Fri, Nov 26, 2004 - Page 17 News List

Kim leads South Korean films to battle Golden Horse

With the Golden Horse taking place on the other side of town, two South Korean directors will enjoy the limelight

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Shu Qi will be Hou Hsiao-hsien's leading woman once again.

PHOTO: TAIPEI TIMES

In Ximending and at SPOT ? Taipei Film House (光點台北), South Korean directors Kim Ki-duk and Lee Je-yong, are vying for attention amid all the hubbub over the 150 films screening in the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival (台北金馬影展).

Kim Ki-duk is enjoying special treatment this weekend from Taiwanese film distributors with his 2002 film Coast Guard being released at Majestic Cinema. Meanwhile, at SPOT is hosting a mini film festival called Korean Wave (韓風紀事) featuring Kim and Lee.

The reason for the attention given to Kim is clear, he won two best-director awards in one year with two different films -- at the Berlin Film Festival for Samaritan Girl and at the Venice Film Festival for Bin-jip, along with three other prizes. Prolific while maintaining quality, his style and talent are consistently being recognized at festivals worldwide.

Four of Kim's films and three of Lee's films are showing at SPOT until Dec 10. They include Kim's Bad Guy (2002), Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter?and Spring (2003), Coast Guard (2002) and Samaritan Girl (2004) and Lee's 2003 hit Untold Scandal and An Affair (1998).

For those who prefer not to follow the crowds to jammed cinemas for the Golden Horse screenings, this weekend is the best chance to have a comprehensive look at the two top contemporary South Korean filmmakers.

Coasts Guard, starring Chang Dong-gun, who is considered one of the best-looking Korean stars, has a simple plot compared with his previous heavily mataphorical and symbolic films. Chang plays a dutiful marine soldier on the dangerous East coast near the North-South border. He trains every day, to wait and take the enemy's lives once they attempt a sneak attack. The strict control of the coast, however, causes complaints from fishermen and civilians who try to enter the forbidden zone to appreciate the scenery.

One night, a loving couple arrive at the beach, ignoring warnings, for some hanky panky. Chang shoots the man, leaving the woman hysterically screaming over her dead boyfriend's body. A few weeks later, Chang is promoted for securing the land, but the woman who lost her lover is driven mad. She lingers near the coast guard base like a haunting ghost, seducing each soldier she meets. The coast guard officers are all tempted but at the same time scared, especially Chang.

Kim is famous for making films with explicit sex, violence and distortion of human minds, making him something of a pariah in the Korean film industry. His film Bad Guy is a movie that Korean fans love to hate and that exemplifies the directors bad-boy style. In the movie a street gangster develops a crush on a college girl and then sets up schemes to force her into prostitution. Worst of all, she likes it.

Another rising star among Korean filmmakers is Lee Je-yong, whose Untold Scandal had sweeping success in Korea and internationally last year. Set in aristocratic 18th-century Korea at the end of the Chosun Dynasty, the film is considered the best adaptation of Dangerous Liaisons and propelled actor Bae Yong-jun to heartthrob status throughout Asia.

Film Notes:

Coast Guard

Screening venue: Majestic Cinema, 7F, 116 Hanzhong St, Taipei (台北市漢中街1167).

Korean Wave Festival at SPOT, Nov. 16 to Dec. 10.

Screening venue: SPOT -- Taipei Film House, 18, Zhongshan N Rd, Sec 2, Taipei (台北市中山北路二段18).

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