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[Movie 2016] The Age of Shadows/Mil-jeong 밀정


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September 14, 2016

'The Age of Shadows' to open in North America next week

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 13 (Yonhap) -- The popular South Korean film "The Age of Shadows" is set to open in more than 40 North American cities next week amid keen attention from the local press.

The double agent film, starring top actors Song Kang-ho, Gong Yoo and Han Ji-min, will premiere in cities that include Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Washington, Toronto and Vancouver, on Sept. 23, according to its local distributor CJ Entertainment America.

A poster for the film "The Age of Shadows" provided by Warner Bros. Korea. (Yonhap)

A poster for the film "The Age of Shadows" provided by Warner Bros. Korea. (Yonhap)

Directed by Kim Jee-woon, the period movie has topped South Korea's box office since its release last Wednesday, drawing an audience of more than 2 million so far. Song plays a talented Korean-born Japanese police officer who happens to work as a double agent for Japan and a group of Korean resistance fighters during Japan's colonial rule over Korea. Gong and Han play a leader and a member of the group called "Uiyeoldan," respectively.

It has been invited to various international film festivals, including those in Venice and Toronto, and described by the U.S. entertainment weekly Variety as a "rousing gem" without "an ounce of fat."

Kim and Han attended the film's screening at the Toronto International Film Festival and are scheduled to visit New York to attend a preview event there next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Kim is also scheduled to visit Los Angeles to attend a screening specially organized for local film officials.

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September 13, 2016

Kim Jee-woon’s Exhilarating, Epic Action Spy Thriller ‘The Age Of Shadows’ [Venice Review]

Jessica Kiang  The Playlist

Age Of Shadows

Two surprising things might strike you during the first half-hour or so of Kim Jee-woon‘s epic, exciting, extraordinary period spy thriller “The Age of Shadows” (which has recently been selected as Korea’s entry for the Oscars). Firstly, you may very well be a bit confused, at sea amid the plethora of characters you meet in media res and the rapid flow of scene on setpiece on scene, unsure at any one moment if you’re in a flashback or on some place along a linear timeline, unclear about who is betraying whom. The second is that you really don’t care. Conventional wisdom dictates that, certainly in a genre exercise like this, clarity is king and confusion, of even the mildest kind, is the enemy of engagement. But the conventionally wise part of your brain is way too busy being seduced by the moment-to-moment elegance of DP Kim Ji-yong‘s scoop-it-into-my-eyes-please photography, and Kim Jee-woon’s scintillating directorial assurance to get a look in. It really doesn’t matter that the overarching shape of the movie doesn’t reveal itself until later. In “The Age of Shadows” every scene is a movie.

Age Of ShadowsIt starts with an ending: in 1920s Japanese-occupied Seoul, a showdown occurs between a hunted man, Korean resistance fighter Kim Jan-ok (Park Hee-soon) and his pursuer Captain Lee Jung-chool, played by Song Kang-ho, now iconically recognisable from (deep breath) Bong Joon-ho‘s “Snowpiercer,” “The Host,” and “Memories of Murder,” Park Chan-wook‘s “Thirst,” “Sympathy for Mr Vengeance” and “Joint Security Area,” and Kim Jee-woon’s own “The Good, The Bad, The Weird.” (It’s a resume that serves to remind us that God, we love this golden age of Korean genre cinema, and that ‘Age of Shadows,’ for his excellent performance as well as for many other reasons, sits easily in this pantheon). Anyway, the Captain has some rather trigger-happy troops at his disposal but is anxious to catch his quarry alive, pursuing him on foot through the complex in which he’s gone to ground, while behind him in a wide, moonlit shot, soldiers flow across the rooftops like liquid and already, though you may know nothing of the context or the history of this drama, you feel yourself lean forward into the breathtaking image, while also relaxing back into the storytelling embrace of a director who knows exactly what he’s doing. It culminates in a face-off between the two men, which has one of the film’s goriest scenes (and there will be a few of those) but which also explains Jung-chool’s insistence on claiming Jan-ok alive: they were once friends. Jung-chool was once a resistance fighter himself, before turning traitor and joining the ranks of the Japanese authorities.

From this event the film spins into a clever, twisty double agent plot as the conflicted Jung-chool is tasked with running the rest of Jan-ok’s cell to ground, with his eyes really on the prize of the main resistance leader, Jeong Chae-san (played in a cameo role by Kim Jee-woon regular and star of this month’s ‘Magnificent Seven‘ remake Lee Byung-hun). But the main mouse to Jung-chool’s cat (or is it the other way around) is Kim Woo-jin (“Train to Busan“‘s Gong Yoo), a local photographer who leads Jan-ok’s covert resistance cell, and who must also find out which of his cohorts is the rat who sold out Jan-ok in the first place. Further complicating matters is the fact that Jung-chool’s Korean heritage makes him less than wholly trustworthy to his Japanese superiors, and so he’s “teamed” with the oleaginous and scheming Hashimoto (Um Tae-goo) to keep an eye on him.

Got all that? Again, doesn’t matter, because as soon as the plot gets underway, the unstoppable verve of Kim Jee-woon’s filmmaking takes over: in terms as crude as his film is elegant, he directs the richard simmons out of every single scene. There is a quality of consideration that goes into every shot, every edit, every composition, every camera placement that is completely remarkable: most genre exercises operate on a setpiece-filler-exposition rhythm, but Kim Jee-woon shoots even throwaway incidental dialogue as though this were the single moment he was most excited about delivering. It’s not showy or distracting, it’s simply immaculate, as though every beat were the Platonic ideal of what it could be.


He is helped, of course, by every below-the-line department bringing its A-game — the costumes and locations are richly imagined, and even the props and vehicles all have that wonderful lustre of antiquity, but also of use. The dull metal-gray barrels of the policemen’s pistols are scuffed and worn, shop windows are streaked with grime and condensation, and there’s no outdoor location shot so luxuriant that there isn’t room for the squalid detail of a ripped poster or a mottled, crumbling wall. These glorious noir-influenced images have a glamor that, unlike the work of fellow Korean stylist Park Chan-wook, for example, has nothing of the erotic in it — it is as sexless as the arthouse pulp of “The Handmaiden” is drenched in sensuality. Kim Jee-woon instead uses these fetishizably delicious images to create a highly unusual action movie aesthetic, one that dignifies an often slapdash genre.

Because this is an action movie and no mistake, the only difference being that where most films so described usually build to a single massive setpiece, “The Age of Shadows” has about seven — maybe ten, if you consider that the whole train section (and of course there’s a train section) is a setpiece that contains about three other setpieces inside itself. Each one of these sequences is delivered like the climax to a Brian de Palma movie (indeed there’s a shootout in a train station that seems to deliberately echo “The Untouchables“) but there’s also such knotty spy-jinks intrigue going on that at other times it plays like “Betrayal on the Orient Express.”

Though inspired by real events and real incidents (the resistance fighters are using a complicated trade in black-market artifacts to conceal their purchase of explosives from Hungarian anarchists, which, as nuts as it sounds, is plausible for that era in Korean history) and hopping from Seoul to Shanghai and back again, “The Age of Shadows” has no pretensions to being a particularly deep or politically resonant piece of filmmaking. Its more that Kim Jee-woon has found in this era and this milieu the perfect inspiration for a blisteringly entertaining and exquisite genre exercise, one that may not be recognised as such only because we we have never expected genre films to be this good. [A-]


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'The Age of Shadows' draws 4 mln viewers


SEOUL, Sept. 16 (Yonhap) -- The popular South Korean film "The Age of Shadows" has drawn more than 4 million viewers, its distributor said Friday.

The double agent film, starring top actors Song Kang-ho, Gong Yoo and Han Ji-min, which opened on Sept. 7, had an accumulated audience of 4,247,029 people as of 8:00 a.m., Warner Brothers Entertainment said.

The film also drew 760,647 attendees on Chuseok, which fell on Thursday this year, becoming the second most viewed film on the holiday, it said.

Song plays a talented Korean-born Japanese police officer who happens to work as a double agent for Japan and a group of Korean resistance fighters during Japan's colonial rule over Korea. Gong and Han play a leader and a member of the group called "Uiyeoldan," respectively.

Directed by Kim Jee-woon, the film has been invited to various international film festivals, including those in Venice and Toronto, and described by the U.S. entertainment weekly Variety as a "rousing gem" without "an ounce of fat."





S. Korean espionage film sweeps local cinemas during Chuseok holiday

SEOUL, Sept. 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's espionage film "The Age of Shadows" swept local cinemas during the Chuseok holiday this week, surpassing 5 million viewers, data showed Saturday.

According to data compiled by the state-run Korean Film Council (KFC), the film broke the 5 million mark after recording an accumulated audience of more than 4.2 million viewers on Friday. The movie -- starring top actors Song Kang-ho, Gong Yoo and Han Ji-min -- opened on Sept. 7.

In particular, the movie drew nearly 860,000 people on Chuseok, which fell on Friday, becoming the second-most-viewed film on the Korean thanksgiving day.

Song plays a talented Korean-born Japanese police officer who happens to work as a double agent for Japan and a group of Korean resistance fighters during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule. Gong and Han respectively play a leader and a member of the group called "Uiyeoldan."

   Directed by Kim Jee-woon, the film has been invited to various international film festivals, including those in Venice and Toronto, and described by U.S. entertainment weekly Variety as a "rousing gem" without "an ounce of fat."


This undated photo shows a poster promoting South Korea's espionage film "The Age of Shadows." (Yonhap)This undated photo shows a poster promoting South Korea's espionage film "The Age of Shadows." (Yonhap)http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/culturesports/2016/09/17/0701000000AEN20160917001000315.html


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Espionage flick surpasses 6 mln in attendance

SEOUL, Sept. 18 (Yonhap) -- Espionage film "The Age of Shadows" has surpassed 6 million in attendance, as it continues its march toward the venerable 10 million mark, data showed Sunday.

According to Warner Bros. Korea, the film's distributor, the double agent flick has drawn 6,000,806 as of 6:45 p.m. Sunday. It had surpassed the 5 million mark just a day earlier.

Starring top actors Song Kang-ho, Gong Yoo and Han Ji-min, "The Age of Shadows" needed only 10 days to reach 4 million and a dozen days to top 6 million.

Fourteen Korean films have surpassed 10 million in attendance. Of those, "The Attorney" (11.3 million) needed 14 days to get to 6 million, while "Ode to My Father" (14.2 million) took 16 days to reach that mark.

"Roaring Currents," a historical epic about Admiral Yi Sun-shin's naval victory during Joseon Dynasty, remains the biggest Korean hit of all time with 17.6 million viewers.

In "The Age of Shadows," Song portrays a talented Korean-born Japanese police officer who happens to work as a double agent for Japan and a group of Korean resistance fighters during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule. Gong and Han respectively play a leader and a member of the group called "Uiyeoldan."

   "The Age of Shadows" enjoyed a boost at the gate during Chuseok long weekend, which went from Wednesday to Sunday. The film had nearly 860,000 viewers on Friday alone and 760,000 on Thursday.

Directed by Kim Jee-woon, the film has been invited to various international film festivals, including those in Venice and Toronto, and described by U.S. entertainment weekly Variety as a "rousing gem" without "an ounce of fat."


Korean spy film continues box office reign

By Shim Sun-ah

SEOUL, Sept. 19 (Yonhap) -- The latest action film by South Korean director Kim Jee-woon once again topped the weekend box office, collecting over 2 million viewers, data showed Monday.

According to the real-time based box office tally from the Korean Film Council, the espionage thriller sold 53.2 percent of all tickets on its second weekend, bringing its accumulated number of viewers to over 6 million so far. It became the seventh film to hit the milestone this year.


The official poster of "The Age of Shadows" (Yonhap)The official poster of "The Age of Shadows" (Yonhap)

Starring Song Kang-ho and Gong Yoo, the movie, in particular, attracted 3.37 million moviegoers during the long Chuseok holiday period from Wednesday to Sunday.

The film depicts a talented Korean-born Japanese police officer who happens to work as a double agent for Japan and a group of Korean resistance fighters during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule.

Coming in second place was "Ben-Hur," the remake of the epic 1959 film, which garnered 591,308 viewers.


A still from "Ben-Hur," the remake of the epic 1959 film (Yonhap)A still from "Ben-Hur," the remake of the epic 1959 film (Yonhap)

Taking the third spot was another highly-anticipated American film "The Magnificent Seven." It sold 391,031 tickets during the weekend.

The remake of the namesake 1960 Western has South Korean actor Lee Byung-hun in its main cast.

The Korean historical drama "Map Against the World" ranked No. 4 on its second weekend with 297,463. Directed by Kang Woo-suk and starring Cha Seung-won, it depicts the life story of Kim Jeong-ho, a renowned Joseon era (1392-1910) geographer and cartographer who traveled around the country to make a detailed map.


A still from the Korean film "Map Against the World" (Yonhap)A still from the Korean film "Map Against the World" (Yonhap)

Rounding out the top five was Disney's "Alice Through the Looking Glass," a new collaboration of director Tim Burton and actor Johnny Depp. The film sold 134,182 tickets.




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‘Shadows’ tops Hollywood releases over Chuseok


Sept 20,2016

The Warner Brothers Korea release “The Age of Shadows,” directed by Kim Jee-won and starring high-profile actors Song Kang-ho and Gong Yoo, handily led a normally subdued Chuseok holiday from Wednesday to Sunday, continuing its run at the top of the box office in its second weekend, according to the Korean Film Council on Monday.

The period espionage film set in the late 1920s, when the country was under Japanese colonial rule (1910-45), took in 28.4 billion won ($25 million) over Chuseok from 3.3 million admissions, making up 54.7 percent of total ticket sales in 1,368 screens nationwide.

The movie has raked in 49.9 billion won since its release on Sept. 7 and sold more than six million tickets as of Sunday.

The Hollywood remake of the classic film “Ben-Hur” came in second during the five-day holiday with 873,688 ticket sales, despite some critics panning its lack of creativity. It reached 500,000 admissions three days after its release on Wednesday, the start of the Chuseok holiday.


On the same day, another Hollywood remake, “The Magnificent Seven,” hit local theaters. Featuring Korean actor Lee Byung-hun alongside Denzel Washington and Chis Pratt as one of seven outlaws who fight against an industrialist, the Western action flick ranked third, selling 644,089 tickets.

CJ Entertainment’s period film, “The Map Against the World,” about Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) cartographer Kim Jeong-ho (Cha Seung-won) came in fourth, marking a drastic drop from second place last week, with 478,130 admissions.

Disney’s “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” the sequel to 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland,” and the American-Chinese animation “Rock Dog,” distributed by Huayi Brothers and Summit Entertainment, each came in fifth and sixth. 

NEW’s controversial animated film “Lost in the Moonlight” slipped to seventh place. The Korean animation has been accused of being too similar to Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away” (2001).

Another Korean animation “Foosball” came in eighth, and two other animations, “Aikatsu! Music Award: Minna de Shou wo MoracchaimaShow!” and “Robinson Crusoe,” followed with the next two spots.

BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr] http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/Article.aspx?aid=3023876

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September 19, 2016

‘The Age of Shadows’ continues to top local box office

Still from historial thriller “The Age of Shadows” (Warner Bros. Korea)

The recent blockbuster “The Age of Shadows” attracted over 6 million moviegoers in the less than two weeks since it opened here, making it the seventh most-watched film of the year in Korea. 

Over 3.3 million people watched the film in theaters during the Chuseok holiday from Wednesday to Sunday, according to the Korean Film Council on Monday. 

Starring actors Gong Yoo and Song Kang-ho, the historical thriller follows a group of Korean independence fighters as they attempt to take back the country from Japanese colonial rule in the 1920s.

Directed by Kim Ji-won, the film has also been gaining traction abroad. 

In addition to screening at the 41st annual Toronto International Film Festival this month, it was selected as a contender at the upcoming 89th Academy Awards for best foreign language film.

“The Age of Shadows” is currently playing in local theaters. 

By Kim Yu-young (ivykim@heraldcorp.com)

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September 18, 2016

Movies with multiple main  actors hottest box office trend

By Park Jae-hyuk The Korea Times


Song Kang-ho in a scene from "The Age of Shadows" / Courtesy of Warners Bros.

Spy thriller "The Age of Shadows" swept the box office during the Chuseok long weekend last week, attracting over 5 million viewers. The movie drew more than 860,000 viewers a day, the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) said.

The film created plenty of interest even before its release because of its star-studded cast.

Seasoned actor Song Kang-ho, whose previous film "The Attorney" attracted over 10 million viewers, co-stars with other popular actors Gong Yoo and Lee Byung-hun in the movie. Gong and Lee's films "Train to Busan" and "Masquerade," respectively, both attracted over 10 million viewers.

"The Age of Shadows" illustrates one of the hottest trends in the Korean film industry where movies have multiple main characters. "Asura: The City of Madness," which will be released on Sept. 28, stars some of Korea's most celebrated male actors, such as Jung Woo-sung, Hwang Jung-min and Kwak Do-won.

"Master," which will be released in December, also features some of the hottest stars, including Lee Byung-hun, Kang Dong-won and Kim Woo-bin.

Multiple main character casting became a box office trend after director Choi Dong-hoon's caper movie "The Thieves," released in 2012, was a big hit.

The film had a slew of stars, including Kim Yoon-seok, Lee Jung-jae, Kim Hye-soo, Jun Ji-hyun and Kim Soo-hyun. It ranks fifth in Korea's box office records, drawing more than 12 million viewers.

After "Assassination" came "Veteran," which also drew over 10 million viewers last year.

Industry watchers say that theatergoers pay more attention to the movie and give more positive reviews if it features more than one famous actor. Actors are also relieved of some burden because they do not have to lead throughout the entire movie.

In Hollywood, there are plenty of movies with multiple main characters for those reasons.

The caper film "Ocean's Eleven" and the superhero movie series "The Avengers" are examples of such successes in Hollywood. Recently released, "The Magnificent Seven" is another because it has seven main characters.


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September 19, 2016

Warner Bros Korea chief: I wanted to shake Korean film market dominated by 4 big players

The head of Warner Bros. Korea said that he wants to shake the big four distributors' dominance of the local film market with the current box office smasher "The Age of Shadows" that it produced.

"The Korean film market is controlled by four big investor/distributors," Jay Choi, director of Warner Bros. Korea, said during a recent interview with Yonhap News Agency. "So I thought somebody should shake the framework and create a chasm in the static big-four system to turn it into a creator-oriented one."

Released on Sept. 7, the Korean period action thriller has topped the local box office for 12 consecutive days as of Sunday, drawing more than 6 million viewers. It became the seventh film to hit the milestone this year.


Directed by acclaimed Korean director Kim Jee-woon, the film depicts a talented Korean-born Japanese police officer who happens to work as a double agent for both Japan and a group of Korean resistance fighters during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule. 

The success is meaningful to the local film market as it was the first Korean-language film project from the local branch of Warner Bros. Pictures, a major Hollywood studio.

It has probably created some "healthy tension" and motivated the big four -- CJ Entertainment, Showbox, Lotte Entertainment and Next Entertainment World (NEW) -- said the executive whose Korean name is Choi Jae-won. "Then their attitude toward film studios or creators will be changed in a positive way."

Choi, a seasoned producer, took charge of the full filmmaking process ranging from selecting the screenplay to choosing the director and casting the actors. He previously took part in the investment and production of some 30 Korean films, including Kim's two preceding films "A Tale Of Two Sisters" (2003) and "The Good, The Bad, And The Weird" (2008) as well as "Take Care Of My Cat" (2001), "Memories Of Murder" (2003) and "The President's Barber" (2004). He worked as the president of NEW and produced the million-selling film "The Attorney" as head of a film production that he founded in 2010. In January 2015 he became chief executive of Warner Bros. Korea.

'The Age of Shadows' production cost of 14 billion won ($12.5 million) is considered a blockbuster budget in Korea.

"I sent an English-translated version of the film's screenplay and Warner called me after two hours, saying the script is good," he said. "And then I double-checked, saying if they are really fine with the film, which costs more than 10 billion won to produce."

(Warner Bros. Korea)

Warner's expansion into the Korean film market is the result of the company's intensive study over its strategy to advance to the market, which is the world's fifth largest, he said. In South Korea, local productions dominate half or more of the market share even against Hollywood blockbusters.

The executive said he received a message of congratulations from the American headquarters after it swept the box office on its first weekend running.

The movie met his expectations, he said, amid industry expectations that it would eventually become a 10 million seller.

"The unofficial attendance record for director Kim's previous hit 'The Good, The Bad And The Weird' is 7,050,000. Our goal was to have an audience of one more million than that movie," he said. "Honestly, it would be difficult for the film to hit the 10 million milestone."

Still, he expressed regrets that the film would have performed better if it had opened in the August peak season.

"I regret the film did not hit the silver screen in the summer peak season; that would have given it more impact."

Being partly happy and partly sorry for the movie's long-running reign in the Korean box office, he wished that all other films that opened in the same season as Age of Shadows to perform equally well. (Yonhap)

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Mischief-makers: user posted image Instead of using his character-name Jeong Chae San, Lee Byung Hun introduced himself as Park Chang Yi (The Bad) to Song Kang Ho (The Weird) in 'The Age of Shadows'. They were co-stars in 2008's Kimchi western 'The Good, The Bad, The Weird,' talk about way to purposely create an NG. LOL. Not just that, there's also a reference to a popular phrase from 'Inside Men' during the drinking scene.

Published on September 19, 2016 by 김종철의 익스트림무비

Source: TV Report


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September 21, 2016

Leading S. Korean directors to visit U.S. for film promotion

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 20 (Yonhap) -- Two famous South Korean directors -- Park Chan-wook and Kim Jee-woon -- will visit Los Angeles next week to promote their latest films ahead of their imminent releases in North American theaters, the Korean Cultural Center here said Tuesday.

Park will come to Los Angeles on Monday to attend a special preview of his new erotic thriller "The Handmaiden," the center said, adding that Kim will also visit here the following day to attend a preview of his latest espionage thriller "The Age of Shadows."

In this photo released by the Associated Press on May 14, 2016, South Korean director Park Chan-wook (C) poses for photographers with actors Ha Jung-woo, Kim Tae-ri, Kim Min-hee and Jo Jin-woong (from L) at the screening of his film "The Handmaiden" at the 69th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France. (Yonhap)

In this photo released by the Associated Press on May 14, 2016, South Korean director Park Chan-wook (C) poses for photographers with actors Ha Jung-woo, Kim Tae-ri, Kim Min-hee and Jo Jin-woong (from L) at the screening of his film "The Handmaiden" at the 69th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France. (Yonhap)

"The Age of Shadows," whose accumulated number of viewers in South Korea crossed a 6-million mark as of Tuesday since its opening on Sept. 7, is scheduled to simultaneously hit the screens in some 40 other North American cities, including New York, Chicago, Toronto and Vancouver on Friday.

Park's thriller depicting a conspiracy to seize a mysterious heiress' assets is also set to be released in North America on Oct. 14.

On Monday, Park, along with actress Kim Tae-ri, who starred in "The Handmaiden," will hold a news conference at the Korean culture center, and then attend a preview for professors and students majoring in cinema at the Sundance Theater in West Hollywood, the center said.

He is also scheduled to meet with American filmmakers during another preview for his film at Soho House here, it said.

South Korean director Kim Jee-woon speaks during a press preview of his new film "The Age of Shadows" at a Seoul theater on Aug. 25, 2016 (Yonhap)    

South Korean director Kim Jee-woon speaks during a press preview of his new film "The Age of Shadows" at a Seoul theater on Aug. 25, 2016 (Yonhap)

On Tuesday, Kim will also meet with professors and students at a preview to talk about the production behind his latest film, according to the center.

Kim's movie attracts keen attention here as it has been selected as the South Korean entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards this year, it added.

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September 22, 2016

(News Focus) Korean films boast memorable director-actor combination

SEOUL, Sept. 22 (Yonhap) -- This fall, Korean audiences will see a host of tested director-actor pairs coming up with new films.

While director Kim Jee-woon teamed up with actor Song Kang-ho for "The Age of Shadows" after three successful ventures, director Kim Sung-soo and actor Jung Woo-sung are getting together after also doing three films together. Other well-known director-actor teams include Yoon Jong-bin and Ha Jung-woo; Ryu Seung-wan and Hwang Jung-min; and Hong Sang-soo and Yu Jun-sang.

"Song is an actor who endlessly challenges his limits although he is already on top," Kim Jee-woon told reporters after a media preview of "The Age of Shadows."

Actor Song Kang-ho (Yonhap)

Kim said he has always been curious about the actor's limits since he has continued to show new sides in every film he stars in.

After more than 20 years together, Song said he now feels comfortable working with Kim. "He is matchless in creating original characters," said the 49-year-old actor.

Their friendship began when then-rookie director Kim hired Song as an assistant actor for his feature debuting film "The Quiet Family" released in 1998.

In the film, labeled a "comical film on cruelty," Song deeply impressed viewers, appearing as a hot-tempered son with a history of serving prison terms for assault. His excellent performance earned him his first-ever lead role in film as a timid bank clerk who works as a pro wrestler at night in Kim's second feature film "The Foul King" (2000). The actor filmed the wrestling action scenes without a stunt man. Thanks to his passionate acting, the film was a commercial success, breaking the common notion that sports movies are doomed to failure in South Korea.

Eight years later in 2008, Song returned as Taegu, the weird one, in Kim's Korean-style Western, "The Good, the Bad, the Weird," captivating audiences with his unique charms.

Director Kim Jee-woon (Yonhap)

And after another eight years, the two put their names together on the credits of Kim's latest film "The Age of Shadows."

Song played the lead, Lee Jeong-chul, a talented Korean-born Japanese police officer who is thrown into a dilemma between his duty and supporting a greater cause of helping his Korean compatriots fighting to win Korean independence in colonial-era Seoul. Korea was a colony of Japan from 1910 to 1945.

There are several more director-actor pairs boasting long-time ties.

The Kim Sung-soo and Jung Woo-sung pair of the forthcoming crime thriller "The City of Madness" is one of them.

They previously did four films together ranging from "Beat" (1997), a film which made Jung the icon of youth in the 1990s, to "City of The Rising Sun" (1998) and "Musa-The Warrior" (2001).

In the new film set to open on Oct. 28, Jung plays Han Do-gyeong, a cop who engages in all sorts of shady activities for a corrupt city mayor to treat his wife diagnosed with terminal cancer.

"I wrote the script with Jung in mind," Kim said during a recent news conference for the film. "We met in a film scene for the first time in 15 years as a director and an actor, but didn't feel any different."

Director Kim Sung-soo (L) and actor Jung Woo-sung (Yonhap)

Director Kim Sung-soo (L) and actor Jung Woo-sung (Yonhap)

Director Yoon Jong-bin and actor Ha Jung-woo are well known for their long-held friendship.

Both graduates of Seoul's Chung-Ang University, Yoon and Ha worked together for the former's graduate work titled "The Unforgiven" (2005). Ha, who is one year senior to Yoon, majored in drama at the university while Yoon studied film.

The film depicting the irrationalities of the Korean military system drew much media attention in Korea after being invited to the non-competition section of the Cannes Film Festival.

They later did three more movies together: "Beastie Boys" (2008), "Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time" (2011) and "Kundo: Age of the Rampant" (2013).

Last year, Yoon helped Ha in writing the script for "Chronicle of a Blood Merchant," the second film directed by the actor.

Director Ryu Seung-wan's latest, "Gunhamdo," currently in production, is his third film together with actor Hwang Jung-min. Before, they had their names together in "The Unjust" (2010) and "Veteran" (2014).

The names of Hong Sang-soo and Yu Jun-sang together may also sound familiar to most local movie fans.

Yu is called "Hong Sang-soo's man" as he appeared in six straight titles by the world-acclaimed filmmaker. They are "Right Now, Wrong Then" (2015), "Nobody's Daughter Haewon" (2012), "In Another Country" (2011), "The Day He Arrives" (2011), "Hahaha" (2010) and "Like You Know It All" (2008).


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September 22, 2016


Kim Jee-woon's 'The Age of Shadows' is a gripping 1920s spy thriller

Justin Chang LA Times

In the first of many commanding set pieces in “The Age of Shadows,” a superb cloak-and-dagger entertainment that’s set during the Japanese occupation of Korea, one man follows another through a courtyard while a wave of officers swarm across the rooftops in hot pursuit. Leaping in loose, nimble formations from one building to the next, these officers resemble nothing so much as rifle-wielding extras in a 1920s spy-thriller replay of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

It’s a stunning image, and for all the adrenaline of the moment, its irresistible momentum has a way of putting you weirdly at ease. Over the course of this relentlessly swift 140-minute movie, your mind may race to keep up with the particulars of what’s at stake and who’s crossing whom. But the South Korean director Kim Jee-woon likes to work at his own pace, and he carries you over the narrative ramparts with style, verve and abundant confidence that all will be made clear in due course. 

There are many mysteries in “The Age of Shadows,” none more compelling than the question of where one man’s allegiance lies. He’s Lee Jung-chool, a Korean police captain whose cruel Japanese overlords have charged him with rooting out members of his country’s resistance movement. But while Lee — played with an unerring balance of sympathy and moral ambiguity by the great Song Kang-ho — has a history of selling out his own people to secure a favorable position with the Japanese, he’s been hit harder than usual by the death of Kim Jan-ok (Park Hee-soon), a resistance fighter who used to be his classmate.

The leader of the resistance, Che-san (Lee Byung-hun, in an extended cameo), senses that this turncoat, if approached and handled properly, might be turned once more — this time in their favor. And so begins an incremental, ingeniously coded psychological dance between Lee and a key resistance figure named Kim Woo-jin (the excellent Gong Yoo, “Train to Busan”), whose antique shop is a front for a scheme to smuggle explosives from Shanghai into Seoul. While Lee could theoretically bring down this operation at any moment, he seems just as likely to become an ally, thanks in no small part to Kim’s skillful application of pressure.



The screenwriters, Lee Ji-min and Park Jong-dae, embellish this crafty scenario with no shortage of ingenious complications, effectively doubling the number of double agents at every turn. After Jan-ok is betrayed to the enemy, Che-san becomes aware of a mole somewhere in the resistance. Meanwhile, Lee Jung-chool, deemed untrustworthy by his superiors because of his Korean heritage, is saddled with a partner named Hashimoto (Um Tae-goo, ferocious), a sadistic Japanese zealot who begins secretly monitoring Lee’s every move.

A filmmaker as attuned to detail and process as a watchmaker, Kim Jee-woon allows the machinations to build up and play out in inexorable yet unpredictable fashion. The centerpiece of “The Age of Shadows” is a long, glorious sequence in which all the principal characters find themselves on a train to Seoul, their various agendas and alliances shifting at every moment as they move between carriages. With its brutal, close-quarters action choreography and its steadily intensifying suspense — you may be reminded of Alfred Hitchcock and Agatha Christie, if not James Bond — the sequence is a tour de force in a movie that, minute by vise-like minute, proves worthy of the same designation.

Although rooted in a real-life 1923 plot to blow up a Japanese police station in Seoul, “The Age of Shadows” (which will represent South Korea in the Academy Awards race for foreign-language film) is less a fact-based drama than a deliriously unhinged B-movie fantasia that quickly slips the bonds of its historical framework. If the title carries inescapable echoes of “Army of Shadows,” Jean-Pierre Melville’s incomparable 1969 thriller about the French Resistance, the connection is underscored here by a female fighter, Yun Gye-soon (Han Ji-min, lovely and lethal in a red cloche hat), and also by the numerous scenes of her rightly suspicious collaborators ruthlessly pruning their own ranks.

Never less than a showcase for its alternately sumptuous and realistically muted production design, as well as Kim Ji-yong’s lustrous widescreen camerawork, “The Age of Shadows” marks an outstanding return to form for Kim Jee-woon after his strained Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle, “The Last Stand.” (The title of that bizarre Hollywood misadventure proved happily un-prescient.) Festival-goers and fans of extreme Asian cinema will remember him better for the ultra-violent likes of “The Good, the Bad, the Weird” (2010), a gleeful Eastern spin on the spaghetti western that memorably pitted Song and Lee Byung-hun against each other, and “I Saw the Devil” (2011), a horrifying serial-killer thriller that demands to be watched through one’s fingers or not at all.

A connoisseur of screen violence who can make even his famous countrymen Bong Joon-ho and Park Chan-wook look timid by comparison, Kim Jee-woon has curbed but not sacrificed those grisly impulses here, as the arterial gushers and close-ups of severed digits will attest. But nothing in this gratifyingly focused movie feels excessive or gratuitous, and a situation that repeatedly threatens to spiral out of control is dramatized with the utmost assurance. These fighters and their undeniable heroism notwithstanding, resistance is futile.



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  Age of Shadows: The Best Western Movie of the Year Is a Korean Thriller


Full of Oscar ambition, Kim Jee-woon's latest is an excellent spy story and a so-so depiction of Korea's fight for independence.

In a Q&A after the screening of his newest film, Age of Shadows, Korean director Kim Jee-woon defined film genres by fear: fear of love (romance), fear of change (horror), fear of the future (science fiction). But in his latest, a spy thriller about the Japanese occupation of Korea, Kim finds himself concerned with the complicated relationship between the individual and their country.

Demonstrating this theme in earnest, Age of Shadows follows a Korean police chief Lee Jung-Chool (Song Kang-ho of The Host andSnowpiercer) who's sold out his nationalist brethren to the Japanese colonial regime for his own personal gain, but begins to question his decisions and loyalty to the ruling class after meeting an idealistic resistance fighter, Kim Woo-jin (Gong Yoo, the unrealistically good-looking star of Train to Busan and Coffee Prince).

Age of Shadows is stylish and stylized, as is typical of modern Korean cinema, with beautiful costumes and scenery, several excellent fight scenes, and a visually palpable tension. It wastes no time getting to the action, opening with a lone resistance fighter pursued across tiled rooftops by dozens upon dozens of Japanese soldiers; after being shot in the foot he hides out in a shed and (spoiler alert!) pulls his own toe off—a grotesque gesture of things to come.

Despite being set in the '20s, in its best moments the film feels like a mashup of John le Carré Cold War intrigue and Sergio Leone spaghetti Western (Kim also directed the Western sendup The Good, the Bad and the Weird). The director speaks at length about elevating the meaning of his films beyond mere entertainment, but even while Age of Shadows succeeds as a solid spy movie, it's also mired by the trappings of an action movie. Yeon (Han Ji-min), the film's only female character, is largely a token, the green M&M of the Korean independence movement. Taken as a whole, the film is certainly patriotic, perhaps even nationalistic. Although much of the Western world has forgotten the role that Japan played as a major colonial power in Asia less than a century ago, the countries it occupied, including Korea, are still grappling with this aspect of modern history, and Age of Shadows is one expression of that.

The reality is that the director knows how to stage a dramatic Western-style standoff better than addressing a nation's ghosts.

With this in mind, its portrayal of the time period isn't exactly nuanced: All the resistance fighters are tall, handsome, and willing to die for their country without a second thought; Japanese characters are either old or creepy, almost caricatures of evil, including a sneaky and vicious intelligence officer with a thin, sparse mustache and a Marlon-Brando-as-Vito-Corleone voice. One can't fault Kim for his attempts to elevate South Korea's history through a vehicle with worldwide commercial appeal, but the reality is that the director knows how to stage a dramatic Western-style standoff better than addressing a nation's ghosts.

The balance also works the other way. While Age of Shadows' patriotic themes risk being overly sentimental, the violence and the perfectly choreographed fight scenes keep it in check; the overtly political time and place that Kim chose as a setting render the film inherently weighty, but the action and sly humor propel the film and keep it entertaining. These are difficult boundaries to walk in such an ambitious film—the first Hollywood-produced Korean-language film, with Oscar ambitions to boot—but Age of Shadowsnavigates them deftly, like a troop of Japanese soldiers running across the peak of a slate roof in the dead of night.





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September 25, 2016

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2016.09.23 ~ 2016.09.25

Source: Hancinema.net

Korea's Oscar submission approaches 7 million admissions...

The last weekend of September was a relatively subdued affair, but the country's official Oscar submissions, Kim Jee-woon's "The Age of Shadows", was still able to secure pole position by capturing 38.6% of the box office pie. From the 1,105 screens allocated, "The Age of Shadows" recorded 459,046 admissions (38.6%) which moved its bottom line now to just under 7 million (6.8 million admissions/$51 million).

Kim Jee-won's latest has occupied first place since its release earlier in September; it claimed 1.6 million (69.1%) during its first week to topple "Tunnel" at the top, and its second weekend attracted 2 million filmgoers (53.2%). The film, which stars Song Kang-ho, Gong Yoo, and Han Ji-min, is now the fifth highest-grossing Korean film of the year behind "Operation Chromite" (7 million), "Tunnel" (7.1 million), "A Violent Prosector" (9.7 million), and "Train to Busan" (11.5 million)-"Captain America: Civil War" (8.6 million) and "Zootopia" (4.7 million) are currently the only foreign flicks in Korea's top ten in third and ninth respectively.

Timur Bekmambetov's adaptation of Lew Wallace's 1880 novel, "Ben-Hur" (starring Jack Huston), remained in second place with 191,625 admissions (15.8%), shifting its total to 1.2 million (last weekend it claimed 594,486), followed by another adaptation of an iconic tale: "The Magnificent Seven" by Antoine Fuqua. Like Wallace's remake, Fuqua's retained its position on the podium during this quieter week and is now closing in on a million admissions (currently 879,975).

Not far behind "The Magnificent Seven" was the Japanese action-horror flick "I Am a Hero" (based on Kengo Hanazawa's 2009 manga of the same name) by director Shinsuke Sato. The film was released in Korea last Wednesday and captured 9.1% (100,684) during its first weekend out. The local historical drama "The Map Against the World" (starring Cha Seung-won, Yoo Joon-sang, Kim In-kwon, and Nam Ji-hyeon) by director Kang Woo-seok slipped just the one place to finished up in fifth with 49,640 admissions (3.9%), moving its total tally now to 947,146 ($6.8 million), with "Bridget Jones's Baby" (starring Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth and Patrick Dempsey), another new entry and the sequel to the popular 2004 film, taking sixth place with 41,251 admissions (3.6%).

Clint Eastwood's biographical drama "Sully" was another new release that managed to crack a top ten finish. The film is based on the extraordinary actions of Captain Chesley Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) who managed to save the lives of 155 passengers in 2009 during an emergency landing of a jet on the Hudson River. The film had 342 screens from which to pull and attracted 43,183 admissions (3.8%); worldwide, "Sully" has banked over $126.3 million from an estimated budget of $60 million.

The sequel to the 2010 adaptation of Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland", "Alice Through the Looking Glass" by James Bobin, fell three places to eighth after capturing just 2.5% of the box office pie (30,931 admissions). Since its release in America and the UK in May, "Through the Looking Glass" has grossed $298.8 million (the film was produced for around $170 million). The Chinese-American animated feature "Rock Dog" also drifted down the chart after it captured just 2.3% of the total sales (29,923 admissions), which moved its bottom line 204,356 admissions ($1.4 million), with Sin Dong-yeop's action comedy "Showdown" bring up the rear. "Showdown", Sin's seventh film to date (others include "100 Days with Mr. Arrogant", "Wedding Scandal" and "Days of Wrath"), attracted 15,986 filmgoers (1.3%) during its first weekend out.

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September 27, 2016

‘Shadows’ still on top, followed by classic remakes

Source: INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily

The period spy film “The Age of Shadows” reigned at the top spot for the third consecutive week over the weekend, according to Korean Film Council on Monday.

For three days from Friday to Sunday, the historical movie raked in more than 3.8 billion won at 1,105 screens nationwide by selling 459,048 tickets, making up 38.6 percent of total sales. 

Directed by Kim Jee-woon and starring A-list actors, including Song Kang-ho and Gong Yoo, the accumulated ticket sales for the flick is closing in on a total of seven million.

The second and the third spots went to the Hollywood remakes of “Ben-Hur” and “The Magnificent Seven.”


Over the weekend, 191,625 moviegoers, most of whom were above 30, chose the classic remake “Ben-Hur,” which has accumulated more than 1.2 million tickets sold since its release on Sept. 14.

The western action movie “The Magnificent Seven,” which debuted on the same day as “Ben-Hur,” was seen by 104,796 people over the three days, bringing total ticket sales of the film to 879,975.

A Japanese zombie blockbuster came in fourth in its first weekend. “I’m a Hero,” based on a cartoon that thoroughly depicts how grotesque zombies attack humans and vice versa, sold 100,686 tickets over the weekend. The Japanese zombie flick is a dark zombie thriller filled with violent action scenes. CJ Entertainment’s period film, “The Map Against the World,” about Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) cartographer Kim Jeong-ho (Cha Seung-won) dropped again this week to fifth place from the fourth last weekend. 

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

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