What is it with Koreans? Why do they suddenly seem to have an influx of both money and insane creativity? Suddenly I’m aware that there even IS a Korean film industry, and that they’ve been coming out with some of the more interesting Asian films in recent memory. Normally I only hear about Hong Kong/China and Japan, but now you hear about Attack the Gas Station, My Wife Is A Gangster, and these two films I recently saw: My Beautiful Girl Mari and Volcano High. I saw My Beautiful Girl Mari about a week or two ago. It’s a lovely animated film about two boys who discover a portal into another fantastical world. Both the boys’ boring, lonely, troubled real-world life and the fantastic sequences in the other world are handled with equal amounts of imagination and sensitivity. The animation and art is beautiful. Far better than anything I would’ve expected from a country that wasn’t even on the map as far as animation goes. Volcano High I just saw Thursday night, and it’s amazing. It’s no Hero, certainly, but it’s a different kind of film anyway. It’s literally the best video game movie I’ve ever seen, except it isn’t based on any video game (as far as I know, anyway). It’s got some great wire work, interesting fight choreography, impressive cinematography, a ridiculously over-the-top, yet fun, story, even CG sequences. Where’d they get the money for all this? And the know-how? There’s some films here I haven’t gotten to yet, called Guns & Talks, which looks promising, kind of like an Ocean’s Eleven except they’re all young, good-looking, and assassins. And Phone, which looks like their answer to Ringu. And Christ, check out this trailer for a film called Wonderful Days. It looks amazing. Not just the animation, the matte paintings, but the character and vehicle design. The music’s terrific, too. I’ve been through it like 4 times already. Even in comics, though I know they have a rich history of manwah (the term for Korean comics, like the Japanese manga), the recently-concluded Angouleme festival had a special spotlight on Korea!
I am green with envy.
And since we’re on the topic of Korea, click here for a laugh.