With all the excitement about the launch of the adaptation of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko on Apple TV, and Apple’s Oscar win, something that might once have been big news – the appearance of a free-to-view Park Chan-wook short film on YouTube – has not really had much airtime.
Back in 2011, brothers Park Chan-wook and Park Chan-kyong made Night Fishing, a half-hour short film shot using Apple’s iPhone 4. 10 years later, technology has moved on a little, and now comes Life is But a Dream (일장춘몽), a 20-minute short using the iPhone 13.
The cast is led by Kim Ok-bin, who worked with Park Chan-wook in Thirst and who has since more than earned her martial arts credentials in The Villainess. She plays a warrior who died prematurely, and is joined by Park Jeong-min in a similar role, and character actor Yoo Hae-jin as an undertaker. Park Chan-wook has sole directing credit this time, though his brother shares the writing credits. More importantly, some of the regular Park Chan-wook team is also involved, including Production Designer Ryu Seong-hie (who appears in the Making Of video) and musician Jang Young-gyu. In Night Fishing, Jang was present as part of Uhuhboo Project; in Life is but a Dream the music is more in the genre of Leenalchi and SsingSsing, the bands he has been involved with more recently.
The film is a madcap mix of genres: a rom-com musical martial arts ghost story, finishing with a gloriously colourful dance routine in the afterlife. Quite fun and worth 20 minutes of your time, even if you’re more of an Android user.