I always think that I’m not a fan of sporting movies, particularly feelgood ones as they often are. But of the Korean ones I’ve seen, well, I’ve really rather enjoyed them. Marathon, which is included in this month’s collection of films, is much to be recommended. I haven’t seen the rest, but the gay ssireum film Like A Virgin would be top of the list. I’ve also heard well of Forever the Moment, and those who loved Take Care of My Cat should not hesitate to investigate Jeong Jae-eun’s second feature The Aggressives, about skateboarding.
Shame that there was no room for any baseballing films. YMCA Baseball Team I rather enjoyed when I saw it a few years ago, and the weepy Someone Special (Jang Jin) is another guilty pleasure. There’s something for everyone in the collection below.
The August schedule is as follows:
Mondays 12 noon: On the Pitch. 3pm: The Aggressives
Tuesdays 12 noon: Lump of Sugar. 3pm: Grand Prix
Wednesdays 12 noon: A Barefoot Dream. 3pm: Forever the Moment
Thursdays 12 noon: Lifting King Kong. 3pm: Like a Virgin
Fridays 12 noon: Marathon. 3pm: Take Off
Daytime Screenings: A Summer of Sports
Korea has a strong and passionate history of Sports, supporting many traditional as well as western past-times including a thriving Baseball league, second only to America. This August’s film season in the KCCUK Library is a selection of Korea’s best sports films, which there are plenty to choose from.
One of Korea’s biggest cities for sporting events is that of Daegu which is this year’s host of the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Athletics, held later this month. Daegu is also host to some of Korea’s best sports teams with the Daegu Orions and the Samsung Lions for Baseball, and Daegu FC being one of the country’s premiere Soccer (Football) teams. One of Daegu’s principle sports attractions is their Sprinting events held at the Daegu Sports Complex Stadium with a capacity of over 70,000.
The films selected cover the most popular sports in Korea including, Horse Racing, Ssireum (Korea Sumo Wrestling), Ski jumping, Football, Volleyball and Weight Lifting. Unlike other sport films these do not deal simply with the sport itself but with topics including; autism, identity, poverty and many other important themes.
On The Pitch (2010)
Dir. Kye Yoon-shik
Cast: Lee Sung-jae, Choi Ji-hyun, Kang Sung-jin
Run Time: 113mins
It’s the 2002 World Cup and a N.Korean squad comes face to face with their Southern counterparts. Aggression is quickly subsituted with each sides love of football. However since the North cannot listen to the games the South squad sends transmissions of the games over but the North quickly comes under fire from their superiors, not liking their possible tainting from the capitalistic South.
A Barefoot Dreams (2009)
Dir. Kim Tae-kyun
Cast: Park Hee-soon, Go Chang-seok
Run Time: 119mins
Won-kang, a former soccer prospect whose life didn’t turn out quite as promising, heads to East Timor thinking that there would be plenty of opportunities for him. One day, he sees the street kids playing ball with bare feet. Thinking he can score by selling soccer shoes, he opens a sports equipment store, but realizes none of the kids can afford those fancy shoes or jerseys. Again, despaired, he’s about to close up the store, then, he decides to teach the kids how to play ball.
Dir. Chung Yoon-chul
Cast: Kim Mee-sook, Cho Seung-woo, Lee Jin -yeong
Run Time: 115mins
Kyung-sook finds out that her son Cho-won is autistic and feels devastated. But she firmly believes that there is something Cho-won can do very well. It takes awhile but Cho-won falls in love with running and could do it for hours. Kyung-sook sees his passion for this and hires a former champion marathoner Jeong-wook see Cho-won’s potential as a marathoner. He puts Cho-won through is paces seeing if he has what it takes to compete professionally.
Grand Prix (2010)
Dir. Yang Yun-ho
Cast: Yang Dong-keun, Kim Tae-hee, Park Keun-hyong
Run Time: 109mins
The once-successful horse racer Ju-hee hasn’t been in the field since a devastating arm injury and the loss of her own horse. To overcome depression, Ju-hee visits a mountain in Jeju island where she accidentally meets another racer Woo-suk who has the record of championing at the Japan Cup. Through Woo-suk’s encouragement, Ju-hee trains herself again and returns to the Grand Prix championship.
Like A Virgin (2006)
Dir. Lee Hae-joon, Lee Hae-yeong
Cast: Ryu Deol-hwan, Baek Yoon-sik, Lee Eon, Lee Sang-ah
Run Time: 116 mins
Chubby high school student and Madonna devotee Dong-ku believes himself to be a woman trapped in a man’s body. Living with his abusive, alcoholic father, Dong-ku works part-time and saves money for a sex change. This is despite being told he has the perfect physique for ssireum (wrestling) so he joins up when he hear’s there is a big cash prize for a ssireum tournament.
Lump of Sugar (2006)
Dir: Lee Hwan-kyung
Cast: Lim Soo-jung, Park Eun-soo
Cert: All (South Korea)
Running Time: 124mins
The daughter of a poor rancher, Si-eun’s only hope is to one day, become a jockey. With her mother passing away at her birth, her favorite horse, Chun-doong, has become not only her friend, but also a soul mate. She is devastated when Chun-doong is sold to another owner, but when they are reunited two years later they have a chance to create a miracle by teaming up in a race.
Lifting King Kong (2009)
Dir. Park Gun-yong
Cast: Lee Beom-soo, Jo An, Kim Min-yeong
Run Time: 120mins
Life as been on a downward spiral for Lee Ji-bong after winning a bronze medal at the 1988 Olympics and is forced to come down to a small country village as the coach of a girls’ middle school weight lifting team. Sick and tired of weight lifting, he meets some country girls who only have strength going for them. He gets touched by the innocent girls’ passion and dedication to the sport. He takes them in, sets up a residence for them, and starts training them for an impending championship.
The Aggressives (2004)
Dir. Jeong Jae-eun
Cast: Kim Gang-woo, Chun Jeong-myoung, Seo Sang-won
Run Time: 107 mins
Soyo, a quiet high school student, discovers inline skating. Mesmerized by the elaborate skating skills of Mogi, a member of the group, Soyo joins their team. His life is gradually consumed by the world of inline skating along with developing strong feelings towards Mogi and his girlfriend Hanjoo and a loyal faith in the team’s leader Gappa. One day, Mogi reluctantly agrees to skate for a commercial in order to earn money for the world championships. But when a condescending remark by the staff sets him off, he deliberately causes an accident. The accident leaves the inline team in huge debt and all the members are frantic to try to find the money.
Forever The Moment (2007)
Dir. Yim Soon-rye
Cast: Moon So-ri, Cho Eun-ji, Kim Jung-eun
Run Time: 124mins
The Athens Olympics are approaching and Korea is looking for gold in every sport. Korean women in particular have done well in almost areas except for the ignored and looked down upon sport of Handball. When a team is assembled all that turns up are a strange oddball group who have to overcome their personal differences and hardships to somehow come together as a team.
Take Off (2009)
Dir. Kim Yong-hwa
Cast: Ha Jung-woo, Kim Dong-wook, Seong Dong-il
Run Time: 137mins
Its 1996 and a small Korean town undergoes a large scale transformation to prepare for their Winter Olympics bid. In the middle of construction, the local committee hears word that they don’t have enough athletes to compete. They decide to form a ski jump team to fulfill the requirements. A former American Junior Alpine Skier, Bob, an adoptee who is in Korea searching for his mother is roped into the competiton and is tasked with putting together a team. With four other non-experienced athletes, he forms the first Korean ski jump team.