2017. Directed by Shin Dong-il , starring Im Hyeong-gook, Lee Hee-eun, Chae Bin, Cert 15 , 122 mins.
Korea’s highly competitive nature goes under the microscope in Shin Dong-il’s heated new drama about a harried family of three. Following 18 years of loyalty, the patriarch of the family is suddenly fired from his desk job, while his credit card saleswoman wife winds up in hot water when she cuts corners to entice customers. Both parents are desperate for their daughter to get into Korea University, but when she ends up on the waiting list, pressure mounts as the deadline looms.
As the family’s status rank threatens to collapse, each character reacts in explosive ways, unsure how to navigate a path that veers away from the status quo. Continuing his exploration of characters struggling to toe the line of Korean society, Shin crafts another tense microcosm of modern Seoul with realistic and well-cast characters in Come, Together, which debuted at the Busan International Film Festival last year.
Picturehouse Central, 28 Oct 17 8:45 pm
2017. Directed by Kang Yun-sung , starring Don Lee, Yoon Kye-sang, Cho Cha-yun, Cert 18 , 121 mins.
Based on the 2004 Chinese-Korean gangster mop-up operation in Seoul’s Garibong neighbourhood during which 32 gang members were arrested, Kang Yun-sung’s work of fiction sees Don Lee using his fists like he did in the gargantuan box office hit Train to Busan. This time, the star is not up against zombies but ruthless Chinese-Korean gangsters when new thug on the block Jang Chen (Yoon Kye-sang) wants to seize control of the local area with the help of his two sadistic sidekicks. Ma plays a hard-boiled cop called Ma Suk-do who is determined, together with his team, to bring peace to the area, which means hunting down Jang and his gang. Full of humour, this crime action-thriller is certainly violent but it never takes itself too seriously, with Ma providing much of the film’s entertaining spectacle.
Picturehouse Central, 27 Oct 17 9:30 pm
2016. Directed by Lee Dong-eun , starring Bae Jong-ok, Lee Won-gun, Ji Yun-ho, Cert 12A , 115 mins.
Lee Dong-eun’s exceptionally moving debut was developed and produced in the Myung Films Lab, an industry initiative to support new directors. Lee (an economics major) wrote it as a graphic novel before turning it into a film. A woman separated from her husband is bringing up her high-school-pupil son Soo-hyun alone. She thinks she knows and understands him, but she’s wrong: Soo-hyun is gay, and it’s only when he’s seriously injured in a car accident that she finds out who he really is. She takes out her confusion and anger on Soo-hyun’s close friend Yong-joon (Lee Won-gun, seen in Kim Ki-duk’s The Net), but the young man deals with the situation more calmly and with greater wisdom than she does. Brought to vivid emotional life by an excellent cast, the film confronts Korean homophobia and depicts a mother-son relationship with searing clarity.
ICA London, 31 Oct 17 6:00 pm
2017. Directed by Chung Yoon-chul , starring Lee Jung-jae, Yeo Jin-gu, Kim Mu-yeol, Cert 15 , 130 mins.
The Warriors of the Dawn are a band of mercenaries who assist the young Prince Gwanghae, who was forced to defend the Joseon Kingdom against Japanese invaders during the Imjin War in 1592, when his father, the king, fled north to save his own skin. An uneasy relationship between Lee Jung-jae’s gruff mercenary leader and Yeo Jin-gu’s prince builds into one of mutual respect as they fight side by side on the battlefield.
Taking place during the same era as Roaring Currents, Warriors of the Dawn switches out the court politics and costume drama stuffiness of other recent period titles in favor of action filmed on location in the fields, forests, hills and rivers of Korea. From Marathon director Chung Yoon-chul, the film is the latest Korean production by 20th Century Fox International Productions, who were also responsible for last year’s hit The Wailing.
Picturehouse Central, 27 Oct 17 6:30 pm
2017. Directed by Cho Ui-seok , starring Lee Byung-hun, Gang Dong-won, Kim Woo-bin , Cert 15 , 143 mins.
Lee Byung-hun plays the charismatic orchestrator of an elaborate ponzi scheme whose livelihood is threatened when Gang Dong-won’s ambitious investigator goes after him. The financial crimes unit attempts to turn the conman’s right hand man (Kim Woo-bin) in the organisation but as they close in, cronyism and evasive maneuvers keep him out of handcuffs. Just as capture seems imminent, the conman scampers away with his loot to the Philippines. An explosive chase ensues far outside the investigator’s jurisdiction when a crook’s political connections and the investigator’s rulebook must be traded in for good old guns, brawn and street smarts.
Cold Eyes director Cho Ui-seok explores financial anxieties and political corruption in the first half of this taut, star-studded thriller before switching to vibrant action when the production moves to the colourful, sun-drenched slums of Manila for its back half.
Regent Street Cinema, 06 Nov 17 6:30 pm
2017. Directed by Huh Jung , starring Yum Jung-ah, Park Hyuk-kwon, Cert 15 , 100 mins.
After opening 2013's London Korean Film Festival with his feature debut Hide and Seek, writer/director Huh Jung is back with K-horror The Mimic. Hee-yeon (Yum Jung-ah) moves to the foot of Mount Jang, Busan with her husband, daughter and demented mother-in-law, but is still haunted by the disappearance of her son five years earlier. When a mysterious girl appears, Hee-yeon is drawn to a local legend of a monstrous tiger (the film's Korean title, 장산범, means 'Mount Jang tiger') that lures people into its cave by imitating the voices of their loved ones. Taking his cues equally from the popular Korean folktale 'The Sun and the Moon', and Hideo Nakata's J-horror Dark Water (2002), Huh's chiller is a melancholic study of maternity and loss, while using echoes, mirrors and recurring scenes to reveal cinema itself as the medium of mimicry.
Regent Street Cinema, 07 Nov 17 9:10 pm