Brigade." (Yonhap)

This photo provided by Warner Bros. Korea shows Kim Jee-woon, director of "Illang: The Wolf Brigade." (Yonhap)

 

The Korean film changes the setting from '60s post-World War II Japan to South Korea in 2029 after the country agreed to launch a unified government with North Korea to survive the chaotic Northeast Asian regional political situation. The story revolves around the actions of a special police unit organized to stop an anti-reunification terrorist group. It has a star cast that includes Gang Dong-won, Jung Woo-sung and Han Hyo-joo.

 

"Who I admire the most is Che Guevara," Kim said when questioned what pushed him to constantly challenge himself during an interview with Yonhap News Agency at a Seoul cafe on Wednesday. "I was deeply impressed by his life path, how he returned to the jungle, refusing to stay in a comfortable life after the success in the Cuban Revolution."

   

The filmmaker said he has constantly given himself new missions and challenged himself because he didn't want to stay in the present, repeating what he's already done.

 

This photo provided by Warner Bros. Korea shows Kim Jee-woon, director of "Illang: The Wolf Brigade." (Yonhap)

This photo provided by Warner Bros. Korea shows Kim Jee-woon, director of "Illang: The Wolf Brigade." (Yonhap)

 

Making a live-action blockbuster version of an animated movie, however, was never easy, he confided. His latest has much in common with his 2008 hit movie, "The Good, The Bad and The Weird," in that they were both big-budget action projects considered a rather "reckless challenge" at first for the current scale of the local film industry.

 

"By the way, now I think I can never make a film like 'The Good, The Bad and The Weird' again. We, the entire cast and crew of the film, had a sort of strong desire and madness to make a Korean-style Western back then," he said.

 

He has often said during press events that "Illang" was the title that hurt his health the most in his entire filmmaking career. Kim now seems to be personally satisfied with the outcome.

 

"My goal was to make some spectacular sci-fi action noir," he said. "I think I reached a certain level of achievement in making a spectacular action movie with characters wearing combat suits like RoboCop, Batman and Iron Man in a visually perfect way."  

 

This photo provided by Warner Bros. Korea shows Kim Jee-woon, director of "Illang: The Wolf Brigade." (Yonhap)

This photo provided by Warner Bros. Korea shows Kim Jee-woon, director of "Illang: The Wolf Brigade." (Yonhap)

 

In order to achieve this goal, he first tried to remake "Ghost in the Shell" by Mamoru Oshii, who wrote the original Japanese animation "Jin-Roh." But he had to give it up after learning that the remake rights to the animation had already been sold to a Hollywood studio.

 

And then he watched another iconic animation from the same writer-director for the first time in about 20 years and was captivated by the image of the lead character walking from darkness into light in an underground tunnel wearing his protective gear and the silhouette of special forces members standing on ruins holding machine guns.

 

The movie attracted some unfavorable reviews upon its media pre-screening on Friday, mainly due to its weak storyline.

 

"I think there was some mismatch between what the audiences wanted from the film because it starts from a big story and fizzles out into romance," said the director. "But I think it was not a bad choice considering that the movie is ultimately about an individual who leaves a grand system that has long oppressed him to find his true self. Melodrama was a kind of transportation to go there but it unexpectedly seems to have drawn too much attention."

   

After the Korean-style sci-fi action noir featuring metal suits, what will be his next challenge?

   

Kim said he doesn't know yet, but he wants to have time someday to complete what he has achieved so far.

 

"I don't know how long I can make films. If I can work for 10 more years, I want to spend the time completing what I have done before, whatever genre it may be," he said.

 

sshim@yna.co.kr

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Review by Seongyong's Private Place

 

Illang: The Wolf Brigade (2018) ☆☆(2/4):

Heavy is the body that wears the armour

https://kaist455.com/2018/07/25/illang-the-wolf-brigade-2018/

 

Netflix Picks Up Kim Jee-woon’s ‘Wolf Brigade’ (EXCLUSIVE)

https://variety.com/2018/digital/asia/netflix-kim-jee-woon-wolf-brigade-1202874818/

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July 27, 2018

 

Despite star power, ‘Illang’ can’t meet high expectations:

Local adaptation of a Japanese hit film fails to satisfy movie critics

 

Source: INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily

 

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Gang Dong-won stars in director Kim Jee-woon’s latest film, “Illang: The Wolf Brigade,” a remake of the 1999 Japanese animation “Jin-Roh.” [WARNER BROS. KOREA]

 

For fans of Japanese animation, the 1999 film “Jin-Roh” is a monumental work. Directed by Hiroyuki Kimura and written by Mamoru Oshii, who directed the famous “Ghost in the Shell” (1995), “Jin-Roh” was met with critical acclaim both in and out of Japan, and still stands today as a seminal sci-fi movie. 

 

More than two decades later, acclaimed director Kim Jee-woon of the award-winning “The Age of Shadows” (2016) has remade the animated hit into the live action flick, “Illang: The Wolf Brigade.” 

 

The Korean adaptation relocates the setting from post-World War II Japan to South Korea in 2029, a period after the two Koreas have declared a five-year preparation for unification. In fear of the rapid growth in Korea following the planned unification, the world superpowers impose economic sanctions against the country. 

 

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Han Hyo-joo, top, plays the love interest of Gang Dong-won’s character in “Illang: The Wolf Brigade.” Above, a group of trained fighters known as Illang. [WARNER BROS. KOREA]

 

The economic difficulties lead to public outrage and result in the emergence of an armed terrorist group named Sect, which opposes the formation of a joint government between South and North Korea. In response, the government launches a special police unit to quell Sect. 

 

Feeling threatened by the growing influence of the special police unit, the national intelligence agency plots to bring the unit down. 

 

At the center of the two forces’ battle are Im Joong-gyeong (Gang Dong-won), a highly trained member of the police unit, and Han Sang-woo (Kim Moo-yul), a former special police officer who now works for the national intelligence agency. 

 

After a high school girl from Sect blows herself up right in front of Joong-gyeong’s eyes, Sang-woo intentionally sets Joong-gyeong up with a woman named Lee Yun-hee (Han Hyo-joo), who Sang-woo claims to be the dead girl’s older sister. 

 

Following the encounter, Joong-gyeong and Yun-hee gradually develop feelings for each other as they both desperately crave an escape from their dire realities. This leaves Joong-gyeong, who has been trained to fight like an emotionless beast, or Illang, torn between his mission to be a beast and his unquenchable warm feelings toward Yun-hee.

 

Despite the film’s action-packed scenes and star-studded cast, which also includes Jung Woo-sung, Han Ye-ri and singer-turned-actor Min-ho from pop group SHINee, critics’ reviews have not been so positive.

 

“Kim’s recent movies, including ‘Illang,’ have become a lot heavier in genre, and they lack the sense of vitality that used to be present in his movies like ‘The Good, The Bad, The Weird’ (2008) and ‘The Foul King’ (2000),” said film critic Kim Hyung-seok. “The plot is pretty simple, but the way the story unfolds is very unfriendly. There are many obstructive scenes in between that prevent audiences from fully immersing into the film.”

 

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Director Kim Jee-woon, center, and the cast of “Illang: The Wolf Brigade” at a press event held in central Seoul last week ahead of the film’s release on Wednesday. [YONHAP]

 

Kim went on to describe the romance between Joong-gyeong and Yun-hee as lacking an emotional touch. “Characters and their motivations, why they act in certain ways and why they feel so desperate to avoid the situation, are not properly explained. I don’t think director Kim Jee-woon is a great fit for genre-heavy films with complex plots.”

 

“Illang” is a sci-fi film filled with classic elements of the spy and thriller genres. But the movie doesn’t execute either very well, according to film critic Park Hye-eun. 

 

“In the remake, [the director] chose to put a bigger emphasis on romance and action, which in turn weakened the spy and thriller elements.”

 

Park added, “[Director Kim] managed to bring the original’s visual elements like the red-beamed eyes and iron armor to the live movie, but [could not convince audiences] why the film had to be remade.” 

 

These criticisms were not unforeseen.

 

“The original is highly praised by fans,” said Kim Jee-woon during a press conference held in central Seoul last week. “There have been many cases in which live adaptations of acclaimed Japanese animations flopped, and that fear also existed inside me.”

 

Despite the director’s concerns, the original screenwriter is satisfied with how the Korean adaptation turned out. Oshii visited Seoul for a screening and complimented the movie. 

 

“I think this is a powerful movie that provokes lots of thought ... The balance between the realistic locations and the futuristic technologies like iron armor and diverse guns was very impressive,” said the screenwriter.

 

Released on Wednesday, the movie sold a little more than 270,000 tickets on its first day amid harsh reviews from audiences. 

 

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

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July 27, 2018

 

Director Kim Jee-woon makes Korean 'armor' action film
 

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Director Kim Jee-woon, of "Illang: The Wolf Brigade," poses prior to an interview with The Korea Times at a cafe in Seoul, Wednesday. / Courtesy of Warner Bros.

 

By Park Jin-hai The Korea Times

 

Director Kim Jee-woon, one of the three most recognized Korean auteurs along with Park Chan-wook and Bong-Joon-ho, is known for his long profile of diverse genre movies with great mise-en-scenes. Since his debut in 1998 with the comic thriller "The Quiet Family," the director has never stopped challenging new genres.

 

Kim has made the comedy-drama "The Foul King" (2000), psychological horror drama "A Tale Of Two Sisters" (2003), action-noir "A Bittersweet Life" (2005), neo-Western "The Good, The Bad, The Weird" (2008), action horror thriller "I Saw the Devil" (2010) and epic spy thriller "The Age of Shadows" (2016). 

 

Kim, who says "I have never feared failures" in his two decades as a director, returns to the silver screen this summer with his latest challenge _ making a Korean-style sci-fi action flick using "armor gear" like Iron Man's suit. 

 

"I have really wanted to make a Korean-style sci-fi noir movie for a while. Initially, I wanted to make the film adaptation of Japanese animator Mamoru Oshii's Ghost in the Shell," Kim said during an interview with The Korea Times at a cafe in Seoul, Wednesday. 

 

"But after I learned that its remake rights were sold to a Hollywood studio, I watched Oshii's other iconic grim-dark animation Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade again and was captivated by the image of the lead character walking from darkness into light in an underground tunnel in his protective mask and helmet, carrying machine guns."

 

The 20 billion won budget film "Illang: The Wolf Brigade," starring Gang Dong-won, Jung Woo-sung and Han Hyo-joo, which premiered on Wednesday, depicts the chaotic Korea in 2029 after the country agreed to unify with North Korea. As protectionist regional superpowers impose economic actions against the country for fear of the two Koreas' sudden rise, the outraged public in financial difficulties mobilizes an underground anti-reunification terrorist group called the Sect. The film follows the story of Im Joong-kyung, played by Gang, a member of the special police unit Wolf Brigade, organized to stop terrorists. 

 

The suit of armor in the film was designed by the same design team that made Iron Man's suit. 

 

"I thought that I might be able to make the action film gear like Iron Man, RoboCop or Batman. Since Korea has undergone similar socio-political chaos as featured in the Japanese original animation on its way to fast economic development, I was also confident that I could depict the original's pessimistic world views in my movie," the director said.

 

In retrospect, however, he thought his latest film had been a "reckless daredevil" challenge. "There has been a lot of pressure to make one of the most acclaimed animations into a live action movie with scenes like the underworld, the violent clash between protesters and police and the protective armor. Also, its characters are not clear-cut good or bad and the original's gloomy worldview has been definitely hard to interpret," said Kim, who calls his latest film the second-most-reckless challenge he has done after his 2008 Western film "The Good, The Bad, The Weird." 

 

"Yet I wanted to tell the story of the individual and the system one belongs to. Im, a member of the special police unit, kills innocent civilians following orders of his organization and suffers from trauma. He relates with a friend, a woman and a superior personally, but they symbolize bigger systems. My film is about people returning to become individuals from being part of a big system. It is about awakening," the director said. 

 

Asked about his untiring attempts and challenges in filmography, Kim said, "I've never taken a safe path where success seems in arms' reach. I've never tried franchise movies in which success is already guaranteed to some degree."

 

He added, "Who I admire the most is Che Guevara, because I've been deeply impressed by his life path, how he returned to the jungle, refusing to stay in a comfortable life after the success of the Cuban Revolution. I also refuse to stay where I am in the present and want to make myself busy and move forward constantly. In that sense, I wish my films and I would stay forever young."


jinhai@ktimes.com 

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August 2, 2018

 

Illang: The Wolf Brigade’ loses momentum at box office

“Illang: The Wolf Brigade,” starring actor Gang Dong-won, has been pushed out of the top five spots on the box office charts just eight days after its release.

 

The film based on the Japanese animation series “Jin-Roh” continues to slip on the charts, according to the Korean Film Council.

 

The action film, which was released on July 23, has yet to reach 1 million cinemagoers. It has to attract more than 6 million people to make a profit. 

 

In an interview with a KBS radio program, actor Kim Moo-yeol hoped the film’s ticket sales would reach 7.77 million, a target that now seems unlikely to be reached. 

 

“Illang” is set in the Korean Peninsula in 2029 as both Koreas try to reunite over a seven-year preparation period while facing strong opposition from armed terror groups.


By Yim Hyun-su (hyunsu@heraldcorp.com)

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August 4, 2018

 

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Illang : The Wolf Brigade"
 

By William Schwartz HanCinema.net

 

In the far-off year of 2029, reunificiation between South Korea and North Korea is imminent. There are riots in the street. So the South Korean government makes use of "Illang : The Wolf Brigade", a paramilitary task force that attacks anti-reunification terrorists. Jin-tae (played by Jung Woo-sung) leads the brigade. Cheol-jin (played by Minho) gathers intelligence for them. Our main character Joong-kyeong (played by Gang Dong-won) agonizes over his past role in the death of a large number of innocent schoolgirls, taking solace upon meeting the mysterious Yoon-hee (played by Han Hyo-joo) at Seoul Tower.


It's difficult to keep track of everything that's going on in this movie, mostly because information is withheld for the sake of later plot twists. The main thing we know for sure is that the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood is going to be metaphorically worked into the conclusion. Director Kim Jee-won deliberately includes a lovingly creepy, highly stylized, minimally animated sequence where Joong-kyeong and Yoon-hee discuss the story's themes.

 

Spoiler

 

But more than the theming, I was caught off guard by how horribly tone-deaf "Illang : The Wolf Brigade" is politically. Take the opening scene in Gwanghwamun- a popular site of real life protests, except this particular anti-reunification protest features Wolf Brigade Stormtroopers, complete with terrifying all-black uniforms, beady red eyes and a huge face covering masks. The sudden appearance of violent terrorists is not a particularly convincing justification for their presence, considering that fascists have always used the excuse of violent terrorists to commit all manner of police state evil.

 

To an extent the production team is obviously aware of how unconvincing this looks. After the Wolf Brigade hunts down a bunch of normal humans in a sewer, the story shifts gears to a complicated conspiracy theory, since normal humans inevitably come off as the sympathetic side when they're fighting against nightmarish killing machines. Well, that and the romance between Joong-kyeong and Yoon-hee I guess. They don't really stand out that much compared to the infinitely more intense action scenes.

 

And that's the real shame here. "Illang : The Wolf Brigade" contains some of the legitimately greatest action sequences I have seen in quite some time. Every last confrontation is a brutal logistical battle. Firearms, robots, those suits, defensive ground, and scouting takes major preeminence in every conflict, whether Joong-kyeong's goal is to escape or exterminate all of his opponents. Yet for all this high tech mastery, a simple low tech move like smashing something with a giant metal pipe can be all it takes to force a complete turnabout in the latest battle.

 

Ironically enough the very brutal realism of the movie's violence, coupled with the political pretensions, completely kills any hope "Illang : The Wolf Brigade" has when it comes to functioning as escapism. While the movie is technically masterful, the moral implications are profoundly disturbing, and only made worse by the tacked-on happy ending. That much might just be an adaptational issue. The original Japanese version, Jin-roh: The Wolf Brigade, felt no need to pretend like any of its characters were particularly noble.

 

 

Review by William Schwartz

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August 7, 2018

 

KIM Jee-woon’s ILLANG to Compete in San Sebastián
Sci-fi Action Noir to Debut Internationally in Spain ahead of Netflix

 

by Pierce Conran KoBiz

 

KIM Jee-woon’s latest film, the big-budget sci-fi action noir ILLANG : THE WOLF BRIGADE, is set to have its international premiere in competition at the upcoming 66th San Sebastián International Film Festival. 

 

A remake of the 2000 anime classic Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, KIM’s ILLANG : THE WOLF BRIGADE takes place in 2029 after the two Koreas have engaged in five years of preparations ahead of reunification. A special police unit is created to battle the ‘Sect’, an anti-reunification terrorist group. When a young girl dies in a standoff between the unit and the terrorists, a member of the squad seeks out the victim’s sister. The film stars GANG Dong-won (Master, 2016), HAN Hyo-joo (Cold Eyes, 2013) and JUNG Woo-sung (Steel Rain, 2017).

 

ILLANG : THE WOLF BRIGADE, the ninth film from genre auteur KIM, who is known for classics such as A Tale of Two Sisters (2003), A Bittersweet Life (2005) and I Saw the Devil (2010), opened in Korea on July 25, where it has disappointed on the charts with just under a million viewers after a week in theaters. However, the film has reportedly been sold to Netflix, where it will be available everywhere outside of Korea and China.

 

The live-action remake is distributed by Warner Bros. Korea, which was also responsible for KIM’s last film, the hit period spy yarn The Age of Shadows (2016).

 

San Sebastián will take place this year between September 21 and 29. In the past, both BONG Joon-ho and Hong Sangsoo have won the Best Director prize there, for Memories Of Murder (2003) and Yourself and Yours (2016), respectively.

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August 15, 2018

 

‘Illang’ available on VOD three weeks after release

Major blockbuster film “Illang: The Wolf Brigade” is now available on video-on-demand platforms only three weeks after its box office release.

 

The film cost a whopping 16 billion won ($14 million) in production, but its ticket sales did not meet up to expectations. According to the Korean Film Council, “Illang” has sold about 890,000 tickets since its release on July 25, far from reaching its breakeven point of 6 million tickets. 

 

image
The cast of “Illang: The Wolf Brigade” (Yonhap)

 

“Illang” can now be viewed on Internet Protocol TV and cable TV channels. 

 

Directed by veteran filmmaker Kim Jee-woon, “Illang” was initially highly anticipated for its unique setting, extravagant visuals and top-class cast including Kang Dong-won, Han Hyo-joo and Jung Woo-sung. 

 

However, moviegoers have pointed out the film’s weak storyline, resulting in negative reviews. 

 

By Park Jin-won (jpark13@heraldcorp.com)

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August 24, 2018

 

How ‘Illang’ went from blockbuster to major box office flop:

Warner Bros. Korea’s summer release failed to please audiences

 

Source: INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily

 

When Warner Bros. Korea’s “V.I.P.” was criticized by the internet last year over its inappropriate depiction of its female characters, the film company thought things could not get any worse. But its latest release, “Illang: The Wolf Brigade,” proved that it had yet to hit rock bottom.

 

Featuring high profile actors, including Gang Dong-won, Han Hyo-joo and Jung Woo-sung, joined by the award-winning director Kim Jee-woon, “Illang” is an adaptation of the 1999 Japanese animated film “Jin-Roh,” which is known as a seminal sci-fi movie. With a star-studded cast and a massive production budget that exceeded its first locally-produced hit, “The Age of Shadows” (2016), which sold 7.5 million tickets, Warner Bros. Korea had high hopes for “Illang.”

 

However, “Illang” sold merely 897,000 tickets and was forced out of theaters in three weeks - a shockingly poor performance for a film that cost 19 billion won ($17.04 million) to make. The film needed to sell six million tickets to break even. 

 

The movie received a moderate score of 5.73 out of 10 stars by film critics on local portal site Naver. The score itself isn’t too bad, considering that local critics are usually stingy with giving out stars - last weekend’s box office winner “The Witness” has a 5.25 on the site. 

 

What ultimately affected the film’s box office performance was the audience rating. Viewers, who are usually more generous in reviewing films, gave “Illang” a lower score than the critics (5.36) - something that rarely happens. 

 

The Korean adaptation relocates the story from post-World War II Japan to South Korea in 2029, a period after the two Koreas have declared a five-year preparation for unification.

 

Fearing rapid growth in Korea following the planned unification, the world’s superpowers impose economic sanctions against the country. The economic difficulties lead to public outrage and result in the emergence of an armed terrorist group named Sect, which opposes the formation of a joint government between South and North Korea. In response, the government launches a special police unit to quell Sect. Feeling threatened by the growing influence of the special police unit, the national intelligence agency plots to bring the unit down. 

 

At the center of the movie is Im Joong-gyeong (Gang), who is an Illang, a combination of “human” and “wolf” in Korean, and works for a special police unit. The story develops as Joong-gyeong and Yun-hee (Han), who initially approach each other out of self interest, fall for one another and eventually hope to escape their reality together. 

 

Though “Illang” was described as an unprecedented genre film in Korea - both plot-wise and visually - it didn’t fit the tastes of critics or audiences. Following the film’s premiere last month, critics criticized the film for its incoherent mixing of romance, sci-fi and expensive action sequences, saying they didn’t quite meld together. At the same time, Warner Bros. Korea was praised for its attempt at introducing a rarely-seen genre movie to the country. 

 

“‘Illang’ may have failed at the box office, but Warner Bros. Korea’s bold decision to invest in a unique genre movie wasn’t a bad attempt,” said movie critic Hwang Jin-mi. 

 

There were a multitude of factors that led to the film’s failure - apart from its incongruent story - including the release of this year’s biggest summer blockbuster, “Along With the Gods: The Last 49 Days,” the following week. But possibly the biggest contributor to the film’s failure was that it became a target for internet trolls. 

 

“Mocking a movie online has become a culture [of its own]. The mockery quickly spreads and discourages potential audiences from seeing a film in theaters,” Hwang said. “The matter of a film’s box office success these days is determined in less than a week.”

 

Hwang also criticized the press for encouraging internet trolls. Following the film’s premiere, local media outlet Star Daily News published a film review that said, “The quality of ‘Illang’ is on par with ‘Real.’” “Real” was last year’s major box office flop, with a 2.67 critics rating and a 4.42 audience rating on Naver. 

 

Triggered by the review, a series of deriding audience reviews comparing “Illang” with “Real” quickly spread across the internet. Some of the comments included, “I [thankfully] evaded [the movie] ‘Real,’ but couldn’t [evade] ‘Illang’…” and “[‘Illang’] is the most boring film I’ve ever seen, including ‘Real.’” The comments quickly spread even before the official release of the film. 

 

Kim Jae-won, the head of Warner Bros. Korea, shared captures of some of the comments on his personal Facebook page and complained “How many people that wrote these comments actually saw the movie?”

 

Though Kim deleted the post, he later put up another post, saying “[People] can feel disappointed and write negative reviews after watching a movie. But it’s not easy to hide uncomfortable feelings upon reading criticisms that overstep the line.”

 

The film’s lead actor Yoo Sang-jae also criticized the comments on his personal social media account. But his response only increased people’s distaste for the movie. Yoo ended up making a public apology earlier this month.

 

Other than bad reviews, the film’s confusing backdrop of a dystopian future also made “Illang” unattractive to audiences who expected something bright, fun and touching. 

 

“Audiences behave differently during the summer movie season,” said film critic Kim Heon-sik. “Many of them come to theaters with their family simply to laugh and have fun. To them, ‘Illang’ was too depressing, both in terms of plot and characters.”

 

The way the film approached the sensitive issue of the divided Koreas was another problem for audiences.

 

“Because of the sensitivity of the South-North Korea issue, a film dealing with the topic should be realistic to a certain extent,” said Hwang. “If it isn’t, people just can’t connect and some even feel repulsed. As for ‘Illang,’ its dystopian future hardly reflects reality and irresponsibly adds fantasy.”

 

Warner Bros. Korea has released a total of six locally-produced movies since it introduced its first film, “The Age of Shadows,” in 2016. Of the six, only “The Age of Shadows,” which was also praised critically and selected as Korea’s Best Foreign Language Film entry for the 2017 Oscars, was an apparent box office success. “The Witch” had moderate success, while the rest failed to meet box office expectations. 

 

“Films from Warner Bros. Korea don’t seem to be matching the sentiment of Korean audiences,” Kim explained. “Instead of spending a lot of effort on getting a star-studded cast and aiming to make big-budget movies, the company should first try to understand what the audience wants before making a large bet.” 

 

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

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 L'OrdreDesArtsOfficier.jpgOrdre des Arts et des Lettres. Congratulations!

 

September 28, 2018

 

Director Kim Jee-woon to receive French honor
 

SEOUL, Sept. 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korean director Kim Jee-woon will be decorated with a cultural medal by the French government for his contribution to the arts, the country's embassy in Seoul said Friday.

 

Kim will be made an Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters at a dinner to be hosted by the French Embassy during the 23rd Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) in the southern port city of Busan on Oct. 6.

 

Kim is best known to French viewers for the postmodern spaghetti western "The Good, The Bad, The Weird," which was premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008.

 

His filmography also includes "The Quiet Family" (1998), "The Foul King" (2000), "A Tale Of Two Sisters" (2003), "Bittersweet Life" (2005), "The Age of Shadows" (2016) and "Illang: The Wolf Brigade" (2018), as well as the Hollywood movie "The Last Stand" (2013).

 

The other Korean film icons previously honored by the French government are former BIFF chairman Kim Dong-ho, directors Hong Sang-soo and Bong Joon-ho and actress Jeon Do-yeon.

 

This file photo shows director Kim Jee-woon. (Yonhap)

This file photo shows director Kim Jee-woon. (Yonhap)

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