Martin Cleary

J.S.A.: Joint Security Area (공동경비구역 JSA, Park Chan-wook: 2000)

A shooting incident in the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) leaves two North Korean soldiers dead, one South Korean soldier wounded and a fragile political situation. The Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC) gives Swiss Armed Forces Major Sophie E. Jean the task of investigating the incident – a potentially volatile situation given that, despite a confession from one of the soldiers, the statements from each of the Koreas completely contradict each other… Despite his recent foray into Hollywood with Stoker (U.S.A.: 2013), director… Read More »J.S.A.: Joint Security Area (공동경비구역 JSA, Park Chan-wook: 2000)

Christmas In August (8월의 크리스마스, Hur Jin-ho: 1998)

Jung-won is portrait photographer running a small shop in Gunsan. Although he is terminally ill, appearance-wise he appears to be fine and he gives no impression otherwise and tries to avoid discussing the situation with both his friends and family. One afternoon a meter reader by the name of Da-rim arrives at his shop and dramtically insists that he reproduces a photograph for her. An uncomfortable conversation produces an immediate spark between the two of them, although the level of conversation remains polite and limited. When… Read More »Christmas In August (8월의 크리스마스, Hur Jin-ho: 1998)

Failan (파이란, Song Hae-sung: 2001)

Kang-jae is low-level gangster, a hoodlum who receives no respect from the gang that he runs with, he is seen as no more than a washed up and gutless slob . Following his release from a ten day jail sentence – for selling porno videotapes to teenagers – Kang-jae tries to reconcile his friendship with Yong-Sik, the boss of the gang and with whom he has a long history. Yong-Sik’s star has risen just as surely as Kang-jae’s has fallen… Read More »Failan (파이란, Song Hae-sung: 2001)

Romantic Warriors (낭만자객, Yun Je-gyun: 2003)

A group of deadly assassins kidnap a hostage in the hope of getting a high ransom but when they manage to lose themselves in a forest and end up spending the night in a haunted house they manage to disrupt the plans of the ghosts to descend to heaven. The assassins hatch a plan to solve the problem but in doing so reveal themselves to be incompetent, so the ghosts decide to give them some training themselves… Before he became… Read More »Romantic Warriors (낭만자객, Yun Je-gyun: 2003)

Sector 7 (7광구, Kim Ji-hoon: 2011)

A team working on a sea rig off of the southern tip of Jeju Island fails in their attempts to find oil. When a member of senior management arrives on board it appears that the operation is to be closed down but, surprisingly, they are instead given several more months to continue their work. The initial elation turns to fear a members of the crew is found dead. At first appears that there may be a murderer on-board, but then… Read More »Sector 7 (7광구, Kim Ji-hoon: 2011)

“Introduce what they have missed”: An Interview with Leonardo Cinieri Lombroso

Reviewed recently here on the site, Through Korean Cinema is a fascinating documentary that examines the history of the Korean film industry through the perspectives and experiences of five influential filmmakers. Having appeared at several international festivals, Through Korean Cinema will appear on DVD in 2012. Director Leonardo Cinieri Lombroso was kind enough to answer some questions about his work – to explain how and why he decided to explore this subject and what his future plans are for further examining… Read More »“Introduce what they have missed”: An Interview with Leonardo Cinieri Lombroso

Through Korean Cinema (Leonardo Cinieri Lombroso, Italy: 2010)

Italian filmmaker Leonardo Cinieri Lombroso’s Through Korean Cinema combines interviews with five Korean filmmakers – and not just any five, we’re talking Im Kwon-taek, Park Kwang-su, Lee Myung-se, Lee Chang-dong and Park Chan-wook – three film critics (Lee Young-jin, Kim So-young and Tony Rayns), short film clips and some beautifully shot footage of modern day Korea and somehow manages to come up with more than the sum of his parts. While many of us become more aware of ‘modern’ Korean… Read More »Through Korean Cinema (Leonardo Cinieri Lombroso, Italy: 2010)

Black Hair (검은 머리, Lee Man-hee: 1964)

The boss of a gang of smugglers discovers that his wife Yeon-sil has been having an affair so, in line with the law of the gang he arranges for her to be thrown out of his house and for her face to be cut so that she’ll never be attractive to other men again. With a scarred face the wife, Yeon-sil, is forced into prostitution. As an outcast, even within the company of street walkers, she meets a taxi driver… Read More »Black Hair (검은 머리, Lee Man-hee: 1964)

The Unjust (부당거래, Ryoo Seung-wan: 2010)

A police investigation into a serial killer targeting school children is proving fruitless and the situation worsens when the prime suspect is shot dead, leaving little evidence and a dead end. In order to resolve the situation Police Chief Kang enlists the help of Captain Choi in a deal that requires the bending of procedure and personal morals for the prospect of a promotion. The prosecutor assigned to the case, a man called Joo-yang, dislikes Choi and has his own… Read More »The Unjust (부당거래, Ryoo Seung-wan: 2010)

Aimless Bullet (오발탄, Yoo Hyun-mok: 1961)

Cheol-ho has it tough. He lives in a small house with his pregnant wife, a daughter who craves new clothes, two brothers –  one of whom is an injured war veteran while the other sells newspapers when he should be going to school – a sister who has become a hooker, and his mother who seems to have gone mad. Cheol-ho’s position as an accountant is the only steady job in the family, but money is so tight that he… Read More »Aimless Bullet (오발탄, Yoo Hyun-mok: 1961)