Movie Review: Pain (2011) – Korean Movie

Pain poster

Pain was painful to watch at times, in a good way. This probably had something to do with veteran and heartthrob actor Kwon Sang-woo, who pulled off another great performance as a face of melodramatic and thematic Korean storytelling. His character’s (Nam-Soon)  condition included the insensibility towards pain and being constantly beaten to a pulp. If anyone can elicit the audiences emotions while not being able to portray any on-screen its Kwon. He is often noted for his emotional depth whether its playing in a sob fest or gangster brawl.

kwon sang woo in pain

On the other hand, Jung Ryeo-won‘s character (Dong-Hyun) is a  hemophiliac and her life consequently depends on avoiding pain. So come the undertone themes of life and death. The sub-plots of Nam-Soon as underworld debt collector / hired “gun” and Dong-Hyun’s living and medical conditions are pleasantly apparent along the way and don’t bloat the story one bit — as they do in most melodramas. Instead, everything comes together fluently for an overall well balanced drama-romance.

Synopsis

Music video (spoiler)

I thought their chemistry was appealing, and they left formidable impressions individually and together. This couldn’t be said without a great story and script to play to; Pain is actually based on a web-comic. Another mentionable element of the film is the camera-work because a few out-of-the-box uses added to the experience on-screen. Additionally, the still-shots were edited perfectly especially ones where you could really “feel” Nam-Soon’s emotional “pain”. It was a film that captured my attention and had me making connections throughout.

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Directed by: Kwak Kyung-Taek

Reviews: Naonoomi

About the film

aparoo’s words: drama, romance, melodrama, illness, health, life, death, sorrow

aparoo says 5/5

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photo credit: asianmediawiki.com

 

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Movie Review: Fate (2008) – Korean Movie

FATE poster 1

FATE poster 2

Fate is an action packed gangster drama about the ill-fated paths of a group of friends. Friendship, betrayal and revenge stir the pot to their intertwining “fates”.  Expect sufficient outnumbered brawl scenes to supplement hollow character depictions, an incoherent storyline and deflated thematics. It is nonetheless a blockbuster action hit.

Synopsis

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Hollow character depictions are evident from loose hints at the past (friendship) and seemingly random scenes that just made the film run too long. The mother yelling in the restaurant comes to mind for a scene that did absolutely nothing for the film or character (that was being yelled at) — adding more ingredients to an already bloated storyline. Similarly, cinematic pans and close-ups for the emotional elicitation failed for both the protagonist and antagonist. It was however refreshing to see Kwon Sang-woo play the turned-villain for the first time.

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“Four friends bound by destiny and unbeatable in the dark world. When a casino attack goes wrong as a result of betrayal, fate turns them into enemies. Now, forced to aim the gun at each other’s hearts, their unavoidable battle begins. ” (IMDb)

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Personally the themes of fate and friendship fell short for me. Throughout the movie I was just thinking someone needs to give up or hurry up and get on with it. I guess there is no rushing destiny. On the other hand, I found the film to be full of choices rather than hints of fate. Choices that led to broken friendships, questions of loyalty, and a guy-with-nothing-left-to-lose-vendetta (for payback and making things”right”). Also, there was just too many underlining things going on like the typical gangster genre tag of getting drawn back into the underworld — in addition to drawn out subplots with the supporting characters, all while adhering to the main clash between characters and “fates”.

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Fate had many if not all the essential ingredients to a complete gangster-action movie, but also had too many others — some of which left a bitter taste. For a similar film (but one that in my opinion succeeded / is better), of the “friendship” undertone in the gangster genre, I recommend Friend (Chingoo).

Starring: Song Seung-Heon // Kwon Sang-Woo // Kim In-Kwon //Ahn Nae-Sang  // Park Han-Byul

Directed by: Hae-gon Kim

Reviews: koreanmovie.com

aparoo’s words: action, drama, gangster, underworld, friendship, loyalty, betrayal, revenge, fate, destiny, choices

aparoo says 3/5

Stream: dramacrazy

Download: Asia Torrents

photo credit: asianmediawiki.com

71: Into the Fire (2010) – Korean Movie – Review

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If you’re like me (which you’re probably not) and enjoy history as much as you do a historical representation and story on screen then you will enjoy 71: Into the Fire. Its based on a true story about a specific group of “student-soldiers” and a pivotal battle during the Korean War. Excellent cast + acting (namely Kwon Sang-Woo and T.O.P from Big Bang) and direction (John H. Lee). Its on my short-list of great war films which is mostly comprised of work by Clint Eastwood.

71 into the fire sang kwon woo71 into the fire TOP

The film is based on a true story of a group of 71 undertrained and undergunned student-soldiers for South Korea during the Korean War, who were all killed on August 11, 1950, during the Battle of P’ohang-dong, while defending P’ohang-dong girls’ middle school, a strategic point for safeguarding the Nakdong River, from an attack by overwhelming North Korean forces for 11 hours.” (Wiki)

71 into the fire enemy

71 into the fire explosion

71 into the fire stand off

Aside from the general plot summary and background information of the events its based on, I don’t really want to say much storyline-wise because its just one of those movies you have to watch. The movie depicts part of the Korean war, how these student-soldiers come together and the events they face. Simply put its a historical-war movie.

While the above is a good theatrical trailer with English subtitles I have two more to share that can put the film into greater perspective. The first is perhaps more war/action oriented and the second is perhaps more war/dramatic (English commentary) oriented. I suspect the commentary in the second trailer listed above may be words from a letter written by one of the 71 deceased soldiers (which inspired the movie) — which makes the film all that more special and impacting. True stories and events deserve to be told with integrity and respect.

71 into the fire group

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Viewer reviews 1 2 3

aparoo says 5/5 for a movie that depicts: war. brotherhood. countrymen. emotion. conflict. courage. death.

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