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The Handmaiden movie review: the women pushing back against misogyny, thwarted by their own film

MaryAnn’s quick take… The intrigue, shifting alliances, and twisted revenge? Delicious, pulpy fun. The male-gazey soft-core porn that undermines the female protagonists? Not so much. I’m “biast” (pro): I’m desperate for stories about women

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

I have not read the source material

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

In Japanese-occupied 1930s Korea, a Korean con man (Jung-woo Ha) and a Korean pickpocket (Tae-ri Kim) conspire to steal the fortune of sheltered Japanese heiress Lady Hideko (Min-hee Kim). He will pose as “Count Fujiwara” and woo Hideko, while thief Sook-Hee will become Hideko’s shy new maid “Tamako” and convince the lady to run off with the handsome and romantic count instead of marrying her hideous widowed uncle-by-marriage Kouzuki (Jin-woong Jo), who of course is (also) only after his niece’s money. The plan is, after “Fujiwara” and Hideko are wed,
See full article at FlickFilosopher »

Movie Review – The Handmaiden (2016)

The Handmaiden, 2016.

Directed by Park Chan-wook

Starring Min-hee Kim, Tae-ri Kim, Jung-woo Ha, and Jin-woong Jo.

Synopsis:

Japanese heiress Hideko employs a new handmaiden, Sook-hee, but what she doesn’t know is that the girl is a pickpocket. She’s been recruited by a con artist who aims to marry her mistress and swindle her out of her fortune. The plot seems to be going according to plan, until Hideko starts to fall for her maid.

For Victorian England, read Korea under Japanese occupation in the 1930s. Oldboy director Park Chan-wook has taken Sarah Waters’ 2002 novel Fingersmith and changed its location and timing, turning it into luxurious thriller with more twists and turns than the writhing octopus that one of the characters keeps crammed into an all-too-small tank. The result is The Handmaiden, the director’s first Korean film after Stoker.

Sook-hee (Tae-ri Kim) comes from poverty, the daughter of a notorious pickpocket.
See full article at Flickeringmyth »

Film Review: Surprising Fun in Revenge Tale of ‘The Handmaiden’

Chicago – Although “The Handmaiden” is based in deceit, fetishes, thievery and subservience, director Park Chan-Wook (“Stoker”) keeps it light by the addition of some subversive humor, and weaves a mystery with a pitch that is like the “The Sting” meets “In the Realm of the Senses.”

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Yes, there is eroticism in the film, but it is presented as a plot motivator, and is also used as a great punch line. Mostly the step-by-step story, told by emphasizing different elements of the same situation, seeks comeuppance for the evil that lurks within, even though all the players seem to have some level of larceny in their souls. That edge is the fun, as some characters end up bumbling in their own hubris, while others stay one step ahead of what could be their downfall. The dark mystery/comedy of Hitchcock, the cross cutting of Kurosawa and even the wackiness of
See full article at HollywoodChicago.com »

60th BFI London Film Festival 2016 Review – The Handmaiden (2016)

The Handmaiden, 2016

Directed by Park Chan-wook

Starring Min-hee Kim, Kim Tae-ri, Jung-woo Ha, Jin-woong Jo

Synopsis:

During the Japanese occupation of Korea, young con-woman Sook-Hee is hired to be a wealthy heiress’s handmaiden at an isolated countryside estate. Joining forces with a fellow thief, she plans to swindle the heiress out of her fortune, only to run into complications when she falls head-first into a passionate lesbian love affair. Adapted from Sarah Walter’s novel Fingersmith.

It seems pretty strange to be describing Park Chan-wook’s latest film as a period drama based on a historical novel by a British author. The Korean fan-favourite, a veteran of Asian Extreme cinema since even before hitting the big time with modern crime classic Oldboy back in 2003, seems to usually find himself chasing much more eccentric ideas, in much more eccentric settings. Rest assured though, whilst the first act of The Handmaiden
See full article at Flickeringmyth »

The Berlin File is out on DVD December 24th

This December 24th Ryoo Seung-wan’s The Berlin File is debuting on DVD from Cj Entertainment. The Berlin File stars Jung-woo Ha (winner of the Best Actor award for this performance at the 2013 Baek Sang Art Awards), Suk-kyu Han (Eye for an Eye), Seung-beom Ryu (Perfect Number, Doomsday Book) and Gianna Jun (The Thieves, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan). The bonus materials include deleted scenes and “The Making of The Berlin Files,” a behind-scene scenes featurette.

Synopsis

A tense illegal arms deal in a Berlin hotel suddenly descends into mayhem after a “ghost” agent named Jong-Seong (Jung-woo Ha) appears on the scene. Secretly watching the deal go down is embattled South Korean intelligence chief Jin-soo (Suk-Kyu Han), the North Koreans and the CIA, who are all left trying to decode whether the ghost is a double-agent or taking the fall for a more insidious plot. Myung-soo (Seung-beom Ryu) a young,
See full article at AsianMoviePulse »

The Berlin File (2013) Review

Plot75% Acting85% Directing80% Music75%Agile, cool spy thriller with great action scenes and interesting story development.A bit too shallow and safe. 79%Overall Score Reader Rating: (3 Votes)98%

I can’t say I’m disappointed in ‘The Berlin File’. Seung-wan Ryoo, its director, did everything I expected… but not everything that I wanted. And I can hardly blame him. Although espionage is nothing more than the dark side of politics, real politics are rarely addressed in spy movies, at least in a non-standardized and meaningful way. But, if you can ignore that, then it’s not a problem, really. So, why take the chance? Nobody expects to see politics in a movie, anyway. For me it was like watching a juggler flip three power saws… without turning them on. You can’t expect him to do it, but then again, why use power saws if not for the added risk? I don’t expect it,
See full article at AsianMoviePulse »

DVD Release: The Berlin File

DVD Release Date: Dec. 24, 2013

Price: DVD $26.98

Studio: Cj Entertainment

Ha Jung-woo goes for the gun in The Berlin File.

Korean action auteur Ryoo Seung-wan (City of Violence, Crying Fist) delivers his signature style to the East meets West double agent intrigue in the 2012 Korean action thriller film The Berlin File.

Exposed during an illegal arms trade gone wrong in Berlin, a North Korean “ghost” agent (Ha Jung-woo) finds himself in the cross-hairs of an international manhunt. Caught between his love of country and his wife (Gianna Jun), he must quickly prepare to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Along with Jung-woo Ha (winner of the Best Actor award for this performance at the 2013 Baek Sang Art Awards), the cast includes Suk-kyu Han (Eye for an Eye), Seung-beom Ryu (Perfect Number) and Gianna Jun (Snow Flower and the Secret Fan).

Presented in Korean with English subtitles, the DVD includes deleted scenes and “The Making of The Berlin Files,
See full article at Disc Dish »

Eiff 2013: 'The Berlin File' review

  • CineVue
★★☆☆☆ Missions, murders and conspiracies: the basic recipe for almost all of Seung-wan Ryoo's films. His ninth feature, The Berlin File (2013), borrows a similarly seething framework to Dachimawa Lee (2008), all about spies and the threat of North Korea. This is certainly timely given Western paranoia over a nuclear Pyongyang, but Ryoo's new piece is a failed attempt at disentangling the complex web of corruption and browbeating politics cooked up between the military and government. Plotting this film is basically folly, as it clings to the idea that the action sequences will be so mesmerising you won't need to know what's going on.

Pyo (Jung-woo Ha), a North Korean secret agent, is sent undercover to expose an illegal arms deal but is soon caught up in a North-South espionage nightmare, where traitors defect and then re-defect, cameras film other cameras and Pyo is left wondering who has betrayed him: his wife or his political overlords.
See full article at CineVue »

Watch: Trailer For Ryoo Seung-Wan’s Spy Thriller The Berlin File

If you want a Bourne Identity-type thriller with a Korean twist, you’ve come to the right place. Cj Entertainment has released the trailer for the blockbuster spy thriller The Berlin File arriving in the States next month.

Ryoo Seung-wan’s latest film was shot on location in Berlin and Eastern Europe, starring Jung-woo Ha, Han Suk Kyu, Ryoo Seung-bum and Gianna Jun.

From the director of Arahan and City of Violence, Ryoo comes back to the genre with his most ambitious project yet and intends to deliver the twisty tale of political intrigue and personal redemption.

The Berlin Files is expected to make a big splash when it opens in South Korea on January 31st and will hit U.S. and Canadian theaters February 15th, 2013.

Check out the official Us trailer for Ryoo’s first film since 2010s The Unjust including trademarks like crazy violence and neo-noirish elements like
See full article at Filmofilia »

Watch: Trailer for Seung-wan Ryoo's Korean Thriller 'The Berlin File'

"A ghost?" Thanks to a tip from Quint on AICN, there's a trailer to watch for a spy-action-thriller film called The Berlin File, directed by Seung-wan Ryoo of films like The City of Violence, Crying Fist and No Blood No Tears. It pretty much looks like an action-packed Korean mix of Jason Bourne and James Bond in the tone of Infernal Affairs, which they sort of briefly make fun of anyway with that line about "arms deals, spying, assassination, deception." The cast includes Jung-woo Ha, Han Suk Kyu, Ryoo Seung-bum and Gianna Jun. It looks good, but the funniest part is the "revenge is a dish best served cold" line. Enjoy! Watch the official Us trailer for Seung-wan Ryoo's The Berlin File, on YouTube (via AICN): Action auteur Seung-wan Ryoo (Die Bad, No Blood No Tears, Crying Fist, The City of Violence) comes back to the genre with
See full article at FirstShowing.net »

Quick Teaser for the South Korean Spy Actioner The Berlin File

Arahan” and “Crying Fist” director Seung-wan Ryoo hops into the deadly spy game with the new South Korean actioner “The Berlin File”, starring some of South Korea’s powerhouse actors. The action doesn’t look too bad, either. Check out a brief 30-second teaser trailer for the film, which is set on location in Berlin, Germany, and from the looks of it, is going to be one intense thrill ride. The plot goes something like this: Exposed by their government, a North Korean spy and his wife attempt to escape pursuing Korean agents as they flee Berlin. The film stars Gianna Jun (of “Blood: The Last Vampire” fame, though she’s still much more famous worldwide for the romcom hit “My Sassy Girl”), Jung-woo Ha, Seung-beom Ryu, and Han Suk Kyu (no stranger to spy movies himself with hits like “Shiri” and “Double Agent” under his belt). South Korea gets
See full article at Beyond Hollywood »

The 2000′s: A Vital Decade in Horror Cinema (pt 2)

Special Mention: The Fake Trailers from Grindhouse (2007, USA): The four fake trailers featured in the otherwise disappointing Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino double-feature: Machete by Robert Rodriguez, Werewolf Women of the SS by Rob Zombie, Thanksgiving by Eli Roth and Don’t by Edgar Wright-are all very entertaining trips down horror/exploitation film memory lane and are easily the best part of the film.

****

2) Other Notable Horror Films Of The 2000’s:

This list focuses on films that are partially successful and even touch on brilliance at times but ultimately don’t pull everything together to fully deliver on their promise.

Intacto (Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, 2001, Spain):

This film about a group of people blessed with supernatural good luck has a great premise, several great scenes-the revelation of the plane crash early in the film, the blindfolded race through the trees and the Russian roulette climax-plus the welcome presence of
See full article at SoundOnSight »

[Nyaff Review] Nameless Gangster

Set against President Tae-woo Roh’s 1990 crackdown on organized crime in South Korea, Bumchoiwaui junjaeng [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 and directed by Jung-woo Ha, the film, being hailed as its country’s Goodfellas, sifts through time in order to illustrate this man’s odd trajectory from crooked civil servant to crime syndicate boss while discovering whether or not he was the villain hotshot prosecutor Beom-seok Jo (Do-wan Kwak) believes. With a little black book of high-level officials and important men sharing his clan’s surname in his pocket, Ik-hyun Choi (Min-shik Choi) lets his overactive mouth talk his way into the gang life with promises of loyalty and service. Unfortunately for them, his survivor’s mentality would never cease putting his own wellbeing first.

About to
See full article at The Film Stage »

Film Review: 'The Yellow Sea'

  • CineVue
★★★★☆ Director Hong-jin Na turned a lot of heads in 2008 with the Cannes hit The Chaser, a thrilling story based on one of South Korea's most bizarre serial killers. Along with actors Jung-woo Ha and Yun-seok Kim, he was part of a fantastic trio which even got the attention of Warner Bros. for a possible Us remake. Two years later, they’re at it again with The Yellow Sea (2010).

The Yellow Sea brings back the two amazing leads and matches them with a plot that unfolds over two-and-a-half action-packed hours. Gu-nam (Ha) is a cab driver from Yanji City a Korean border town straddling North and South and a melting pot of cultural backgrounds including Russian, Chinese and Korean. We are informed that over half the people living there make their living by illegal means. It only seems fitting to get a first glimpse of Gu-nam in an illicit mahjong gambling den.
See full article at CineVue »

Laff 2011: The Yellow Sea (aka The Murderer) review

Director: Hong-jin Na. Review: Adgy. Director Hong-jin Na’s debut, The Chaser (our review) was one of the more impressive movies to come out of Korea in the last couple of years, so expectations for his sophomore feature, The Yellow Sea, were high. Would he be able to match the intensity and action of his previous film? In this reviewer’s opinion, the answer is a resounding “Yes". The film follows Gu-nam, played by Jung-woo Ha (previously seen as the bad guy in The Chaser), a poor Chinese Korean living in China and working to pay off the massive debt incurred to smuggle his wife into South Korea. When his gambling debts begin to spiral out of his control, Gu-nam is hired by local mobster Myun, played by Yun-seok Kim (previously seen as the protagonist in The Chaser), to assassinate someone in South Korea, paying off his obligations. As you might expect,
See full article at 24FramesPerSecond »

Laff 2011: The Yellow Sea (aka The Murderer) review

Director: Hong-jin Na. Review: Adgy. Director Hong-jin Na’s debut, The Chaser (our review) was one of the more impressive movies to come out of Korea in the last couple of years, so expectations for his sophomore feature, The Yellow Sea, were high. Would he be able to match the intensity and action of his previous film? In this reviewer’s opinion, the answer is a resounding “Yes". The film follows Gu-nam, played by Jung-woo Ha (previously seen as the bad guy in The Chaser), a poor Chinese Korean living in China and working to pay off the massive debt incurred to smuggle his wife into South Korea. When his gambling debts begin to spiral out of his control, Gu-nam is hired by local mobster Myun, played by Yun-seok Kim (previously seen as the protagonist in The Chaser), to assassinate someone in South Korea, paying off his obligations. As you might expect,
See full article at 24FramesPerSecond »

Cannes Review: Na Hong-Jin's 'The Yellow Sea' An Epic, Pulse-Pounding Thriller

Cannes Review: Na Hong-Jin's 'The Yellow Sea' An Epic, Pulse-Pounding Thriller
Director Na Hong-Jin arrived in a big way in 2008 with "The Chaser," an action thriller that made huge waves on the genre film circuit and nabbed a midnight screening slot at the Cannes Film Festival a few years back. For his latest effort, Hong-Jin paired up with his two lead actors from that film--Jung-woo Ha and Yun-seok Kim--and has returned to the Croisette with "The Yellow Sea" an electric, epic crime thriller that should launch the director into top tier of South Korean film directors alongside Bong Joon-ho and Park Chan-wook. The film's tightly coiled tale that will unwind…
See full article at The Playlist »

Cannes 2011: Trailer for Na Hong-jin’s Crime Thriller ‘The Yellow Sea’

Part of the Un Certain Regard line-up at the 64th Cannes Film Festival next month is Na Hong-jin‘s crime thriller The Yellow Sea. He re-teams with the stars of his 2008 break-out debut The Chaser, Yun-seok Kim and Jung-woo Ha, for this film. Twitch has uncovered an English-subtitled trailer, which you can check out below. The trailer itself is a bit sloppy, but it looks like an engaging drama. Let us know what you think in the comments.

Synopsis:

On the Chinese side of the China-Russia-North Korea border, there is a region called Yanbian, Korean Autonomous Prefecture. This film tells the story of a man from this region, who embarks on an assassination mission to South Korea in order to pay off his mounting debts. He is only given $500 in advance and takes the job without knowing much about his target. However, before long a series of conspiracies and betrayals
See full article at The Film Stage »

The Chaser

The Chaser (Chugyeogja) Directed by: Hong-jin Na Cast: Yun-seok Kim, Jung-woo Ha, Yeong-hie Seo Running Time: 2 hrs Rating: Unrated (for adults) 32nd Portland International Film Festival Country: South Korea English?: No, but subtitled in English. Plot: Police Detective turned pimp Joong-ho (Kim) runs low on ladies, so when a seedy client calls, he forces ailing Mi-jin to take the job. Unfortunately, this client happens to be a total whack-job. Joong-Ho goes off to catch the client and find Mi-jin and in the process has a really wild night. Who’s It For? Adults who aren't squeamish. I'd recommend it to fans of other recent South Korean films like Oldboy and The Host. Overall Do you love tense thrillers, but just wish there was a little police farce thrown in? Do you like your heroes
See full article at Scorecard Review »

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