[MOVIE] 연가시 (Deranged) | 2012

Still part of the Korean Film Festival 2013 in Manila, this is the third film that I’ve watched. Though I haven’t had the chance to watch the film directly through the festival since we were ‘deranged’, let me tell you about it first.

It’s supposedly our first week of classes but since my 선생님 had to go to Korea for vacation and some errands, our classes were pushed back for a week. Good thing about that though is that I can get off from work because the permission I got from my boss started already. I can only watch the last film per day, and for that Friday, ‘Deranged’ came in last. I arrived earlier than usual since the cinema’s just near the office, but then I still have to wait for my Elementary 1 classmates because we’re supposed to watch the movie together. Just before watching we transferred meeting spots, from the front of the cinema, to Starbucks, then Jamba Juice, when we became complete, we went to the cinema and was not allowed to enter anymore.

IT SUCKS!! I’ve been anticipating to watch that movie, then I can’t watch just like that? It’s sad. So what I did was just to download the movie and watch it by myself. It wouldn’t hurt, right?

Basically, Deranged is a horror-thriller-pandemic film, where about a third of the population of Korea got affected by a strange and morbid disease.

연가시 | Deranged
★☆☆ (8/10)

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Directed by: 박정우 | Cast: 김명민, 김동완, 문정희
Running Time: 109 minutes | Release Date: July 5, 2012

“There must be something in the water…”

Well there were no ‘something’, there were bodies.

Why did I watch the movie?

Well basically, it’s a part of the Korean Film Festival, and I’m really into dark and psychotic films so I have no right to miss it, but then we did miss it so I just downloaded it. I was planning to watch it on a bigger television screen but then I had a boring moment so I decided to watch the movie through my laptop instead.

How did the story started?

Jae-hyuk (김명민), is struggling to juggle tasks to please his superior, assisting his family by accompanying them at the amusement park, ordering foods for them, carrying their bags, and ending the day by going home, energy-less and unable to talk and play with his kids and his wife.

Apparently, he was a former professor with a doctorate in biochemistry. He then worked as a pharmaceutical sales agent after losing a lot of money through a stock market investment as endorsed by his younger brother, Jae-pil (김동완). After a bad investment, Jae-pil seems to get his sentiments by bringing food for Jae-hyuk’s family and trying to persuade his brother to be in good terms with him again.

Then a disfigured body was found floating on a river in a small town. It was then investigated by Jae-pil since he was a cop/investigator, and had a conclusion that it was just an isolated case of suicide. Staying overnight beside the river, when he woke up, he was startled to see several more bodies floating.

How the story went?

Jae-pil got involved with all the investigations. The water seems to be clear from anything worrisome so it was a definite mystery as to why people just wanted to jump into the water.

Then apparently, Jae-hyuk witnessed the water-jumping event when he was, for another time, assisting his boss through golf. The boss’ doctor friend seems to be in heat, sweats so much and drinks water from a bottle continuously. The water seemed very insufficient, then he saw a pond on the golf course and went for a dive. Jae-hyuk tried to save the doctor but when he flipped the body he saw the horrid look on the doctor’s face, instantly dead.

Not when Jae-hyuk’s family showed signs of being infected, that he became more concerned about the issue. In light of the events, the media reported about its symptoms, that the victims tend to become malnourished, eats a lot but does not gain weight, and then the final sign, when they feel dehydrated and they just have to intake a lot of water. He then realized that his wife and kids occasionally eat too much in secret, and then they also showed signs of dehydration by consuming too much water. After confirming that his family indeed went on a vacation, same spot as where Jae-pil discovered the source, he immediately brought his family to the hospital.

The outside world has been chaotic, there’s been shortage of hospitals, people on the streets jump on water sources couple by couple, bunch by bunch. Death toll’s been increasing rapidly nationwide and the government is alarmed. Apparently, it has been found out that the cause has been a ‘Yeongasi variant’ which naturally affects mantises, but then reproduced differently to be able to affect humans. It will enter through the body as eggs, it will stay intact on the small intestine and will function as part of the body, consuming all the food and nutrients, and will eventually come out at a certain period, and that’s when the victim starts to find a larger water source, and dismember and decompose instantly once the ‘Yeongasi’ comes out of their bodies.

The people from the pharmaceutical industry has been outraged by researches, in which they have to find for solutions in the shortest possible time. They tried having a patient consume anti-worm medicines but it just endangered the patient’s life, killing them instantly.

Through all the commotions, Jae-hyuk and Jae-pil searched far and wide for a medicine, when one effective medicine came about. Just instantly, the people bombarded pharmacies, convenience stores, looking for that said medicine in which everyone failed. It was then revealed that the pharmaceutical company responsible for producing that effective medicine pre-planned the pandemic, thinking it would not affect a lot of people. They experimented on dog samples and when they decided it was ready, they released the dogs and had them release the ‘Yeongasi’ through the river on the small town where everything started. They then hoarded and kept the unsold stocks of the medicine, and planned on selling the chemical ingredients to the government for a huge sum of money. Eventually, the government decided to buy the formula but then was interrupted when the real intention was revealed.

How the story ended?

Parallel to Jae-hyuk and Jae-pil’s search for the medicine, Gyung-seon (문정희), Jae-hyuk’s wife is also burdened by the fact that she’s also infected, and as much as she’s thirsting for water, she has to stay strong for her kids.

She had moments of giving up, attempting to break the emergency fire alarm so water will sprinkle throughout the room where they were quarantined. She stood up and tried to break it when another mother interrupted her, asking her to look at her kids, and stay strong for them. But then hundreds of people inside the room noticed the commotion and tried to open the emergency alarm by themselves, too. Gyung-seon endured hardly, covering the alarm after realizing that what she’s doing would just endanger everyone including her and her kids. Good thing, Jae-pil saw what was happening, and hurried to turn off the main valve so even if the alarm was broken, water won’t go through.

In the end, Jae-hyuk and Jae-pil found out about the location where the key ingredients of the medicine were kept. He formulated and shared it with the other pharmaceutical companies so medicines were produced in huge quantities rapidly. Along with the others, Jae-hyuk’s family survived the pandemic.

My thoughts

I have to give my applause to the three main casts for portraying their roles ever so perfectly. The pacing of the movie is quite fast and a lot of scenes, though not particularly gory, sent shivers. It was very heartbreaking seeing a struggling father, trying hard to support his family and by the end part, supporting the whole nation. Though the movie might not really happen in real life, it can sort of be like a commentary regarding money, politics and morality. How people can be so greedy, neglecting their own morale just to gain lumps of money. That there are tendencies for people to be hyperly mad, when deprived of something they need. And how a family can stay together when they just believe in each other, of course with perseverance and love.

The movie is quite disturbing, the acting and the scenes were believable, and it was crafted nicely. Maybe the lack of two points out of ten goes to the ending part, which may be considered appropriately dramatic, but overly pushed in which it seems like there was just no more possible good ending for the film for it to be justifiable. Jae-hyuk’s family seemed like they should’ve died for about three days earlier already, but they held it in and survived till the end, which is half-joke just to be able to satisfy everyone by making it a typical happy ending. Nonetheless, it was moving and I really recommend everyone to watch this movie if you love dark and disturbing films.

[MOVIE] 써니 (Sunny) | 2011

For the second day of the Korean Film Festival, my E1 classmates watched ‘댄싱퀸 (Dancing Queen)’ but since I’m staying strong for my pocket (though the movie is free, meals and cab going home is not), I decided to skip the second day and went to watch for the third day instead. And since luck was not on our side for the third day, we failed to watch ‘연가시 (Deranged)’ which I’m anticipating the most. Good thing though, I already downloaded it last Friday. Actually, I cheated myself. I pre-downloaded ‘써니 (Sunny)’ just after watching ‘늑대소년 (A Werewolf Boy)‘, so I watched it myself, the day my classmates watched ‘댄싱퀸’.

Besides ‘연가시’, ‘써니’ also got me among all the movies. Of course, if given the chance and time I would also want to watch ‘광해: 왕이 된 남자 (Masquerade)’ but since I have work and I don’t usually go far on weekends, I can’t watch it.

써니 (Sunny) | 2011
★★★★★★★★★★ (10/10)

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Directed by: 강형철 | Cast: 유호정, 심은경, 진희경, 강소라
Running Time: 124 minutes | Release Date: May 4, 2011

‘가장 찬란한 순간, 우리는 하나였다’ | ‘The Sunniest Moment of our Lives’

Why did I watch the movie?

One class day was finished when the Korean Film Festival 2013 poster was posted inside the school. My classmates looked at the poster and they were all talking about ‘Sunny’ so from the moment I heard them buzz about it, I had a slight attraction towards viewing it. Bad thing about myself though is that I don’t usually go to Korean or even K-Pop related events because I find other K-Pop fans too annoying and loud.

I went anyway, because of my E1 classmates. Prior to watching ‘Sunny’, I’ve watched the trailer at least about 10 times? It was not all that, there were no special effects, it’s not really epic-looking, but I was attracted nonetheless. Maybe I’m just fond of watching movies that involve friendships.

Bad thing about it though is that I haven’t had a chance to watch this in a bigger screen. I watched it through my download *which sounds sad*, but I enjoyed the movie anyway.

How did the story started?

Im Na-mi (Yoo Ho-jeong) is a fine lady, living in a good place, with her wonderful husband and a bratty daughter *whom I never liked the whole film*. She’s living her life almost as if it’s perfect, but then, her mother’s sick. She asked her husband to come visit her together, but her husband had her buy handbags for themselves instead. She visited the hospital by herself with ‘Chanel’ bags that she bought for her mom and for herself when after visiting, she stumbled upon a room with her old classmate’s name, Ha Chun-hwa. Memories from her high school came back, and seeing high school girls through her car or while she’s having breakfast alone through the window made her nostalgic about the past. She then decided to revisit her high school and saw all uniformed girls walking in one direction. One student bumped her and said her apologies, and then there’s another student who was wearing something bright bumped but was not as polite as the other one. Then the students suddenly turned from uniformed girls to bright-colored girls, and we see Im Na-mi also changing to her high school state as a younger Na-mi (Shim Eun-kyung).

How the story went?

Im Na-mi from Jeolla-do was *possibly* a transfer student, having a strong accent, the girls from the school made fun of her. Just after class, she was being bullied by two girls when one stronger-looking girl threw bags at them and immediately went away. That girl was Chun-hwa (Kang So-ra) who introduced Na-mi to her group of friends. Jang-mi, a fat girl obsessed about having two eyelids, Jin-hee who swears a lot, Geum-ok, a bright student with a large stick (she hits everyone getting in her way, lol). Then there’s Bok-hee, the self-proclaimed next Miss Korea, and finally Su-ji, the most quiet and arguably the prettiest, she does not seem to like Na-mi.

They have a rival group called ‘소녀시대’ which was funny, and since Na-mi was the new member of their group, she then went and acted like she’s being possessed, making their rival group run away from scare. Na-mi was then accepted to their group and after deciding to name themselves ‘Wonder Girls’ or ‘Crazy Bitches’ and none of them seemed to sound cool, they called a radio DJ to ask for a group name. They then settled on ‘Sunny’ as how the radio DJ suggested it.

Na-mi in her present self revisited her mom and going back to the hospital decided on finding the other ‘Sunny’ girls as it was confirmed that the name on the hospital room was her classmate, Chun-hwa (Jin Hee-kyung) and it was her last request to see them everyone one last time before she dies. In the journey, Na-mi found Jang-mi, a struggling life insurance sales agent who helped her hire a detective to find the other members of Sunny. In the process, finding Jin-hee, the queen of swear words who changed into a pretentious fine woman with a wealthy husband who cheats. Geum-ok the bright student with a stick turned to be an unemployed slave-like daughter-in-law living in a cramped apartment, taking care of a baby. Bok-hee, then future Miss Korea, became a prostitute after her mom’s beauty salon was bankrupt, and not being able to live with her daughter. Su-ji was not found so they posted a newspaper ad instead.

They found themselves together doing the things they have done during their high school days. Na-mi sketched Chun-hwa since she was a good artist way back. As much as they’ve fought before with their rival group, they also had payback time with the high school girls bullying Na-mi’s daughter. Brandishing designer bags and killer heels, high-school hairstyle and colorful backpacks, they fought the girls resulting to them getting apprehended and the high school girls getting hospitalized (which I personally think is one of the highlights of the film). They end up dancing their old choreography for Boney M’s ‘Sunny’ inside the police van.

Flashing back, Su-ji’s disdain with Na-mi resulted in minor fights within the group, but then, Korean loves to drink and they both settled it through drinking soju and street foods. On another day, Na-mi saw Chun-hwa rolling crazy in pain during one of her visits. It was heartbreaking. That same night Chun-hwa gave her a CD with their old high school video in which she saw every Sunny’s dream, giving her the idea that not everyone can reach their own stars, including hers, but still be happy anyways.

How the story ended?

It was when Chun-hwa got expelled from school because of a commotion, that their vows together has been revealed. Chun-hwa said that it would not be the end of Sunny. They will still dance together. They will meet again, punish someone if a member’s life got successful but ignores them, help back up a member who fell down, and vowed to never leave each other together forever.

Eventually, Chun-hwa died from terminal cancer, about two months when Na-mi first saw her. Living life alone, she only had Sunny as her family staying for her funeral which was delayed a day longer just for them. Almost all of them came including Geum-ok and Bok-hee who weren’t there so much because of their life problems. Before they were about to greet Chun-hwa their final goodbye, her lawyer came to execute her will for all the members.

Na-mi became the next leader of Sunny. Chun-hwa bought life insurances from Jang-Mi, giving her a chance to be the sales queen of the month, and having all of the members as beneficiaries. Jin-hee became the vice leader and that was it. When asked if she was disappointed, Chun-hwa left a line saying ‘Bitch! You’re rich!’ As for Geum-ok, she will start as an intern at Chun-hwa’s small publishing company, will be regular after 6 months, and if sales got high for two years, she’ll be the executive manager, and if she fails, ‘I’ll kill you if you screw up.’ And finally for Bok-hee, she left an apartment for her and her daughter. All her living expenses will be paid in full by the company’s fund, even giving her the first floor for her to open up a business after sobering up.

Finally, they had to dance it like how it’s done in the old days, their choreography to Boney M’s ‘Sunny’, in the funeral. Then finally, Su-ji arrived.

My thoughts

The movie was all warm and fuzzy feeling, that tackles about dreams, failure, friendship and death. I’ve never watched death as beautiful as portrayed in this movie. Though I watched the movie with people around me that were not so interested, I didn’t care. I watched by myself and just had my emotions inside myself. In a simpler sense, it tells about the realities in life, that not everyone can be a superhero *even the best fall down sometimes*, not everyone can be Miss Korea, not everyone stays as who they were, but in the end, it’s all about them, how they can be the protagonists of their own lives, and how years of living can change them but it would still be their same self in the end. That even if you’re already dying, it’s never too late to help someone, and even go back from who you were supposed to be, and touch peoples lives for the last time.

I thought the movie was just as shallow as a simple chick-flick movie that I’ve watched before. The story was not just shallow and non-sensical as others, but it really had a deeply meaningful, warm and sunny story line. The actresses were brilliant. Im Na-mi in her young and present self portrayed the role ever so carefully and wonderfully, and of course, Ha Chun-hwa in her young self as Kang Sora, and her present self showcased very excellent and realistic acting. The music used for the film were also not just appropriate, but it balanced the entirety of the film, bridging the gap from Korea to US, and 1980’s era to present. With the usage of Richard Sanderson’s ‘Reality’ during scenes including Na-mi and her high school crush, it really formed a stronger foundation between the viewer, the story, and the whole experience by itself. And of course it wouldn’t be more perfect without Boney M’s ‘Sunny’, which may be the basis why the film had its name or why their group was called through it.

I really enjoyed the movie. As much as I love ‘The Werewolf Boy’, I think this is more of a movie that I will be able to watch for another more time. I would love to watch ‘The Werewolf Boy’ again but I don’t wanna cry again, just yet. I definitely recommend everyone to watch this as this has been one of the best Korean films you might not regret watching ever in your whole life.

[MOVIE] 늑대소년 (A Werewolf Boy) | 2012

This would be my first movie review here. I don’t know how this would turn out, but please be with me till the end ㅎㅎ.

I’m not a good movie critic. Something critically unsuccessful, most of the time, has been very enjoyable to me. Whenever I watch a movie for the first time, I consider my own emotions rather than the movie’s emotional and technical aspects which I consider during the second and following watching times. I just downloaded the movie but I still have to watch it for the second time. I’m not the type of movie person who would download something that has just been released. At least 70% of about 200 movies in my hard drive includes movies that I’ve watched for more than 5 times, hahahaha.

As for Korean movies, I only watch something dark and twisted. One of the favorites would be ‘장화, 홍련 (A Tale of Two Sisters)’ which I’ve watched for more than 10 times. Then comes Park Chan-wook’s ‘Revenge Trilogy’ which includes ‘Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance’, ‘Oldboy’, and ‘Sympathy for Lady Vengeance’. I consider those 4 movies as one of the Korean movies I’ll never get tired of watching. I’m naturally jolly but in reality I’m a twisted, sick and psychotic person ㅎㅎ. Along those movies, I also have the five ‘Whispering Corridors’ movie, ‘Phone’, along some other horror movies.

It was not until 2012, when I first watched a melodrama film. We watched ‘건축학개론 (Architecture 101)’ during one of our Korean class days when our 선생님 had us watch a movie instead of having lessons. I found myself crying inside while watching the film, and though it was, I think, one of the best drama films I’ve ever watched, it didn’t took me into watching more dramatic Korean films.

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Thanks to the annual Korean Film Festival 2013 that we have here right now which was organized by the Embassy of Korea and Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines, I can watch a lot of highly-praised, award-winning, box-office movies that were shown in Korea for the past year, FOR FREE. It opened with ‘늑대소년 (A Werewolf Boy)’ yesterday, and some other movies that will be shown includes the historical drama ‘광해: 왕이 된 남자 (Masquerade)’, a romantic comedy, dance themed film with Uhm Jung-hwa as ‘댄싱퀸 (Dancing Queen)’, the animated film ‘소중한 날의 꿈 (Green Days)’, the horror thriller film *THAT I SO WANNA WATCH* ‘연가시 (Deranged)’, and the ever sunny comedy drama ‘써니 (Sunny)’.

늑대소년 | A Werewolf Boy
 (10/10)

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Directed by: 조성희 | Cast: 송중기, 박보영
Running Time: 122 minutes | Release Date: September 11, 2012 on Toronto International Film Festival

“Love was the first human language he’d ever learned.”

Why did I watch the movie?

First, I was not planning on watching anything from the Film Festival except ‘Deranged’ and ‘Sunny’ but I did watch ‘A Werewolf Boy’ anyway because the mall carrying the cinema that will showcase the film is just about two splits and two cartwheels away from my office. Second, my Elementary 1 classmates who I love the most, pushed me into watching the film, even delaying their queue three times just to wait for me.

And see, movie festivals don’t happen 12 times a year, so it would definitely be a great experience whether I’d like the movie or not. And since it was chosen to be the first film to open the festival, I thought it would at least be awesome, or if not, way awesome.

How did the story started?

가지마…

Which *spoiler alert* I thought was the only line that Song Joong-ki would ever deliver all throughout the film. The film started in present day, in USA, an old woman received a phone call regarding the sale of her old country house in Korea. She decided to revisit it first with her granddaughter before deciding on the house’s fate. In seeing the house, we flash backward 47 years before present, the old woman apparently was the teenaged girl, Suni (Park Bo-young), unpacking their things, transferring into their new house since her doctor found it better for her to stay somewhere outside the city for the betterment of her lung condition. Life had been very fine in the country until one day, she saw someone, a dirty and animal-esque being just outside their house. That boy can’t speak, nor even act normally (seen eating without manners, and behaving like a wild animal, occasionally 으르렁-ing whenever he felt he’s in danger). They eventually reported the boy’s whereabouts but the police was not particularly helpful and since the boy was about 19, he was too unfit for an orphanage.

How the story went?

Suni’s family had to take care of him instead. Her mom fed him, made him wear his late husband’s clothing, and helped him take a bath. As for Suni, who has been irritated with the sudden appearance of the boy, one day just decided to train him instead, by reading a dog training manual. She taught him how to ‘기다려!’ before eating, to wear his clothes, and to even speak, read and write. After every successful attempts in training, Suni would pat his head, and eventually her mom had given the boy Cheol-su (Song Joong-ki) as a name. Cheol-su didn’t seem to particularly learn how to speak.

Eventually, Suni became Cheol-su’s *we can somehow call it* master. They became very close and we could assume that he already fell in love with her, given the fact that she’s the only one who accepted him and treated him warmly and affectionately. But then, it didn’t end there. A lot of difficulties were yet to happen as the family inevitably found out about the real identity of Cheol-su, in turn the family leaving the house with Suni unable to see Cheol-su ever again.

How the story ended?

The person half-involved with the death of Suni’s father, and he the same person who bought the country house, Ji-tae (Yoo Yeon-seok) has long been waiting for Suni to notice him too. He had gone nuts trying to keep away Cheol-su from the family even going to ends by hurting the other neighbors and even Suni just to keep the boy away. In one instance where he almost abused Suni, Cheol-su saw him and by anger, turned into a wolf. It was the first time Ji-tae and Suni saw him turn into something different, which was not a very big deal with Suni, given the fact that they’ve been close for so long, and that Cheol-su still listens to Suni in his wolf self. And as the end approached, he turned into a wolf again in front of the police, Ji-tae, Suni and her family, finally killing Ji-tae for having caused too much trouble to Suni’s family and the neighborhood. Cheol-su carried Suni away, away into the forest, away from the commotion. When Suni found herself in the middle of nowhere, with the family and police now searching for her, she’s certain that Cheol-su would be killed if they stay together. *This was one of the parts when I’m crying so bad.* Suni had to hurt Cheol-su for him to just leave when finally Cheol-su said his first word… “가지마”. *Everyone in the cinema shouted and whooed, but I was just crying, lol*.

Suni’s family decided best to just move out of the country. Before leaving the house, Suni left a note, she asked for Cheol-su to wait for her as she will be back. But not after 47 years after, back to the present day, when she finally revisited the house. The den beside the house where Cheol-su was held safe was visited by Suni in the night after seeing a piece of candy stacked under the sofa. She saw blooming flowers and a glowing light and eventually, seeing an immortal Cheol-su, same age as how she left him. Suni had been living her life for the past 47 years and Cheol-su did wait for her. This part was super heartbreaking and as I don’t want to spoil at least everything, I’ll leave you to watch it for yourself. One thing though, is that Suni revoked her plans of selling the house to another owner.

My thoughts

As I was saying earlier, I care more about my own emotions rather than how the movie evokes the emotions and about its technical aspects since I would notice it the second time. I can never have the at least exact same emotion when I watch it again. I haven’t cried watching a movie for so long and this movie moved me to tears for at least three times. Good thing about my 누나 classmates though is that they don’t mind me crying even if they’re just all too ‘giggly and fangirly’ about some scenes that were more emotional to me than ‘spazz-worthy’. The movie was a craft assembled very nicely, though not technical about why he was a werewolf, why Suni’s lung condition exists, or how his father really died and what was Ji-tae responsible for about that. It was more on the story-telling, and Joong-ki’s brilliant portrayal of Cheol-su, who only had 5 lines all throughout the movie.

I’ve never fallen in love with the fantasy, the thought that werewolves or vampires might exist. Having watched the Twilight series and other fantasy-related materials, ‘A Werewolf Boy’ successfully had me wishing that beings like them should’ve existed. The movie was hearty, at times funny, and all the more heartbreaking. I can’t seem to think of remakes, how will they ever replicate the same emotion and the same feel of the movie. It was undeniably perfect. The ending was not all that cheesy and general happy-ending styled conclusion but every sad moments were healed. I definitely recommend everyone to watch this as this has surpassed ‘Architecture 101’ as South Korea’s top grossing melodrama of all time, and that fact says a lot how this movie deserves a 10/10.

Song Joong-ki, Park Bo-young, other casts, and the director... 잘했다!!!

Song Joong-ki, Park Bo-young, other casts, and the director… 잘했다!!!