A Day (2017) – Review

Review: The idea of reliving the same day in a loop a la Groundhog Day gets a South Korean treatment in Cho Sun-ho’s (writer of Killer Toon) directorial debut, A Day (a.k.a. Ha-roo). When I said ‘South Korean treatment’, it means that this film has some touch of melodrama and another shade of revenge thriller wrapped in a moving, time-loop story about life, death and grudge that glues them together.

In A Day, a glorified surgeon Jun-young (Kim Myung-min) keeps living the same day when he loses his daughter in a traffic accident. He’s en route to reconcile with the daughter when a taxi hit the poor girl and instantly killed her. Soon, as the doctor began to get engulfed by sense of helplessness and trauma, he found out that he’s not the only person to suffer the looping fate. Continue reading “A Day (2017) – Review”

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Bluebeard (2017) – BALINALE Review

Review: South Korean female director, Lee Soo-youn (The Untitled) showcases her admiration to Alfred Hitchcock as she borrows the auteur’s cinematic style to present her later thriller, Bluebeard. It’s a story about a divorced colonoscopist who recently moved to neighborhood dubbed as ‘the mecca of serial killing’ only to find himself tangled in a new chain of serial killings.

Aside from the Hitchcockian aesthetic, there’s nothing apparently new to offer in this thriller. The story can be manipulative at some times as it relies heavily on its barely reliable narrator, dr. Seung-hoon (Jo Jin-woong), along with sudden blackouts, rough cuts, and repetitive dream sequences. Bluebeard’s visual can sometimes be deceitful, too, as it plays with perspective. However, tensions are pumped up effectively in the beginning and kept consistently jolting out as we are following the protagonist’s self-realization upon entering a dark web of murders. Jin-woong consistently presents us a convincing portrayal of an unreliable narrator until the consistency falters by the middle of the middle act. Continue reading “Bluebeard (2017) – BALINALE Review”

Midnight Runners (2017) – Review

Review: In Midnight Runners, writer-director Johan Kim recycles classic buddy cop tropes into a same-old-brand-new comedy-thriller, which benefits from chemistry of the leads, Park Seo-joon and Kang Ha-neul. It’s indeed a heroic story of two South Korean cop trainees, but, it’s also simply funny, entertaining, action-packed and sweet at the same time.

Gi-joon (Seo-joon) and Hee-yeol (Ha-neul) become unlikely best friends during their horrendous training, despite their completely different background and characters. One day, they witness an assault and kidnapping during their disastrous romance-seeking tenure in Gangnam. Despite the odds against them, they have to implement what they have learned in police academy in a real-life situation with real human life as the risk.

midnight-runners-03 Continue reading “Midnight Runners (2017) – Review”

Okja (2017) – Review

Review: Whoever thought that Netflix and its streaming-giant comrades are not part of ‘future of the cinema’ should watch Bong Joon-ho’s (Memories of Murders, Snowpiercer) latest work, Okja—a feat endorsed by Netflix which sparked controversy in the 70th Cannes Film Festival. Joon-ho’s second international feature evidently demonstrates what would happen if an auteur is funded to make a blockbuster with full creative controls.

Working with oddball-specialist Jon Ronson (gonzo journalist who wrote the embryo of Frank and The Men Who Stare at Goat), Joon-ho crafts a prolific blockbuster to wage war against animal cruelty and capitalism of food industry in the weirdest way. Delivered in the auteur’s most original frameworkwith shades of deadpan humor and bitter satirein collaboration with Hollywood’s most versatile figures, Okja nests it all in a modest story about a superpig of the titular name. Continue reading “Okja (2017) – Review”

Train to Busan (2016) – Review

Review: It was all rooting to a satire towards consumerism, as proclaimed by George Romero, zombie sub-genre has evolved to become an opposite phenomenon: a box office digger. World War Z is a fine example of such phenomenon; and what happened to South Korean zombie apocalypse hit shows a similar symptom.  Apparently, director Yeon Sang-ho delivers a claustrophobic zombie apocalypse drama in a train to this year’s top of domestic highest grossing movie list.

Since the opening, Train to Busan never attempts to appear exuberant nor to refute its status as Korean mainstream movie. As a zombie movie, this doesn’t deliver new innovation except the setting and one-place dynamics which might remind you to Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer. Yet, such modesty is what actually makes this movie emotionally strong – with tendency to become  melodrama. Continue reading “Train to Busan (2016) – Review”

Train to Busan (2016): Serangan zombie Korea yang doyan makan hati

Review Train to Busan: Berawal dari sindiran terhadap sifat konsumerisme, seperti diproklamirkan George Romero; sub-genre zombie telah menjelma menjadi fenomena yang justru sebaliknya: pengeruk keuntungan box office. Lihat saja pencapaian World War Z! Dan kini fenomena yang sama terjadi di Korea Selatan. Sutradara Yeon Sang-ho menghadirkan zombie apocalypse klaustrofobik di dalam sebuah kereta menuju puncak box office domestik.

Sejak dari opening film, Train to Busan tak pernah berusaha tampil jumawa; ia pun tak memungkiri statusnya sebagai film mainstream Korea. Sebagai film zombie pun, film ini tak banyak memberi terobosan baru kecuali setting dan dinamika satu tempat yang mengingatkan pada Snowpiercer karya sutradara Korea lain, Bong Joon-ho. Namun, justru kerendahan hatiannya itulah yang menjadikan film ini kuat secara emosional, meskipun sering jatuh ke ranah melodramatis (sekedar referensi, lihat saja filmografi Gong Yoo, sang pemeran utamanya). Continue reading “Train to Busan (2016): Serangan zombie Korea yang doyan makan hati”