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  • 2 months later...

I saw The Host today. Very entertaining film. It has its touching moments, some humor mixed with some sadness, individual action scenes against a monster, and most important a shade of anti-American satire in the film.

This is not the ordinary Hollywood special effects film. It is better than the typical Hollywood sci-fi film. In fact I wouldn't call this film a special effects film. The only thing about this film that is special effects is the monster.

What stands out from this film is the powerful, emotional performances of a very family-centric cast who encounter all kinds of obstacles (manipulation by the US military, societal greed, having no money to achieve their aims) while trying to save their daughter from the monster.

The "emotionalism" component of the actors and their individual action scenes is what keeps the audience's attention. This was the main attraction of the film, rather than any special effects.

Makes American sci-fi films like Independence Day and Men In Black seem absolutely silly and childish in comparison.

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After watching dozens of Korean gangster, comedy and love-story movies and soaps, I find out there are something weird:

(1) In many gangester movies, the actor/actress perform as prosecutors who have to directly deal with the gangsters and even try to arrest them while the prosecutors themselves are equipped with guns. My understanding is that generally in western countries, the prosecutor only takes over the case after the police builds up the case with preliminary evidence gathered and the criminals already detained. Does that mean law school graduate in Korea needs to go thru Taekwando training as well?

(2) Whenever there is a hospital scene, there is a machine by the bedside which vents out steam. Does that mean it is very dehydrated inside the Korean hospital rooms?

(3) The Korean girls call their older brothers, older male classmates, lovers,......etc as "Obaa" in the movie and soap. It seems this term has been too over-used in Korean society. In most other cultures, there is a differentiation in terms on how you call the above people.

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I don't boycott Korean video products out of nationalism.

I only quit watching it only if it is lousily made.

For example, I can't continue watching the TV series "Chu Mong" even though:

(1) its last episode got the highest rating in Korean TV history;

(1) it is badmouthed in many Mainland China-based forums.

I don't watch it because....Gosh, the fighting scene is like those lousy fighting scene made by the Shaw Brother Studio in '70s.

It seems the Korean studio don't have the budget for martial art cheorographist.

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Are Korean movies No. 1 in Asia?

Of course, they claim so. But hardly is that the fact. Let's see:

(1) Undeniably there are many good Korean movies produced in recent years like "Taegukgi", "Typhoon" and "Host". But when they are released overseas, usually they are on limited release with unsatisfactory Box Office result. Hardly can they earn as much as Chinese movies like "Hero" which grossed over US$50 million in Box Office or "Kung Fu Hustle" which grossed over US$35 million in video rental.

(2) So far no Korean actor or actress have been as successful as Zhang Ziyi or Jet Li or Jackie Chan or Gong Li in Hollywood.

(3) In Oscar, those from Greater China have already got awards in Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design etc. But so far Koreans have got none.

(4) In screenplay adapting right, so far I know only "The Lake House" is adapted from a Korean movie. But unlike blockbuster "The Departed" which is adapted from "The Infernal Affairs", "The Lake House" was just so so.

Of course, Koreans can brag how great their movies are in the Pusan Film Festival. But how great their movies are do not solely depend on their domestic audience.

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Ian's views at #87 sounds a bit biased to me. There are many quality korean films, some of them are daring, stylish and unconventional, others are sweet and romantic. Though they have not got awards at the Oscar, they have won other international film awards. I don't think the Oscar is the only or most important award to measure their success. Some countries / some filmmakers enjoy making big-budget films, others prefer to work on smaller budget / smaller films. It's like some people like watching "Pearl Harbour", others like "Lost in Translation" (I like neither :mrgreen: ). Do the french make a lot of big-budget movies and do they earn a lot in the US? Do we say that the french are not making good films if they don't? Are actors not good if their names are not big in Hollywood? Are we to measure everything on how good they perform in the US market?

I think argument (4) could hardly be established if "the Departed" hadn't got the award. And it is the only script (that is based on an asian film) that has that award I believe. Generalising that success seems a bit shaky to me.

Maybe Korean films are not No.1 in Asia. I agree there are plenty other good Japanese and Chinese/HK/Taiwan films (some Iranian films also got good reviews). But the comparison in #87 does not sound right.

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I don't deny that South Korea has produced many quality movies in recent years (which I have cited some examples). I only refute their bragging that their movies are No. 1 in Asia.

In order to be No. 1 in Asia, they must show solid proof that their movies are (1) widely popular in domestic box office (which they are); (2) widely popular overseas (which so far they are NOT); (3) won critical acclaims overseas (in some European film festivals but not in Hollywood); (4) celebrities widely known overseas (so far they have been only in Asia but not other parts of the world).

My emphasis is on US market because US market is still the largest film market in the world. And if those films make it in US, usually they can also make it in other parts of the world.

I would say Korean soaps are more successful overseas than Korean movies. But the revenue and derived revenue from movies are many times bigger than those of soaps.

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Of course, Koreans can brag how great their movies are in the Pusan Film Festival.

You cannot make a random judgment like that if you have not been to the Pusan Film Festival. If Koreans are using the festival to brag how great their movies are, then why was Three Times by Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao Hsien the opening film of the 2005 festival, and Crazy Stone by Andy Lau the closing film of the 2006 festival?

The PIFF is not a showcase to brag how great Korean films are. The purpose of the festival is to showcase the achievements made in Asian cinema. Otherwise why would directors and start-up filmmakers from the Middle East, and south/southeast Asia, or actors like Zhou Xun and Andy Lau bother to attend? Undoubtedly they would be offended by this so-called arrogance, which is not the case as indicated by the widespread participation in the event.

Who was named Asian filmmaker of the year at last year’s festival? Andy Lau of course. If Koreans were braggers like what you described, then why not name a Korean filmmaker as Asian filmmaker of the year to show their excellence in filmmaking?

But how great their movies are do not solely depend on their domestic audience.

How great a movie is does not depend on any audience, let alone a Hollywood one. Just because a movie scores big at the box office in Hollywood does not mean it is a great movie. A movie is great because it is inherently good, not because of how much money it receives at the box offices. Good movies have flopped at the box office, and movies which many people perceive to be inherently bad have done well at the box office.

And so what if Chinese films like Hero or Kung Fu Hustle scored big at the US box office? Movies are not meant to be judged good just because they score big at the box office in the USA. So just because American audiences went to the theaters in large numbers to see a film, that means the film is good? Since when were films judged to be great based on the reception of the American audience?

Hero was a lousy, distastefully politically-inclined movie that was undoubtedly successful at the US box office. I wouldn’t call it a good movie just because of its success in the US (a plurality of mainland audiences didn’t even like it). And what matters most is not cinematography or swirling martial arts choreography, but well developed or meaningful storylines with acting of substance to back it up.

To say that filmmakers should follow the HK-centric model of martial arts choreography is ludicrous.

In Oscar, those from Greater China have already got awards in Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design etc. But so far Koreans have got none.

So, what is your point? Is there a sizeable number of films other than Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (which I thought was a great movie) that received Oscars in the categories you described? Enlighten me if you must.

So far no Korean actor or actress have been as successful as Zhang Ziyi or Jet Li or Jackie Chan or Gong Li in Hollywood.

Again I do not see the purpose behind this statement. But since it matters a lot to you that what defines greatness in films is measured by success in Hollywood, I’ll kindly ask you to define what “success” is as it relates to Zhang, Jet Li, Chan, or Gong Li. Is it shooting two or three movies that made it in the US? So Zhang Ziyi appearing in a successful movie like Rush Hour 2 with Chris Tucker makes her worthy of acclaim? As far as I know, she perpetuated the evil, deranged dragon lady stereotype that so many American audiences wanted to see. And Jet Li (no pun intended for Mr. Li) played a sadistic Asian male gangster in his first American film, Lethal Weapon 4.

Confirming misleading stereotypes to the gratification of American viewers is hardly grounds for acclaim.

The only one of the four that achieved significant breakthrough in the US is Jackie Chan.

Ian, this is a thread on Korean films. I respect your initial statement that you do not boycott Korean films out of nationalism. But if you want to illustrate how great Chinese films are, and that “Chinese have won more Oscars than Koreans”, or “scored bigger financially in the US than Koreans”, create your own thread on the topic and I will participate if interested.

I surely hope we do not engage in such narrow-minded pettiness.

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First of all, my post is in reply to post #79 by Wilson Fong who claims that "they (Koreans) make the best movies in asia right now".

So what does it mean by the "Best in Asia"? Then I list my parameters and I doubt that Korean movies can be called No. 1 in Asia.

If you read my words, I don't underestimate the importance of the Pusan Film Festival. In fact, it is better organized than most other film festivals in Asia. I only doubt about Korean filmmakers' bragging that they are No. 1 in Asia.

How to evaluate a movie?

IMO a good movie should have won the acclaim of movie critics and the applause of audience. But if it cannot have both, at least it can make the audience willing to open their wallets since anyway movies are still merchandise.

Those from Greater China do not only rely on Kung Fu flicks to succeed in Hollywood. Ang Lee got his Best Director award in "Brokeback Mountain", John Woo was famous in "Face Off" and "MI2", Zhang Ziyi was renowned in "Story of a Geisha", Chow Fun Fat first appeared with Jodi Foster in "Anna and the King", Pang Brothers directed "Messengers",,,,,,,,,etc. All above are not Kung Fu movies.

Anyway, many Korean movies are undeniably good. But the fans in US can only order them from Yesasia (or other websites) if they really desire to watch them. So how can the other Americans know about how good Korean movies are?

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  • 2 months later...

Just crammed through another three sets of 20+ episodes of Korean soap. And I started to wonder how come frequently either the actor or actress is always an orphan.

Of course, Korea does not have as many orphans as PRC does no matter in absolute number or in proportion. But that is because of the "One Child Policy" in PRC and the Chinese orphans are mostly girls.

I verified with my Korean friend and she confirmed that there are indeed a lot of orphans in Korea. And I checked the number of immigrant visa granting to orphans coming to US. Surprisingly I found S. Korea constantly ranks No. 4 for many years among the 20 top countries (all are underdeveloped except S. Korea and Taiwan). Even though S. Korea has only about twice the population of Taiwan, its orphans are almost 10 times as many as that of Taiwan. Read:


Next time if the actor and/or actress are orphans again in another Korean soap, I would say that the script writers are not running out of ideas but just reflecting the reality of the Korean society.

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I have watched a few episodes of Lovers in Prague. Never expected 全度妍 to be film material though.

She's good in "Untold Scandal / 挑情寶鑑", which is adapted from "Dangerous Liaison". The male lead is Bae Yong Jun.

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  • 4 years later...

Well, it's never too late to revive a thread...

I just watched 我的见鬼女友/Spellbound. http://baike.baidu.c...iew/5300250.htm

I was curious how a movie could both be a romantic comedy & a horror movie! ( it wasn't super scary but I was watching it at 2am in a dark room woowooowooo,,,but then I couldn't cover my eyes b/c I needed to read the Chinese subtitles...drats!). The answer is called a 'chilling romance'. I have to say, I feel like Korean movies are quite refreshing in this sense. There is always something unexpected (well other than numerous scenes of eating/drinking) that catches you off guard! The movie wasn't perfect, but it was entertaining and made you want to get to the bottom of what exactly was going on here with this odd odd girl and root for the odd romance. Also, expect long, wet, black Asian hair! This seems to be another prereq for many Asian horror movies (....and often clogged drains ahhhhhhhh!, but I'm sure you get the point)

Another movie (an oldie but goodie) is The tale of Two Sisters (just a 'so so' trailer is

otherwise a description is here from netflix which doesn't give away the twists ). This one frightened the bejesus outta me the first time I watched it. It develops slowly, but is fairly intense. It's one that is worth watching at least 2x's if you didn't catch it all the first time around
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  • 2 years later...

I have recently seen two Korean films, both with Song Kang-ho (宋康昊) as the leading actor, and he is absolutely marvellous.

I think the better of these two good films is "The Attorney" (辯護人). Take a look at how people rave about it on douban - http://movie.douban.com/subject/21937445/?from=baidu_aladdin.

If you are in China or have access to Chinese movie websites (see note below), you can see it (with Chinese subtitles) here and here.

The other film, which is also very entertaining, is "The Face Reader" (觀相). I saw it on a long-haul flight which is perhaps why I rank it lower than the Attorney. The face reader with Chinese subtitles is available here (not blocked).

I think I will see the Attorney in a cinema again. It is worth my money x2.

Note - use chrome with this add-on .

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