Film reviews and comment

For a complete listing of LKL’s film reviews, click here. For a listing of the top films of the noughties – compiled from the lists of prominent K-film bloggers – click here, and the article was updated here. For LKL’s own list of the top films 2000-2010 (2003 was a bumper year) click here. Otherwise, all our reviews are in publication date order below.

Hong Sang-soo (홍상수) Yourself and Yours (당신 자신과 당신의 것, 2016) Review by Robert Cottingham. You can tell from the opening titles exactly the kind of film this is going to be. Black Korean calligraphy on a white background suggests an intelligent and possibly artistic film and the lively classical music hints at a sophisticated comedy on […]

{ 1 comment }

BFI Festival Film Review: Na Hong-jin’s The Wailing

by Philip Gowman 16 November 2016
Thumbnail image for BFI Festival Film Review: Na Hong-jin’s The Wailing

Na Hong-jin can sure put you through a mental wringer. Mysterious and very bloody murders, extremely nasty skin conditions: who or what is to blame? The choice seems to be between a mind-altering magic mushroom concoction and a strange Japanese guy who lives in the forest, fishing and living off the land. And what of […]

Read the full article →

Festival report: Park Hong-min Q+A after the screening of “A Fish”

by Robert Cottingham 12 November 2016
Thumbnail image for Festival report: Park Hong-min Q+A after the screening of “A Fish”

Park Hong-Min was in London yesterday for a 3-D showing of his first film A Fish (2011). He gave a short Q-and-A after the screening. Transcribed by Robert Cottingham. Tony Rayns: I’ll get things going. I take it this film is not based on your own experience? Park Hong-min: Yes, it’s definitely not based on […]

Read the full article →

Brief festival film review: Eoh Woo Dong

by Robert Cottingham 11 November 2016
Thumbnail image for Brief festival film review: Eoh Woo Dong

Lee Chang-ho (이장호) Eoh Woo Dong (어우동, 1985, 110 mins). Review by Robert Cottingham. Eoh Woo Dong translates as “entertainer,” a rough approximation of the duties of 14th-century Korean courtesan Eoh Yoon Chang. After a lifetime “in service,” Eoh Yoon Chang retires to a faraway village. Meanwhile, her powerful father, ashamed of his daughter’s lifestyle, […]

Read the full article →

Brief Festival Film Review: Kai

by Robert Cottingham 8 November 2016
Thumbnail image for Brief Festival Film Review: Kai

Lee Sung-gang (이성강): Kai (카이, 2016, 96 mins) Review by Robert Cottingham Snow Queen Hattan casts a spell over the peaceful village where Kai lives, and covers everything in ice. The River Spirit who is the protector of the village gives the brave young Kai the only key to fighting off Hattan and asks him […]

Read the full article →

Festival film review: Crush and Blush

by Robert Cottingham 7 November 2016
Thumbnail image for Festival film review: Crush and Blush

Lee Kyoung-mi (이경미): Crush and Blush (미쓰 홍당무, 2008) Review by Robert Cottingham. Right near the beginning of Crush and Blush, the main character Mi-seok stands digging a deep hole in a schoolyard. I thought that it was a punishment used in South Korean schools, but if not it could be a visual metaphor for […]

Read the full article →

Festival film review: The Truth Beneath

by Robert Cottingham 6 November 2016
Thumbnail image for Festival film review: The Truth Beneath

Lee Kyoung-mi (이경미): The Truth Beneath (비밀은 없다, 2016) Review by Robert Cottingham Lee Kyoung-mi got her start in films working with Park Chan-wook, and from watching this film it seems she has taken his lead when it comes to violent revenge. When a politician’s daughter goes missing the scandal threatens to upset his ambitions […]

Read the full article →

LKFF report: the opening night and The Truth Beneath

by Philip Gowman 4 November 2016
Thumbnail image for LKFF report: the opening night and The Truth Beneath

The eleventh of the London Korean Film Festivals organised by the KCCUK opened on Thursday with a little sprinkling of stardust. Jung Woo-sung, who electrified the audience during the 2014 festival where he was the headline attraction, came to the opening night as just a regular guy wanting to watch a movie. But that didn’t […]

Read the full article →

Park Chan-wook at LEAFF, talking about Handmaiden, octopuses and more

by Philip Gowman 24 October 2016
Thumbnail image for Park Chan-wook at LEAFF, talking about Handmaiden, octopuses and more

I’ve now lost count of the number of times that Park Chan-wook has come to London. But it’s always nice to see him, especially when there’s his latest film to enjoy as part of a retrospective of his work at the London East Asia Film Festival. We got to see the amazing Handmaiden at the BFI […]

Read the full article →

Film review: The Lovers and the Despot

by Philip Gowman 10 October 2016
Thumbnail image for Film review: The Lovers and the Despot

The way you watch Ross Adam’s and Robert Cannan’s The Lovers and the Despot is likely to depend on whether you know the story or not. To those who are coming to it afresh, this is an extraordinary tale which is another example of the old adage that truth is stranger than fiction: one of South […]

Read the full article →

Brief review: Park Chan-wook’s Handmaiden

by Philip Gowman 9 October 2016
Thumbnail image for Brief review: Park Chan-wook’s Handmaiden

I’ll leave others to do the detailed review of Park Chan-wook’s Handmaiden (아가씨), which screened at the London Film Festival this week and which will return later in the month at the London East Asia Film Festival. Suffice it to say that it’s gorgeous-looking, both in terms of costume and interiors, great story-telling and totally […]

Read the full article →

Brief review: Train to Busan

by Philip Gowman 8 October 2016
Thumbnail image for Brief review: Train to Busan

What can you say about Train to Busan that hasn’t already been said? When everyone tells you it’s a fantastic thrill-ride you try to go into the screening with lowered expectations just in case everyone is delusional and you come away disappointed. No need to fear. It’s pretty much non-stop entertainment from start to finish, […]

Read the full article →

Film review: Tunnel – will it be a hit outside Korea?

by Philip Gowman 4 September 2016
Thumbnail image for Film review: Tunnel – will it be a hit outside Korea?

Tunnel (dir: Kim Sung-hoon, whose Hard Day put him on the map) has been topping the Korean box office since it was released less than four weeks ago, and amazingly now has a one-week release in the UK, until 8 September. What has contributed to its popularity in Korea? And could it attain the same […]

Read the full article →

Brief review: Lee Seok-hoon’s Himalaya

by Philip Gowman 25 July 2016
Thumbnail image for Brief review: Lee Seok-hoon’s Himalaya

What do Himalaya (Lee Seok-hoon, 2015), Possessed (Lee Yong-ju, 2009) and A Better Tomorrow (Song Hae-seong, 2012) have in common? They are all Korean films which I have gone to a screening room or theatre to watch but couldn’t be bothered to stay to the end. When you pop a DVD into the machine at […]

Read the full article →

The Priests – another excellent LKFF16 teaser

by Philip Gowman 3 June 2016
Thumbnail image for The Priests – another excellent LKFF16 teaser

The second of the KCC’s “teaser screenings” for the 2016 London Korean Film Festival, which screened last night at the Picturehouse Central, was another hit. Let’s hope they keep this up. Jang Jae-hyun’s The Priests was a hugely fun (and suspense-filled) exorcism movie, and an impressive full-length debut for the director. It will win new […]

Read the full article →

2016 travel diary 1: Arrival

by Philip Gowman 13 May 2016
Thumbnail image for 2016 travel diary 1: Arrival

Canary Wharf, London, 12 May 2016. In previous years I had always felt stressed in the run up to my departure for my annual Korea trip. Had I packed everything? Would I get everything done before I left? This time I was straining at the leash. I couldn’t wait. I had planned most of my trip […]

Read the full article →

Lee Joon-ik’s The Throne: a familiar tale made a believable tragedy

by Philip Gowman 22 April 2016
Thumbnail image for Lee Joon-ik’s The Throne: a familiar tale made a believable tragedy

The first of the KCCUK’s “Teaser Screenings” for the London Korean Film Festival 2016 took place on Monday in the presence of Director Lee Joon-ik and the recently-arrived Korean ambassador. The chosen film was The Throne (사도) – a movie which was #5 in the 2015 Korean box office and deals with an incident in […]

Read the full article →