Touring Programme

The Merciless (Nottingham Screening)

The Merciless Byun Sung Hyun Photo1
Film info

2017. Directed by Byun Sung-hyun , starring Sul Kyung-gu, Yim Si-wan, Cert 18 , 120 mins.

Opening with a conversation about food followed by sudden, murderous violence, and fracturing its chronology into separate timelines, this latest feature from Byun Sung-hyun owes a certain debt to Quentin Tarantino, but is also a moody neo-noir, all existential musings, rain-swept treachery and savagery just out of shot.

Whether inside prison or out, ruthless gangster Jae-ho (Sul Kyung-gu) and his new young protégé Hyun-su (Yim Si-wan) struggle to trust each other in a world of endless double-dealing and betrayal. "The events that unfold in your life usually come from behind," Jae-ho tells Hyun-su, "never from the front." These words certainly capture something of this character's constant guardedness - but they also slyly help convey the homoerotic subtext of a film that ends up being as much tragic love story as twisty thriller.

Broadway Cinema, Nottingham, 10 Nov 2017 6:30 pm

In Between Seasons (Nottingham Screening)

In Between Seasons Still 4
Film info

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.

Broadway Cinema, Nottingham, 11 Nov 2017 6:30 pm

The First Lap (Manchester Screening)

The First Lap
Film info

2017. Directed by Kim Dae-hwan , starring Cho Hyun-chul, Kim Saebyuk, Cert 12A , 101 mins.

Awards

Best Emerging Director
Locarno International Film Festival

Kim Dae-hwan’s film explores generational conflict within a contemporary love story in thrilling forensic detail. Twenty-somethings Su-hyeon (Cho Hyun-chul) and Ji-young (Kim Saebyuk) live together in financial and emotional insecurity. They seem somehow stuck in life. When Ji-young tells Su-hyeon that she may be pregnant, pressure mounts on them either to commit or to split up.

The couple embark on a pair of road trips to their respective parents’ homes. Ji-young’s middle-class parents are frustrated by their only daughter’s seeming inability to follow a conventional family life. Su-hyeon’s barely existent relationship with his alcoholic father and embittered mother is even more strained. Their parents live in opposition to each other, love at best a distant memory. Is this the future facing Sy-hyeon and Ji-young?

Framed against the recent President Park impeachment protests, Kim’s film asks a whole new generation to question the present and embrace change. Have Sy-hyeon and Ji-young got the strength and love to find a third way together?

Home, Manchester, 11 Nov 2017 1:30 pm

Coin Locker Girl (Manchester Screening)

Coin Locker Girl 10
Film info

2015. Directed by Han Jun-hee , starring Kim Hye-soo, Kim Ko-eun, Cert 18 , 110 mins.

In this Incheon-based, super-saturated female crime melodrama from first time director Han Jun-Hee, veteran South Korean star Kim Hye-soo plays the psychotic crime-boss known as ‘Mom’ whose unsavoury trade includes organ-trafficking and loan-sharking. Former street kid Kim Ko-eun plays the tomboy protégée Il-young who suddenly turns soft and can’t bring herself to kill a trainee chef as commanded - much to Mom’s cold fury. With its violent and melancholic disposition, as well as the twists and turns of its themes of stolen childhood, traded bodies and soul-destroying vengeance Coin Locker Girl eschews Hollywood redemption themes for a determinedly unresolved conclusion. By the end we’ve been on quite the ride, which begins and more or less concludes in the station transit locker where Il-young was first found as an abandoned baby.

Home, Manchester, 11 Nov 2017 6:00 pm

The Merciless (Manchester Screening)

The Merciless Byun Sung Hyun Photo1
Film info

2017. Directed by Byun Sung-hyun , starring Sul Kyung-gu, Yim Si-wan, Cert 18 , 120 mins.

Opening with a conversation about food followed by sudden, murderous violence, and fracturing its chronology into separate timelines, this latest feature from Byun Sung-hyun owes a certain debt to Quentin Tarantino, but is also a moody neo-noir, all existential musings, rain-swept treachery and savagery just out of shot.

Whether inside prison or out, ruthless gangster Jae-ho (Sul Kyung-gu) and his new young protégé Hyun-su (Yim Si-wan) struggle to trust each other in a world of endless double-dealing and betrayal. "The events that unfold in your life usually come from behind," Jae-ho tells Hyun-su, "never from the front." These words certainly capture something of this character's constant guardedness - but they also slyly help convey the homoerotic subtext of a film that ends up being as much tragic love story as twisty thriller.

Home, Manchester, 12 Nov 2017 8:20 pm

New World (Sheffield Screening)

New World Key 8
Film info

2013. Directed by Park Hoon-jung , starring Lee Jung-jae, Choi Min-sik, Hwang Jung-min, Cert 18 , 134 mins.

The second directorial feature from Park Hoon-jung, the screenwriter behind The Unjust and I Saw the Devil, New World is a noirish gangster epic in which undercover cops and shady policemen plot from the shadows to gain control of Korea’s biggest crime syndicate, Goldmoon, when its CEO is killed in a suspicious car accident. With a succession crisis mounting, police chief Kang (Choi Min-sik) launches “Operation New World” in which he hopes to manoeuvre his long-term undercover agent, Lee Ja-sung (Lee Jung-jae), into the top spot by taking out the two main factions led by flashy gangster Jung Chang (Hwang Jun-min) and the unscrupulous Lee Joong-gu (Park Sung-woong). In this world of habitual double crossing and confused identities, no one can be trusted and the only certainty is betrayal.

Showroom Cinema, Sheffield, 13 Nov 2017 8:15 pm

The Last Witness (Sheffield Screening)

The Last Witness 1
Film info

1980. Directed by Lee Doo-yong , starring Hah Myung-joong, Jung Yoon-hee, Choi Bool-am, Cert 18 , 158 mins.

Detective Oh Byeong-ho goes searching for the murderer of Yang Dal-su. Someone has bludgeoned small-time brewer Yang to death by a quiet riverside: no witnesses, no apparent motive. As lone-wolf Oh wanders about the winter landscape of South Jeolla Province and Seoul, he finds himself caught in a story of treachery, rape and murder. It all goes back to Yang’s role as leader of an anti-Communist militia that hunted down a desperate band of northern guerrillas in the final days of the Korean War.

Based on a crime novel by Kim Seong-jong, the film tries to pack nearly all of the book into its extended running time. Dramatic camera angles and off-kilter framing added to the rapid cutting style generate considerable energy. This style also creates a kind of perceptual anxiety which seems to reflect the growing emotional turmoil of our guide into the labyrinth, detective Oh.

Showroom Cinema, Sheffield, 14 Nov 2017 5:30 pm

The Mimic (Sheffield Screening)

The Mimic 1
Film info

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.

Showroom Cinema, Sheffield, 15 Nov 2017 8:30 pm

The Day After (Glasgow Screening)

The Day After Key Still 09
Film info

2017. Directed by Hong Sang-soo , starring Kwon Haehyo, Kim Minhee, Kim Saebyuk, Cert 18 , 92 mins.

Hong Sangsoo’s latest bulletin from the sex wars is not very droll but it’s as emotionally powerful as anything he’s done. The Day After (the Korean title Geu-hu is borrowed from Natsume Soseki’s novel Sorekara, which means “After That”) centres on a rather cowardly man and the three women whose lives he disrupts. The unhappily-married Bongwan (played by Kwon Haehyo) runs a small publishing house and has been having an affair with a young female employee. His wife finds out about it on the very day that he’s hiring Areum (Kim Minhee, now a constant presence in Hong’s films) as his new employee. This being a film by Hong, we can’t be certain what happened when or whether some scenes are or aren’t Bongwan’s fantasies. What is clear in this shimmering, monochrome movie is that a weak, middle-aged man comes up against a strong-willed and determinedly positive young woman who simply won’t let herself be bruised by the encounter. Terrific!

Glasgow Film Theatre, Glasgow, 15 Nov 2017 8:40 pm

Coin Locker Girl (Glasgow Screening)

Coin Locker Girl 10
Film info

2015. Directed by Han Jun-hee , starring Kim Hye-soo, Kim Ko-eun, Cert 18 , 110 mins.

In this Incheon-based, super-saturated female crime melodrama from first time director Han Jun-Hee, veteran South Korean star Kim Hye-soo plays the psychotic crime-boss known as ‘Mom’ whose unsavoury trade includes organ-trafficking and loan-sharking. Former street kid Kim Ko-eun plays the tomboy protégée Il-young who suddenly turns soft and can’t bring herself to kill a trainee chef as commanded - much to Mom’s cold fury. With its violent and melancholic disposition, as well as the twists and turns of its themes of stolen childhood, traded bodies and soul-destroying vengeance Coin Locker Girl eschews Hollywood redemption themes for a determinedly unresolved conclusion. By the end we’ve been on quite the ride, which begins and more or less concludes in the station transit locker where Il-young was first found as an abandoned baby.

Glasgow Film Theatre, Glasgow, 16 Nov 2017 8:40 pm

New World (Glasgow Screening)

New World Key 8
Film info

2013. Directed by Park Hoon-jung , starring Lee Jung-jae, Choi Min-sik, Hwang Jung-min, Cert 18 , 134 mins.

The second directorial feature from Park Hoon-jung, the screenwriter behind The Unjust and I Saw the Devil, New World is a noirish gangster epic in which undercover cops and shady policemen plot from the shadows to gain control of Korea’s biggest crime syndicate, Goldmoon, when its CEO is killed in a suspicious car accident. With a succession crisis mounting, police chief Kang (Choi Min-sik) launches “Operation New World” in which he hopes to manoeuvre his long-term undercover agent, Lee Ja-sung (Lee Jung-jae), into the top spot by taking out the two main factions led by flashy gangster Jung Chang (Hwang Jun-min) and the unscrupulous Lee Joong-gu (Park Sung-woong). In this world of habitual double crossing and confused identities, no one can be trusted and the only certainty is betrayal.

Glasgow Film Theatre, Glasgow, 18 Nov 2017 3:00 pm

Die Bad (Belfast Screening)

Die Bad
Film info

2000. Directed by Ryoo Seung-wan , starring Ryoo Seung-wan, Park Sung-bin, Ryoo Seung-bum, Cert 18 , 96 mins.

Action-maestro Ryoo Seung-wan launched onto the Korean cinema scene in 2000 with this sensational debut that was made on a budget of just 65 million won (£45,000) over a period of three years as four short films that were then woven together. In these four different parts, the film follows how the lives of two young men - Suk-hwan (played by Ryoo) and Sung-bin (Park Sung-bin) - change when Sung-bin accidentally kills another student in a brawl in a billiard room. Sung-bin spends seven years in jail, and is then sucked into the criminal underworld, while Suk-whan becomes a cop. Bristling with energy and full of Ryoo’s kinetic flare, Die Bad is a gritty but immensely gripping film about the challenges faced by youth and the deadly spiral many find themselves in.

Queen's Film Theatre, Belfast, 17 Nov 2017 6:20 pm

New World (Belfast Screening)

New World Key 8
Film info

2013. Directed by Park Hoon-jung , starring Lee Jung-jae, Choi Min-sik, Hwang Jung-min, Cert 18 , 134 mins.

The second directorial feature from Park Hoon-jung, the screenwriter behind The Unjust and I Saw the Devil, New World is a noirish gangster epic in which undercover cops and shady policemen plot from the shadows to gain control of Korea’s biggest crime syndicate, Goldmoon, when its CEO is killed in a suspicious car accident. With a succession crisis mounting, police chief Kang (Choi Min-sik) launches “Operation New World” in which he hopes to manoeuvre his long-term undercover agent, Lee Ja-sung (Lee Jung-jae), into the top spot by taking out the two main factions led by flashy gangster Jung Chang (Hwang Jun-min) and the unscrupulous Lee Joong-gu (Park Sung-woong). In this world of habitual double crossing and confused identities, no one can be trusted and the only certainty is betrayal.

Queen's Film Theatre, Belfast, 18 Nov 2017 6:20 pm

The Merciless (Belfast Screening)

The Merciless Byun Sung Hyun Photo1
Film info

2017. Directed by Byun Sung-hyun , starring Sul Kyung-gu, Yim Si-wan, Cert 18 , 120 mins.

Opening with a conversation about food followed by sudden, murderous violence, and fracturing its chronology into separate timelines, this latest feature from Byun Sung-hyun owes a certain debt to Quentin Tarantino, but is also a moody neo-noir, all existential musings, rain-swept treachery and savagery just out of shot.

Whether inside prison or out, ruthless gangster Jae-ho (Sul Kyung-gu) and his new young protégé Hyun-su (Yim Si-wan) struggle to trust each other in a world of endless double-dealing and betrayal. "The events that unfold in your life usually come from behind," Jae-ho tells Hyun-su, "never from the front." These words certainly capture something of this character's constant guardedness - but they also slyly help convey the homoerotic subtext of a film that ends up being as much tragic love story as twisty thriller.

Queen's Film Theatre, Belfast, 19 Nov 2017 6:20 pm