Posts tagged "Korea"

Our Friend, Power 5 (Review)

Our Friend, Power 5

aka 우리들의 친구 파워 5 aka Wurideul-ui Chingu Pawo 5
Our Friend Power 5 우리들의 친구 파워 5
1989
Written by ???
Directed by Park Ho-Jin

Our Friend Power 5 우리들의 친구 파워 5

Teenage Hungover Ninja Turtles


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is one of the headlining franchises of my youth, and while I never got involved with the toys, the comics, cartoons, and video games were a constant presence. And years ago, I heard about a Korean bootleg Ninja Turtles movie, but thanks to the shifting sands of the internet it was years and years until I got a copy. Then I sat on it for a few years, but now it is time to actually finish jobs, and it’s time for Our Friend Power 5 to get its due on TarsTarkas.NET!

Our Friend Power 5 isn’t just a bootleg Ninja Turtles, it is in fact selling its own bootleg Ninja Turtle toys, complete with their own giant robot bootlegged from another toy line! It is part of literally hundreds of Korean children’s films pumped out with ridiculous costumes, terrible acting and overacting, and lots of rubber suits and animation of giant robots and spaceships mixed in. It forms a delirious genre of cinema that few people outside Korea have heard of, and fewer people have seen multiple entries. Fortunately for you (but unfortunately for us!), TarsTarkas.NET is one of those locations that is very familiar with this genre. Be it Alien Lightning Dragon, Hwarang-V Trio, Robotstar Jjanga, Super Batman & Mazinger V, or Korean Terminator, this ridiculous films are a constant presence. They will be so in the future as well, because you better believe I’m sitting on a whole slew more of them!!! That’s a threat, buddy!

But we must talk about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles here. First of all, there are FIVE of them! And one is a princess, in fact she’s the Princess of their race, and in turtle mode she has pink ventral shell. The ventral shells (the chests for those of you who aren’t biologists) are how you tell these characters apart, each one has a different color there – Pink, Black, Yellow, Brown, and Purple. Their masks are molded so they permanently have the Ninja Turtles grimace, and there are obvious eye holes (and other holes in the suits, either so the actors don’t sweat to death or so the suits are easier to maneuver and don’t fill with air and get weird shaped!) Their bandanas are all red and only the Princess seems to have any custom weapon, her wand. One of the turtles shoots what looks like metal wire out of his wrist to snag a villain out of a tree, but that’s the only complicated things the turtles do. Even with the many holes in the costume, it’s obvious the actors inside are barely able to see and most of the choreography involving them is weird and slow like they are underwater. Usually they default to the child actors for the action scenes to attack the villains. Outside of the princess, the other four don’t really have much of a personality, they are just there, and during the climax I’m not even 100% sure where two of them go.

When your wire salesman demonstration goes totally wrong!

The villains are a bunch of rat men, so yes, it looks like Splinter is hunting down his own family! Despite the villains being rats, their leader is named Shark and has taken a human face disguise (outside of an obviously terrible beard) The rats are all the same rubber mold, but they made their leader more grey and gave him blue eyes instead of red. They stomp around and carry laser guns but must have gotten their training at the Imperial Stormtrooper Academy as they can’t hit the broad side of a turtle barn.

This film is basically a commercial for their bootleg toys, as the entire climactic sequence involves the toy robot piloted by the Turtles (and some kids, it’s more dumb than complicated but let’s just continue) smashing the crap out of the villain’s fleet and his own robot. The Comentor Robot also drives the plot, it’s the plans the Princess is carrying that the villain wants to get his hands on. A space princess with some plans a villain wants, huh? The name Comentor Robot comes from a translation of the plot, I’m not sure if it is supposed to be like Cometor as that sounds more spacey, or if this robot spends its down time arguing that fluoride is mind control below Yahoo News articles. The robot itself is ganked from the Go-Bots Powersuits Power Warrior so it’s like two bootlegs combined into one! Synergy, baby!

Our Friend Power 5 우리들의 친구 파워 5

Suck it, Harry Potter!


Thankfully whoever ripped this tape left all the production logos on it, including the SKC company ad for their video tapes, floppy discs, and their brand new CD technology! CDs, it’s the FUTURE!!! As this is a rare film, we will give our patented incredibly thorough description of what is going on so you too can follow along at home, along with a side of snark. And like every single one of these Korean Children’s films, there are no subtitles, but at TarsTarkas.NET, we don’t need no stinking subtitles!

Hyuk (???) – Our hero is just some rando kid who happens to be the son of the famous astronomer Dr. Yang. Thanks to his irresponsibility he is granted phenomenal powers that he uses to fight evil Ratmen from space while befriending refugee turtles.
Bow Tie (???) – The required by Korean Kiddie Movie Law comic relief, Bow Tie here is a huge wimp who hangs around with children while failing to ask out Tae Kwon repeatedly (and later Princess Turtle repeatedly)
Tae Kwon (???) – The tough daughter of Dr. Yang who has the power of knowing tae kwon do, something alien ratmen armed with laser guns are helpless against!
Dr. Yang (???) – Brilliant scientist who is far too busy building weird telescopes and letting his children run wild to go see a dermatologist about that weird growth on his head. Helps build a fleet of attack ships for the Earth and helps the Turtles create their robot.
Princess Turtle (???) – – The Princess of the turtle world who leads the survivors of her conquered race in a desperate attempt to escape the evil Shark and his army of Ratmen. Has the plans for the powerful Comentor Robot that Shark wants. The Princess is armed with a magic wand that she’s pretty irresponsible with, and is also a brilliant tactician as shown later in the film where she commands a space attack. She transforms into….
Pink Turtle (???) – The lead turtle with the power of pink. All other turtles obey her orders. Outside of the Princess, none of the other turtles seem to have names (and even if they did, there ain’t no subtitles!) we will refer to them by their underbelly colors, as that is the only difference between the characters. They all use the same Michealangelo-base mold, which is seen by the “M” on all their belts. None of them really have personalities.
Black Turtle (???) – The turtle I got the least clear shots off in screencaps! Our made up biography reveals he is obsessed with football, but was never able to go pro due to a knee injury in college. Only the destruction of his homeworld prevented him from getting a job selling women’s shoes.
Yellow Turtle (???) – The Yellow Turtle is yellow. Shocking, I know! Despite that, he isn’t a coward. Congrats! Our made up biography reveals Yellow Turtle is a brilliant florist but lost last year’s rose competition due to internal politics. Luckily every other turtle florist is now dead, so he is a shoo-in to win this year!
Brown Turtle (???) – Our made up biography of Brown Turtle is that he was initially another color but he never bathes, thus giving his belly the brown color by which he got his new name. His original color was lost over time, even he doesn’t know what color he is supposed to be.
Purple Turtle (???) – This turtle is usually flying the Turtle spaceship but outside of that doesn’t do much interesting. Our made up biography indicates he is very into stamp collecting, to the point where he has taken out multiple mortgages to afford those stamps where the plane is upside down.
Shark (???) – Leader of the evil Ratmen who commits genocides on Tuesdays and wants the Comentor Robot to further his genocidal ambitions. Judging by how the transformed Ratmen look in the film, Shark has taken human form and is just another Ratman.
Ratmen (???) – The Ratmen are the disposable flunky troops of Shark. The leader is more grey and has blue eyes, while all the rest are more brown with red eyes. None of them are Splinter, unless this is the Mirror Universe! Wait a minute, maybe it is….

Our Friend Power 5 우리들의 친구 파워 5

We get it, you vape!


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Posted by Tars Tarkas - February 19, 2019 at 6:38 am

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Claire’s Camera (Review)

Claire’s Camera

aka La Caméra de Claire
Claire's Camera
2017
Written and directed by Hong Sang-soo
Claire's Camera
Hong Sang-soo continues to be an unstoppable movie-making machine, and with Claire’s Camera he continues his streak of producing high quality, entertaining films quickly and distinctively. I immediately pounced when I saw this was screening in this year’s SFIFF, but luckily had I missed it, 4-Star started screening it soon after. Which means I’ll have to make it up to 4-Star by seeing a different film there, no big deal as I don’t mind heading over there at all.

Like On the Beach at Night Alone, Claire’s Camera deals with the results of an affair involving a director, braiding the ropes of reality and fiction of his real life affair with Kim Min-hee into more artistic output. While On the Beach at Night Alone dealt more with the feminine side of a scandal and had a cathartic scene of confrontation, Claire’s Camera is more directly abstract, crystallizing the differences of before and after incidents. Some might argue that Hong is mining the same themes far too often, but he’s handling it in unique ways each time and so many other relationship films deal with similar themes, so hold all criticisms until things start actually getting stale.

Jeon Manhee (Kim Min-hee) is a buyer for films, in France along with the production company she works at, as one of their clients, Director So Wansoo (Jung Jin-young) is screening a film. She meets her boss at a cafe, where the boss Nam Yanghye (Chang Mi-hee) forces her to quit, explaining she no longer has trust in her to do the right thing. This gives Manhee time to wander around France, as she decides to spend a few days in town before heading back to South Korea. Later we learn that the director had an affair with her, and that Nam Yanghye is basically in a relationship with him, explaining the motivations.
Claire's Camera
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - April 25, 2018 at 7:42 am

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On the Beach at Night Alone (Review)

On the Beach at Night Alone

aka 밤의 해변에서 혼자 aka Bamui Haebyeoneseo Honja
On the Beach at Night Alone movie Korean
2017
Written and directed by Hong Sang-soo
On the Beach at Night Alone movie Korean
Hong Sang-soo has gone into overdrive, releasing three films in 2017. While you’d worry that this might lead to a reduction in quality, On the Beach at Night Alone shows that this is not the case. There is still plenty amazing in these smaller productions even as they threaten to be released at a pace where it will be hard to keep up! Luckily, good ol’ 4Star Theater still shows these, so I hoofed it over (aka drove) for a late night screening.

The hallmarks of Hong Sang-soo are all over the place. The long takes with dialogue driven scenes and minimal set up at locations. The film is divided into two parts, a shorter Part 1 takes place in Germany, while the longer Part 2 is back in Korea upon Young-hee’s return. There is also something weird going on, a mysterious guy who no one can see but seems to be around. Of course he represents something. It’s no mystery why his films drive the art house critics wild. Hong Sang-soo has become so prolific recently that I’ve begun to slip catching up with his work. That’s entirely my fault, but real world business conspiring with Hong Sang-soo pumping out a ton of neat films becomes yet another thing that I need to catch up on once I’m done studying

The entire film is built on Kim Min-hee being as awesome as possible. It’s great to see her again, and to be honest I was more interested in watching her again after The Handmaiden than caring that Hong Sang-soo was directing. Sure, I knew the rumors that they had an affair (later confirmed, and basically the basis for part of the story here), but weird things like can often lead to even better performances. And they do, Kim Min-hee owns this movie’s bones, Young-hee becoming one of the most complete and complex female characters of the year. Despite the airs of one who is contemplative of her situation and recovering from a scandal that forced her to seek a vacation away from it all, she is her own person and busts the expected attitude of a star upside its head. She is confrontational, openly admitting that she is destructive, describing herself as a a bomb. She knows she is going to cause scenes, because her life is let so full that she just can’t help it. It is who she is, she just marches in and causes a scene no matter where she ends up. Even her attempts to be good and find herself just end in herself being there all along and doing what it pleases.
On the Beach at Night Alone movie Korean
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - February 12, 2018 at 7:46 am

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The Handmaiden (Review)

The Handmaiden

aka 아가씨 aka Agassi
The Handmaiden
2016
Written by Park Chan-wook & Chung Seo-kyung
Based on the novel Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
Directed by Park Chan-wook

The Handmaiden
If you aren’t a fan of Park Chan-wook by now, I’m not sure what it will take to convince you to get out and see The Handmaiden. But if you are one of the millions of his fans around the globe, you know that Park Chan-wook is a force of awesomeness in the movie community, and The Handmaiden continues that tradition of awesome movies from an awesome guy. Basically, run, don’t walk, to the theaters and check out a wonderful psychological thriller. There is a trio of amazing performances by Kim Min-hee, Ha Jung-woo, and newcomer Kim Tae-ri. Sarah Waters’ novel Fingersmith is moved to 1930s occupied Korea, where it still manages to work in a culture of repression and male dominance.

Kim Min-hee is heiress Lady Hideko. Hideko is isolated and lorded over by her cruel uncle, Kouzuki, who covets her money and title. Her mother died in childbirth, and her aunt was found hanging in a tree when she was a child. Hideko never leaves the family estate and her only contact with outsiders is a weekly reading of erotic literature to exclusive guests. If you are familiar with the concept of that literature, some of it is ridiculous, basically the dime store erotic trash novels peppered with flowery poetry and filled with imagery that at times stretches believability that the writers have even interacted with people who have sex. Hideko’s Uncle Kouzuki has designs on becoming a Japanese nobleman despite being neither of those things and Hideko’s money and title his avenue to obtain them. Kouzuki rejects his Korean heritage in an admiration for the occupying Japanese, but his true passion is rare books, specifically the aforementioned erotic literature.

Kim Tae-ri plays Sook-hee, a gifted pickpocket and thief embedded as a handmaiden whose job it is to help convince Hideko to fall for the fake Count Fujiwara (Ha Jung-woo — Assassination). Fujiwara has a knack for making forgeries and is just the thing Hideko’s creepy uncle needs, as he can’t bear to part with any of his rare books, but is perfectly fine with selling off faked replicas of them. This gives Fujiwara the access he needs to scope out Lady Hideko and enact his plan of seduction and asset seizure, enabled by Sook-hee as Hideko’s new handmaiden. And then it is seduction time.
The Handmaiden
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - November 1, 2016 at 8:06 am

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Assassination (Review)

Assassination

aka 암살 aka Amsal
Assassination
2015
Written by Choi Dong-hoon and Lee Ki-cheol
Directed by Choi Dong-hoon

Assassination
Despite the years of ups and downs, South Korea cinema continues to deliver great films, even if it isn’t at the breakneck pace that it once had. And deliver Assassination does, giving us a great wartime espionage tale with a core group of interesting players to follow. Characters battle and scheme, motivated by their honor, for some the honor of appearing strong and powerful more alluring than the actuality.

Assassination wins not because of the action sequences of the story of a ragtag group of unlikely heroes battling against a gigantic evil Empire, but because of the scenes of characters interacting. A heroic sniper, bounty hunters with consciences, and traitors that put their own power above their nation and peoples’ survival battling it out is well and good, but I’m going to remember Ahn Ok-yun sitting in a diner next to Hawaii Pistol where they concoct a fantasy of being a couple in order to evade detection by the Japanese army. Or Hawaii Pistol recounting how he killed his own father and wanting to spare Ahn Ok-yun the same fate. Or a traitor wiping out anyone who threatens to expose him because of he doesn’t want to die. The little bits in the larger whole where characters switch from the stereotypes you think they are to fully fleshed out beings.

Assassination spins its web of spies and intrigue before setting up the next big action scene that causes the surviving players to shuffle around and prepare for the next web. Choi Dong-hoon was best known for his heist films, including the international hit The Thieves, and while Assassination is a different genre, it still has the large cast and multiple story angles all coming together. It even follows some of the same story beats, with a mid-movie action sequence (or heist) that everything was working up towards, but it turns out it was just the beginning of the second half of the film with a smaller but larger staked sequence to follow.
Assassination
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - August 3, 2016 at 5:07 pm

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The Five (Review)

The Five

aka 더 파이브 aka Deo Paibeu aka The Fives aka Deo pa-i-beu
The Five
2013
Based on The 5ive Hearts by Jeong Yeon-shik
Written and directed by Jeong Yeon-shik

The Five
The Five is a good example of Korean film’s ease of switching emotional tracks like Grand Central Feelings Station. It’s also a good crime film featuring normal people tracking a crazy killer, a good film to watch for fans of shows like Hannibal that regularly depict killers with complicated psychoses and the flawed and broken people who track them down.

The Five began life as a webtoon feature called The 5ive Hearts by Jeong Yeon-shik, who went on to write and direct this adaptation. It’s a tale of desperate people banding together to do a dark task that is much easier said than done.
The Five
A happy and idealic family is shattered by a brutal psychopathic killer. Film production team member (and fancy domino effects designer) Ko Eun-a (Kim Sun-a, She is on Duty) has a normal happy life in Korea, but we’d have no movie if bad things didn’t happen. Eun-a’s daughter recognizes the murderer from seeing him with his latest victim, a former classmate of hers, though she thinks he is the girl’s uncle and doesn’t know she’s been killed. Despite their ignorance, the family is now marked for death by killer Oh Jae-wook (On Joo-wan), who tracks them home and begins the slaughter.

By a sort of miracle, Ko Eun-a survives, though a desperate doctor, Cheol-min (Jung In-gi), is willing to declare her brain dead in order to use her organs on his sick daughter. She awakens just in time, but two years later she’s wheelchair bound, and most of her waking hours are spent trying to track down the person who destroyed her family by the only clue she has, her husband’s lighter that the killer stole. After buying boxes full of the specific lighter, there is finally a clue, and an IP address to track down
The Five
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - November 14, 2014 at 2:57 pm

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