Korean Film at the 2014 Terracotta Festival

I realise I’m a bit late posting this: I see from my traffic statistics that people are googling for this year’s Korean offerings, only to come up with my posts from prior years. So here are the three Korean films at the Terracotta Far East Film Festival this year, all of them very appealing in their own ways. All the Korean screenings are at the Prince Charles Cinema off Leicester Square. What a shame it is, though, that we have to choose on the Friday evening (30 May) between Moebius and The Face Reader at the Prince Charles and a feast of varied Korean entertainment at the Victoria & Albert Museum. This sort of clash seems to be happening more and more.

Anyway, thanks are due to Joey Leung and the Terracotta team for putting together a fantastic and varied festival.

The Face Reader (관상)

Han Jae-rim, 2013, 139 min
Friday, 30 May 2014, 6:25pm
Cast: SONG Kang-ho, LEE Jung-jae, BAEK Yun-shik, KIM Hye-soo, JO Jung-suk
Genre: Period drama
Buy tickets here

Face Reader

A Joseon dynasty saga with a powerhouse cast.

Set in 15th century Korea, the film follows gifted physiognomist Nae-kyung (SONG Kang-ho, THE HOST, SYMPATHY FOR MR.VENGEANCE, SNOWPIERCER), who seizes the opportunity to cast off his peasant existence and advance through the ranks of the warrior nobles in the capital.

But Nae-kyung, caught up in a dangerous game, soon gets trapped between its two deadliest players—Grand Prince Sooyang (LEE Jung-jae), known as “the Wolf”, simmering with menacing ambition, and Kim Jong-seo (BAEK Yoon-shik), “the Tiger”, charged with maintaining royal power.

Director HAN (THE SHOW MUST GO ON) exemplifies the current trend in Korean cinema of historical dramatisations with this film, bringing together assured performances, sumptuous visuals and costume design, and finding beauty in the violence of medieval court machinations.

Moebius (뫼비우스)

Kim Ki-duk, 2013, 89 mins
Friday, 30 May 2014, 9:10pm
Cast: CHO Jae-hyun, SEO Young-ju, LEE Eun-woo
Genre: Drama
Book tickets here

Moebius

KIM Ki-duk’s daring portrayal of a dysfunctional family, filmed without dialogue, making this disturbing drama all the more potent.

A spurned wife seeks revenge against her adulterous husband. In a fit of rage, she grabs a knife and tries to castrate him. He fights her off, so instead she lashes out at her teenage son. Distraught and driven by guilt, the father explores desperate methods in order to help his maimed son.

A chain of twisted events brings father and son unexpectedly closer together in this provocative, pitch black comedy, that only a very talented director and cast could pull off. Starring promising newcomer SEO Young-ju (JUVENILE OFFENDER) as the son, Cho Jae-hyun (CROCODILE, THE ISLE, BAD GUY) as the father, and LEE Eun-woo who plays both wife and mistress.

Moebius will be followed by a Q&A session with actor Seo Young-ju.

Commitment (동창생)

Saturday, 31 May 2014, 3pm
Park Hong-soo, 2013, 113 min
Cast: CHOI Seung-hyun (T.O.P.), HAN Ye-ri, KIM Yoo-jung
Genre: Action drama
Buy tickets here

Commitment

A taut spy thriller starring CHOI Seung-hyun, a.k.a. rapper T.O.P. from super group Big Bang, as North Korean secret agent Ri Myung-hoon, undercover in a South Korean high school.

Imprisoned in a North Korean labour camp, Ri is offered a way out if he agrees to work as a spy. Leaving his younger sister behind, he heads South to track down a mysterious assassin picking off fellow agents. Allegiances become muddied when he befriends bullied classmate Hye-in (HAN Ye-ri), but Myung-hoon is ready to do whatever it takes to see his sister again.

A topical storyline, with adrenaline-rush bike chases and hard-boiled hand-to-hand combat. CHOI Seung-hyun (T.O.P.) puts in a suitably moody performance and shows off some impressive action skills as a tenacious teen assassin.

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