Kohei (Takuya Kimura) returns to Tokyo and reunites with his former colleagues. He will be up against one of the famous lawyers in Tokyo to solve a car accident which killed a soon to be ... See full synopsis »
With the brilliant Vietnamese summer as a setting Vertical Ray of the Sun is beautiful from beginning to end. The plot centres around three sisters, two of whom are happily married (or so ... See full summary »
Tran Anh Hung
Tran Nu Yên-Khê,
Nhu Quynh Nguyen,
Once in a Summer (Hangul) is a 2006 South Korean melodrama/romance film directed by Jo Keun-shik. The film stars Lee Byung-hun and Soo Ae. It won Best Film and Best Director (for Jo) at the 15th Chunsa Film Art Awards in 2007.
Ex-Los Angeles cop turned private eye Kline travels to Hong Kong in search of Shitao, the missing son of a powerful pharmaceutical conglomerate boss. Enlisting Meng Zi a friend and a former colleague now working for the Hong Kong Police, Kline follows a faint trail left by the ethereal Shitao. The path leads to local gangster Su Dongpo and his beautiful, drug addicted girlfriend Lili. But Kline is distracted from his search, haunted by memories of the serial killer Hasford whose 'body of work' was the reason Kline quit the police force. Will Kline once again need to lose his mind to find his latest quarry? Written by
"I Come With The Rain," is a film that is hard to define. In some ways it is a redemption story, in other ways it is a reinterpretation of Christian mythology, and in yet further ways it is a study of evil. If anything, the film is ambitious in the themes that it tries to explore. As with most ambition, a degree of prudence is often needed for reaching higher quality. For example, one may wish to change the world for the better. However, trying to affect a whole planet is beyond the capabilities of most. The prudence enters in defining one's world more strictly. The wish to change the world changes into a wish and drive to change one's immediate world or community. The ambition becomes tempered by practical and manageable constraints. Unfortunately, ICWTR attempts more than it is capable of handling well. The film touches on the three interconnected themes mentioned above in a less than coherent way. By the end of the movie, one is left with the sense that valuable ideas have been brought to the table but never developed into anything that can be useful or fulfilling to the audience.
The premise of a damaged detective searching for a messianic figure amidst the corruption and evils of modern life is promising. The film falters by attempting to create three interconnected and artfully ambiguous tales about the detective, messiah figure, and the personification of modern corruption and evil. One of the hallmarks of parables is that they are rather simple. The parable usually develops a story around a single moral or epistemological rule. ICWTR attempts to tell three parables in tandem. The result is not a smooth synthesis commenting on the complexities of the human condition. Rather, the film comes of as confused and lacking in relevant concrete development. To be clear, the film itself is not overly difficult to understand; the attempts of the film to convey deeper meaning are muddled and shallow. In fairness, the raising of interesting questions may have been the goal of the film. The problem is that the film does not arm the audience with any tools to continue the discussion later on. As an example, how would you respond to the following question if asked by a random stranger: "Is 'good' tainted when it is saved by 'evil?'" Hopefully this is a jarring question and one that defies immediate answer. In one sense, the question is interesting and plumbs the depths of moral/ethical thinking. In another sense, the question is too brash and off putting. Such a question almost begs for some sort of established framework to deal with it. In essence, the above question comes later in the discussion after some context and philosophical norms are established. ICWTR asks questions like this without giving the audience any real framework to deal with said questions. The film methodically, and beautifully I might add, simply presents scenarios that lead to these questions. The result is a confusing and somewhat disjointed experience. As a viewer, I know I am supposed to have been exposed to some deeply meaningful symbols and questions; yet I do not really know what to do with these symbols or where to go with these questions. In the end, one really wants to find deeper meaning in this film and unfortunately cannot.
While the above may seem a harsh review, the film does offer a great many good points. The cinematography is beautiful. The scenes vary from lush tropical forests to oppressive and over developed cityscapes. The actors assembled are an international powerhouse. While Hartnett may be less than A status in America, Kimura and Lee are considered first rate stars in Asia. In this sense, the film is an international blockbuster. The acting by these stars is somewhat uneven. Of the three, Lee is the most consistent, turning in a nuanced performance that aptly captures the variegated emotions connected with his personification of modern corruption and evil. The editing and pacing are very well done and match the attempted themes. The Radiohead soundtrack adds a pleasant ethereal touch which aids in setting a more contemplative tone. In essence, the film is extremely well made, it just attempts too many messages within the story.
On a personal note, I really wanted to like this film and was somewhat saddened that I was underwhelmed. I enjoy having my knowledge and interpretations of symbolism expanded. Unfortunately, this film merely referenced a great many known symbols without expanding or deepening their meaning. For this and the above reasons, I will probably not recommend this film to many. I tend to see this as a film that attempted something artistic and philosophically profound. No doubt, many people will agree and furthermore extract something from the film. Sadly, I was not able to pull any greater meaning from this movie. 6.7 stars of 10.
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