Thoughts on Films of 2011

What is this madness? It’s almost the eve of February and here I am with another year-end review, right? Nah, let’s just call this a ‘collective film review’.

What a great year for Chungmuro! Bravo! It was filled with so many delights. I found myself striking gold subsequently with each flick that I casually picked. Even from those I least expected to deliver. Though to varying degrees, some were more magical than others, but of the ten I watched I was dissatisfied with absolutely none — which is quite amazing. Considering I’ve suffered for a handful of years now where the couple of films I did watch left a LOT to be desired. And what was with these posters, man? Coincidentally poor Kim Sae-ron was getting herself kidnapped in every single one of those (though I never watched them, so pardon the inaccuracies). But I digress.

Not to fret, I took a crash-course in how to write reviews sans spoilers, so go ahead and read. I might sound redundant and vague as a consequence of being spoiler-free though (aha, that sounds like a good excuse for sloppy writing!).

I am a little regretful that I’ve not had the time to find and watch Wandeuki, The Showdown and Noh Hee-kyung’s Late Blossom, part of my delay was because I had intended to include them.

These are in no particular order, I just threw them in there randomly and please note these films have multiple English titles but I’ll be sticking with just one for each.

Moby Dick

This was much better than I had expected it to be. It felt a tad reminiscent of a noir 1950s Hollywood Detective flick, but with an interlaced very Korean humour, writing and directing was by Park In-jae who seems to have little prior credit.

Hwang Jung-min leads the cast playing a reporter wishing to unearth the truth behind the culpability of those suspected to be responsible for the Balam Bridge blast in Seoul, 1994 (fictional). The blame is being pinned on North Korea, and the media is in a frenzy. He is joined by fellow reporter, bumbling idiot but not without his own set of handy field skills – Kim Sang-ho, a nerdy but brilliantly ballsy Kim Min-hee and his editor played by a whipsmart Kim Bo-yeon. However, there are forces at play that would want the truth to remain concealed and our team of reporters are soon threatened. Ensue cat and mouse games where the stakes are life and death, I’m not using that term lightly either.

Honestly? I watched it for the face that ultimately got me into kdramas; Jin Goo (ok, Kim Rae-won and Choi Min-soo also had a part in that). I’m almost ashamed admitting this but I never really finished watching All In, in spite of being considered a classic, solely because Lee Byung-hun could never really draw my attention in the same way Jin Goo had done as his character’s younger counterpart. The latter continues to elude us by flying under the radar with his project choices, but he’s still very much around and still sexy as hell.

I was just pleased to finally watch him again after all these years, and he didn’t fail me. Playing a shady, mysterious character on the run from the authorities and harbouring a guilty secret, that ties him with the Balam Bridge incident.

And yes, there are allusions towards its title, it wasn’t just randomly selected. Moby Dick was a literary work by an American author and the underlying message in this film influenced by that of Moby Dick is, in a roundabout, ironic way, a concealed dig at the American government’s imperialistic nature and its foreign policy.

Today

I curled up to watch this over a rainy night. It was actually my most anticipated flick in 2011. Mostly for two reasons, Nam Ji-hyun and The Way Home’s lady director and screenwriter Lee Jung-hyang, this was actually her return to cinema since the 2002 hit.

I don’t quite know what to make of this film, the directing was nothing too fancy but not shabby either. The dialogue was solid, but the film’s ambiguous nature and open-ended conflicts kind of lost me on both a mental and emotional level, but that’s not to say it didn’t engage me. It wasn’t a waste of my time either – it was an interesting film with some wonderfully shot sequences.

I don’t mind Song Hye-kyo, sure, she’s a little deadpan most of the time, a little pouty even, but my how she stepped up her game in Today. This was her most natural performance to date, she was so immersed in her character I can only applaud her for her obvious improvement as an actress.

I have to admire how Nam Ji-hyun handles her roles. Don’t be fooled by her deer-in-headlights expressions when she initially enters the scene, she’s a clever little actress who seems to know exactly what she’s doing with each of her characters and here is no different. It was actually Nam Ji-hyun’s character subplot that distracted me from the rest of this film, I couldn’t look past her plight as a victim of abuse and the lack of intervention.

Song Hye-kyo’s misery and grief over her loved one got old too quickly, oh, the actress was great but I stopped caring about how much she was struggling to come to terms with her loss, and the whole brouhaha that explores ‘forgiveness’ that constituted the real meat of the story. Why? Because it was all in the past and the entire film was spent locked in that past with little story progression, simply mulling over what had happened, yet the past is the past, it will remain unchanged. So how about our female lead wake up to the present and finally pay more attention towards one particular ticking timebomb that was frantically ringing out for her particular attention?

Or maybe it’s just me, but I just didn’t get what Ms. Lee was trying to get at, or maybe that was exactly her point?

And then, like a hero, I watched this next film straight after on the same night, I went into it blindly not having researched it prior. Big mistake! It took what Today had done in small doses and multiplied it ten-fold.

The Crucible

Child exploitation in films sickens me. I’m not talking about within the film in the fictional realm but the harsh reality, knowing that a child was made to enact some sordid, disturbing scenes that are beyond their years for the sake of entertainment – think the Moroccan kids in Babel, the two children in 2009’s Into the White Night. I could give more extreme examples but then I’m sure no-one here needs to hear such a tirade.

Crucible, similarly has its child cast play out scenes are disturbing and vile. But, I feel I could forgive this film, because those scenes were deliberately made in such a way to serve a purpose, Crucible is based on a true series of incidences in a school for deaf children where the perpetrators have yet to be brought to justice. And seeing how there was a public outcry from a very affected audience after watching this film it’s safe to say, its method was effective and something would become of this – hopefully.

Another aspect of this film that actually made it more affecting was how it managed to interweave a few stolen moments of light and hope, happiness, childhood innocence and even heroism in the guise of Gong Yoo’s schoolteacher character. I’ve never been much of a Gong Yoo fan but oh, how much I loved him in this film, he was all warmth, heart and then there was his earnest struggle to save the children and save the day.  Alas, this was not that kind of film.

The biggest stars of this show were neither Gong Yoo nor female lead Jung Yumi but the child actors. Kim Hyun-soo (little Dahm-ie from Tree with Deep Roots) was so convincing in her turn as a deaf-mute and I won’t forget the spine-tingling courtroom scene, but the real revelation here was Baek Sung-hwan.  My goodness, this kid is phenomenal! He has played blink-and-you’ll-miss-him roles in sageuk Tree with Deep Roots and currently airing Queen Insu and I believe he’s the only real threat to Yeo Jin-gu in the child acting fold. Hopefully by way of this film he will get more exposure. Because after you’re done watching this film, it will be nigh-impossible forget that face.

The Client

Client had me fooled. I really thought I had sussed it all out following the clues and my viewer’s intuition, but the last half-hour was so unpredictable. I will bet anyone, you can’t outwit this film, really! OK, maybe you can, if you’re all smarter than me.

I like Jang Hyuk, I like him a lot, and this was a film where he played a character who was pretty much the antithesis of his more popular characters, Dae-gil and Chae-yoon. Vulnerable, pitiful, accused of a crime he may or may not be guilty of – the murder of his wife, and he was so silent – no mighty roars from him here, he barely spoke a word throughout the whole film. He played his character so brilliantly, he stirred up compassion in not only me but also his defending lawyer played by Ha Jung-woo.

Ha Jung-woo was a delight, playing his lawyer character almost like a character straight out of Goodfellas, I loved the accent, too. Park Hee-soon was equally great as Ha Jung-woo’s steely rival attorney on the case and also doubles as his smug frenemy.

The film was well-made, Sohn Young-sung’s directing was slick and dark and though the film was also sold as a courtroom drama it didn’t spend too long confined to the courtroom, the dialogue was fitting, acting was top-notch, it was thrilling, mysterious, suspense-filled and all those elements you would like to see in a film of this genre, give or take some subtle humour, and a bit of a three-way bromance between three very sexy, sexy guys. Oh and there’s Sung Dong-il. Win!

Blue Salt

This is a beautifully shot, stylish and atmospheric flick boasting a stellar cast. Shin Se-kyung plays our lead assassin, a femme fatale but with a difference. I do adore Shin Se-kyung, quite a bit, ever since appearance in Queen Seon-deok actually. She has a certain spark and like that she generally shirks cutesier trendies and opts for more meaty, serious roles which she delivers quite convincingly. (I watched this before Tree with Deep Roots, so let’s not go into how cool she was in that — all that plunging off cliffs blindfolded and stuff.) However, while her performance in Blue Salt wasn’t bad per se, in a few scenes she did seem to be trying too hard to appear more cool, detached and tomboyish (and that hair, ugh! Does not suit us girls with heart-shape faces). All in all, I did like her more muted, girl-next-door approach to playing a leather-clad female assassin.

While the cinematography was sleek, the mood was intriguingly pensive; Lee Hyun-seung’s penned story was pretty sparsely told and left me quite lukewarm. The PD-writer also wrote and directed Il Mare, and that also hinged more on mood and aesthetically pleasing cinematography and pretty faces. Even the action was pretty limited, I didn’t find it particularly compelling, nor were the stakes high enough and the film was quite chaste for its genre – though I didn’t mind that, anything raunchy would have been gratuitous and cringeworthy.

It was the acting that was its true saving grace, acting by male lead Song Kang-ho in particular, whose retired Busan crimelord character was all charm and charisma.  All in all, I enjoyed the film while watching it, even if it didn’t particularly draw me in convincingly.
But if you want a similar female assassin story but more wholesome, bolder, more kickass, and better told, try the short drama Girl K instead.

The Front Line

What a fantastic war film! I’m not the biggest fan of war films, yet some of the greatest works I’ve seen both in (the Korean and Japanese) film and drama realm happen to be of the war genre. I watch them more for the human drama elements, how convincingly they sell the story and then the politicking also makes them shades more compelling. The best of them however, are the ones where no specific sides are taken, like in Front Line.

The story was fabulous, though not too dissimilar to 2010’s Comrades, its approach to the retelling of a similar story during the Korean War in the 1950s couldn’t be more refreshingly different. Screenwriter was Park Sang-yeon (of Tree with Deep Roots). Directing by PD Jang Hun (of Rough Cut) was reliably impressive and the acting? Even better.

Go Soo turned in a brilliant performance, I would even go as far as saying, the best role of his career. I still have an issue with him in the sense that I still can’t fathom him as an actor. He lacks a certain depth and it kills me, because I feel that it’s there but he’s just not tapping into it. In this film however, it worked, because he’s a mysterious unfathomable character who you’re deliberately unable to read and his stony-face fit the bill.

Lee Je-hoon, Jo Jin-woong, Ryu Seung-soo, Kim Ok-bin, Ryu Seong-ryeong and pretty much the rest of the cast were perfect and quick to endear themselves and feel familiar to me within moments of their appearances, even Giant’s General Hampton turned in a convincing performance in his short appearance (as a wait for it… dumb American. Seriously, how do these guys think they rule the world exactly? Haha!).

But Shin Ha-kyun? Oh… My…G… Such perfection. I can’t even begin with the superlatives. I will simply say he was to film what Han Seok-kyu was to drama in 2011.

 

War of Arrows

War of Arrows was a like a whirlwind, it came, it knocked my breath out of me and left as swiftly as it had come but it left its imprint just so that I will not confuse the whole experience as having been a mere illusion.

It was epic, it was wholesome, it was filled to the brim with substance, with character, with badass attitude, beautifully subtle moments, blazingly intense moments, a palpable fear, both humane and vicious — it was just perfection.

Moon Chae-won kicked some ass in this film, I found her riveting. I was in the minority and couldn’t get into Princess’ Man, but I’m happy enough seeing her here,  in particular in a scene where she faces off against Park Ki-woong, playing a Qing Dynasty prince.

But the show belonged to Park Hae-il and his piercing gaze, who in this, plays her older brother. A trained archer who all but single-handedly took on a Manchurian invasion in a 17th Century Joseon, the film was based on actual history. I liked the touch with the hero recycling his arrows, it made the whole experience feel all the more nuanced and real.

On a separate note, a plea to all Korean guys in film and drama: please, never buy shoes for your sister! Dammit!

All in all, a great directorial and writing effort from Kim Han-min (of Paradise Murdered).

–And just because I need to state that not all my movie choices are as morbid and depressing as my drama choices. Here are some relatively happier numbers. (Emphasis on ‘relatively’.)–

Officer of the Year

This film was a riot and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Sure it didn’t even try to be original as a comical cop procedural, sure this was no groundbreaking Memories of Murder, but rookie Im Chan-ik’s film was action-packed, funny and it was also heartfelt.

Not to mention my main motivation to watch it, its spectacular cast, among those, three of my favourites, Lee Sung-min, Choi Deok-moon and Kim Jung-tae, though they are character actors who tend to be in many projects, it was delightful to learn of a project where all three would appear together.

However, I came out loving Lee Seon-kyun and Park Jung-hun more than ever in their roles as top detectives of rival police stations both closely situated across two neighbourhoods in Seoul. Park Jung-hun leads Mapo as chief, flanked by Kim Jung-tae and crew all donning crisply tailored suits and smug attitudes. Lee Seon-kyun is his shabbier tracksuit-wearing counterpart who leads Sodaemun’s less sophisticated set of detectives, among those is a bumbling Lee Sung-min. The wars that break out between both sets of detectives are absolutely hilarious, often they are so engaged in their competitive feuds, they let the criminals get away.

And there is one particular criminal who continues to evade them who has a bounty on his head, that bounty being that whichever officer catches him will be titled the Officer of The Year.

It wasn’t all lighthearted fun, there was some darker content in the second-half of the film. With a cast like that it would be a crime to not let them handle meatier material. But, the ending was so endearing and winning, it made me beam with happiness. Gah! I love this cast!

Sunny

Oh Sunny. How could you be so full of win!? What a classic feel-good film. Also one of the funniest films I’ve seen for ages.

Set in the 80s and the present-day as we follow the lives of seven schoolfriends (some stories covered more extensively than others) we flit between their teenage misadventures in the glorious eighties to the present-day as struggling fourty-somethings.

This film opened with one of my favourite all-time classics Cyndi Lauper’s Time after Time. Ah, how could it not be true love?

Though I realise now that it might be a tad uneven, the present-day Sunny gang were less fun than their younger counterparts (deliberately?) and I wasn’t so sure about the rushed ending.  But those are minor quibbles.

PD/writer Kang Hyung-cheol’s last project Speedy Scandal was also a popular and much-loved film but he went above the convention of popular comedies with an edgier more experimental, broader field to play on with Sunny – the film being littered with creative kinds of profanity made it delightful, as with the different and hilarious take on the political upheaval of the eighties. In some aspects it reminded me a little of Billy Elliot with how it balanced a grittier atmosphere with a darker shade of humour with lots of heart, a social commentary that was present but barely drew attention to itself and cultural references so well-attuned to the two eras the film was depicting, like for instance the hospital scene and the ahjumma patients watching their makjang daily drama in the current day. I loved all those details. And the choice of retro music!

Everything that was great and winning about it has already been spoken of so I feel I won’t need to go into any more detail than I already have. Besides, Blue1004 wrote a great recap/review of it on her blog. Read here.

Penny Pinching Romance

The film where Song Joong-ki graduated from man-child to a fully-fledged man.

Though not referring to the first half of the flick where he’s a less than desirable cig-smokin’, beer-guzzling, self-fondling, pervy Jack the Lad. Nothing overtly wrong with some of that, but the fondling bits were a bit unpleasant. Only Song Joong-ki could pull this off in the way he did, with his natural and unpretentious brand of acting and his pretty, pretty face saving his character from being outright despicable.

Han Ye-seul is good in this, IF you like her. She has an earthy charm about her and I know she’s er, a bit delayed in her delivery as an actress (I do have a word for her brand of acting, but it may be thought offensive) and the Myungwol debacle this previous summer did her no favours but watching this film, I am reminded of why I can’t quite bring myself to hate her either… Dammit. (It’s my fondness for Ji-wanaaahh!) But even if you happen to passionately hate her, it doesn’t matter; this is truly a Song Joong-ki vehicle and this film is all about him.

See, I was expecting a conventional rom-com but got a beautifully shot, subdued comedy which ultimately turned into a riveting and evocative romance which held me captive through its run. The atmosphere was heady and romantic, even if the lead couple were more platonic than romantic. They did have a certain bond, and an understated chemistry that worked.

Scratch that, for those who have watched the jdorama Zeni Geba, this is its more sympathetic, attractive, genteel cousin who will hold your hand and take you on a journey to discover the extent of the fragility of human life in the face of cold hard money. Because it truly can make or break us. Alongside it we learn that the value of love is akin to the value of life itself, and that a Song Joong-ki in love is… (sigh) quite the force to be reckoned with.

The cinematography was breathtaking, directing was pretty flawless, but it was the writing that was pitch-perfect for me. I will look out for more projects by Kim Jeong-hwan, who both directed and penned this show, while not a major commercial success, it was a very decent attempt. As he skilfully interspered edgy, upbeat humour with a story that managed to tap beneath surface level. It actually reminded me of some of my favourite Hong Kong romance classics with the romance-filled atmosphere, it actually invoked feelings of being in love, like a good romance film/drama should do. No really, it’s often one of my gripes with some rom-coms and the trendy that keeps on recycling itself, as I feel they seem to bastardise the emotion that is love by overselling it. But then… I suppose I also… bastardise the emotion of love when I fall head over heels far too often and for inaminate objects, fooood, imaginary characters… But I digress. Simply watching Song Joong-ki falling in love, fumbling his way through it and growing as a character as a result, was worth the price of admission alone.

I realise I am now babbling as a pretense to post more pretty Song Joong-ki pictures as I wrap this thing up. He is probably mine and thundie’s only mutual crush and since this post is dedicated to her as a special thank you, for this little spot she gave me on her treasured blog, and how much I appreciate it her thoughtfulness…

Oh, and Ha Jung-woo was totally HOT in Client, here.

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40 thoughts on “Thoughts on Films of 2011

  1. Thank you Supah for a great write-up. From your list, I have seen a grand total of two. TWO films! *sigh, I am so behind. I have been wanting to watch most of the movies you raved about, and now, I have more on my list!

    Curious though… you did not include So Ji Sub’s and Han Hyo Joo’s My Only Love. Have you seen it? What do you think of it?

    Am missing Thundie… hope she’s ok.

    • Ooh… Now I’m curious to know which two you watched…
      I’m going to sound eevol saying this but Han Hyo-joo turned me off watching Only You. Or else I could never had dared turning down a chance to watch So Ji-sub all broody in a melo.
      He’s going to be in a new flick called Salaryman though. And his co-star Lee Mi-yeon is an infinitely better actress. *excited*

      • Han Hyo Joo was great in Only You. That was the first time I felt that she really brought her character to life. Plus the movie is really beautiful, so if you have time give it a try. ^^

  2. Oh! So great to have movie reviews here. Thank you, Supah! I’ve only seen War of Arrows, but I’m glad I got watch it on the big screen- my first-ever Korean movie at a theatre, as opposed to the Internet. This wonderful post makes me want to watch all the movies listed :)

  3. Wonderful post! It sent me down memory lane even though these were from… this year.
    I thought the “twist” at the end of The Client was sort of predictable but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a “twist”. I felt the best part of that movie was the awesome acting by the awesome looking actors. (My brain melts.)
    Blue Salt was “eh”, but, as you said, Song Kang-ho was great! I totally became his fan after this film. I think I won’t comment about all the movies I’ve seen that you wrote about because then this comment would get way too long. Final comment though, Shin Ha-kyun.. Oh…My… brain malfunction. He’s a wonderful actor (and super hot)!!!

    • Thanks ladies (and any gents?) for your lovely comments! :)

      @lovepark:
      I guess it was sorta predictable, in the sense it had a clear 50-50 possibility of it going either way, it’s more about how it actually got there, I didn’t expect that twist in its last half-hour.
      Truthfully, you’ve summed it up perfectly, my brain melted too and I was too distracted by the collective hotness. Hee!

      • Definitely! It was worth watching for the actors alone. I’m smiling like a loon just thinking about the cast. I must say though, I’ve just realized that there are quite a lot of swoon-worthy men laced throughout this post! I dies…. hotness overload. Thank you!!

  4. Omo omo, is that Ha Jung-woo I see? And Park Hae-il?

    Muah, supah! Thank you for this wonderful surprise. I love my guest bloggers!! :D

  5. You were very kind supah, so kind. I watched maybe half of the films you’d mentioned up there, and only The Front Line, Silenced and Sunny stayed with me.

    Blue Salt had a WOW cast ensemble. Talk about Song Kang Ho, Lee Jong HOT and PIE, how could a film like this fail?! But it was utterly disappointing. The storyline was weak, was yawning 15 mins into the film. Execution and flow nothing to rave about. It had great visuals like you said, but writing just didn’t live up to what I’d expected.

    The Client, my most anticipated film, which turned out to be a MEH film. I dunno, I felt that Ha Jung Woo and JH were wasted in it (tho I thought the last part showed a bit of his brilliance), it was kinda predictable, intensity and grip didn’t hold up well, and I guess I had expected a lil too much. Writing was decent, but felt pretentious and manipulative towards the end. I’ve seen similar thrillers like these… perhaps a lil bit too much.

    The Bow/ War of Arrows was good, but not as great as I’d expected it to be. Park Hae Il gave a good performance, but I was more blown away by Moon Chae Won and Park Ki Woong in it. Their intensity was totally an eye-opener. But of all, it’s the dedication and effort of the cast which amazed me. How they were able to learn and speak an almost dead and foreign language in the entire film.. o_0.

    Officer of The Year/ King of Capture – this film was mindless fun. Not a great film I’d say, but definitely a chase the blue away kind of film. Both actors had great comedic timing and matched well together, but if you want substance, this film has lil to offer.

    The Front Line – very engaging war film. Not the best or most original (it’s kinda based off a real story so it’s fine) but had one of the best acting from a film cast ensemble last year. Shin Ha Kyun was spot on in his acting (the usual him, he always gives his best and morphs into his characters completely), Go Soo gave one of the best performances of his career, and Lee Je Hoon? He’ll be kicking lots of asses this year, this actor is a break-out star. And did I mention again? Perfection of SHIN HA KYUN? hahaha mind me cos I’ve been brainified by him lately.

    Sunny – A very meaningful film about friendship and growing up. I think I expected the least out of this film but was moved by it the most. It’s films like these which make us thinking and ponder about our lives a lil bit more, totally made me recall how I loved being in school ^^

    Silenced – this film was extremely difficult to watch. I read about it before watching but still came away disgusted and troubled. The content is soooooo not for the faintest of hearts, but appreciate how the film tried to address the issues as honest as possible. Like you said, the kids were the stars. If not for their raw and fearless performances, the film wouldn’t have been as strong or effective.

    I’ve also watched Always/Only You and Bleak Night. The former was disappointing and typical but the latter, Bleak Night, it’s amazing. It’s one of the best films I have EVER seen. Dark, emotional and honest. Perhaps if you’ve got a chance, you can try it out? hehehe….

    Finally, sorry for the long rant. :/ I always get ahead of myself when it comes to talking about K-drama or K-films. It’s always the case, I feel like writing after I finish something, but I always end up trashing my drafts away after a few sentences or paragraphs.. glad you shared your thoughts here, I could at least reply or respond to them heee~~~ thanks for the writeup!

    • I know I sounded so lenient, haha! But I did honestly like them. I’ve been away from Chungmuro for a while so coming back to genre films like Client and that cop show still felt relatively new-ish to me.
      Park Ki-woong and Moon Chae-won, can someone please make that happen?
      I’m still a bit confused about Park Ki-woong’s character, was he Mongol or Manchurian, at first I thought he was Mongol, something about the fur he wore? My history is really spotty.

      It took me a while to overcome Crucible. Recently going back to take screencaps was quite a task.
      Whoa, didn’t know Front Line was based on a true story.
      Guhh! Shin Ha-kyun! Couldn’t get into Brain but must watch Harvest Villa for him!
      And Lee Je-hoon… definitely a revelation! And I will hunt down Bleak Night, cheers for the recc.

      I procrastinate in the same way — all the time. You watch something interesting, the thoughts are all there, but then comes the putting it into writing part. And you’re so welcome, freakin’ loved reading your comment!

      • Thanks for the reply! I may have been a lil bit too critical, but overall, I did enjoy watching them for the sake of entertainment. BTW, I went back to check on The Front Line’s storyline.. I mistakenly thought it was based off a true story, but found nothing to back it up (I think I read it somewhere but can’t find the source now). Sorry hehehehe.. but wouldn’t be surprised if something similar had happened back then. ^^

        You MUST watch Harvest Villa for Shin Ha Kyun. That drama is freakin’ SMART and WICKED. Don’t think I’ve seen anything more creative.

        • I would not be surprised if it was based on fact. The writing was seriously cool though.

          OK. Harvest Villa just got bumped up to the top of my watch list. Has anyone claimed him? Am I allowed to make grabby hands at the screen as I watch him?

            • That’s incredibly generous of you, ripgal! I refuse to even entertain the idea of sh-sh-shhar… *brain hemorrhage* that I’ve MINEd.
              About to start Harvest Villa now. Oooh.

  6. Loved your review! I have only watched Sunny and some of Penny-pinching Romance, and your review reminded me of some movies I had thought looked interesting, which I will definitely watch now. The Client is definitely on my list – a movie with Ha Jung-woo AND Jang Hyuk? I’d watch it even if it were crap. Which it doesn’t seem to be, thank God. :) And I’ve been planning to watch The Crucible for a while, but I kind of have to work up the stomach for it. I totally know what you mean about movies exploiting child actors – it’s a reason I object to horror movies starring children. The poor girl who starred in the Exorcist had psychological problems for years. But this has a point. Brave, brave child actors. I’m so happy that this film raised the outcry it was aiming for.

    I loved Sunny too, although I felt the ending was very abrupt. I was dying to know what Min Hyo-rin’s character’s story was, and as soon as she showed up – it was over. I was so mad! Other than that, I loved it. The music, the awesome scenes from their youth which encapsulated so well the feeling of being young, crazy and slightly twisted. And details that you mentioned, like everyone mocking the makjang twists of the drama in the hospital (I died of laughter) and the swearing grandmother. I also dug the way they did scene transitions between the present and past. Like the scene where Na-mi is following her daughter and it takes her back to secretly following her high-school crush. I loved the way that was done. Best friendship film of 2011.

    I started PPR a couple weeks ago, but after about 20 minutes I was so turned off by Song Joong-ki’s character that I stopped watching. (My pure image of SJK ruined forever, ohnoes!) But I love both main leads – yes, even Han Ye-seul, shockingly – and I’ve heard the story gets more interesting, plus you’re saying it’s a growing up story for our hero, and I love those. So I’ll have to give it another chance.

    • Thank you, Laica (re: child exploitation), you said it girl!
      Oh, my ‘pure pure’ image of him was ruined during his transition from WISFC to OB/GYN. He was far from pure in the latter. But as javabeans said in her review, PPR was ‘rewarding’ — so endure — by the end, you will melt into a puddle of goo! Promise!

      Sunny was great! My minor gripes were things like how Jin-hee’s grown up version was nothing like younger Jin-hee, in character nor looks (sacrilege to say this as I loved them all, but she was my fave), I know that part was meant to be in good humour but I was kind of gutted as I know a couple of actresses who look so much like an older Park Jin-ju. And the older Min Hyo-rin was GORGEOUS. Like a spit of Kim So-yeon, ‘cept older.

  7. many thanks for these reviews!!! i’ve seen none, but i’ve already downloaded PPR and i’m looking for subs like crazy (lol at your SJK comments :) ). i also want to watch the client and as much as i love GY i’m a little afraid of watching The crucible…
    so Only You is not good? i’m in a SJS fix so i really want to watch it, good or bad…

    • Wait for Salaryman instead. It should be out in May-June this year?
      Unless of course you don’t mind a wet and drippy Han Hyo-joo and can endure it? Haha!

  8. Thanks for all these reviews! Just watched Moby Dick yesterday because of your review (and Jin Goo, mmm). Well, that movie was a little confusing at the end. Hope that wasn’t spoilery. I have a question though, do you know where to watch The Crucible online with English subs? I’ve seen the movie files (not watched though…wanted to watch with subs) on Youtube, but it was raw and my friend said it was in bad quality.

    • I just had a look around for Eng Subs, if there are any, they will be up on Darksmurf subs?
      Even so, Crucible is probably the easiest film to follow if you’re non-Korean-speaking. Only in the sense that it’s all very visual and with the children being deaf-mute there is barely any dialogue in it anyway.
      Mmm… Jin Gu! ^^
      Yeah, the ending was pretty outlandish, but in a good way. It was a good way of demonstrating the real power of the press (i.e. the plane went empty).

      • Yep, I agree that the ending was weird, but in a good way. I liked it nonetheless :) I’ll look around Darksmurf for subs :) I’m just always afraid of watching a movie without the subs because I tend to ask my friends what everything everyone says. ^^ I don’t want to miss out on anything that I ask for everything…haha :)

      • Oh right. Sorry if this is bothering you…
        but I just realized that I have no idea how Darksmurf works D: Do you mind explaining or is there some sort of tutorial (LOL)? I got to the part where I downloaded the file…tried opening it with VLC and just failed. lol.

        • Hi Lala, sorry for getting back to you so late. You need to register with Darksmurf I believe. Have you already downloaded the subs? I’m wondering whether its the softsubs process you’re unfamiliar with or whether there’s some software glitch somewhere?

          • Oh hello! Sorry life has been busy.
            I don’t really know how to play it, I’ve got the file and all. If I’m being uber vague I’m really sorry I’m practically computer-illiterate. But I think the best I could describe is that I (somehow) can’t get the ile to open on VLC. Is it the wrong program or…? Thanks :)

          • Oh I forgot to mention – Though I can’t get it to run, it’s probably the softsubs process I’m unfamiliar with. Thank you :)

            • Not a prob hun, I discovered the process only a few months back through trial and error too.
              1) you’ll need both your video file (avi, mp4 etc) and sub file (srt) stored in the same folder.
              2) make sure both file names are exactly the same. Cut and paste if its easier.
              3) if it’s your first time downloading an SRT (sub) file, your computer may not recognise it, so right click and ‘open as’ or ‘open with’ and choose the ‘notepad’ application. Once the file opens as a notepad document (you can close it again), all you need to do then is play the video file and your subs will show up on it automatically.
              Hope that helped. Enjoy. :0)

            • Thank you supah~~ :) Just finished watching Crucible, and it was a great movie, though I’m sad to say that perhaps I shouldn’t have watched it (LOL, I’m kinda a scaredy-cat. Only rom-coms will do for my princess-y needs) And you are right, it’s impossible to forget that kid’s face. Crucible was just a masterpiece. It was really dramatic and awesome. :) I would try to wax poetic a little longer but I don’t think it’ll work. LOL. Thank you anyways! :)

  9. Thank you supah for your reviews! For some reason, I always get so excited about Korean movies and then when they actually release, I lose all interest. So the only movie on this list I have watched is “The Crucible,” which I agree with you on many points.

    Supah, you gave positive reviews for all these films, so I was wondering if you had any that you didn’t like this year? Some movies that I shouldn’t bother checking out?

    I was also curious if anyone else felt this way, but my overall impression of Korean movies is that many or most feel long and very subdued. Do you find this to be true to your experience?

    • I agree, it’s so easy to lose interest when dramas always take precedence (especially round our little drama-obsessed community), the films seem easier to ignore.
      Only watched the ones I spoke of above and I shockingly loved them all. Which is why I felt I needed to review them. Was only ‘blah’ about Only You and anything with Kim Ha-neul in it.
      Aww… and I like them long and subdued…

  10. Oooh! Movies! Thanks for doing these.
    I saw Arrow in the cinema. It really did have great sound, and won some award for it, too.
    Laughing, crying, jumping out of my chair, watching between fingers.
    Ryu Seung Ryong scared the crap out of me being the Hunter, too. A stunninly beautiful Otani Ryohei stood out in the bad guy’s posse. You know the guy you keep looking for and at to see if he is as handsome as you thought he was when he first came on screen? That is him.
    With the gorgeous costumes, upbeat story, cool shooting and fast moving plot, this would have been a blockbuster in the States if it were in English. It makes me cry that films like Transformers III make money when this jewel is completely overlooked.

    I just watched The Client, too.
    HJW is so perfect. I love the way he moves, how excited he gets. JH playing against type surprised me.

    By the way, Sunny (2008) is not Sunny (2010)
    I watched 2008 version all the way to the end, still wondering why everyone LOVED this movie.
    Su Ae traipsing through war torn Viet Nam looking for her husband is NOT fun, or funny.
    I wasn’t able to get the subs for Sunny 2010 before the Mega-EXpload.

    • Oh, Ryu Seung Ryong was great and just as much a hostile in Front Line, too.
      Oh snap, I so recognised his minion – Ryo from Soulmate too.
      And I had no idea there was another Sunny, and with Su Ae too.

  11. Thanks for this review! I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t seen any of these films; most of them are in my (always-growing) drama/film watch list.

    About Song Hye-kyo. If there was progress in her acting in Today, then that’s good. I’ve always liked her but feel that she still hasn’t made me love her like Son Ye-jin. She hasn’t proven to me her talent although I liked her Joo Joon-young character in The World They Live In (by Noh Hee-kyung) and thought that she was excellent on the role for being aloof.

    As for Han Ye-seul, I loved her as Jo Anna in Fantasy Couple/Couple or Trouble. I loved her even more in Will It Snow for Christmas, even though, again, she hasn’t impressed me yet. Let’s not just mention Spy Myung-wol because I’m on ep10 and I’m thinking if I should drop that drama. So I have the same feelings as you regarding her because despite my dislike for her acting, she was perfect in the two dramas I saw her in.

    And Go Soo. I don’t quite understand why you can’t connect with Go Soo, and I know I’m being biased because I love the man to bits, but I’ll try to watch The Front Line and Into the White Night (I know! It’s still on my watch-list! I can’t believe I haven’t seen this film yet.) to see where you’re coming from. As for me, it was his eyes that got me into the Go Soo bandwagon when I saw Will it Snow. And then I watched (and survived) Green Rose all because of him. I’ll also watch Marrying a Millionaire for him (See how much I love him? It’s crazy. The guy is taking over my watch-list.).

    Anyway, thanks again for the review and I think I need to edit my watch list again and add more of the films you mentioned above.

    • Oh, Song Hye-kyo has changed tremendously, she blew me away. I don’t know whether this was a one-off or whether she’s changed for the best. I hope it’s the latter. I’ve never known an actress to change overnight in the way she did.

      Haha, guess we all perceive things differently, I really struggle to connect with Go Soo as an actor. I just can’t.

  12. Pingback: Movie Galore | Zani's Random World

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