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[Movie 2017] Single Rider 싱글라이더

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July 4, 2017



ROB HUNTER Film School Rejects

2017’s New York Asian Film Festival runs June 30th through July 16th.

Kang Jae-hoon (Lee Byung-hun) sits watching home videos of his wife and son, and it’s clear that while they’re far from home — they’ve moved temporarily to Australia to learn English — they’re close to his heart. Unfortunately for Kang though it’s a revelation that may have come too late. He’s spent the last several years prioritizing his career, and as he heads into work he discovers the company is crumbling. Fraud and mismanagement have led to ruin, not just for the company and its employees, but for thousands of everyday citizens who trusted them with their financial futures. With nothing holding him in South Korea anymore he heads to Sydney to reclaim his family only to discover that they might be better off in his continued absence.

A Single Rider is a story about regret and how it can only be used as motivation if you act in time. Lee Joo-young‘s tender debut captures the feeling of defeat with an aching reality, and while a later narrative shift threatens to disrupt the effect the film’s heartfelt lead performance carries viewers across the finish line.

Kang’s wife, Soo-jin (Kong Hyo-jin), and son, Jin-woo (Yeong Yoo-jin), are on an extended trip that has already been extended a few more times, and when he sees her relaxing with a local man (Jack Campbell) the message seems clear. He spends the next few days spying on her, exploring the house when they’re out, and slowly realizing that as far as they’re concerned he left a long time ago. The film’s strongest when it follows this thread as both Lee Byung-hun and Kong reveal the fragility of human connection in their characters’ shared silences.

A second story develops alongside it though when Kang meets a young Korean girl named Ji-na (Sohee) after she’s robbed in Sydney. Swindled and drugged, she’s lost both her money and her passport, and Kang sees this as an opportunity towards a minor redemption for all those swindled by his company back home. Their time together takes on a more traditional narrative from the regret-filled longing occupying the main thread, but while it can’t compete in emotional power the girl’s tale leads to an interesting denouement. It’ll be a divisive one to be sure, but there’s a weight to their story all the same.

How far you go with the film will undoubtedly rest at least in part on the shoulders of Lee Byung-hun, and happily he’s more than up to the challenge. The past several years have seen him focused on action films and darker tales, but his early career saw him engaging in Korean melodrama on a regular basis. His strength with the former is obvious — just watch I Saw the Devil, A Bittersweet Life, or The Good the Bad the Weird for ample evidence that he thrives on the intense and physical — but he does great work here with a man who’s spent too long internalizing his emotions and is now paying the price.

A Single Rider is a gently affecting film that moves from melancholy to acceptance with an honest grace. Take its lesson and learn from it before you too are forced to fly to Australia alone.

Clip: k_bom503_

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July 3, 2017

NYAFF Film Review: 'A Single Rider' 

by Jehong Park The Knockturnal

user posted image

Warner Bros. continues to venture into the Korean film world with their second Korean film, this time showcasing a more indie style with the directorial debut of Lee Joo-young. After last year’s huge spy thriller, Age of Shadows, A Single Rider (Kor: 싱글라이더) stars Lee Byung-hun and Gong Hyo-jin in a film that takes a quiet look into the power of choice and the guilt of regret.

Lee Byung-hun plays the role of Kang Jae-hoon, a disgraced broker at a now-bankrupt company in Seoul after an investment gone wrong. Missing his family and wanting to get away from his nightmare, Jae-hoon heads to Sydney in search of his wife, Soo-jin (Kong Hyo-jin) and child, Jin-woo (Yeong Yoo-jin), with only a written address on his hand. He manages to find their house in Sydney, only to realize that Soo-jin’s relationship with their neighbor, Chris (Jack Campbell), might have developed into something more in wake of his absence.

Ashamed of his failure back home, Jae-hoon chooses not to make his presence known. Instead, he sticks around the house and his family, watching from afar and making a couple friends along the way; Ji-na (Sohee, previously of Wonder Girls), a naive Korean girl whose entire savings are stolen from her during her work-abroad experience, and the family dog, Chi-chi.

But Jae-hoon’s regret and his disappointment continue to hold him back from contacting his family, which may make some audience members impatient; as if echoing their thoughts, one of the other neighbors tells him to either leave or stop disturbing the peace and being a coward. Then, without warning, the film’s climax unexpectedly sneaks up on everyone. The realization of what Jae-hoon’s true predicament is, coupled with his acceptance of the fact, is one that brings a sense of profound sadness.

The film’s strength truly derives from the performance of Lee Byung-hun. A departure from the action thriller roles he normally takes on in Hollywood, he instead delves back into his original roots in melodrama; Lee, as Jae-hoon, takes the audience on a journey of regret and acceptance that stems from his character’s restrained temperament and his sense of despair throughout the film, showcasing a truly introspective performance. A Single Rider ends up being a deceptively simple, yet high-quality tearjerker that is a surefire sign that there is much to look forward to from both Warner Bros. and female director Lee Joo-young in the future.

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affd.jpg Source: AFFD



Wednesday, July 19, 2017
1:00pm  2:37pm
5321 East Mockingbird Lane Dallas, TX, 75206 United States 

Source: Calvin McMillin‏ @RoninonEmpty #SingleRider #AsianFilmFestDallas


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July 18, 2017


Richard Gray The Reel Bits.com


The Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA) is back for its 8th year, and they have now announced their full national program of films. Yes, the festival season continues its relentless march on our spare time, and we are its willing slaves.

This year the 24 contemporary Korean films, spanning everything from romance to post-apocalyptic animation, are joined by a 6-film Kim Jee-woon retrospective. Kicking off nationally from 17 August in Sydney, it concludes the national leg in Hobart on 23 September. Check out koffia.com.au for full details and tickets.

Here we’ve chose 10 films that float our boat, including award-winners, blockbuster dramas, and a few films with a unique Australian flavour. Agree or disagree? Have your own picks? Sound-off in the comments section below.

The Day After

One of three Hong Sang-soo films released theatrically this year, this one competed for the Palme d’Or in the main competition section at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. The married Bongwan (Hae-hyo Kwon) heads out to work with the memories of the woman who left weighing on him. When his wife finds a love note, she bursts into the office, and mistakes Areum (Min-hee Kim) for the woman who left. An essential Korean film for 2017 from one of the cinematic greats.

Seoul Station

The prequel to Train to Busan has been floating since last year, but for many cities in Australia this will be the first opportunity to see it on the big screen. Sang-ho Yeon is no stranger to animation, having brought us The King of Pigs back in 2011. Here we see the start of the breakout, as several groups of people attempt to flee from the zombifying infestation as it begins to take over the capital of South Korea.

Single Rider

Zoo-young Lee’s film was shot in Australia, so this one has a particular connection for KOFFIA. After fund manager Jae-hoon’s (The Magnificent Seven‘s Byung-hun Lee) company goes belly-up, he travels to Sydney to where his wife Soo-jin (Hyo-jin Kong, Missing Woman) and his son live. However, he begins to observe Soon-jin’s affair with Australian neighbour Chris from a distance. Drama and glorious shots of the harbour city ensue.

Passage to Pusan

Continuing to tell Australian stories in the Korean context, director Louise Evans works with the Korean Cultural Centre Australia for the story of her great-grandmother, who made her way to a war-torn Pusan 60 years earlier to seek the grave of her son. It’s a document on the lasting impact of the war on the region, and said to be an intimate portrait of a family.

Anarchist from Colony

Director Joon-ik Lee (King and the Clown) takes us back to 1923 and the Japanese Colonial era in a study of Yeol Park, the titular anarchist and activist of the era. Played by Lee Je-hoon (Phantom Detective), it picks up after Yeol is arrested in the aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake.

The Tooth and the Nail

It’s about a girl – in trouble! Chronologically following Anarchist from Colony, Hwi Kim and Sik Jung’s film is set after the end of Japanese occupation.  Based on the novel by Bill S. Ballinger, the crime thriller follows a magician who meets a mysterious woman who asks for help. Shots are fired, and a mystery follows. 

The King

Being marketed as the Korean Wolf of Wall Street, this 1990s set crime drama focuses on Tae-su (TV’s Jo In-sung) as he attempts to rise through the power ranks as a criminal prosecutor. At least until he meets the king of the prosecutors, and realizes what the true power behind the throne is.

New Trial

Another legal drama, director Tae-yun Kim’s film was a box office sensation in Korea. It’s a wrong man thriller in which the sole witness to the killing of a taxi driver is mistakenly convicted of his murder, and the lawyer who picks up the case a decade later in the pursuit of justice.

The Quiet Family

Revisit Kim Jee-woon’s first feature almost 20 years after its debut, an absurdly dark comedy skewering the notions of the ‘average’ Korean family. The best part is that it’s free, playing alongside I Saw the Devil, The Good, The Bad, The Weird, A Bittersweet Life, A Tale of Two Sisters, and The Foul King as part of a Kim Jee-woon retrospective at the Korean Cultural Centre. Back in the day, we presented a number of these at the Centre, so we can personally vouch for the awesomeness of the locale and the films.

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July 2, 2017

A Single Rider (2017) New York Asian Film Festival 2017

Posted by Steve Kopian at Unseen Films

Lee Byung-hun is quite good as a stockbroker whose life goes upside down when an investment his firm had been pushing is revealed to be a scam ruining thousands. Packing up his stuff he heads to Australia where is wife and son have been living so the boy can get a better education.Filled with shame and regret he can't bring himself to let them know he is there. Making the acquaintance of a young girl he tries to sort out where he belongs.

Interesting meditation on regret is well acted moody drama. The performances are the best part of the film which frequently undercuts itself by insists it is deep and meaningful.

The trick with this film is going to be the final fifteen minutes where the film takes a turn, which will either thrill you or act as a game killer. Its not unexpected as such but at the same time it may change how you see the film- it changed mine (I screamed at the screen)

July 19, 2017

NYAFF 2017: Lee Byung-hun Regrets a Life Misspent in Korean Drama SINGLE RIDER

by Austin Vashaw Cinapse.co

Korean superstar Lee Byung-hun leads melancholy drama Single Rider (aka A Single Rider), which just screened at the New York Asian Film Festival.

A career-driven financial manager’s world is turned upside-down when his company goes under, the result of a culture of dishonest sales tactics in which he shares culpability. The sudden loss of both his employment and reputation is a staggering blow, and puts into sharp focus his misplaced priorities of work over family. His relationship with his wife and child is a long-distance one — they live in Australia, an arrangement which has been convenient for him but erosive to their connection.

With nothing to hold him back to his life, he makes the trip to Australia unannounced to salvage the one thing he has left — but as he is about to meet his wife who is unaware of his arrival, he sees that she is close friends with her male neighbor. Too close for comfort. Rather than announce his presence, he slinks to the shadows to see more.

Increasingly withdrawn, he keeps to himself and shuns human engagement, speaking only another Korean woman that has tried to befriend him upon learning that he is a fellow countryman. He is a stranger and voyeur of his own wife and child, slowly coming to grips with the realization that they may be better off without him.

The film is a rather slow burn, and a mopey, repetitive piano and strings score doesn’t help matters in the least. But the narrative eventually works its way to a very emotionally engaging place when all the dominoes being set up start to fall. It would be very easy to slip into spoiler territory on this one, but suffice it to say that later revelations provide earlier scenes with new context, and viewers who pay attention are rewarded by a chilling portrait of a life of wrong choices.

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August 3, 2017

THE WORLD OF US Opens 8th Korean Film Festival in Australia
KOFFIA Expands to 8 Cities

by Pierce Conran / KoBiz

The Korean Film Festival in Australia returns later this month bigger than ever before. The 8th edition of KOFFIA is set to screen 36 films across 8 cities as the festival moves around Australia, beginning in Sydney on August 17th and winding up in Darwin and Hobart (new additions to the festival circuit) on September 23rd.

Opening the event in Sydney will be YOON Ga-eun’s indie youth drama The World of Us (2016) which debuted at the Berlin International Film Festival last year. The closing film will be The Queen of Crime (2016) for which director LEE Yo-sup will be present. Other guests include directors E J-yong and LEE Zoo-young, who will visit Sydney with their films The Bacchus Lady (another 2016 Berlin premiere) and A Single Rider, the second Warner Bros. Korea film, which was shot in Australia and features LEE Byung-hun.

KOFFIA will also be holding a KIM Jee-woon retrospective at this year’s event. His latest film The Age of Shadows (2016) is in the main program while six of his earlier works, including A Tale Of Two Sisters (2003), A Bittersweet Life (2005) and I Saw The Devil (2010) will have free screenings.

Other films screening this year include The Merciless, Seoul Station (2016), The Tooth and the Nail, The Day After, The King, The Villainess, Worst Woman (2016) and Jane.

When the screenings in Sydney wrap up on August 26th, KOFFIA will visit Adelaide (Sep 1-3), Perth (Sep 1-3), Melbourne (Sep 7-14), Brisbane (Sep 8-10), Canberra (Sep 15-17), Darwin (Sep 22-23) and Hobart (Sep 22-23).

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August 5, 2017


Chantelle Yeung | Hello Asia!


The Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA) is back with more films and more locations for its 8th year!

Presented by the Korean Cultural Centre Australia, the film festival will be a showcase of 24 of the latest “Hallyuwood” (Korean wave cinema) films, from blockbusters and arthouse, to rom-com and animation.

There will be 80 screenings across Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide; and for the very first time, Hobart and Darwin. The program also features three Q&A sessions with special guest Korean filmmakers Zoo-young Lee (A Single Rider), Jae-yong Lee (Bacchus Lady) and Yo-sup Lee (The Queen of Crime).

All films will have English subtitles.

Dates and venues:

Sydney, August 17 – 26: Dendy Cinema Opera Quays

Adelaide, September 1 – 3: Event Cinema GU Film House

Perth, September 1 – 3: Event Cinema Innaloo

Melbourne, September 7 – 14: ACMI

Brisbane, September 8-10: Event Cinema Myer Centre

Canberra, September 15 – 17: HOYTS Woden

Darwin, September 22 – 23: Event Cinema BCC Cinema

Hobart, September 22 – 23: Village Cinema

For more information, you can find KOFFIA’s official website and social media channels here.

Tickets can be booked through both venue websites and the Festival’s official website. Don’t miss out!

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August 6, 2017

EXO’s D.O. And Ahn So Hee Are 1st Winners Of 13th JIMFF Awards

Source: Soompi by K. Do


Ahead of the 13th annual JIMFF (Jecheon International Music & Film Festival) Awards, EXO’s D.O. (Do Kyung Soo) and Ahn So Hee have been revealed as the first winners.

The JIMFF Awards is categorized under JIMFF OST and JIMFF Star. Winners are selected after collecting votes from JIMFF’s executive committee and Korean film directors.

Do Kyung Soo and Ahn So Hee won awards under the JIMFF Star category. Do Kyung Soo won for his acting in “My Annoying Brother” (also known as “Hyung”) while Ahn So Hee won for her role in “A Single Rider” respectively.

The JIMFF Awards also revealed the winners of the JIMFF OST award as Kim Hong Jip and Lee Jin Hee who were the music directors for “The Merciless.”

The 13th annual JIMFF awards festival will start on August 10 and end on August 15. The awards ceremony will take place on August 12 at 8 p.m. KST at Cheongpung Resort.

Congratulations to the winners!

Source (1)

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August 7, 2017

EXO’s D.O. and Ahn So-hee first JIMFF Awards winners

(Herald DB)

EXO’s D.O. (Do Kyung-soo) and Ahn So-hee became the first winners of JIMFF Awards, the newly launched event at the Jecheon International Music & Film Festival.

JIMFF Awards consists of JIMFF Star given to actors who are active in both fields of music and film and JIMFF OST, which award the film soundtrack which received the most attention during the year. The winners are selected by the executive committee of the festival and Korean filmmakers.

Do and Ahn were selected for JIMFF Star award. Do, a member of chart-topping K-pop boy band EXO, starred in “My Annoying Brother” alongside actor Cho Jung-seok. Ahn, a member of now disbanded Wonder Girls, starred in “Singe Rider” alongside actor Lee Byung-hun. 

Kim Hong-jip and Lee Jin-hee, the music directors of “The Merciless,” won the JIMFF OST Award. 

JIMFF Awards ceremony will be held Saturday at Cheongpung Resort in Jecheon, North Chungcheong Province. 

By Kim So-yeon (syk19372@heraldcorp.com)

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August 10, 2017

Ahn So-hee at film fest

Ahn So-hee at film fest

Actress Ahn So-hee attends the 13th Jecheon International Music & Film Festival in Jecheon, North Chungcheong Province, on Aug. 10, 2017. (Yonhap) (END)

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August 14, 2017

A SINGLE RIDER Review: A Haunting Meditation On Guilt And Regret
A Korean film with an already captivating premise takes a surprising turn.

By CALVIN MCMILLIN Birth.Movies.Death

In Frank Capra’s 1946 Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, a suicidal man glimpses an alternate world in which he was never born, ultimately realizing that he touched the lives of so many people—simply by existing. In a delightfully perverse twist, Lee Zoo-Young’s A Single Rider offers a very different vision for its distraught protagonist. What if your presence on this planet has been stifling, even destructive to those around you? And what if your absence would allow them the opportunity to flourish? These are the questions that drive this impressive directorial debut, the second Korean-language film to be produced by Warner Brothers (after 2016’s The Age of Shadows).

In the opening scenes, Kang Jae-Hoon (Lee Byung-Hun) is a passive observer. While at work, he uses his smartphone to watch a video of his family vacationing without him. Afterward, he lingers outside a volatile business meeting, content to observe the carnage from afar. Back at home, he uses Google Street View to check up on his wife Soo-Jin (Gong Hyo-Jin) and son Jin-Woo (Yang Yoo-Jin), both of whom he sent away to live in Australia. Without even noticing it, Jae-Hoon’s life has become something he views from a distance.

And yet, he is not as passive as he first appears. His sinking company has been busted for stock fraud, a crime in which Jae-Hoon was an active participant, bankrupting not just his clients, but his friends, relatives, and even himself. With his finances in shambles, Jae-Hoon books a flight from Seoul to Sydney, presumably expecting a heartfelt reunion with his wife and child.

But upon arrival in Australia, he makes a shocking discovery: Soo-Jin has become close friends with Kris (Jack Campbell), an Aussie construction worker with a young daughter of his own. Upon seeing them together, Jae-Hoon slinks away, choosing to spy on the would-be lovers rather than confront them face-to-face. Thus begins the captivating premise of A Single Rider, as the audience soon becomes implicated in the character’s voyeuristic tendencies.

At first glance, it seems Jae-Hoon’s family is quite happy without him. His son, now fluent in English, is enjoying his makeshift nuclear family. Soo-Jin, so dour and miserable in the film’s flashbacks, is now a woman full of humor and joy. A former violinist, she’s rediscovered her love of music and has applied to live in Australia on a permanent basis. Things, however, are not quite what they seem.



While sorting out his feelings, Jae-Hoon becomes entangled in the plight of Yoo Ji-Na (Train to Busan’s Sohee), a fellow Korean who came to Australia on a work visa but got conned out of her life’s savings—much like Jae-Hoon’s former clients. After some initial resistance, he decides to help her, possibly out of Korean solidarity but more likely as penance for his own crimes. But is redemption even possible? As with his hope of repairing the fractured marital bond, perhaps it’s a case of too little, too late.

On the big screen, Lee Byung-Hun has cultivated a very specific persona that has served him well over the years. His characters often fit a certain profile: calm, cool, collected, and almost always in control. In this film, Lee deftly explores the cracks in his picture-perfect, movie star facade, as Jae-Hoon—likely a master manipulator in his former life—must make sense of a world that is far beyond his control.

And while Jae-Hoon may be the protagonist, writer/director Lee Zoo-Young is careful to provide us with a window into Soo-Jin’s complicated, lonely world. In concert with the script and direction, Gong Hyo-Jin’s performance in the role registers as mature, sympathetic, and all-too-real. In truth, A Single Rider is as much a showcase for Gong as it is for her more famous co-star.

Although unrelated plot-wise, A Single Rider reminded me of Joel and Ethan Coen’s No Country for Old Men in the way that both films build toward more straightforward, confrontational endings only to subvert those expectations entirely. While some viewers may be disappointed with the twist at the end of A Single Rider, I thought it was well executed—and as someone who has seen the film twice, I can safely say it holds up on repeat viewings.

But the ending is not the reason to see this movie. As Raymond Chandler once wrote, a “really good mystery is one you would read even if you knew somebody had torn out the last chapter.” Along the same lines, I would assert that regardless of one’s reaction to the finale, A Single Rider is a haunting meditation on loneliness, guilt, and regret. What becomes of people who walk through this world silent and unseen? In what ways do our loved ones constrain us? In what ways do they set us free? The film offers no easy answers.



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August 16, 2017

The South Korean film shot in Sydney, once the neighbours calmed down

Garry Maddox The Sydney Morning Herald

Zoo-young Lee found the locals were initially reluctant when she wanted to shoot a South Korean film in Sydney last year.

But when the residents of Longueville found out she was one of her country's handful of women filmmakers – they make just a few of the scores of South Korean feature films shot every year – they warmed to the idea.

"The location manager persuaded them," Lee says through a translator from Seoul. "There are not that many Australian female directors so [when they learned the director was a South Korean woman] the neighbours started supporting the shoot. They were very nice to us."

The film, A Single Rider, is now screening as part of the Korean Film Festival in Australia.

Taking advantage of Sydney landmarks: South Korean film <i>A Single Rider</i>.

Taking advantage of Sydney landmarks: South Korean film A Single Rider. Photo: Supplied

It's a reflective drama that centres on a fund manager enmeshed in a fraud scandal who decides to follow his wife to Sydney where their son is studying.

He helps a young South Korean backpacker who has lost her money in a black market currency deal and discovers his wife has become close to an Australian neighbour with a child of his own.

The cast is headed by South Korean star Byung-hun Lee (The Magnificent Seven), Hyo-jin Kong, K-Pop singer So-hee An and Jack Campbell (All Saints, Home and Away).

The film shows what the city looks like from a South Korean perspective – beautiful around the harbour and idyllic at the beach but a struggle because of the cultural differences and difficulties with language and visas.

Director Zoo Young Lee (left) with Byung-hun Lee on the set of <i>A Single Rider</i>.
Director Zoo Young Lee (left) with Byung-hun Lee on the set of A Single Rider. Photo: Cho Won Jin

Lee says she wanted to set the film in Australia because it was so different from Korea – a much bigger country with contrasting seasons.

She has been a regular visitor to shoot commercials for the likes of Samsung mobile phones and Ssangyong cars.

"For Koreans, Australia is a pretty familiar country but people don't really know much about it," she says.

So how do they view Australia?

"The young generation mostly visit through the working holiday program," Lee says. "In their 30s and 40s, they often come here to study.

"Among the countries that speak English, Korean people think there's a bit less stress in Australia and, for young people, the high wages appeal. It's a little bit more 'foreign' than Asian countries."

Lee, who will be a guest at the festival on the weekend, shot for 21 days here with a crew of both South Koreans and Australians.

The festival's artistic director, David Park, says A Single Rider is the first Korean film set substantially in Australia.

"It's a very interesting feeling seeing Sydney portrayed from a Korean film perspective," he says. "Sydney is so beautifully shot and the themes reflect the general vibe – it's [portrayed as] a place definitely worth visiting despite the narrative of the story."

Park says the eighth festival includes the world premiere of the documentary Passage to Pusan, which follows Australian journalist Louise Evans as she follows in the footsteps of her grandmother as she tracked down her soldier son's grave after the Korean war.

"In creating this documentary, we wanted to pay a big tribute to the Australian veterans for their sacrifice during the Korean war," Park says.

Reflecting the breadth of Korean cinema, the festival opens with a drama about the friendship between two young girls (The World Of Us) and includes a gangster film (The Merciless), zombie pic (Seoul Station), thrillers (The Villainess, The Tooth And The Nail. The Age of Shadows), romantic comedy (Because I Love You), courtroom drama (New Trial), lesbian drama (Our Love Story) and slapstick comedy (The King's Case Note).

The Korean Film Festival in Australia runs in Sydney from August 17-26. A Single Rider screens at Dendy Opera Quays on Saturday.

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August 26, 2017

Review: A Single Rider 

Richard Gray TheReelBits.com / Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA)

A Single Rider - Lee Byung-hun stalks his wife and her new boyfriend in Sydney. Or does he? It's either a lighthearted slice-of-life or a reflective study on letting go. Maybe both.

3.0 out of 5.0 stars
A SINGLE RIDER seems straightforward in its telling, but warrants some reassessment on reflection. Based partly on the true story of Korean tourist in Australia, Lee Joo-Young’s spirited debut proves that truth is stranger than fiction.

After his company goes bankrupt, fund manager Jae-hoon (global superstar Lee Byung-hun) makes a spontaneous decision to join his wife Soo-Jin (Kong Hyo-Jin) and son in Sydney, Australia. While watching his family from afar, he discovers that Soo-Jin has moved on with Cris (Jack Campbell). Jae-hoon also meets Ji-Na (Train to Busan‘s Ahn So-Hee), a Korean tourist who has overstayed her visa after falling into debt with some bad hombres. 

Lee’s script meanders through the emotional spectrum, from the quaint slice-of-life to something more haunting and ethereal. At times, Jae-hoon’s sudden appearances verge on the comical, while at other times they feel voyeuristic. Ji-Na’s arc is far more compelling, and one suspects this is where director Lee’s true interests are invested. Of course, the tiny canine star of Chichi steals absolutely every scene that he is in, and we would happily watch a feature-length spin-off of the pup’s adventures.

Native Sydneysiders will no doubt call some of the flexible geography into question. The 380 bus route appears to have the magical quality of being the only bus in the harbour city that goes everywhere, and you’d be led to believe that Bondi Beach and the Sydney Harbour Bridge are a mere stroll away from each other. Of course, later developments in the film may make this an allowable indulgence, but it does serve as a miniature barrier of believability throughout.

It makes the city look beautiful though, including loving shots of iconic structures as Soo-Jin attempts to revive her violin career by auditioning at the Opera house. At the very least, this subplot gives her character some purpose beyond being the subject of the male gaze. Little details, like the cluster of Korea restaurants on Pitt Street, do add an air of authenticity to certain sequences, appropriate for the darker tonal shift during the first meeting of Jae-hoon and Ji-Na.

A third act reveal may greatly change the way that you think about A SINGLE RIDER, which is an otherwise lighter narrative about a man attempting to exorcise his regrets in life. While it is not for us to spoil it for you here, director Lee has indicated that she left this revelation in plain sight, and instead sees the film as a one of contemplative self-reflection.  

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September 9, 2017

[Guest Film Review] "Single Rider"

Source: HanCinema.net


Lee Byung-hun's evolution as an actor has been tremendous through the years, and this low-key, kind-of-indie drama proves this fact to the point that Warner Bros decided to co-produce and distribute it.

"Single Rider" (Festival entry) is screening at the 8th Korean Film Festival in Australia.

Securities broker Kang Jae-hoon finds his life in shambles when his company in which he invested goes bankrupt after a stock fraud, leaving him broke and having to face the wrath of the customers he had persuaded to invest, some of which were friends and relatives. Disgraced, beaten, and broke, he decides to fly to Sydney where his wife Soo-jin and his son Jin-woo live in order for the latter to get an education there. Upon his arrival, he stumbles upon a girl, Gina, who has fallen victim to some Korean that promised her to exchange her Australian dollars with won at a better rate than the bank's. Reluctantly, he agrees to help her, but his problems are much bigger. His wife seems to have established herself quite well in Australia, having rediscovered her love for music, and seems to share a more than friendly relationship with her neighbor, Rick, a construction worker. Instead of confronting them, though, Kang decides to lurk around their neighborhood, watching them from the shadows, as he tries to decide if he has to let them go.

Lee Zoo-young, in her debut, directs and pens a subtle drama, in distinct indie fashion, despite the presence of Lee Byung-hun and the fact that the film is mostly shot in Sydney. The script revolves around loss and the way people cope with it, with Jae-hoon and Soo-jin presenting two opposite behaviors. The former cannot let go and goes to extremes as he tries to decide if he should move on, while the latter has accepted her situation and has already done just that.


Evidently, in cinematic terms, Jae-hoon's case is much more interesting, and Lee focuses much on it with Lee Byung-hun anchoring the film as Kang in impressive fashion, as a man lost after he realizes that his whole life has left him behind. The concept of the financial fraud works quite well in the beginning, providing one of the two shocking moments in an otherwise quite uneventful drama. However, it is not examined or even depicted very much, and the same applies to Gina's arc, which seems to exist just to provide some additional time and story filler.

I enjoyed the concept of the man who lurks in the shadows watching his family, which borders on the surreal sometimes, because nobody except the adorable dog seems to realize Jang's presence despite the fact that he is quite close. At moments, it reminded me of "3-Iron", although Kim Ki-duk's film went much further in this concept than this one.


Gong Hyo-jin as Lee  Soo-jin is quite good in a small role that finds a number of highlights during the end, when the focus of the story turns on her. Ahn So-hee as Gina plays the damsel-in-distress, bringing a kind of cheerfulness in an otherwise morose film. Kim Il-youn does a great job in the cinematography department, highlighting the beauties of Sydney in impressive fashion, while the framing in the scenes where Kang is "stalking" his family is equally impressive. Kim Sang-beom and Kim Jae-beom's editing retains the sense of disorientation Lee Zoo-young wanted the film to have through a number of flashbacks that become clear at the end.

"Single Rider" has some faults, but the presence of Lee Byung-hun, the cinematography and some shocking scenes make it a more than worthwhile spectacle. 

Review by Panos Kotzathanasis

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September 19, 2017


[Upcoming DVD Release] Korean Movie "Single Rider"


Source: HanCinema.net

Korean movie "Single Rider" is available to preorder on DVD with English subtitles from YESASIA.


Order from YESASIA


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