9 masterpieces of cinema from South Korea that you need to watchPictolic
South Korean cinema seems to be becoming more and more popular every year — but many viewers are still not familiar with it outside of high-profile films like the Oscar-winning " Parasites "or"Oldboy". Today we are talking about unambiguous masterpieces of Korean cinema, which simply can not be missed. In South Korea, not only spectator art films are popular, but also author's and festival films.
Before Pon Joon-ho conquered the world with his "Parasites", the most famous Korean director was definitely his friend Park Chang-wook, who took the Grand Prix of the Cannes Film Festival with his"Oldboy" in 2003. But we decided to take another picture (about" Oldboy", let's say, and so everyone knows) - "United Security Zone", Park's debut in a feature film.
This is a film about soldiers of two Koreas — North and South, who protect the borders of their countries. Trying to overcome boredom, they at some point begin to communicate with ideological enemies-and much closer than they ever expected.
The "United Security Zone" works on contrasts: this is almost a nice movie about an impossible friendship, but that's why the stupid tragedy that everything will come to (and which is designated at the very beginning, so this is not a spoiler) is only more painful. Already with his debut, Park Chang-wook proved that he is one of the most interesting authors not only in his homeland, but also in the world.
Pon Joon-ho himself, however, had masterpieces before "Parasites". You can argue with this, but his main creative achievement is still "Memories of Murder" — either a tragicomedy, or a detective story about police officers from a small Korean city who are trying to catch a maniac. Moreover, the film is based on a real story, and that killer was eventually caught only a year ago, that is, 16 years after the release of the tape.
"Memories of Murder" works with a very dark theme, but at the same time, Pon Joon - ho does not hesitate to joke — textually and visually — and openly laugh at the police system of South Korea (judging by the films, this is generally a sore topic for the country). Devastating scenes of tragedies are juxtaposed with comical exchanges of cops and, for example, a very cruel gag about the amputated leg of one of the investigators.
Pon Joon-ho does not just tell a detective story, but builds a whole colorful world in which his not at all ideal heroes exist — he will do the same in "Parasites" 15 years later.
Kim Ki-duk is one of the strangest Korean authors. It does not really fit into any context, it exists as if outside the framework, by itself. But the festival fame — including in Russia-he received it long before many of his famous countrymen.
"Spring, summer, autumn, winter... and spring again" is definitely his most famous and, what's more, the most "spectator" picture. It tells about a guy who gets into a Buddhist monastery in the middle of a lake and studies there under the supervision of a strict and wise monk.
Kim Ki-duk manages to combine Buddhist contemplation and a very, in general, everyday plot — about fathers and children, about first love, sex and other not very sublime things. Whatever happens on the screen, the film somehow still feels very spiritual and meditative (but not at all boring).
"Spring, summer..." is a unique movie, unlike anything else. And a must-see for everyone who thinks that only detectives and horrors exist in South Korea.
By the way, about them-horrors and detectives. "I Saw the Devil" is one of the brightest examples of Korean genre cinema. This is a picture about a former special agent whose wife is brutally killed by a maniac: investigators find her dismembered body.
Driven by revenge, the hero, bypassing the police, begins his own investigation and soon finds the killer. But finding him turns out to be only half the case — especially since the special agent does not just want the criminal to die. He wants to torment him.
"I saw the Devil" is an excessive movie in everything: drama, cruelty,plot. But this excess suits him very well: the same Hollywood would never have been able to make a movie so crazy. Director Kim Ji-un does not turn the camera away from the torture and does not try to soften what is happening for the viewer. Since we are talking about maniacs, then he makes a really manic movie.
Lee Chang-dong amazed the world a couple of years ago with his "Flaming" - a brilliant film adaptation of the story by Haruki Murakami. But even before that, he had already shot a great movie: in 2010 there was a wonderful "Poetry", and even earlier, in 2002,"Oasis". The film is about a strange love between a stupid petty criminal and a girl with cerebral palsy.
It sounds like the most manipulative and sugary story in the world, but a genius Lee Chang-don lies in the fact that he reveals such an exaggerated plot with incredible subtlety and sensitivity.
Not a single unnecessary tear, not a single tear thrown in vain: he tells a tragic love story almost in the genre of magical realism. With shuddering scenes where the heroine fantasizes, "how would it be", and so merges reality and fiction together.
While Hollywood is afraid to shoot bold medium-budget action films, authors from South Korea have mastered this skill better than anyone else. "The Man from Nowhere" by Lee John-bohm seems to be a very simple genre story, but the point here, of course, is not at all in the plot. And in the performance-excellent choreography and hard, spectacular action.
In the story, a modest pawnshop owner learns that his cute neighbor was kidnapped by bandits — and all because of the girl's mother, who robbed drug dealers. The hero decides to save his friend.
It turns out that he keeps some terrible secret and handles all types of cold and firearms better than many. Then there is a parade of shootouts, fights and chases, always exciting and perfectly filmed.
Each Hong Sang-soo movie is similar to the previous one, while Hong Sang-soo's movie is not like anyone else's. He shoots conversational dramedies in which the narrative flows as if by itself, driven by an unknown force, where the lines are intertwined, the characters change places, and the same actors in neighboring scenes turn out to be different people.
And all this is very confusing, but at the same time fascinating — there is no need to dig into timelines and try to explain to yourself what is happening. You just need to sit back and enjoy the little trip that Hong Sang-soo offers.
"At night by the sea alone" is probably his most famous work. In addition, it is far from the most difficult in his filmography. This is a story about an actress who is trying to figure herself out (she is played by the director's eternal muse, Kim Min-hee). Her screen characters and her real personality get confused, the movie flows into life, and life — into the cinema.
In just 100 minutes, Hong Sang-soo plunges the viewer deep into the subconscious of the heroine and makes them experience together what is difficult to describe even in words.
Another movie about an ex-cop who is looking for a maniac, but made quite differently from "I saw the devil". "The Pursuer" On Hong-jin is a much colder and more restrained movie, hitting rarely, but very accurately and painfully. It shows well how different it is possible to solve the same genre plot, if there is a fantasy.
The main character of "The Pursuer" is an eccentric pimp who was once a police officer. His employees begin to disappear en masse, and he, seeing in this the machinations of competitors, begins an investigation-not knowing that in fact the girls are becoming a victim of a maniac. One of them, by the way, is still alive, and the "Pursuer" maneuvers between her attempts to escape and the ridiculous attempts of the pimp to get to the truth.
The film constantly keeps in suspense, does not let go of either the characters or the viewer for a second — there is danger and suspense all the time.
When Hollywood was already disappointed in the topic of zombies, it was Korean cinema that showed that you can still do something interesting with it- just try. "Train to Busan" is a dynamic action game in which the heroes, locked in the cramped cars of an intercity train, are forced to fight off a crowd of infected people.
Of course, not everything is so simple: at some point, the movie turns into a social satire, where the train becomes a kind of metaphor for the social structure-almost like in Pon Joon-ho in "Through the Snow", but a little less pronounced. As and Pon, however, director Yong Sang-ho is more interested in the bloody plastic of chamber action than social meanings.
And in this regard, the "Train to Busan" is definitely much more impressive than, say, the large-scale and much more expensive "War of the Worlds Z".