The London East Asia Film Festival, in its first full outing (20-30 October), hosts a Park Chan-wook retrospective, including a screening of his 2016 movie Handmaiden. The director will be present for that screening, and to introduce a remastering of his Lady Vengeance.
It’s nice that a few of his shorts will be screened as well.
The Handmaiden (아가씨)
1930s Korea, in the period of Japanese occupation, a new girl (Sookee) is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress (Hideko) who lives a secluded life on a large countryside estate with her domineering Uncle (Kouzuki). But the maid has a secret. She is a pickpocket recruited by a swindler posing as a Japanese Count to help him seduce the Lady to elope with him, rob her of her fortune, and lock her up in a madhouse. The plan seems to proceed according to plan until Sookee and Hideko discover some unexpected emotions.
Picturehouse Central, Sat 22nd Oct 6:00pm | Book here
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (복수는 나의 것)
2002, 129 min
Cast: Song Kang-ho, Shin Ha-kyun, Bae Doo-na
2003, 120 min.
Cast: Choi Min-sik, Yoo Ji-tae, Kang Hye-jung, Kim Byung-ok, Oh Dal-su
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (친절한 금자씨)
2005, 112 min
Cast: Lee Young-ae, Choi Min-sik, Kwon Ye-young, Kim Shi-hoo, Oh Dal-su
Park Chan-wook’s ruminations on revenge have created three of the most celebrated cinematic works of the new century – together they have garnered an impressive 28 film festival wins at prestigious international venues.
While these films can be thoroughly enjoyed on the surface as thrill rides, they are not just typical thriller fare. These are complex, emotional, powerful films that work in a space that ranges from extreme action to gorgeous art house, and show us intense violence and stunning, beautiful filmmaking.
With a guest appearance from Park Chan-wook himself, the incredible ‘Vengeance Trilogy’, will culminate in the world premiere of the 4K restoration of Lady Vengeance, via Sympathy for Mr Vengeance and the unbeatable Old Boy.
Stoker + Day Trip
Hackney Picturehouse Wed 26th Oct, 6:30pm | Book tickets
2012. 99 mins
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Dermot Mulroney, Jacki Weaver, Nicole Kidman
After India’s (Mia Wasikowska’s) father dies in a car accident, her Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), who she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her emotionally unstable mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman). Soon after his arrival, she comes to suspect this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives, but instead of feeling outrage or horror, this friendless girl becomes increasingly infatuated with him.
The creative team for Park’s first English-language film includes cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung (OLDBOY, THIRST), and music by Clint Mansell (HIGH-RISE, REQUIEM FOR A DREAM).
Co-directed with Park Chan-kyong, 2012. 18 mins
Cast: Song Kang-ho, Jeon Hyo-jung
A girl is upset at losing first place at a singing competition. The teacher wants to comfort her but he is no talent in comforting people. They climb the hill as usual for singing practice in early winter, and something unexpected happens as she excels with the teachings of the teacher…
Joint Security Area (공동경비구역 JSA)
Picturehouse Ritzy, Fri 28th Oct 6:30pm | Book here
2000. 110 mins
Cast: Lee Byung-hun, Song Kang-ho, Shin Ha-kyun, Lee Young-ae, Kim Tae-woo
An incident in the J.S.A. (the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea) leaves two North Korean border guards dead and one South Korean wounded. The Swiss-Korean woman officer heading the neutral enquiry into the skirmish gets nowhere until she stumbles upon a history of secret fraternisation between some of the border guards on both sides. JOINT SECURITY AREA is an engrossing political thriller about murder, betrayal, and forbidden friendship along the heavily patrolled, mine-laden D.M.Z. The highly acclaimed film became the highest grossing film in Korea, and won several Grand Bell awards—South Korea’s equivalent of the Oscar. It gained international notoriety and allowed Park the financial freedom and creative confidence to create his ‘Vengeance Trilogy’.
Thirst + Judgement
Picturehouse Ritzy, Sat 29th Oct 6:30pm | Book here
2009. 133 mins
Cast: Song Kang-ho, Kim Ok-bin, Shin Ha-kyun, Kim Hae-sook, Park In-hwan
Thirst won the Jury Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, and stars Song Kang-ho (The Host) as a devout priest, whose selfless desire to help others has shocking repercussions when the wonder-vaccine he volunteers to trial turns him into a vampire. Ostensibly concerned with the psychological impact of the condition on a very spiritual man, this is a modern take on the Vampire story. Not for the faint-hearted.
1999. 26 mins
Cast: Choi Hak-rak, Gi Ju-bong, Koh In-bae, Myeong Sun-mi, Kwon Nam-hee, Park Ji-il
Drawing on a tragic event that took place in South Korea, Park critiques capitalist greed. In 1995, in Seoul, the Sampung shopping centre collapsed, killing 500 people and injuring many others. In Judgement, two different families claim the body of a woman killed in the catastrophe…
I’m a Cyborg / Bitter, Sweet Seoul – Double Bill
Hackney Picturehouse, Sun 30th Oct 6:30pm | Book here
I’m a Cyborg, but that’s Okay (싸이보그지만 괜찮아)
2006, 105 mins
Cast: Im Soo-jung, Jung Ji-hoon (Rain)
‘Young-goon’ (IM Soo-jung) enters a mod psychiatric hospital rich with extravagant imagination and fantasies. She scolds the fluorescent lights and worries about the vending machine as she believes she is a cyborg. ‘Il-soon’ (JUNG Ji-hoon), a man who believes he can steal other people’s traits, keeps a close eye on Yong-goon, the new patient. In reality, Young-goon’s physical condition is extremely worrying. With the aid of some of the other patients, a desperate Il-soon tries to put her back on her feet again.
Bitter, Sweet, Seoul
2014, 63 mins
Co-directed with Park Chan-kyong
This crowd-sourced film is a strange yet beautiful documentary sponsored by the local Seoul government and helmed by brothers Park Chan-wook and Park Chan-kyong. Their campaign received over 11,000 submissions from around the world, 141 of which were short listed and edited by the brothers. The result is an eclectic, diverse homage to South Korea’s capital, showing warts and all through the lenses of phones to professional cameras.
- London East Asia Film Festival website
- Park Chan-wook retrospective page on Picturehouse Cinemas website
(automatically generated) Read LKL’s review of this event here.