Coming Soon: Korean Movies, 2016 Nov 9 & 10

The Korean films coming to theaters this week just might be worth checking out!...Read More
Korean woman counts big money at bowling alley gambling.

Split (스플릿)

  • Directed by: Choi Gukhee (최국희)
  • Starring: Yoo Ji-tae (유지태), Lee Jung-hyun (이정현), Lee David (이다윗), Jung Sung-hwa (정성화)
  • The Film: Chul-jong (Yoo Ji-tae) was on his way to becoming a bowling legend before he suddenly ended up losing everything after an unfortunate accident. He now struggles to get by as a fake oil salesman by day and a bowling gambler by night.One day, he manages to cross paths with Young-hoon (David Lee), a young bowler with prodigious talent, and the two decide to become partners. With the help of Hee-jin (Lee Jung-hyun), Chul-jong’s friend and gambling broker, they set up a high-stakes bowling match with a man known as “Toad” (Jung Sung-hwa) and a fierce competition begins…

As far as sport movies go there is definitely not an over abundance of bowling films out there, so as someone who really enjoys to bowl, this film looks like a lot of fun! Kingpin (1996) comes to mind but that was a straight-up comedy. And of course The Big Lebowski (1998) has a ton of scenes in a bowling alley but it does not focus on a an actual bowling competition in the true sense a sports film would.

Actor Yoo Ji-tae is well known for his role in the world-renowned Oldboy (2003) as Oh Dae-su’s captor and maybe also from the more recent Midnight FM (2010). Actress Lee Jung-hyun has a career in TV and film but is most well-known for her singing career and is often credited for introducing the techno music scene to Korea.

Overall, Split looks to follow your typical sports movie tropes so it will be up to the pacing, performances, and the originality of it being about bowling (rather than the long played-out films about baseball or basketball that we would typically expect) that will make or break this film. Due to all the gambling, the trailer has Split looking like Tazza: The High Rollers (2006) mixed with bowling instead of the Korean card game. So if audiences respond even half as enthusiastically, Split could end up a pretty big success. Expectations: Moderate Interest: High
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Yourself and Yours (당신자신과 당신의 것)

  • Directed by: Hong Sang-soo (홍상수)
  • Starring: Kim Joo-hyuk (김주혁), Lee Yoo-young (이유영), Kim Ui-seong (김의성), Kwon Hae-hyo (권해효), Yoo Jun-sang (유준상)
  • The Film: Young-soo is a painter (Kim Ju-hyuk) whose mother in critical condition. When he hears that his girlfriend Min-jung (Lee Yoo-young) got into a fight with another man over drinks, they argue and decide to split up for a while. The next day Young-soo goes out to look for Min-jung but can’t find her anywhere. Meanwhile, things get complicated as other women start to resemble Min-jung…

Writer/director Hong Sang-soo has a great record of getting one film out per year spanning nearly his entire career as a filmmaker. Yourself and Yours marks his 18th feature film and looks to come with the director’s signature minimalist style. Lots of long-takes over food and drinks while couples and friends talk or argue through various relationship issues. The men are typically artistic types struggling with personal issues while the women are stuck in different kinds of relationship limbo caused by the men in their lives or some inner emotional turmoil.

The films of Hong Song-soo tend to divide audiences in ways similar to the films of Kim Ki-duk. The style and themes typically explored are simply not for everyone and can seem heavy-handed to some. As of late, Hong Song-soo films have incorporated more playful structures and technical gimmicks, possibly to keep his hyper-realistic approach interesting in what might seem to be played-out already. Interestingly, when bringing up either of these directors with Korean people the reaction is either extremely negative or very enthusiastic. For me, that is a sign of something very interesting and worthy of checking out for yourself to see which side you fall on. Expectations: Moderate Interest: Moderate


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