A Werewolf Boy – A 2012 Korean Movie

I don’t usually fancy random notifications that stream into my mobile phone. When VIU notified me that A Werewolf Boy is now available for streaming, my natural instinct kicked in, and just when I was about to ignore the notification, the words “Park Bo-young” caught my eyes.

A 2012 Korean movie featuring Park Bo-young.

She is an award-winning actress in Korea – though you must know by now that in South Korea, there are lots and lots of competitions from music to movies to TV-series to what-have-you.

I am a huge fan of Park Bo-young and have been watching her TV series whenever available. Here in Singapore though, K-dramas or K-movies especially the older ones can be limited.

Hence, I have got to give it to VIU and their well-crafted notification (as words are limited). Last night I have attempted to watch A Werewolf Boy but I fell asleep shortly after it had started. This afternoon, I was more alert and have watched the entire 2-hour movie in one go.

While it is an eight years old movie, I still enjoyed watching it. I am familiar with how werewolf themed stories work in the Western world. And it is refreshing to see it from the Korean’s perspective.

OK. Spoilers from this point onwards.

Song Joong-ki played the werewolf boy. His acting was superb. He really acted like … an animal not being able to speak or write and behaved like an untamed wolf. And the trigger for him to transform from his human form is when his loved one was endangered.

Neat eh?

Somehow, in this Korean version, the werewolf was created through a secret government project in an attempt to create super soldiers. I don’t really get why there is only one of them.

Not surprisingly, Park Bo-young was the one who could tame the werewolf.

At the end, when Park Bo-young asked the werewolf boy to wait for her return, the boy waited for decades.

Oh my.

He really loved her.

And yes, Park Bo-young’s acting is amazing, as ever.

Natali – The Korean Erotic Film In 3D, And What Could’ve Been

When asked, my replied to Cynthia was, “Too much talking, not enough drama.”  She laughed, in broad daylight, “Not enough sex you mean?”  It was my turn to laugh, “No, no, no.  I really mean not enough drama.”  It was a beautiful Thursday afternoon.  I could have felt much happier, if not for that sad, sad Korean movie.  I am a big fan of Korean movies though.  Natali is Korean’s first in 3D.  I have watched all sorts of movies in 3D, but not in the genre of erotica.  Was I curious?  Of course.

Natali is a sculpture created by a maestro sculptor.  For ten years, Natali remains unsold and as part of the sculptor’s private collection.  One fine day, one of his students turns up at his exhibition and wants to know more about Natali.  Thereafter are a series of flashbacks told from two men who were both in love with Mi-Ran – the girl who modeled for Natali.  Memory, as we know, is inaccurate.  In that sense, this setup does provide interesting opportunities for the story to develop.  This also explains why the second part of the movie is so much more enjoyable to watch.  More drama oriented, which I wish the story writer could have expanded upon.  And less on the dull debate between two men on the topics of realism and fantasy, the role of an art critic, and etc.  Does any of these topics contribute to the central theme of the story – Natali / Mi-Ran?  Unfortunately no.  The film could have focused more on the questions of: Can two people love each other while one of them has another person in his or her heart?  Do people often settle down in marriage with someone they have been passionately in love with?  What is eternal love?  The film touches onto these questions a bit too little, a little too late.

The sex scenes, I must admit, are beautifully made, tastefully filmed.  The music, it draws emotion.  On one hand, the film satisfies my curiosity of how this genre looks like on 3D.  On the other hand, I wish there was a non-3D version instead.  Are these scenes lifelike?  You bet.  However, the color is awful in 3D.  And for this particular movie, there is a heavy ghost shadowing effect on the edges that makes the subjects look blurry.  Take the subtitles as an example.  The words pop out from the screen, yes.  But there is a ghost image behind the subtitles that I seldom see in other 3D movies.  I am not sure what has gone wrong.  The filmmakers may have overdone the 3D effect.  Or there is something not right about those 3D glasses.

While Natali will not stop me from watching another Korean movie, I will likely to think twice before watching another movie in 3D.

A Better Tomorrow – Emotional, And Gripping!

TK, our partner-in-crime in Movie Review Squad texted Cynthia when we were waiting to board our plane, on New Year’s day, back to Singapore.  I was still on a Zen mode, cut off from any Internet access for more than a week.  And so, after numerous text exchanges between TK and Cynthia discussing the logistics of our first movie outing of 2011, I could not contain my bursting desire and said to Cynthia, “Just ask TK to book anything, and we will be there”.  When I learned that TK has booked us a Korean movie, I was very excited.  I pictured a typical Korean drama, with lots and lots of pretty Korean actresses.  Ah, I was so hyped up for some solid visual simulation that when TK met us in Orchard, when he texted us that he was really excited about our first outing of the year, I wanted to reply, “You have no idea”.  I didn’t, because I was driving.

“A Better Tomorrow” is – later as I found out – a remake of a Hong Kong classic movie of the same name.   I have not watched that classic, so I may not be as traumatized as those who are in love with the old film.  Personally, I am finding it quite unfair to compare Korean actors with Chow Yun Fat and Leslie Cheung whom some of us are so familiar with.  Looking at the quality of acting in this Korean remake, I was touched.  The emotion is convincing and one of the gangsters (the Chow Yun Fat clone) does look cool enough to get Cynthia all excited.  No wonder she loves this Korean remake more than the two of us for there are no actresses in this movie, at all.  Zero.

I see where the “problem” is.  Korean men (at least those on screen) are usually, how shall I say, so “pretty”.  Or handsome in a feminine way.  It does look strange to see two men crying to each other trying very hard to defy the urge to say, “I forgive you”, or “Let’s forget the past”.  And they have to act persistently stubborn over the duration of the film with one says, “You are not my brother, I do not want to see you anymore”, and another says, “You are the only brother I have, and let’s not get separated again.”  Mind you, this is a Korean film, with subtitles.  Hence I am not sure how much is lost in translation.  Maybe the original lines are not so cheesy.  By and large, I am drawn into the emotion of the acting.  I like most of the actors, except perhaps the little brother who appears to overact.  But hey, looking at the plot, I suppose  he has the reason to hold his grudges, for all these years.  So, what is the plot like?

Here is a highlight, no spoiler of course.  It is shown right in the beginning of the show.  A pair of brothers together with their mother tried to make an escape from North Korea into South Korea.  Somehow (I think), during the chase by the guards, the little brother fell down and the elder brother scared of being discovered, deserted his little brother and his mother.  The two got caught and the mother was executed.  Since then, the two brothers have been separated, until later in the story, when one becomes a criminal and another, a cop.

There is a good sense of heroism in the movie.  The drama bit made some of the audiences cried.  The gunfight bit was exciting to watch (except perhaps for those who know the ending, since this is a remake).  If I was the scriptwriter, I would replace the little brother with a childhood sweetheart of the elder brother.  And I would make the first desertion perceived as one, but it is not.  Now, that would make a more heart wrenching movie, true to Korean standard.

The Housemaid – More Than Just A Korean Erotic Thriller

I remember seeing the movie poster of “The Housemaid” when we were in Hong Kong.  Back then, we picked a Spanish film to watch instead.  I am surprised.  More often than not, films get released in Singapore earlier than in Hong Kong.  When Omy.sg sent me a media invite to preview the movie, I eagerly said yes.  I love watching Korean movies.  More so, I love watching Jeon Do-yeon’s performance.  “You Are My Sunshine” still breaks my heart every time I think about it.

“The Housemaid” is the type of film that the ending may disorientate you.  And I am sure there are more than one way to interpret the story.  Without giving out spoilers and if you do watch this film, pay attention to the seemingly irrelevant beginning and the bizarrely surreal ending and see if that warrants a valid connection.  There are details such as the housemaid’s burnt mark (that was not explained), her mother’s tomb (what about her father?), and some seemingly out of the sort one-liner dialogs – all of which that may or may not contribute to the story, entirely up to your interpretation.  For me, I love this aspect of the movie.  Having said so, I could imagine if one is to ignore these bits and pieces of seemingly irrelevant details, the thriller itself may not be as compelling.  Because of the lack of resolution in almost all fronts.

“The Housemaid” is a drama that takes place mostly inside a very rich household.  A family needs a young housemaid (hence Jeon Do-yeon) to help out with the housework and the upbring of the family’s young daughter.  A young and pretty wife who is pregnant with a twin.  A young and handsome husband who possesses of chest muscles that even I admire (from a bodybuilding point of view!).  And there is an old housemaid who keeps things running smoothly inside this gigantic house.  Later on, the mother of the young wife also comes into the picture.  The plot centers upon how these characters interact with one another, love and hate one another.  Solid acting, I enjoy watching.  And as for the sex scenes, I think they are artistically done (albeit a bit comical in parts).  Pretty much like the rest of the movie.  Jeon Do-yeon plays the role of an innocent and good hearted housemaid.  Trust me.  You will feel for her.

“The Housemaid” will be opened in Singapore this Thursday (Nov 11).  Below is the trailer.

The Blood Pledge – Horror Not For Horror’s Sake, Good Stuff!

Once in a while, I am handed a free pass to do something I love to do in the evening, alone.  Last Friday, Cynthia has to attend a non-work related workshop.  The first thing I did, like in the past, was to pick a horror film to watch, alone.

“The Blood Pledge” is a Korean horror movie.  I have watched horror films mainly from Spain, Thailand, Japan, and Indonesia.  “The Blood Pledge” is quite possibly the first horror movie I have watched in Korean.  And I like it.  I like this movie because it is horror not for horror’s sake.  Don’t get me wrong.  Some scenes are pretty scary.  Hair standing moments filmed in broad daylight, which I think is tougher to do then scaring people in low light.  Majority of the scenes tell a good drama, in Korean style.  Some scenes are pretty moving.  Typically, the characters in a horror movie are not eye pleasing and the scene gets grosser and grosser towards the end.  The characters in “The Blood Pledge”, except the ghosts of course, are eye candies.  Towards the end, I thought I was watching a typical Korean drama.  A nice surprise it was.

Back to the story, there are four girls pledged to, I suppose, die together.  And then one girl mysteriously dies.  The sister of the deceased sets out to seek the truth while the ghost sets out to seek what appears as vengeance.  As the story unfolds, the motive gets more and more twisted.  Not an ending as I would expect it to be.  My only complain is the censorship in Singapore.  It is ridiculous.  What do you expect out of a horror film?  Of course there are disturbing scenes.  I felt as though I was robbed out of the best moments in the film.

One friend of mine told me that there are previous installments prior to “The Blood Pledge”.  Perhaps I shall source them out, outside Singapore of course.  Stupid censorship, sigh.