There’s a lot to be said about seeing a film that you know little or nothing about story wise.

South Korea’s Bong Joon ho’s first English language film has been greatly anticipated.
No expectations apart from the fact that it’s bound to be pretty interesting and definitely worth a watch.

Having said that, this film set in a future where the world is too cold to live in and all that’s left of humanity exists on a train designed to keep them all alive. The usual tropes are all here (Alphas/Epsilons/ the power and the people) and it’s amazing how relevant this is in society today.

Bong Joon-ho (Memories of Murder, The Host and Mother) has been directing some incredible Korean films over the last 20 years. He is an artist with some experience of repute.  Critically, he is revered.

So, it is interesting to find out that this film was released in South Korea in August 2012 and still hasn’t been released worldwide.

The reason-Harvey Scissorhands.

He picked up the rights to release the film everywhere else-ish and felt that it couldn’t be a big success without some sort of hair-cut, Joon-ho disagreed and the crux of the sitch is that Harvey Weinstein will release the director’s cut in a few selected cinemas instead of giving it the full treatment publicity and exposure wise.

The film already made its money back within the first week of its release in Korea, over a million people went to see it in the first two days alone.

There are big, established and upcoming, stars in this film, Chris Evans taking a break from Steve Rogers to play the lead here along with John Hurt, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer (who does not have the chops people thought she had and really lets the side down), Ewen Bremner, Luke Pasqualino, Alison Pill and Tilda Swinton giving her best Margaret Thatcher as a northerner but the true star of the film is, one of my favourite actors of the moment Song Kang-ho.

Every scene he is in is a joy to watch. His instinct for interesting, naturally/unnatural choices is sharp and always surprising in a beautifully subtle way. Here he acts in his own language getting his own subtitles and more than standing his own ground but making a bold statement with his presence.

Playing his daughter is Ko Ah-sung who also played his daughter in the director’s earlier, classic monster piece The Host. She also brings an interesting element to the table. The fact that they both speak Korean seems natural and unforced and fits in wonderfully to this English language film.

The effects are sometimes inferior due to lack of big budget but that is such a minor criticism when you think of the magnitude of the film.

If you’re a fan of dystopian sci-fi check this out.

It isn’t perfect but it’s way up there.




MEMORIES OF MURDER ‘Salinui chueok’ (2003)


Song Kang-ho is definitely my favourite South Korean actor.

If he is in a film I will take a look. His talent is immense and his capacity for comedy and drama is always a joy to behold.

Directed by Bong Joon-ho (The Host, Mother and the highly anticipated Snowpiercer), this cops vs serial killah thriller is a beautifully composed film that highlights the ineptitude of the South Korean police system during the mid 80’s.

Mood and atmosphere are key; the cinematography is both luscious and epic.

The police are frustrated by the lack of facilities available to them but are driven by the need to catch the killer. Kim Sang-kyung plays a detective dispatched from Seoul to this country town who looks on the methodology of the local cops as both ridiculous and as backwoods as it clearly is; here is where the contrast between the differing tactics makes for a lot of the humour in the film, and there is quite a bit.

Loosely based on Kim Gwang-rim’s stage play Come to See Me and starring Ryoo Tae-hoo as the second suspect (interestingly, he originally played all three of the suspects on stage) who is truly excellent as are the other two suspects, Park No-sik as the mentally challenged first and Park Hae-ill as the blank-page third suspect.
Everybody is brilliant, the mood and pace of the film is truly engaging, but it is Sang Kong-ho who anchors this film with the emotional journey that drags you in.

Another one of the South Korean 2003 heavy hitters.