REVIEW: 비상선언 [Bisang seoneon] [Emergency Declaration] [2022]

We’ve become his guinea pigs. As described at the start of Jae-rim Han disaster film in the sky, everything is supposed to stop the moment a pilot initiates a Bisang seoneon [Emergency Declaration]. It alone lets everyone involved know that the plane is in real danger of crashing. Other aircraft are instantly diverted into circling patterns, the nearest runaway is cleared for landing, and it becomes all-hands-on-deck to ensure the safety of passengers and crew on-board. And the general populace condones those measures because they don’t know when they might…

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FANTASIA22 REVIEW: Da-eum-so-hee [Next Sohee] [2022]

 Let’s do this. And here I thought capitalism’s hold on the American education system by way of unpaid internships was bad. As documented in July Jung‘s extern drama Da-eum-so-hee [Next Sohee], what’s happening in South Korea is even worse. It all comes down to incentives—not for the children, but the institutions profiting off their labor. When big companies with huge executive payrolls (since managers need managers who also need managers while hourly employees become statistical cogs in the slave machine) need cheap and naïve workers to fill call center desks…

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FANTASIA22 REVIEW: Chorokbam [2022]

Why do I have to do all your dirty work? This is not a happy family. Dad (Tae-hoon Lee) works a night security guard shift that makes it so he arrives home as Mom (Min-Kyung Kim) leaves to dry peppers in the sun the next morning. He wants quiet. She wants support. They ultimately sit in silence while eating. Their son (Kang Gil-woo) works as an aide for the disabled, driving around and taking care of patients on the way to their appointments. He doesn’t make much—at least not enough…

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FANTASIA22 REVIEW: 범죄도시2 [The Roundup] [2022]

And no balsamic vinegar. Set four years after the events from The Outlaws (known as Crime City in Korea), new director Sang-yong Lee and screenwriter Min-Seong Kim bring Detective Ma Seok-do (Ma Dong-seok aka Don Lee) back to the big screen with The Roundup (or 범죄도시2 [Crime City 2]). A standalone film with a couple characters returning via tongue-in-cheek reveals, you really don’t need to know anything beyond what we learn at the start. While Jeon Il-man (Gwi-hwa Choi) is the police captain, he knows it’s better to get out…

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FANTASIA21 REVIEW: Daewoebi: Gwonryeok-ui Tansaeng [The Devil’s Deal] [2021]

Can’t we live ordinary lives? There’s no way anybody beats Jeon Hae-woong (Cho Jin-woong) in a hometown election because everyone in Haeundae loves him. Walking down the street means shaking hands and bowing to applause because the people know that he will fight for them. He is one of them, after all. Thinking as much only proves naïve if the world in which he exists is corrupt and, according to the President (who is also up for re-election at the same time as Congress), this will be the most transparently…

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FANTASIA21 REVIEW: Sorido Eopsi [Voice of Silence] [2020]

Today’s honest sweat is tomorrow’s happiness. Chang-bok (Yoo Jae-Myung) and Tae-in (Yoo Ah-in) sell eggs out the back of the former’s truck in the country. It’s honest work, but hardly pays the bills. So rather than go home when they change their clothes afterwards, they drive to an old, abandoned warehouse instead. Now donning ponchos, they spread plastic sheets on the floor below what’s soon to be revealed as the only thing it can be hanging above: the body of a tied-up man, beaten and confused. If they’re being honest,…

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REVIEW: In the Absence [2019]

I should have told her to escape quickly. This is what happens when your government leaders are inept, indifferent, and opportunistic. This is what happens when people are given jobs well above their abilities and thus become expected to make decisions rather than follow them. Not only was everyone holding a seat of power in the South Korean Coast Guard unwilling to act as they reported situations to bosses in the hopes of passing the buck, those paid to be heroes when called upon weren’t experienced enough to fulfill that…

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REVIEW: 기생충 [Gisaengchung] [Parasite] [2019]

This is so metaphorical. Min (Seo-joon Park) arrives unannounced at the semi-basement dwelling of his old friend Kim Ki-woo (Woo-sik Choi). The former is a college student about to study abroad, the latter an unemployed high school graduate doing his best to leech free wifi by the bathroom window since he, his sister (So-dam Park‘s Ki-jung), father (Kang-ho Song‘s Ki-taek), and mother (Hye-jin Jang‘s Chung-sook) have all fallen on hard times. Relegated to getting low-balled by a pizza joint for poorly folding their boxes on the cheap, the Kim family…

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FANTASIA19 REVIEW: 우상 [Woo-sang] [Idol] [2019]

You take the fault. Two fathers and two sons are embroiled in the aftermath of a cover-up wherein one boy winds up dead and the other imprisoned. Su-jin Lee could have spun his tale with little else since the perpetrator’s (Jo Byeong-gyu‘s Yo-han was behind the wheel, drunk and speeding down a quiet service street) father (Han Suk-kyu‘s Koo Myung-hui) is a political messiah running for governor while the victim’s dad (Sol Kyung-gu‘s Yoo Joong-sik) possesses just enough desperation and desire for retribution to go to court and make certain…

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FANTASIA19 REVIEW: 메기 [Maggie] [2019]

Let’s believe in people from now on. How would a movie narrated by a catfish feel? While the animal probably has a good view of what’s going on, would it understand? And when people use it as a stand-in for their conscience—knowing (yet not wanting to accept) the voice responding was still his/her own—would it retain the context of what it had heard? This fish would be an objective third party observer trying to parse the world around it through those few kind souls that pay it the time of…

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REVIEW: 버닝 [Beoning] [Burning] [2018]

Should I forget it ‘isn’t’ here? Jong-su (Ah-In Yoo) never tells Hae-mi (Jong-seo Jeon) what “metaphor” means. They’re standing in Ben’s (Steven Yeun) kitchen as he chops ingredients for a pasta dish and talks philosophically with a smug smile until the question comes up. He defers answering her to Jong-su since he’s the writer of the group, but he decides to ask where the bathroom is instead of supplying one. It’s ironic since the entirety of Chang-dong Lee‘s Beoning [Burning] proves one giant metaphor for the anger, uncertainty, and entitlement…

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