Korean Films Rundown (1)

I’ve seen many Korean films in Germany but they were usually about a few martial artists from an ancient kingdom flying through an abundance of special effects and eliminating each plot hole with a fire ball. I guess the only Korean film which has some popularity without featuring martial artists or a horror theme is Oldboy.

So it was time for a Korean movie marathon, since the videos were already piling up. I sometimes buy a DVD and then watch it for the first time after a year or so…

First was Attack the Gas Station (1999) which is, um, about four social outcasts attacking a gas station. After demolishing and robbing the station, they are already bored on the next day and decide to attack the same station again. This time they don’t get as much money but they have an idea and start running the station by themselves. Of course with their short-tempered behaviour and their general lack of respect for any authority (police, elders) they quickly make some new enemies and hostages. I don’t want to spoil more of the content but there are some great comedic scenes in it as well.

Bi-mong (Dream) is more of an arthouse movie, directed by KIM Ki-duk and starring ODAGIRI Jo who is also known for his roles in Mushishi and Azumi. Besides the story (Japanese guy having hyper-realistic dreams which are acted out by a sleepwalking woman in reality) the interesting bit was the language. I understood (without looking at the subtitles) exactly half of it. Odagiri is talking only in Japanese throughout the whole movie while the rest of the cast is only talking in Korean. But they all talk like they perfectly understand each other and him being Japanese is never a topic.

Last one (for now) is Yeongeo wanjeonjeongbok or Please teach me English. Young-ju is working at a government office. One day a foreigner comes in, complaining about a high utilities bill and demanding to speak to someone in English. Of course there is no one and so Young-ju is selected to begin English lessons. There are a variety of people attending the lessons including a woman who has already been to twenty different schools. Young-ju’s love interest is Mun-su.
While the story is quite predictable there are so many great scenes. I especially liked the more surreal ones, like the Mortal-Kombat-style placement test.

Mia Jaap

Journalist, developer and passionate about Japanese and Korean language. Japan is my #1 country for travelling, penguins my favourite animals.

2 thoughts on “Korean Films Rundown (1)

  • 25. January 2009 at 02:35

    I’ve wanted to see Attack the Gas Station for a while. I’ve heard it is fun. I need to check it out.

    Have you seen Memories of Murder? I like that one a lot. Salinui chueok is the Korean title.

  • 25. January 2009 at 12:35

    Not yet, 2009, Silmido and Yesterday are on my list next…

    Yeah, AtGS is funny. I didn’t know before that Pepsi can be considered a patriotic drink for Koreans 😉


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