Recently Love Film have been bombarding me with various Asian films, that admittedly were on my rental list, which allows me to ramble on about a selection of films rather than one at a time.
The first movie was from South Korea and based upon a true story involving a 70 year-old fisherman who killed four women between in 2007 but the events we see played out on the screen during Missing (2009) have been fictionalised but we do get to see the fisherman right at the very end of the film! Directed by Sung-Hong Kim and starring Chue Ja-Hyeon as Hyeon-jeong who fears the worst when her sister goes missing whilst on a trip? Through the modern medium of her sister’s mobile phone she discovers that the last place her sister stayed was a small countryside community. Deciding to travel to the village she visit the local police station to enlist help but without any evidence help is not immediately forthcoming. Following some local enquiries a witness comes forward that has seen her sister near the home of an elderly reclusive chicken farmer called Pan-Kon. She tracks the man down little knowing that her own decent into hell is about to begin. This well made exploitation film is well worth your time as long as your prepared for some brutal and disturbing scenes. It’s not in the same class as Memories of Murder (2003), another true life South Korean serial killer mystery, but give it a try.
Fatal Move 2008.
Dennis Law, the Hong Kong filmmaker and not the Manchester United footballer, produced two of Johnnie To’s best Hong Kong gangster movies Election (2006) and Election 2 (2007) the yardstick for Asian gangster films. Law followed these with Fatal Move, which he wrote, produced and directed. It stars Sammo Hung (Enter the Dragon 1973) and Simon Yam (Naked Killer 1992, Fulltime Killer 2001, Election 1 and 2 and Vengeance 2009) and was filmed on location in Hong Kong in 2008. It focuses on a Triad gang led by brother’s Lin Ho-Lung and Lin Ho-Tung (Hung and Yam) that faces a series of double crossings and violent misfortunes. Its one of those movies your not always sure who’s on who’s side? Great action scenes with loads of violence that never seems to ease off, but if I’m truthful a little too long at close on two hours.
Shinjuku Incident 2009.
Former Shaw Brothers actor Tunc-Shing Yee, known as Derek Yee, now concentrates on screenwriting and directing rather than appearing in movies. His 2009 film Shinjuku Incident stars the Hong Kong born Jackie Chan, normally seen in martial acts action roles, in a rare straight acting role. As the film opens we see hundreds of Chinese refugees wash up on the Japanese shoreline, survivors of what looks to be a shipwreck. These people were traveling on the promise of a better life but quickly realise that they face only prejudice and oppression. Chan plays a law abiding farm worker known as Steelhead who has come to Japan to find his childhood sweetheart but discovers that she has married a Yakuza underboss portrayed by the good looking Japanese actor Masaya Kato. Disillusioned by his discovery Steelhead turns to petty crime, which eventually escalates to murder and joins with other itinerant Chinese to form a tangible opposition to the Yakuza criminal empire within the Shinjuku district deep in the heart of Tokyo. Yee’s film makes an accomplished job of highlighting the friction between the two differing cultures depicted, although obviously represented through a violent criminal world. With it’s great story line, plenty of action and excitement its certainly a film I would whole heartedly recommend to fans of the genre.
Welcome to Dongmakgol 2005.
While we are on the subject of Asian movie’s Alec Barclay recommended a South Korean war film that I have finally got around to viewing this last week. Welcome to Dongmakgol (2005) is set during the Korean hostilities in 1950 in a remote mountain village, you guest it, called Dongmakgol. For some reason, that’s never explained, it’s completely isolated from the outside world and has no idea that there’s a war going on. Into this remote community come an American fighter pilot whose plane crash-landed, three retreating North Korean soldiers, and two members of the South Korean army who are lost. During fracases between the two set’s of Korean soldiers a grenade destroys the villages food store, feeling a sense of guilt the visitors decide to stay and help the locals rebuild the decimated building. During the work they slowly forget their hatred for one another and build a sense of friendship. Meanwhile back at the U.S. command it’s believed that there is a major North Korean military presence in the area where the plane went missing and they decide to mount a major air strike. In order to spare the village from complete destruction, the soldiers decide to act together to divert the attack. Also known as Battleground 625 it has the normal Korean sense of the absurd but is a strangely uplifting, surprisingly good anti-war movie with some very sad and moving moments. It’s narrative is reinforced by some believable characterisation including the “crazy village girl” played by Hye-jeong Kang who won Best Supporting Actress at the South Korean Grand Bell Awards in 2006.