Kim Yun-seok

Fantasia 2014

Fantasia International Film Festival 2014 runs July 17 to August 6. Follow all of our coverage here. The Daybreakers are a group of five men whose rap sheets include murder, armed robbery, assault and worse, but after trying their hand at kidnapping a three year old boy only to see the ransom drop go bust they decide to add something new to their repertoire — fatherhood. They raise the boy, now named Hwayi (Yeo Jin-gu), as their own. It’s a harsh childhood as five sociopathic fathers is no replacement for the love of a real parent, but he learns kindness and affection from his surrogate mother, Yeong-joo (Lim Ji-eun), who’s also a long-term captive of the men. Hwayi is raised to fear and respect his fathers, but they’re also capable of bonding with the boy in an attempt to shape him into one of them. Over the years they teach him their various specialties until finally, twelve years after stealing him from his parents, they take him on a job and pressure him to make his first kill. Already affected by being forced to murder someone, Hwayi is thrown for a far bigger loop when he discovers the identity of the victim and the details of his own existence. Hwayi: A Monster Boy is a rare example — and I don’t say this lightly — of nearly perfect genre cinema. Writer/director Jang Joon-hwan‘s long-awaited follow-up to 2003’s Save the Green Planet is a deft and bloody melange of action, suspense, comedy, heart, drama and humanity […]

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Foreign Objects - Large

An elaborate theft involving high flying acrobatics, gadgetry and a con job opens writer/director Choi Dong-hoon‘s latest action/comedy, The Thieves, and it sets a perfect tone for the next hour. Close calls and comedic scrapes trade time with insult-filled bickering amidst the group of thieves always looking out for their next score, but when the tight-knit Korean gang joins forces with a Chinese team for an enormous theft the banter takes on a far more dangerous edge. Macau Park (Kim Yun-seok) is the connective tissue bringing the two groups together with the goal of liberating a $30 million diamond called the Tear of the Sun away from its current owner. Each side, and each individual thief, brings a necessary element to the job, but they also bring an unavoidable uncertainty as to their loyalties. The predicament is reminiscent of the tale of the frog and the scorpion trying to cross a river… except in the world of thieves everyone is a scorpion.

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From a cinematic export standpoint, there is no greater thing coming out of Korea than pure and beautiful violence. Some of the brutality we’ve seen from Korea’s best and brightest absolutely blows away anything even dreamt about by American filmmakers. And with his second film, The Yellow Sea, Na Hong-jin has joined the legions of Korean blood auteurs with a film that is organic, fresh and full of some of the most dazzling hatchet-on-knife-on-hatchet violence to be seen on screens of any size this year.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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