Korean Is The New Chinese?
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By etrigan - Last updated: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

In retrospect, I note the rise of Korean Cinema by Chan Wook Park’s Oldboy which slipped through Austin in late 2003 (at “BNAT 5”:http://www.rollerfeet.com/backporchbeer/2003/12/08/837/) and was the first “hit” (relative to foreign film popularity), but “this article”:http://www.filmfestivals.com/database/film/filmus_korea.htm marks the beginning of the shift with Chunhyang (from Im Kwont’aek) at the 2000 Cannes Festival. Whenever it started, I’m not the only one who has made this call. The book, “Korean Cinema: The New Hong Kong“:http://www.powells.com/biblio/1553954610?&PID=27398 (that you can check out in “Google Preview”:http://is.gd/sBLm) says “…Korea’s filmmaking industry…resembles the dot-com era…” and NYU Press, about “this book (published in 2005)”:http://www.powells.com/biblio/0814740308?&PID=27398, says “…[in] the past year, South Korea became one of the only countries in the world in which local films outsold Hollywood films…” , but “this list from KoreanFilm.org of the top 10 films of 2008”:http://www.koreanfilm.org/new.html#2009-01-18 thinks Korean cinema may be at an ebb again: “…the general mood in 2008 reached a new low. Companies continued to struggle..”

The last decade of Korean Cinema is definitely worth exploring. Here are a few recommended titles:

* “The Chaser”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001HEJYY6?ie=UTF8&tag=rollecomthewebsi&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B001HEJYY6 – This showed last year on the festival circuit. A former cop turned pimp literally chases the john that’s been killing his girls.
* “The Good, The Bad, The Weird”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001SBDQ42?ie=UTF8&tag=rollecomthewebsi&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B001SBDQ42 – The Western is reinvented as three outlaws race to find a treasure while three different governments try to catch them.
* “Welcome To Dongmakgol”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001CZJP6W?ie=UTF8&tag=rollecomthewebsi&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B001CZJP6W – A gorgeous pseudo-love story about soldiers in the Korean war (North, South and U.S.A.) who become lost and wander into a self-sequestered village high in the mountains.
* “Oldboy”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000V6I7WG?ie=UTF8&tag=rollecomthewebsi&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B000V6I7WG – Chan-wook Park’s big break into the festival circuit is a seriously twisted violent mystery/thriller.
* “I’m a Cyborg, but that’s OK”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000RJSJV6?ie=UTF8&tag=rollecomthewebsi&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B000RJSJV6 – Park’s break from ultra-violent thrillers is an American-style love story with a few violent PG-13 dream sequences.

(Many of these films may not be completely legitimate. See “Monday’s post”:http://www.rollerfeet.com/backporchbeer/2009/04/13/4247/.)

p.s. This book probably makes an interesting point about “the remasculinization of Korean cinema”:http://intersections.anu.edu.au/issue13/ellis_review.html, in light of Park’s first three big hyper violent films.


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