REVIEW: 아가씨 [Ah-ga-ssi] [The Handmaiden] [2016]

“The snake marks the bounds of knowledge” As soon as I began walking out of the theater after 아가씨 [Ah-ga-ssi] [The Handmaiden], a friend and fellow critic asked if I was the one laughing. I said, “Yes.” Parts Two and Three (of three) were legitimately funny—I’d say intentionally so. All of Chan-wook Park‘s films are […]

REVIEW: 부산행 [Busanhaeng] [Train to Busan] [2016]

“Until we meet again” There’s an abundance of sentimentality in Sang-ho Yeon‘s 부산행 [Busanhaeng] [Train to Busan], a trait you don’t necessarily attribute to a zombie action thriller. That’s not to say “The Walking Dead” doesn’t touch upon familial relationships and catharsis too, but the level of personal and emotional growth on display in these […]

FANTASIA15 REVIEW: Hwasangorae [Crimson Whale] [2014]

“It is an offense to feed the apes” A product of the Korean Academy of Film Arts’ Advanced Program, writer/director Park Hye-mi‘s Hwasangorae [Crimson Whale] is a fascinating little sci-fi adventure. The hand-drawn character design is cutesy with young faces and oversized clothing dwarfing stature, but the 2070 Busan in which they reside is brutally […]

REVIEW: 뫼비우스 [Moebiuseu] [Moebius] [2013]

“Whole body is genital” If the whole “you’ll go blind” line doesn’t detract your kid from masturbating, controversial writer/director Ki-duk Kim has the solution. Just because the son in뫼비우스 [Moebiuseu] [Moebius] attracts the ire of his mother specifically due to his coveting the woman his father is having an affair with doesn’t lessen its impact. […]

NYAFF13 REVIEW: 은교 [A Muse] [2012]

“How do you know what he means to me?” Breeding our youth to dream of happily ever afters with an allure of fairy tale romance may do them a disservice by completely ignoring love’s equally prevalent loneliness. We hope to shelter their innocence until they discover the truth themselves, but maybe the pain would be […]

REVIEW: 도둑들 [The Thieves] [2012]

“Of course. We specialize in miracles.” Saying Dodookdeul [The Thieves] is the Korean Ocean’s 11—like I had been after reading the synopsis—ended up not being as hyperbolic as I originally thought. Coming from one of the country’s most successful writer/directors and starring a bunch of familiar faces in Asian cinema, it’s an easy comparison to […]

NYAFF12 REVIEW: 범죄와의 전쟁 [Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time] [2012]

“There’s no end to a man’s greed” Set against President Tae-woo Roh’s 1990 crackdown on organized crime in South Korea, 범죄와의 전쟁 [Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time] places us into the wild life of a former Busan customs agent and the selfish games he plays with two of the city’s most notorious gangsters. Written […]

REVIEW: 마더 [Mother] [2009]

“See, anyone is capable of murder” The poster for Joon-ho Bong’s newest work 마더 [Mother], along with the one word title, screams thriller where the mother at hand will do anything for her child. Bin Won’s Yoon Do-joon appears wide-eyed and scared, hiding himself behind Hye-ja Kim, a woman with steely determination to protect him. […]

REVIEW: 박쥐 [Thirst] [2009]

“The Bandaged Saint” Definitely not for everyone, 박쥐 [Thirst] is an interesting, intelligent take on the vampire genre. By using this horror film affliction, director Chan-wook Park weaves a parable on religion and faith, showing how two people on both ends of the spectrum value life itself. All the tropes are here, as the diseased […]

TIFF09 REVIEW: 잘 알지도 못하면서 [Like You Know It All] [2009]

“Everything’s important” I had begun to start thinking that either my friend and I haven’t picked films outside our comfort zone at the Toronto International Film Festival or that the fest just didn’t let in bad movies. Truthfully, after two straight years, and a day, we had never experienced a film that we just both […]

BNFF09 REVIEW: Roses Have Thorns [2009]

“Japanese sucks, sorry” Some films seem like they will be great in concept, only to let you down in execution. The Buffalo Niagara Film Festival screening of Roses Have Thorns is one such example. An American production, but mostly spoken in Japanese and Korean, Jong W. Lee’s tale of love had the potential of being […]