The story of a cab driver in Yanji City, a region between North Korea, China and Russia. His wife goes to Korea to earn money, but he doesn't hear from her since in 6 months. He plays ... See full summary »
Joong-ho is a dirty detective turned pimp in financial trouble as several of his girls have recently disappeared without clearing their debts. While trying to track them down, he finds a ... See full summary »
Byung-du is a 29-year-old career criminal, working for the middle-rank enforcer Sang-chul. Burdened with a terminally ill mother and taking care of younger siblings, Byung-du is feeling ... See full summary »
Exposed during an illegal arms trade gone wrong in Berlin, a North Korean "ghost" agent finds himself in the crosshairs of an international manhunt. Was he betrayed by his wife or his country? He must prepare to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Sol Kyung-Gu plays a staff member of the National Institute of Scientific Investigation (NISI) in South Korea. He attempts to uncover the identity of a mysterious serial killer who ... See full summary »
Frank M. Ahearn,
A serial killer targeting elementary school students is on the loose. When the most probable suspect dies and the case looks like it's reached a dead end, police brass decide to create a ... See full summary »
Despite their different family backgrounds, four friends grew up together in the wearisome years of the 70s. But as time goes by, each of them takes a different life path. After enrolling ... See full summary »
The story of a cab driver in Yanji City, a region between North Korea, China and Russia. His wife goes to Korea to earn money, but he doesn't hear from her since in 6 months. He plays mah-jong to make some extra cash, but this only makes his life worse; but then he meets a hitman who proposes to turn his life around by repaying his debt and reuniting with his wife, just for one hit. Written by
I can't remember the last time Hollywood offered me anything mind-blowing. An industry now controlled by bankers for shareholders, even filmmaking geniuses like Martin Scorsese have been reduced to making pointless kids movies. Not even the so-called independent cinema in the US has been spared Hollywood's fixation with the bottom line, where the few table scraps left are thrown to a dwindling numbers of original voices still relevant. If ever we needed another Easy Rider inspired industry revolt, then now is the time.
With American cinema (not unlike the country itself) irrelevant and hopelessly behind the times, the only option North American cinephiles have, is to go abroad. One of the countries that's long since surpassed American cinema for shock and originality is South Korea. And it's not like Hollywood is oblivious, they're actually cannibalizing SK cinema by remaking Korean gems into pointless American knockoffs. The latest SK gem ripe for reproduction is Hong-jin Na's The Yellow Sea (Hwanghae).
Like Ravel's Bolero, The Yellow Sea understands the patient reward of crescendo: starting slow and building to a fevered climax. By the end of this, we're left with what seems impossible for an epic 156 minute film: wanting more. With the exception of one car chase marred by phony green screen cutaways (see the video below), the breakneck action, extreme violence and hyper-realistic gore is virtuosic. Guns noticeably absent, whooshing knives, devastating hatchets and the blunt trauma of gnawed animal bones provide The Yellow Sea with brutal, bloody and refreshingly lo-tech weapons of choice, a grim example of how Hollywood and it's obsession with appeasing demographics can't compete.
But The Yellow Sea is much more than just a knife brandishing ballet that hearkens back to early 90s HK bullet ballets, it's exceptionally well written and acted with none of HK cinema's clichéd melodrama. The characters here are many shades of grey, avoiding archetypal absolutes, allowing us to identify with and like even the worst of the worst. All of the action is beautifully composed with kinetic, hand-held photography that compliments the bleak color palette, which results in a gritty and ultra-realistic film, not unlike so many American masterworks from the 1970s.
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