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    When Korean Cinema Attacks!

    Peninsula power

    They weren't kidding when they called this festival "When Korean Cinema Attacks" — it's got hard-hitting movies from one of the world's fastest-rising film capitals that could thrill you or hit you in the gut.


    Is the title "When Korean Cinema Attacks" just a goof on reality TV titles or does Korean cinema really attack? I vote for the latter, having personally been one of the victims of the in-your-face gore of "The Isle." (See what happened in the article from the New York Post's Page Six.)

    Featuring 11 top films from South Korea, released 1998-2000. Sponsored by Subway Cinema and the Korean Film Forum.

    Related links: Official site
    When Korean Cinema Attacks

    The Isle
    Joint Security Area
    Tell Me Something
    If you check your local video store, you might find one Korean movie (the controversial art flick "301/302," released here a couple years ago), but the organizers of this festival think that Korean film is about to burst onto the American consciousness alongside other Asian film, and this festival is a chance to see why.

    From "The Foul King," a comedy about pro wrestling (photo above), to "Joint Security Area," a hard-hitting political thriller that became the country's top-grossing film ever, the festival highlights South Korea's explosive film industry. These films tend to be sophisticated but accessible, organizer Grady Hendrix notes, because unlike many foreign films that arrive here, they are strongly influenced by Hollywood and made to appeal to a mass audience in their home country. But as you'd expect from foreign art films, they're smarter and more inventive than typical Hollywood fare.

    "Since 1998," Hendrix says, "Korean film has taken off and is now a standard of hipness in a lot of Asian countries and in some European ones." Following the popularity of "Chunhyang" in the past year, maybe the attack of the Korean films will be felt here too.

    We've reviewed several of the offerings in this year's festival:

    The Isle

    If you've got a strong stomach, you'll find a fierce but poetic film about a man in a woman's watery domain. If you don't, then beware the gory parts.

    Joint Security Area

    An intelligent murder mystery set at the only meeting point between North and South Korea, whose tragic solution reveals the war zone's tension between hate and humanity.

    Festival articles



    Joint Security Area

    An intelligent murder mystery set at the only meeting point between North and South Korea, whose tragic solution reveals the war zone's tension between hate and humanity.


    Tell Me Something

    The Korean detective thriller "Tell Me Something" has strong characters and a gruesomely intriguing plot but doesn't wrap up its central mystery convincingly.

    AUGUST 16, 2001

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