I love Koreatown in the springtime…

Wherein I blog about all things Korean in Los Angeles

Bittersweet movies November 25, 2007

Of all the movies I saw at last week’s film festival, I’ve now identified my clear favorite. But first I have to say I didn’t hate any of the movies I saw, although there was one that wasn’t completely my thing (it’s not a movie any of you recommended, so no fears there). I was delighted that I finally got to see My Wife Is a Gangster, and I can’t figure out why MWIG 2 is so readily available while MWIG 1 doesn’t seem to be available anywhere, even on Tiger Cinema the last I checked (shame on you, TC). MWIG 1 didn’t disappoint, although I was prepared to be disappointed since I’d been dying to see it for so long. High expectations, you know. But no. Hilarious movie.

But not my fave.

Trust me to go dark and pick a totally non-comedy gangster semi-redemption pic for my favorite film. The Raven Favorite Award for KOFFLA 2007 (that’s the festival’s abbreviation) goes to A Bittersweet Life.

If you haven’t seen this movie, SEE IT. But if you hate antiheroes, don’t see it, because Lee Byung Hun’s character is an antihero extraordinaire. But after years of being a ruthless, conscience-free mob enforcer, he suddenly encounters a situation where his conscience won’t let him follow orders, and the movie follows his journey from there. Dark, bloody, tense, and awesome. It can be hard to portray an antihero sympathetically and get into his mind so we can understand him (witness Michael Clayton, which I just saw… oops, I can’t talk about that here, it’s not Korean), but A Bittersweet Life manages it.

Not to sound shallow, but Lee Byung Hun is also total eye candy. But he could have been hot as all get out and I still wouldn’t have liked the movie if it had worked less well.

Also in the movie were Shin Min Ah and Lee Ki Young, both of whom have been mentioned here before. Lee Ki Young even got a whole post dedicated to him here. Despite what I said about him then, he clearly does get shoved into gangster roles a lot. And as for her, well, all I can say is she pulls off the sweet and innocent act with grace, but c’mon, how often do real gangsters end up with sweet, innocent mistresses? Of course, real gangsters probably don’t look like Lee Byung Hun either. Her character was necessary for the story. It worked well enough. I let it slide.

P.S. The photo is from english.chosun.com.

 

A Love to Kill: The Verdict July 22, 2007

a-love-to-kill-2.jpgA Love to Kill is one of those kdramas where you get caught up in the story and while you’re watching it it works, but after it’s over and you’ve had time to think about it you realize that, um, it shouldn’t have worked.

Don’t get me wrong, this is still one of the few kdramas I’d consider buying instead of renting… And yeah, for some reason the huge long post I wrote got cut off here when I tried to post it, don’t ask me why. Thanks, WordPress. Maybe I’ll come back and try to recreate it later. Meanwhile here’s the short version: Rain did a great job, the love story needed a believability boost in the final 6 eps or so, and I loved the soundtrack. Click here for my fave song, 이 죽일 놈의 사랑 by Lee Soo Young.

Oh, and Shin Min Ah, the female lead, also stars in The Devil, a kdrama from this spring that I’m eagerly awaiting on DVD. Also in The Devil we’ve got the hot Uhm Tae Woong (in my age range, always a plus) and Joo Ji Hoon, the male lead from Goong. If they’re as good as they’ve been in the past, it should be worth the wait.

I guess I don’t need to come back and try to recreate this post after all. The short version works.

P.S. My post about Rain’s concert in LA is still generating hits, presumably for the hot pic. I still can’t get over the fact that they wouldn’t let him go onstage and say hi to his fans even if he wasn’t going to be allowed to sing.