Movie Review: Hello Schoolgirl (2008) – Korean Movie

hello schoolgirl cover

Age differences in relationships, a sometimes taboo yet very real circumstance and topic of charming exploration in Hello Schoolgirl. The film is cleverly a hybrid of romance, comedy and seriousness — all of which complement each other throughout. With a cross between romcom and seriocom, Hello Schoolgirl does not throw age, love, or relationships into your face. Instead, each character in each of the two relationships in the story are given an equal playground and chance at being the viewer’s protagonist(s). Somehow, young or old, male or female, a happy ending for everyone is sought.

Synopsis

“At the unexpected moments and to the unexpected partners, they start their love affairs with awkward gestures but special relationship…” (KMBd)

While the film ‘deals’ with age gaps (adulthood/teen etc), it’s more about the opposites which attract that are not measured by years and numbers. It’s more about a 30 year old grown up man living as a low-level civil servant and an 18 year old (young) school girl with a youthful outlook and approach to things — and the connection they make towards one another and feelings that begin to develop (awkwardness, consequences and rewards). It’s also about a 22 year old guy going forward, of the same civil office, who falls hard for a 29 year old woman caught in her past. So, it’s about finding a common ground, pursuing feelings (or not), and reciprocation.

hello school girl comic

The cast and characters for that matter are diverse and the chemistry is unquestionable. Each character is distinguished with their individual characterizations and dignities, and in their ‘awkward’ love pairs the characterizations truly shine through. This is a movie about people. About attraction, connection, relations and yes of course, love. Chae Jung-Ahn (“Cain & Abel”) is my biased bombshell favourite as she never ceases to disappoint in her acting ability. Director Jang-ha Ryu’s gentle but not too delicate, serious but not overbearing and romantic but not too mushy approach is appreciated as he adapted a popular webcomic by Kang Full into Hello Schoolgirl.

hello school girl chae

Reviews: Asian Movie Web // Variety // Love HK Film // Asian Buzz // lunapark6

Cast: Yoo Ji-Tae // Lee Yeon-Hee // Kang-in  // Chae Jung-Ahn

aparoo’s words: romance, comedy, serious, romcom, seriocom, age, relationships, feelings, connections, awkward, personal

aparoo says 4/5

Download: Asia Torrents

Stream: YouTube (with Eng subs)

photo credit: hancinema.net // supernoona.com

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Movie Review: Blood and Bones (2004) – Japanese Movie

blood and bones

Blood and Bones is bone-chilling and bloody brutal, in a wonderful way. It’s a wonderful depiction of a violent life and all the ripple effects that come from it. The movie is based on Chi to hone, a semi-autobiographical novel by Zainichi Korean author Yan Sogiru (Yang Seok-il). Director Yoichi Sai reportedly waited six-years for Takeshi Kitano to accept the lead role and refused to make the film without him (source). Sai went on to create a critically acclaimed Japanese cinematic masterpiece (12 Japanese Academy Award nominations and 4 wins). Kitano went on to give one of the best performances of his life, if not the best (and he’s had a long track record of outstanding performances among other notable work in his illustrious career).

blood and bones kitano

Heavy. Heavy is the one word most viewers or reviewers would write down if asked to describe Blood and Bones. It’s heavy in it’s socioeconomic exploration of Japanese culture, the class system and Korean immigration. As a time-period drama, the film spans a handful of decades all ‘stuck’ in the same town, with the same tyrant man (Kitano). Kitano plays a a hateful and abusive factory owner come loan shark who quite simply ravages people’s lives. As the cancer of the town and destroyer of all good, his innate nature strings along his ego and obsessions. Even Ebenezer Scrooge would be rolling over in his grave. So, it’s heavy not in it’s portrayal but in it’s character. Blood and Bones is the story of an epic man’s spread of turmoil and the sheer hope of beauty that may or may not survive around him.

Kitano, away from his usual comedic or Yakuza roles plays a ‘villainous’ Korean migrant and once again shows his range in a craft that he is at the top of. Sai’s adaptation of the true story and on-screen creations triumph in storytelling. Blood and Bones is ‘heavy’ to watch, but beyond worthwhile to do so. Feelings of being trapped underneath all the brutality should in fact bring questions to human behaviour to your mind. This is a compelling film because it is a sensational human story. Self-obsession can be brutally tragic.

Reviews: Rotten Tomatoes // J-film Pow-Wow // Korean Society // Midnight Eye // Time

Synopsis: Asian Cinematic

aparoo’s words: heavy

aparoo says 5/5

Download: Asia Torrents

Other recommendations:
Villain (based on a novel by another Zainichi Korean author)
Outrage (another one of my Kitano favourites)
Villon’s Wife (another story about an abusive man)

Image credit: Google Image Search

Movie Review: Sex is Zero (2002) – Korean Movie

sex is zero poster

Sex is Zero is the “outrageous sex-comedy” equivalent of American Pie. Actually this one is also largely a romance-comedy with a little Korean dramatic flare. The sexual humor, and humor of the movie in general, is funny and entertaining (and sometimes “too much” to watch, lol). This movie has a sequel to go along with it, Sex is Zero 2 (2007), which is one big difference from its counterpart American Pie (the huge franchise).

“The plot follows the story of college student Eun-shik and his efforts to impress a Junior student Eun-hyo. Eun-shik has a habit of finding himself in somewhat awkward situations that often embarrass him and sabotage his attempts to impress Eun-hyo.” (Wiki)

Alternate trailer 1 (English subs)
Alternate trailer 2 (Korean)

sex is zero screen

Its rated 18+ for a reason, its pretty explicit in language and subject matter; scenes of sex, masturbation, pregnancy, courtship etc — so you’ve been advised as a viewer. And really, its not “all about” sex. Typical of Korean cinema, there is “much more” to the story and movie, it just so happens to be told as a comedy — and is one hell of a funny one at that. The dramatic flare that I mentioned is a prevailing undertone to the story and does pull on emotions as it plays with some serious “stuff”. No spoilers here folks.

More info
IMDb

Reviews (spoilers): Shuqi // Monsters at Play // Asian Movie Web // Asian Film Reviews
Starring: Lim Chang Jung // Ha Ji-Won // Jung Min // Jin Jae-Yeong
Directed/ written by: Yun Je-Gyun

aparoo’s words: sex, comedy, romance, drama, funny & serious, immature, young adults

aparoo says 5/5

Sex is Zero download: Asia Torrents
Sex is Zero stream: Youtube (missing parts) // 1channel.ch

Sex is Zero 2 (sequel) download: Asia Torrents
Sex is Zero 2 (sequel) stream: Veoh (no sub) // Youtube (no sub) // YouTube (Eng sub)

photo credit: asianmediawiki.com // Google image search