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[Movie 2017] The Fortress 남한산성 Namhansanseong

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October 3, 2017


The Fortress (2017) ☆☆☆(3/4): The impossible situation in a fortress under siege


by kaist455 Seongyong's Private Place


There is the accumulating sense of despair hovering over the main characters in South Korean film “The Fortress”. As their stronghold is besieged by their powerful opponent, it is pretty clear to them that there are only two options left for them, and neither of these two options is easy at all. Is it right to fight to the death for their supposedly noble cause? Or is it better to follow pragmatism despite utter humiliation?


The movie is mainly about those long, desperate winter days in the South Mountain Fortress, Korea during 1636-7. As the Ming dynasty of China was entering its last years during the early 17th century, the Qing Dynasty came to rise and then expand its territory from Manchu, and it subsequently demanded the Joseon dynasty of Korea to be its ally. Mainly because it was helped a lot by the Ming dynasty in its war with Japan during 1592-8, the Joseon dynasty did not fully collaborate with the Qing dynasty while not totally severing its relationship with the Ming dynasty, and that led to the invasion of the Qing dynasty in 1627. Even after that, the Joseon dynasty still did not change its position, so the Qing dynasty invaded again in 1636, and its massive army swiftly came down to Hanseong, the capital of the Joseon dynasty which is Seoul at present.


The early scenes of the movie establish the gloomy situation of King Injo (Park Hae-il) and his ministers, who hurriedly flee from Hanseong and then find shelter in the South Mountain Fortress. They are safe in the fortress for now, but the circumstance has become more despairing day by day. While a small group of soldiers in the fortress are mostly unprepared, there are not even enough rations for these soldiers, and, to make matters worse, the weather gets colder everyday. The king and his ministers hope that they will be rescued by the remaining battalions in the country, but they cannot send any message outside the fortress as surrounded by the Qing dynasty army, which keeps tightening its grip around the fortress as days go by.


While many other ministers advise to King Injo that they must fight till the end, Choi Myung-kil (Lee Byung-hun) has a different thought. When he goes to the huge military camp site of the Qing dynasty army as a delegate for negotiation, he realizes that there is not any chance of win at all, so he bravely suggests to his king later that he should accept the conditions of surrender proposed by the Qing dynasty for saving his kingdom and people.


Not so surprisingly, Choi’s suggestion is vehemently opposed by most of ministers, and the strongest objection comes from Kim Sang-heon (Kim Yun-seok), who is quite determined to preserve the honor of his king and country as much as he can. Firmly believing that it is still possible to win the war, Kim naturally clashes with Choi during every meeting, and King Injo accordingly continues to agonize over his increasingly impossible situation. Maybe survival matters most in the end, but that means he will live in shame for the rest of his life, and that looks worse than death in the view of Kim and other ministers.


As King Injo and his ministers keep discussing over this complex matter, the movie also looks at the exhausting struggles of other people in the fortress. We meet a dedicated general who simply tries to do his job but often becomes frustrated for many reasons, and we see his soldiers frequently suffering from not only decreasing ration but also the freezing weather outside. Director Hwang Dong-hyeok, who adapted the novel of the same name by Kim Hoon for the movie, and his crew did a good job of establishing the cold wintry atmosphere vividly on the screen, and you will probably want to get a hot cup of coffee after watching the film.


While there are several battle scenes as expected, the power of the movie ultimately lies in the dynamic interactions among its three main characters, and three leading actors in the film are all solid on the whole. While Lee Byung-hun, who has recently expanded his career outside South Korean as shown from “Red 2” (2013) and “Terminator Genysis” (2015), is engaging as a decent man who humbly sticks to his belief, Kim Yun-seok, who has been always interesting since his breakout turn in “Tazza: The High Rollers” (2006), exudes his character’s steely determination, and some of the most entertaining moments in the film come from when their characters show respect toward each other’s integrity despite their conflicting opinions. Between his two co-stars, Park Hae-il, who previously played the hero of “War of the Arrows” (2011), holds his own place well in his earnest performance, and his best moment comes from when King Injo must endure the price of his eventual choice later in the story.


In case of the supporting characters in the film, most of them are more or less than storytelling tools. While Ko Soo is a valiant blacksmith who happens to be enlisted in the army along with his younger brother played by Lee David, Park Hee-soon and Song Young-chang are adequate in their respective supporting roles, and the special mention goes to Kim Beom-rae, who is commanding in his brief but crucial supporting performance.


Overall, “The Fortress” is as good as you can expect from a well-made period drama, and I enjoyed its nice moments although it could have been shortened around 15-20 minutes for tighter storytelling. It does not bring anything new to its history subject which is quite familiar to me and many other South Korean audiences, but it did its job better than I expected, so I will not complain for now.

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THE FORTRESS is now at number 2 Korean Box Office but still a very good spot and almost making it to 3 million admission, very likely tomorrow. The two Chuseok movies released this time are both exceptional pieces in their own ways, CRIMINAL CITY (The Outlaws) is a much lighter & fun movie compared to THE FORTRESS and has been getting a really good word of mouth since the opening which enabled it to have more screens added. But it's all cool, both are winners in this holiday season. THE FORTRESS deals with a heavy (plus sad) subject and as one reviewer mentioned on IG, the movie delivers the impact better when it's not touted as a commercial movie. Well done!



October 8, 2017

THE FORTRESS user posted image


Number 2 at the Korean Box Office with 2.9 million admission


Source: KoBiz  



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October 9, 2017


'Outlaws' breaks through to top Korean box office

By Kim Jae-heun  The Korea Times


Korean action comedy film "The Outlaws" topped the local box office, Monday, outperforming the U.S. top box office seller "Kingsman: The Golden Circle" and the Korean historical drama "The Fortress." 


According to the Korean Film Council, "The Outlaws" beat "The Fortress" by collecting 435,344 moviegoers on Sunday alone. "The Fortress" gathered 365,584 moviegoers the same day. 


"The Outlaws" started fairly as the box office No. 3 on its Oct. 3 opening day, along with "The Fortress" that premiered as runner-up, but the action film eventually surpassed the "Kingsman: The Golden Circle" on Friday and caught up to the historical film Sunday. 


Many expected "The Outlaws" would fall to the wayside in the fight between the latest "Kingsman" movie entry and "The Fortress," which recorded the top two highest spots in local ticket sales before the 10-day Chuseok holiday. 


The British action film opened first in local theaters, grasping 20 percent of ticket sales and rising as the most anticipated film during the Chuseok holiday. 


The leading actors of "Kingsman: The Golden Circle" _ Colin Firth, Taron Egerton and Mark Strong _ also made Seoul their first Asian stop to promote their film, helping it hold the top position for a week until "The Fortress" and "The Outlaws" were released. 


The Korean action comedy film ranks fourth when counting total movie ticket sales at 1.8 million, following "The Kingsman: The Golden Circle" with 4.4 million, "The Fortress" with 2.99 million and "I Can Speak" with 2.86 million. 


Still, considering its budget was only 5 billion won and it is near to reaching 2 million, its break-even point, "The Outlaws" has already achieved its goal. 


Fifteen billion won was put into producing "The Fortress" and the historical film needs 5 million spectators to meet the break-even point. 


Only 687 theaters screened "The Outlaws" on the first day, half the 1,164 cinemas that screened "The Fortress." 


Looking at the screen occupancy share across the country, "The Fortress" has 19.8 percent and "Kingsman: The Golden Circle" takes 16.9 percent while "The Outlaws" has only 11.7 percent. Still, the action comedy film overcame this handicap and increased its screening theaters to 1,314 as an increasing number of people strongly recommended the movie on social media. 


"The Outlaws" is based on the notorious criminal ring Heuksapa from Harbin, China, which took over Garibong-dong in Guro-gu, southwestern Seoul, in 2004. It stars popular actors Ma Dong-seok and Yoon Kye-sang. 




THE FORTRESS: 3 Million Admission on 7th Day


Photos: CJ Entertainment @cjenmmovie



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October 9, 2017


'The Fortress' narrowly wins Chuseok weekend box office over 'The Outlaws'


By Shim Sun-ah


SEOUL, Oct. 9 (Yonhap) -- Korean historical drama "The Fortress" became the official winner of the local weekend box office by barely prevailing over fellow Korean-made film "The Outlaws."


Final weekend figures released Monday by the Korean Film Council showed that the film starring Lee Byung-hun, Kim Yun-seok, Park Hae-il and Go Soo amassed 1.371 million viewers in theaters across the country over the Oct. 6-8 weekend.


This photo released by CJ Entertainment shows a promotional poster for "The Fortress." (Yonhap)

This photo released by CJ Entertainment shows a promotional poster for "The Fortress." (Yonhap)


Directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk and adapted from a best-selling novel by Kim Hoon, "The Fortress" follows the 47 days spent by King Injo of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) and his officials in Namhan Mountain Fortress, on the southern outskirts of Seoul, to escape from the invasion by China's Qing Dynasty in the winter of 1636.


"The Outlaws," a crime action flick directed by Kang Yoon-sung and starring Ma Dong-seok and Yoon Kye-sang, attracted 1.128 million people over its first weekend, topping the "Kingsman" sequel's 716,387 second weekend score.


This photo released by Daydream Entertainment shows a scene from "The Outlaws." (Yonhap)

This photo released by Daydream Entertainment shows a scene from "The Outlaws." (Yonhap)


Released Sept. 27, the British-American spy comedy "Kingsman: The Golden Circle" has sold over 4.4 million tickets in South Korea.


Coming in fourth was domestic comedy-drama "I Can Speak," which sold 462,939 tickets.

The movie starring Lee Je-hoon and Na Moon-hee depicts an unlikely friendship between a civil service employee played by Lee and an old lady who regularly hassles workers in the local ward by lodging trivial complaints. They develop a close relationship when Lee's character ends up teaching the lady English and learns of her painful past as a sex slave during Japan's colonial rule of Korea.


The combined audiences for the top four films was bigger than usual because it was part of the 10-day Chuseok holiday. Chuseok is South Korea's autumn harvest celebration, similar to Thanksgiving in the United States.


Ranking fifth was "The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature," another newcomer about park-dwelling animals trying to keep their home from getting paved over. The South Korea-Canada-China co-produced animated comedy gathered 153,954 views on its debut weekend.



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Found this clip from THE FORTRESS on twitter, posted by CJ Entertainment. A scene highlighting actor Kim Yoon Seok and the little child-actress (the one at the stage greeting, haven't found her name). Even without English subs, I think we can understand what it's about. The movie will certainly tug at our heart-strings, for sure. :tears:


Source: CJ Entertainment‏ @CJEnMMovie


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October 9, 2017


[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2017.10.06 - 2017.10.08


Source: HanCinema.net

"The Fortress" narrowly outplays "The Outlaws" over Chuseok...


Director Hwang Dong-hyeok's Joseon-era drama "The Fortress" (based on Kim Hoon's novel) narrowly came out ahead of Kang Yoon-Sung's crime thriller "The Outlaws" during Korea's biggest national holiday, Chuseok. Both films were released on Oct. 3 and pooled from 1,226 and 1,314 screens respectively, and together they captured 60.74% of the sales.


"The Fortress" stars Lee Byung-hun, Kim Yun-seok and Park Hae-il and takes place in 1636 when King Injo spent 47 days in Namham Mountain Fortress to evade the Qing invaders. The film, Hwang's fourth ("My Father", "The Crucible", and "Miss Granny"), claimed 1.3 million admissions, or $9.7 million (32.99%), despite having around a hundred screens less than its closest competitor.


Veteran action star Ma Dong-seok shares the screen with the versatile Yoon Kye-sang in Kang Yoon-Sung's debut film, "The Outlaws". The 1.1 million admissions ($8.2 million) it earned constituted 27.75% of the sales. In a recent interview with The Korea Times, Ma ("The Neighbor", "Nameless Gangster", "The Unjust", "Train to Busan") said that he hopes the film "thrills audiences and helps them relieve some stress".


Last weekend's number one, the eccentric spy comedy "Kingsman: The Golden Circle" by director Matthew Vaughn, was unceremoniously bumped to third in the wake of Hwang and Kang's recent entries. "Kingsman" added 716,387 admissions (18.54%) from 909 screens, down from 1,677, which moves its bottom line in Korea now to $31.8 million (the eighth highest-grossing film of the year); worldwide, Vaughn's sequel to the popular 2014 original has grossed $253.6 million (the film cost $104 million to produce).


Kim Hyun-seok's "I Can Speak" also fell two places; from 788 screens, Kim's sixth feature claimed 462,939 admissions (10.96%), bringing its total tally to 2.8 million ($19.4 million). Two new animations were up next: "The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature" and "Deep" entered the fray with 153,954 (3.4%) and 91,431 (2.08%) admissions respectively, followed by the Japanese anime "Yo-Kai Watch Movie 3". With the 38,257 admissions scored here, the latest "Yo-Kai Watch" movie has grossed $1.2 million (192,094 admissions).


Director Denis Villeneuve's "Blade Runner 2049", the much-anticipated sequel to Ridley Scott's classic 1982 sci-fi film, gets officially released in Korea Oct. 12, but the revenue from 155 early screenings (29,330 admissions: 0.75%) was enough to bring it into the top ten. Last weekend "The Lego Ninjago Movie" entered in fifth with 67,100 admissions (2.39%). After having its screen count slashed from a tentative 458 to just 136, the latest Lego movie added just 21,210 stubs (0.46%). The final place went to the American action comedy "The Hitman's Bodyguard" by Patrick Hughes. This is the film's sixth weekend in the top ten; its total gross sits at $12.1 million, $107,678 (20,904 admissions) of which came from this past weekend.

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October 10, 2017


‘The Fortress’ holds strong over holiday weekend

Source: INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily


Two new releases unveiled in time for the 10-day Chuseok holiday dominated screens over the weekend, pushing the action-packed “Kingsman” sequel down to the third spot.


The star-studded “The Fortress,” featuring Lee Byung-hun and Kim Yun-seok, is a period epic set in the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). Based on Jang Hoon’s best-selling novel and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk of “Miss Granny” (2014), CJ E&M’s latest release takes place in 1636, when China’s Qing Dynasty invaded Korea with 150,000 troops in an effort to sever Korea’s ties to the Ming Dynasty. The Korean court flees the capital to take shelter in the Namhan Fortress, in Gwangju, Gyeonggi, which is quickly surrounded by the Qing army, eventually forcing King Injo to surrender. 


The movie sold 1.37 million tickets over the past three days, accounting for 33 percent of the entire weekend sales. Since it was released Oct. 3, the movie’s total sales has surpassed 3 million as of Monday.


“The Outlaws” came in at second with 1.13 million admissions sold, which made up 27.8 percent of the total weekend sales. Also released on Oct. 3, the film stars Ma Dong-seok and Yoon Kye-sang and has so far sold 1.81 million tickets. 


Based on a true story, the movie revolves around a merciless boss (Yoon) from a Korean-Chinese crime organization headquartered in Harbin, northeast China, who is willing to commit any crime for money, and a police detective (Ma) who tries to catch the ruthless criminal and his henchmen.


“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” was pushed to third with 716,000 tickets sold. The action-packed spy comedy franchise, starring Colin Firth and Taron Egerton, has sold a total of 4.4 million tickets since its release on Sept. 27. 


“Kingsman: The Secret Service,” the first in the film franchise, sold a total of 6.13 million tickets domestically two years ago. 


“I Can Speak,” a heartwarming tale about a victim of Japanese wartime sexual slavery, arrived in fourth in its third weekend with 463,000 tickets sold, while the animated “The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature” rounded out the top five with 154,000 tickets sold.


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

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Source: MagazineM @magazine_m_2017


(Google-translate) Dir Hwang Dong Hyuk who returned to direct "Namhansanseong" which is a splendid classic drama: "This is a very different work from my previous work -- 'The Crucible' (Silenced) and 'Miss Granny'. 'The Fortress' is the only thing I really wanted to try and challenge the 'ideal movie' that I've dreamed of, so it might be special.



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Excerpt from The Korea Herald (Oct 11)


[Kim Myong-sik] Koreans deserve neither war nor internal conflicts


On the Chuseok day, my wife and I went to a cinema near the church and saw “The Beguiled,” a US Civil War movie starring Nicole Kidman, and “20th Century Women” in which Annette Benning charmingly played the leading role as the mother of a precocious schoolboy. We ate a Big Mac between the two movies. The next day, we the family of 11 including four teenagers saw “The Fortress” after eating lunch at a family restaurant.


Lee Byung-hun as appeasement-seeking minister Choe Myeong-gil in the court of King Injo during the Qing invasion of 1636 and Kim Yun-seok as hawkish faction leader Kim Sang-heon made moving arguments before the indecisive monarch in solemnly-worded lines based on Kim Hoon’s best-selling novel “Namhansanseong.” Our young spectators seemed saddened by the scene of the king’s forehead smeared with soil when he kowtowed to the Manchu Chinese emperor. 


The movie led us older viewers to think of what China is to us in history and today in the eternally complex geopolitical situation here. During the merry Korean thanksgiving holiday when millions travel inside and outside the country, joining loved ones, holding feasts and spending good money, we cannot completely forget about foreign harassments past and present. What the US is to us is another major question in our heads that few other peoples on the globe would share with the same seriousness.



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