Lee Byung-hun, in town for the launch of the London Korean Film Festival, took advantage of his trip to have some interviews and engage in other promotional activities. He impressed the crowds at the opening screening of The Good the Bad and the Weird, and again the next day at the post film discussion, with his command of English.
He’s been improving language skills in order to target the western market. His debut Hollywood film – GI Joe: Rise of Cobra – is to be released next year, in which he plays bad guy Storm Shadow. Lee confessed that he finds the filming in English tough: being interviewed in English is hard enough, but having to worry about the quality of his pronunciation meant that sometimes it was difficult to focus on the acting.
But before GI Joe hits the screens we should be seeing Lee in I Come with the Rain, a dark thriller, also shot in English, by Vietnamese director Tran Anh Hung. Again, Lee plays a bad guy, Su Dongpo. There’s a 5-minute trailer for the film over on Twitch.
Up till now, Lee has generally played good guys and romantic leads. The Good the Bad and the Weird was his first role as a bad guy. In his previous film with director Kim Ji-woon, A Bittersweet Life, Lee gets beaten to a pulp, but this didn’t put him off rejoining Kim for the action-packed western. Lee had to learn to ride horses for the film – which he did pretty much on location in North-East China – but having done taekwondo from an early age Lee said he found the action sequences not too daunting. And there’s a scene in the film where you can tell that Lee looks after his figure really well.
At the Q & A session after the film screening, many of the questions came from earnest film studies students and were directed at director Kim. But finally an ajumma had her way and asked two questions that everyone wanted to hear the answers to:
- Are you going to get married any time soon? and
- Will you please perform a song from your new Japanese album for us?
Unfortunately the answer to both questions was a polite No.
Note: Lee Byung-hun’s Japanese single, Itsuka, was released on 15 October 2008.
Photo credits: Lee Hyung-wook, Editor-in-chief, The EAST, except the Q & A image (credit Jo Seong-hee)