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Salinui chueok (2003)
Good but disappointing
After hearing unanimous rave reviews about the highest grossing Korean movie thus far (domestically I think) I had my hopes unrealistically high. The narrative was pretty good but I found the characters too much like caricatures and the events loosely based on reality were too overdone. This may be coming from my bias against buddy cop movies - I've seen way too many of them and really dislike them in most cases. Anyway, you have the local cops that beat up suspects just to get a confession and have a difficult time listening to the reason of the analytical big city detective. The one local cop that was so prone to violence seemed to lack the dimension of being much more than "the bad cop" or the sidekick. Meanwhile, the "good" local cop was pretty likable but his stubbornness not to follow the leads but to rather look for baldies or waste time torturing the suspects was a bit amusing but frustrating. The competition and jealousy and fighting with the city cop got old I thought and I felt the film focused too much on this "this is my turf" aspect of their relationship like rush hour or something. The city cop's change in his tactics also felt rushed and the tunnel scene near the end was just overtly melodramatic.
I had the same problem with Taegukgi, another Korean blockbuster in that both of them dealt with a great setting, had some real thrilling scenes and were filmed superbly but just had tacked on overtly melodramatic and "wow what a crazy coincidence" type unrealistic situations to be taken seriously. Especially considering that this is based on real events. An example is that the girl that lead to the bathroom lead and who the city cop put the band-aid on ended up a victim, or that the guy gets hit by a train before they can get truthful info out of him, and other examples that may be nitpicky.
Also I guessed that the scar guy was a witness and that the girl's lead was the best one waay earlier than the detectives did, I thought the first point was a little obvious early on. I really must fault a movie that makes me guess key parts before the detective does, I don't wanna feel that smart in a who-dun-it, I wanna be completely baffled! I'm not asking for some insane "that character is a figment of your imagination" twist (even if those are fun!) but just for enough subtlety to keep me questioning, not yelling at the detectives what's going on like "He's speaking in the third person!!! GAH!!!" Also I'm not sure whether it was designed but I laughed at the the beatings way more than I ought to have- I didn't feel seriously outraged until the guy hit the girl in the bar, the rest of the beatings seemed like playful big brother beatings or something.
Anyway, I felt the movie was effective in the story-telling but it's the only highly touted Korean movie I've seen in which I took nothing away from. Sure it had characters who were split morally but I took away just about as much as this as I would a CSI episode (which I don't like anymore) The cinematography was really good yeah but the other great Korean movies I've seen have made me think and genuinely feel so much more (Save the Green Planet, Oldboy!, 3-Iron, Samaria, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and A Tale of Two Sisters are all top-25 movies for me) For this I was just like "awww gross, peaches?" and "that damn psycho bastard". The only moment I really felt and went "WOW" was when the killer was whistling in the field before tackling his victim- that and scenes similar to that warrant the acclaim. But otherwise this is just, to me, like a good mainstream Korea movie. I give this a 6.5 maybe 7ish on a good day - good use of the story, but thats all this movie is to me - a story with good thrills, the gross out factor and an efficient use of formula-inspired twists to entertain.
I'm so disappointed that this has such a low rating!
As some of the other ratings indicate, yes this is a quirky movie.
Why is that a bad thing?!
I thought this had such a cute, super charming atmosphere to it.
The characters are all interesting, excellent acting and beautiful cinematography.
I just got this warm pleasant feeling from it, much like I got from Chungking Express, one of my all-time favorites.
I need more Imamura!
Gin gwai (2002)
After looking through so many 8s and 9s I'm really surprised by how overrated this movie is. First of all, everyone is saying how scary this movie is when there were only like 4 attempts in the whole movie to scare you. Maybe I'm just dead on the inside but watching it in the dark, I wasn't scared at any part in this movie. Neither was my friend and he's been scared by a lot of movies recently (exorcist remake, the ring, the grudge, etc. in terms of "pop-out" movies). Scariness doesn't make a horror movie's rating but I don't think it had that much else going for it.
It was by no means bad, but I don't see how and why its turned into such a cult classic. Id understand if it came out before the 6th sense, but seeing that movie a few years ago (which i was so scared by i couldn't see the ending) really made this seem unoriginal and uninventive by comparison. Furthermore, just because it's slow doesn't mean that its subtle or deep or complex. She gets an eye transplant, notices dead people, gets scared and starts investigating for answers. The investigation leads to further discoveries but none of this really seemed "thought provoking", at least not to me. I have to say though that I'm glad it didn't resort to any girls with long black hair (good the first time but move on ppl) or music climaxes before something jumped out every other minute.
Still I never felt there sense of threat from the ghosts and thought the black shades leading dead ppl to be a bit hokey for some reason. (((SPOILER kinda))) And what was the deal with the woman that saw ghosts in the market? I felt something useful could've come out of that but that was just thrown in for no reason at all really. The best parts were the get out my chair part, (even though I laughed instead of screamed-dunno why) the meat licking ghosts at the market (best visual in movie) and the elevator part was cool. Ask anybody, the ending did suck. It tried to be deep or hit you with a fate type issue but it was sort of just a nice CG display.
I much recommend Audition or Ringu over this. One because those Ringu scared me and Audition scarred me. Secondly, I felt much more of a sense of danger and connection to the main characters as they were more developed for the first half of the movie in a way that made the endings all the more shocking. Audition made me scared of shy Asian girls for a little while, which really freaks you out if u go to an almost all Asian school. In contrast, I forgot about seeing The Eye a little while later until noticing all the rave reviews it got. Not so bad but not so good either.