Park Chan-wook

South korean cinema is one of my favorite things in the world.

In a time in history where every single movie is a copy of a copy of a copy (and don’t even get me started on the whole “remake” bullshit) filmakers of this country definitely stand out loud, and if you can go past the subtitles deal you will instantly fall in love with it.

If you, like me, grew up watching horror movies, if you like flicks of strong imagery and subjects that really hit you in the face and make you think, south korea is going to become your best friend, and will provide you hours of entertainment, laughs, and even tears.

Now, to really really get started, you definitely have to become familiar with filmaker and screenwriter Park Chan-wook.

Not only because he’s my favorite and i love him to death, but also cuz he gave all of us precious over precious little masterpieces of absolute perfection. He is the kind of guy that knows how to shove a very hard to swallow subject like incest down your throat, mixing strong imagery, violence, compassion and bright colours, mixed with a topping of the perfect sountrack, for both of your eyes, brains, and ears’ delight.

Accoring to Wikipedia “His films are noted for their immaculate framing and brutal subject manner. Despite extreme violence in his films, Park is regarded as one of the most popular film directors in Korea, with three of his last five feature films gathering more than 3 million spectators. This makes Park the director of three films in the thirty all-time highest grossing films in South Korea

You get the idea.

I instantly became obsessed with every single one of his movies, going crazy to find even the little short movie that no one has ever heard about, interviews, making-of-s,  and honestly i would even read about what he eats on a regular basis if i could.

Why?

Mainly because he gave birth to Oldboy, which is my favourite movie EVER. But more on that later.

He grew up in Seoul and originally wanted to be an art critic. Then something happened, and after watching the movie Vertigo he decided to become a filmaker. Thanks Vertigo, we will all sincerely thank you forever for that.

I have been lucky enough to watch his entire filmography, which is not a real easy thing to accomplish, since its early work didn’t get that much positive response and is for that reason extremely hard to find (hence you won’t find it on dvd or on the internet, you have to either pray for a future release or find an old vhs at your korean neighbor’s yard sale), and i learned to appreciate every single one of his brain children.

But you don’t necessarily have to become as obsessed as i am. So i wrote down a list of his best movies that i hope will be interesting enough to make you even just a little curious about it, and decide to check it out. I promise you despite my dubious ability to write reviews or to write at all, it’s 100% worth it. And if you don’t trust my judgement, let me just tell you that another big fan of his work is mr.Quentin Tarantino, nonetheless.

So there you go, here is my Park Chan Wook Zombie Cupcake recipe:

  • THE VENGEANCE TRILOGY

The Vengeance trilogy is a name given to his 3 most popular movies. The plots are not related to each other, but they all focus on the revenge theme, hence the name of this spectacular trilogy.  The movies are:

  1. Sympathy For Mr.Vengeance (2002) about a guy named Ryu trying to earn enough money for his sister’s kidney transplant, but everything goes terribly wrong, and so you’ll follow him through his subsequent path of revenge
  2. Oldboy (2003) About Dae-Su, a shallow drunk who is  suddenly locked in a hotel room for 15 years without knowing his captor’s motives. When he is finally released, Dae Su finds himself still trapped in a web of conspiracy and strangeness. His own quest for vengeance becomes tied in with romance when he falls for Mido, a cute sushi chef he meets right after he is released.
  3. Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005) about Lee Geum-ja, an apparently reformed prisoner convicted of murdering a young schoolboy. Lee Geum-ja is innocent of the murder, confessing to the false crime by order of Mr. Baek, the real killer who threatened to murder her newborn daughter if she refused. Her own path of revenge revolves around finding and killing Mr.Baek.

The Vengeance trilogy is considered his masterpiece.  But mr Park is not only good to tell us about vengeance, he is equally amazing when it comes to horror stories, and even romance..

  • CUT (2004) the second segment of the Three…Extremes horror movie. “Cut” is about a successful film director and his wife kidnapped by an extra, who forces the director to play his sadistic games. If he fails, his wife’s fingers will be chopped off one by one every five minutes.
  • I’m  a Cyborg but that’s Ok (2006) about romantic love in a mental institution between Young-goon, a girl who believes herself to be a cyborg and refuses to eat, and Il-sun, a young male patient hospitalized for anti-social behaviour and schizophrenia, who believes he can take other peoples souls.

This is just a short, on-the-go guide to Park Chan Wook’s best movies,  I will soon provide extensive reviews for each one of them, in the meantime, here is where you can find the dvds:

Park Chan Wook on Amazon

Park Chan Wook on Ebay

This is definitely an alternative to every crap remake horror movie that has been released in the past years, so hurry up and watch them now, before they get ruined by, say, jerks like Steven Spielberg and Will Smith. Oh, wait… too late for that. it’s already gonna happen. You still have a few months before it will be ruined forever.

Hurry up, the clock is ticking..

-C

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11 Responses to “Park Chan-wook”

  1. […] was a link to the new Park Chan Wook movie trailer!! you know you’ve been waiting for […]

  2. […] was a link to the new Park Chan Wook movie trailer!! you know you’ve been waiting for […]

  3. […] This movie is undeniably inspired by Oldboy. It’s about vengeance, about somebody who has to go thru a lot of violence to save his life, about tragedy and betrayal. The protagonist is Lee Byung-hun, that we have seen before in Cut and Joint Security Area (also from Park Chan-wook). […]

  4. […] you all know, this week Park Chan Wook‘s new release, THIRST, came out in the theaters in Korea. While we all wait impatiently for a […]

  5. […] Kang-ho is perfect for the role (as seen in The good, the bad, the weird for his funny side, and Sympathy for Mr Vengeance for the intense one) and delivers a stunning performance as usual. The movie is about family […]

  6. […] it comes to the Vengeance trilogy, i wish i didn’t have to write about it (hence my incredibly long wait to post something on […]

  7. […] Wild is a 2005 movie directed by Kim Sung-Soo, who is said to be Park Chan-Wook’s protegé. The story revolves around two characters, Yoo Ji-Tae (Oldboy, Into the Mirror) as […]

  8. […] movie written and directed by Seung-wan Ryoo. It stars one of my all time favorites, Choi Min-sik (Oldboy, Failan, A Quiet Family) as Tae-shik as an old boxer who’s personal and financial life are […]

  9. […] scores korean actors as big as Song Kang-ho (Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, The Host) and Yoo Ji-tae (Oldboy, Into the Mirror) as members of an expedition team trying to reach the Pole of Inaccessibility, […]

  10. hosiaLVOT Says:

    I’m a Cyborg but that’s Ok (2006) is simply one of my favorite movies. The interplay between these two is artwork. Simply watch the movie in its original form without subtitles – so you don’t think you will understand it. And watch how much you really sink into the feelings and emotions of the main characters. Wonderful job! The bright colors and contrasting love/violence themes have a touch of Stanley Kubrick/Clockwork Orange, but with a poundful more innocense.

  11. Only ever seen seen Oldboy (about 3 times I might add) so thanks for the more in depth peek into the twisted world of Park Chan Wook. I’ll investigate further…..

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