Snowpiercer (2013)

Director: Joon-ho Bong
Writer: Joon-ho Bong, Kelly Masterson
Based on: Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette‘s graphic novel Le Transperceneige
Cast: Chris Evans, Jamie BellKang-ho Song, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer, John Hurt, Alison Pill, Ed Harris, Luke Pasqualino, Ah-sung Ko

The world is frozen in its entirety. The only people left are hurtling through it on a high-speed train. On the train there is  a strict class hierarchy – in the front, the rich people live. In the back the poor live in squalor. One of the poor people is Curtis (Chris Evans) who quietly organizes a rebellion with the help of Edgar (Jamie Bell) and Gilliam (John Hurt). But getting to the front of the train might be the least of their problems.

Snowpiercer was an exciting film. Tense, with a weird sense of humor and great action scenes. It did not have the most innovative of plots, but with an awesome setting and beautiful cinematography it more than makes up for that.


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Chinjeolhan geumjassi [Sympathy for Lady Vengeance] (2005)

Chinjeolhan geumjassi
Director: Chan-wook Park
Writer: Seo-Gyeong Jeong, Chan-wook Park
Part of: The Vengeance Trilogy
Cast: Yeong-ae Lee, Min-sik Choi, Shi-hoo Kim, Yea-young Kwon, Ji-tae Yu, Kang-ho Song, Hye-jeong Kang, Byeong-ok Kim

Geum-ja Lee (Yeong-ae Lee) was just released from prison after more than a decade where she did time for kidnapping and killing a young boy. In prison she was known for her beauty and kindness, but as soon as she is out, Geum-ja starts ruthlessly working on her plan for revenge on the person who really was responsible for the murder, with the help of former inmates. At the same time, she tries to reconnect with her daughter (Yea-young Kwon) who was adopted by an Australian couple.

At the start of the movie, I thought that I would end up not liking it, that it would be a surprisingly weak ending to the unofficial trilogy. But the further it went, the absurder its sense of humor got, the more I enjoyed it. By the end, I was loving it just as much as the other two films.


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Boksuneun naui geot [Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance] (2002)

Boksuneun naui geot
Director: Chan-wook Park
Writer: Mu-yeong Lee, Chan-wook Park, Jae-sun Lee, Jong-yong Lee
Based on: Nobuaki Minegishi
Part of: The Vengeance Trilogy
Cast: Kang-ho Song, Ha-kyun Shin, Doona Bae, Ji-Eun Lim, Bo-bae Han

Ryu (Ha-kyun Shin) doesn’t have it easy: his sister (Ji-Eun Lim) is slowly dying of kidney failure, while he slaves away in a factory, trying to raise the money for a transplant. He tried to donate his own kidney, but unfortunately has the wrong blood type. That he’s deaf doesn’t help with things either. Then he stumbles on a possibility to sell his kidney, in exchange for one of the right blood type. Quite illegally of course. But everything goes wrong and Ryu is left with a kidney less, no money and he’s fired from his job – when the official transplant comes through. So he and his girlfriend (Doona Bae) hatch a plan to kidnap the factory owner Park’s (Kang-ho Song) kid (Bo-bae Han). And things only go downhill from there.

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is beautifully shot, well told and utterly bleak. It grips you and doesn’t let you go until the very end. Amazing.


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Joheunnom nabbeunnom isanghannom [The Good, the Bad, the Weird] (2008)

Joheunnom nabbeunnom isanghannom
Director:  Jee-woon Kim
Writer:  Jee-woon Kim, Min-suk Kim
Cast: Kang-ho Song, Byung-hun Lee, Woo-sung Jung

Manchuria, ca. 1940. Robber Tae-goo (Kang-ho Song) gets his hand on a map that he thinks will lead him to an unbelievable treasure. But he’s not the only one who would like to get that map. And so, he finds himself in a lot of trouble pretty quickly. He’s followed by Chang-yi (Byung-hun Lee), a ruthless killer with an unclear agenda. And Chang-yi in turn is hunted by the bounty hunter Do-wan (Woo-sung Jung) who thinks that the best way to find Chang-yi is by following the map.

The Good, the Bad and the Weird is pretty much insane and pretty funny with it, though they sometimes rely too much on their insanity and forget to make, you know, actual jokes. But it’s entertaining.


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Bakjwi [Thirst] (2009)

Director: Chan-wook Park
Writer: Chan-wook Park, Seo-Gyeong Jeong
Based on: Émile Zola‘s novel Thérèse Raquin (rather loosely)
Cast: Kang-ho Song, Ok-bin Kim, Hae-suk Kim, Ha-kyun Shin, In-hwan Park

Priest Sang-hyeon (Kang-ho Song) volunteers to participate in a medical experiment to find a vaccine for an infectious disease. But instead of helping science, Sang-hyeon gets infected with vampirism. But with a growing lust for blood, there are also other desires that are stirring within him. And in his childhood friend’s wife Tae-ju (Ok-bin Kim), whose relationship with her husband Kang-woo (Ha-kyun Shin) and his mother Lady Ra (Hae-suk Kim) is rather strained, he finds just the person he wants to fulfill those desires with.

This is a strange little film. I struggled a bit with it, but I was nevertheless drawn into its atmosphere and story.

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