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[Movie 2015] Memories of The Sword 협녀 : 칼의 기억


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Published on August 17, 2015 by ARIRANG K-POP


The sword had authoritarian rule of the era at the end of the Goryeo dynasty. Three different swords confronted one another! Korea’s top actors Lee Byung-hun, Jeon Do-yeon and Kim Go-eun are back through a Korean martial arts film. Take a look and learn more about their new movie ″Memories of the Sword”

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From MisterX20150818misterx.jpg

His preview written when the teasers were first released, what happened now just spot-on

Park Heung-Shik's Wuxia Blockbuster Releases in August

You'd probably have to go back to the 1960s and the Shaw Brothers collaborations of action master Jung Chang-Hwa to find any hint of a wuxia tradition for Chungmuro, although wuxia novels always found their niche in the country. Perhaps the genre never worked in Korea for the same reason sci-fi was never really able to make a mark throughout the years: Korean viewers tend to favor visual realism. Or at least the perception of it, because while plenty of melodramas and comedies make a mockery out of verisimilitude, tolerance for heroes gliding in the air and vanquishing hundreds of foes out of pure qi and gong fu is mostly very low – something that despite not being Korean I must admit I share, although I adore sci-fi for its potential for allegory. But I digress.

There were a few – mostly failed – attempts to revive the genre over the years, from 2000's 비천무 (Bichunmoo) to the harebrained Shin Sang-Ok remake 천년호 (The Legend of the Evil Lake) and the somewhat charming 무영검 (Shadowless Sword). But any time Korea attempts to delve back into these murky narrative and cinematic waters, the feeling was that both know-how (wire-fu choreography, stuntwork, editing) and reception still weren't up to par are difficult to erase. Feeling that is still vivid and very much present, all the more reason when directing the next bix wuxia project in line is not an eternal wuxia fanboy like Ryu Seung-Wan, but someone like Park Heung-Shik, who made a career out of small scale, placid romantic comedies like 나도 아내가 있었으면 좋겠다 (I Wish I Had a Wife) or the lovely 달콤한 나의 도시 (My Sweet Seoul).

This is perhaps why 협녀: 칼의 기억 (Memories of the Sword) sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, as compounded by the teaser trailer that was just released. You have about a minute, which is wisely spent focusing on the emoting of your amazing cast: enfant prodige Kim Go-Eun, Korea's best actress Jeon Do-Yeon, a huge International star like Lee Byung-Heon, solid supporters like Lee Gyeong-Young and Bae Soo-Bin (who don't appear in the teaser). And, well, the token K-pop star, obviously. But then any action we're subjected to will likely be met with lukewarm apathy by most Korean viewers, because it once again falls into the trap of not being outlandish enough to be taken as wuxia, and not being realistic enough to be taken as ordinary sageuk action. That action choreographers would still be allowed by directors to let lackadaisical wire-fu make it to a trailer in 2015 is huge warning sign for something that will likely be content with wooing Chinese audiences and attract some orientalist purveyors in Western markets.

But unless Lotte shoves the film down moviegoers' throats for months, I don't see it breaking even any time soon (budget is now a standard 10+ billion won). Hopefully we'll at least get good acting out of it, but people who have wuxia in their veins should be dealing with this genre, not just any ordinary journeyman.

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August 18, 2015

‘Veteran,’ ‘Assassination’ top S. Korean box office as hits of the year

By Tae Hong The Korea Times US

The two giants of South Korean cinema so far this year have emerged — “Veteran,” which passed 7 million viewers Tuesday, and “Assassination,” which stands at 10.79 million as of Monday, according to Yonhap.

“Veteran,” which was released Aug. 5, passed the 5 million ticket sales mark on its 10th day, the fastest of any domestic film this year alongside “Assassination.”

Directed by Ryu Seung-wan, it stars silver screen giant Hwang Jung-min and heartthrob actor Yoo Ah-in as detective and powerful millionaire in a cat-and-mouse game.

“Assassination,” which premiered July 22, is the highest-grossing Korean film of the year.

Led by a heavyweight cast including Ha Jung-woo, Jeon Ji-hyun and Lee Jung-jae, and directed by Choi Dong-hoon, the film details an assassinatiion plot by a band of independence fighters during Japanese occupation in Korea.

Meanwhile, the box office has not been kind to “Memories of the Sword,” a period flick boasting big-name actors Lee Byung-hun and Jeon Do-yeon — according to Korean Film Council Tuesday, the film has only attracted about 350,000 moviegoers since its release last week, and is lingering at No. 6 nationwide.

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July 24, 2015

[Spot] ‘Memories of the Sword’ Lee Byung-hun, “The Script Won Me Over”

Posted by: Jin Kim Get It K


“Memories of the Sword” is set to hit the big screen next month, intensifying summer box office competition with other blockbusters.

The press conference for upcoming film ‘Memories of the Sword’ was held on July 24 at Lotte Cinema in Jayang-dong, Gwangjin-gu of Seoul. Cast members Lee Byung-hun, Jeon Do-yeon, Kim Go-eun and director Park Heung-sik attended the event.

‘Memories of the Sword’ is a martial arts epic that will depict a story of a man who uses his swordsmanship and cunning betrayal to gain power in the royal court.

“My role is Deok-gi, who later changes his name to Yu-baek. He is a man with full of ambition.

‘Memories of the Sword’ became Lee’s second historical film in a row following ‘Masquerade’ in 2012. “Wearing all the heavy makeup and being dressed in even heavier traditional costumes were not easy. That was why I did not want to do another historical film. However, it was the script that won me over. The story was amazing.” said Lee Byung-hun.

“Since I was the last actor cast for the film, I had the shortest time for training and learning martial arts. It was hard for me to catch up with the other actors, said Lee. In the film, Yu-baek appears as the master of martial arts.

The director insisted the action for the film be intense. We had to do a lot of wire action on most of our days of filming. It definitely must have been not easy for the actresses especially.”

The seven-minute clip that was released at the beginning of the conference caught the eyes of the people with many spectacular action scenes and colorful costumes.

“In order to portray the character’s personality, we really worked on the costumes. However, such costumes made it more difficult to do action scenes,” he revealed.

“I have been preparing for his film for 11 years. It would be just a joy to watch the three actors’ performances and intense action,” said director Park Heung-sik. “It is not only emotional but also strong.”

Meanwhile, ‘Memories of the Sword’ will be released on August 13.

GET IT K Han Jihee, Photo by Choi Eunhee, English Translation by Veronica Choi

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August 19, 2015

‘Memories of the Sword’ flops

Period film “Memories of the Sword,” released Aug. 13, is on a sluggish roll with mere 370,000 ticket sales in a week until Wednesday. 

On the other hand box-office hit “Assassination” drew nearly 950,000 viewers in one day, 

Critics argue the scandal-swept married man Lee Byung-hun is not all to blame for the flop. 

“The tragic beauty of revenge and love overwhelms the weak plot. The work is too grandiose for its own sake,” said one critic, “Its scenes are indeed beautiful, but the dramatic narrative is not persuasive, leaving the audience dangling with questions.”

“Memories of the Sword” stars veteran actors Lee Byung-hun and Jeon Do-yeon, with rising rookie Kim Go-eun. 

The film was completed in 2014 but its release date was delayed for a year after an extramarital blackmail scandal involving lead actor Lee broke out.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (kaylalim@heraldcorp.com)

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August 18, 2015

'Memories Of The Sword': Review

By Jason Bechervaise ScreenDaily

Dir/scr: Park Heung-sik. South Korea. 2015. 121mins 

On paper, the period martial arts drama Memories of the Sword sounds like an appealing prospect. It features two award-winning stars: Lee Byung-hun (Masquerade) and Jeon Do-yeon (Secret Sunshine) reuniting for the first time since The Harmonium In My Memory (1999) and it’s helmed by Park Heung-sik (My Mother, the Mermaid), a respected local filmmaker. Yet, it doesn’t quite come together as it seeks to take elements from various films including famous wuxia classics (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, House of Flying Daggers) and combine it with a heavy dose of melodrama using an uneven narrative structure.

The amount of ambitious wire work, CGI and frequent use of slow-motion doesn’t always seem wise and the film works best when characters are on the ground.

Despite its star pedigree, Memories of the Sword failed to attract large numbers on its opening weekend (Aug. 14-16) in South Korea having generated a meagre $1.7m from 247,119 admissions. But going up against Choi Dong-hoon’s Assassination and Ryoo Seung-wan’s acclaimed Veteran which have currently grossed $70.8m and $46m, respectively, was certainly a formidable task. To open in sixth place suggests audiences were not keen to see the film in the first place, however, - even after a long wait (it was initially scheduled to hit screens at the end of 2014). Lee Byung-hun may not be the box office draw he once was.

Overseas, its prospects remain uncertain, but Memories Of the Sword might entice some buyers looking for a martial arts epic as evidenced by the North American release through Well Go USA on August 28.

Set in the late Goryeo dynasty (918-1392), the film initially follows an energetic and confident girl named Hong-Yi (Kim Go-eun) who has learned the art of swordsmanship from her blind stepmother Sul-rang (Jeon Do-yeon). It’s soon revealed that 18 years earlier, Sul-rang along with two other warriors Poong-chun (Bae Soo-bin) and Yoo-beak (Lee Byung-hun) sought to lead an uprising against a corrupt monarchy, but was betrayed by the politically ambitious Yoo-beak in his quest for power,leading to the death of Hong-Yi’s parents.

Sul-rang, who was in a relationship with Yoo-beak before the rebellion, later confesses to Hong-Yi that together with Yoo-beak she was responsible for the death of her parents which ultimately begins a journey of revenge and bloodshed.

In the first hour, the film is so heavily focused on providing the necessary backstory that it lacks sufficient narrative urgency. This changes in the second half, but despite great efforts to develop the three central characters, the confusing early sequences mean it is hard to feel empathy for any of them.

This is Park Heung-sik’s first attempt at period film-making and evidently not his last either (his next film Haeuhhwa will be set in 1940s Seoul) but his lack of experience in this genre is generally palpable. While the melodramatic strands of the story better suit his style, and although the film’s visuals remain engaging, the amount of ambitious wire work, CGI and frequent use of slow-motion doesn’t always seem wise. The film works best when characters are on the ground.

Despite its technical flaws, some of the film’s cinematography - when it isn’t so reliant on CGI - is impressive and Mowg’s (Masquerade, The Last Stand) score again resonates well. 

Both Lee Byung-hun and Jeon Do-yeon deliver solid performances but the script fails to give them adequate space to really embrace their roles. Kim Go-eun (Coin Locker Girl) is given more to work with, but comes across as overly theatrical at times, especially in the film’s comical opening sequence where she hops over a giant sunflower.

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August 20, 2015

Going deep in ‘Memories’
Young star explores character growth in new martial arts film

Source: INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily

20075823.jpg Kim Go-eun. Provided by Studio 706

She has a young face, but on it she is capable of conveying deep sadness and pain.

Perhaps that’s why actress Kim Go-eun has been able to pull off such complex roles in the past and in “Memories of the Sword,” which opened in theaters just last week.

Since her unforgettable debut in “Eungyo” (2012), in which she played a high school girl who becomes the sexual fascination of a 70-year-old poet, the 24-year-old has taken parts in rather dark movies.

And along the way, she has emerged as one of the most sought-after actresses in the Korean film industry.

Asked about how she hopes to age as an actress, Kim said she wishes to age “naturally and go with the flow.” She added that she wants to live and also perform accordingly in the right roles for her age.

Here is an edited excerpt of her recent interview with the JoongAng Ilbo, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily.

Q. It’s been a long time since Koreans saw a Korean-made martial arts film.

A. Yes. But I’m very familiar with martial arts films. That’s because for 10 years from 1994, I lived in China. During those years, I saw a lot of martial arts films, like “Swordsman II” (1992).

You seemed very comfortable performing martial arts movements.

I guess it’s because of my background in dancing. I tried my best to accentuate the lines and curves as much as possible because I wanted my action moves to be like dancing.

Your character, Hong-yi, requires a wide spectrum of emotions, as she’s at first an innocent young girl but turns into a vengeful woman after losing her parents.

Yes, and I interpreted it as her growth. In the initial scenes, Hong-yi is very simple. She plays with her friends, is happy when she wins a martial arts competition, gets frustrated when she’s ignored. But once she learns about her enemy, she wanders around and goes through emotional turmoil. Growth is about that, I think: going through various emotions.

Since your debut in “Eungyo,” you already made four films. How much did you grow?

I don’t think it’s a good thing to grow fast. I’d like to grow naturally and take on roles according to my age. I was lucky that I played roles that were my age [at that time].

You’ve always worked with such veteran actors: Park Hae-il in “Eungyo” and Kim Hye-soo in “Coin Locker Girl.”

You are right. And whenever I work with those amazing actors, I feel like their colors get absorbed in me. I feel like I’m a blank, white paper and their colors - green, red and black - get painted on me. They had different colors, but they had one thing in common: they all treated me as equals and respected me. I think it’s because they’ve all been where I am, so they understand.

You seem to have a filmography that actors your age would envy. Do you care about ticket admissions or how successful the films are?

I always prepare for the worst. For instance, when I chose to work on “Eungyo,” I prepared myself in case it totally failed. I think imagining the worst-possible scenario helped me get through hard times as I took part in the film. I’m also preparing for the worst for my upcoming work, “Cheese in the Trap.” If you do that, you’ve got nothing to lose. Isn’t that quite good? (Laughs)

BY JANG SEONG-RAN [hkim@joongang.co.kr]

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^ @Hankumdovery unbelievable indeed. 



August 20, 2015

Memories of the Sword


TIME OUT SAYS  1 out of 5 stars

Costume dramas have been a hot ticket at the Korean box office ever since Lee Byung-hun lit the charts on fire with Masquerade in 2012. Fast forward three years and the star returns to period fare with the swordplay action epic Memories of the Sword. Alas, rather than a bang, this tent pole closes out the high summer holidays on a whimper in what has been a difficult summer for the embattled superstar, following the tepid response to Terminator: Genisys, his latest high profile Hollywood foray.
Lee plays an ambitious warrior who betrays an ex-lover, played by top thespian Jeon Do-yeon. She goes into hiding and trains a child to become a great fighter. Eighteen years later, a teenaged Kim Go-eun is ready to take revenge in her place. Betrayal, greed and love are the driving emotions of this story, but the only feelings viewers are likely to experience are bewilderment and frustration, as this period yarn dovetails odd tonal shifts and awkward wirework choreography into the year’s most befuddling cinematic experience.
Unfortunately, the film proves to be a low point for all of its stars, as well as its acclaimed director Park Heung-sik. No one involved seems to know what kind of project they signed on to, and this confusion is transmitted to the audience through a narrative that seesaws between juvenile slapstick and solemn melodrama. A misbegotten foray for all involved, Memories of the Sword will soon be forgotten.

Source: twitter20150821pc.jpg

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