Top-notch Korean directors set to debut their English-language films (Park Chan Wook, Kim Ji-Woon, Bong Joon-ho)
Park Chan-wook–Stoker (2013)
Director Park Chan-wook makes his English-language debut with the psychological thriller Stoker, written by Wentworth Miller.
The film stars Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman and Matthew Goode, and evokes a feeling of Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt.
Wentworth Miller said that Shadow of a Doubt was “the jumping off point” for Stoker. The two share similarities in setup – both revolve around a young woman whose dull existence is interrupted by the exotic ‘Uncle Charlie’ – but Stoker is an even darker psycho-sexual drama wrought with murder and treachery, set in a more embittered and disillusioned world than Hitchcock’s Noir classic.
Director Park said, “Stoker is a film with cross-cut scenes in it. In making such a film, I couldn’t help but think of De Palma,” and he added, “Once upon a time, I used to write film reviews for a living, and I reviewed Dressed to Kill. While I was conscious of De Palma, I wanted to make Stoker differently. How could I make it different from De Palma, maybe through less use of slow motion?”
There’s promise of some strong performances from the whole cast, especially Nicole Kidman, who was interested in playing the lead mother role in Stoker, was the director’s first choice and also respectful of the language barrier.
Director Park said, “Not only is she an actress who trusts in the filmmaker, she’s very passionate doing good work that would satisfy the director.”
The film centers on a young girl (Mia Wasikowska), who encounters her mysterious uncle (Matthew Goode) while mourning the death of her father (Dermot Mulroney).
The synopsis is as follows: India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) was not prepared to lose her father and best friend Richard (Dermot Mulroney) in a tragic auto accident. The solitude of her woodsy family estate, the peace of her tranquil town, and the unspoken somberness of her home life are suddenly upended by not only this mysterious accident, but by the sudden arrival of her Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), whom she never knew existed. When Charlie moves in with her and her emotionally unstable mother Evie (Nicole Kidman), India thinks the void left by her father’s death is finally being filled by his closet bloodline. Soon after his arrival, India comes to suspect that this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives. Yet instead of feeling outrage or horror, this friendless young woman becomes increasingly infatuated with him.
Stoker will be released on March 1, 2013. (see Stoker official trailer)
Kim Ji-woon–The Last Stand (2013)
Director Kim Ji-woon directs Arnold Schwarzenegger as an aging sheriff battling thugs in action-packed The Last Stand.
Director Kim said, “I felt that I had passed on too many offers from Hollywood, and there was a darkness looming over me after being so deeply submerged in the story of I Saw the Devil, (so) I decided that working on a high-spirited action film would be a nice change. I accepted the offer for The Last Stand with this thought in mind – ‘I’m going to make an entertaining film.’”
He said, “My concept for The Last Stand is that it’s kind of a combination of Die Hard and High Noon where (the latter) was about protecting something very important that needs to be protected, while Die Hard is a very drawn-out, long process that almost kills someone in the process, so my film will be something that has to be very well protected and in the process, we almost die protecting it in a way.”
“So if I Saw the Devil was about a person’s extreme remorse about having lost something that they couldn’t protect,” he continued, “The Last Stand would be where someone puts their lives on the line to protect something that’s very important and it will be a bit more optimistic film in that regard.”
The film also features the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger to acting.
“Arnold was always smart, and not once did he complain.” director Kim said.
“I felt something was off with a particular scene, and started walking over to give directions. But the actor saw me approaching in the distance and told me that he understands, even before I said anything.” he said, “I thought to myself, ‘I didn’t say anything, and you really understand? We’ll see about that.’ I returned to the playback monitors and called ‘Action!’ and amazingly the actor did exactly what I wanted to do. This type of artistic interaction that precedes spoken word is what moves me.”
The synopsis is as follows: Sheriff Owens is a man who has resigned himself to a life of fighting what little crime takes place in sleepy border town Sommerton Junction after leaving his LAPD post following a bungled operation that left him wracked with failure and defeat after his partner was crippled. After a spectacular escape from an FBI prisoner convoy, the most notorious, wanted drug kingpin in the hemisphere is hurtling toward the border at 200 mph in a specially outfitted car with a hostage and a fierce army of gang members. He is headed, it turns out, straight for Summerton Junction, where the whole of U.S. law enforcement will have their last opportunity to make a stand and intercept him before he slips across the border forever. At first reluctant to become involved, and then counted out because of the perceived ineptitude of his small town force, Owens ultimately accepts responsibility for the face off.
The Last Stand will be released on January 18, 2013. (see The Last Stand official trailer)
Bong Joon-ho–Snow Piercer (2013)
Director Bong Joon-ho is set to debut his English-language film, the snowy sci-fi post-apocalyptic train survival tale Snow Piercer, co-produced by Park Chan-wook.
Budgeted at roughly $39.2million, Snow Piercer will be Korea’s most expensive film by far. Kang Je-gyu’s war movie My Way currently holds the record with a $24.5million budget.
The film, based on the popular French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, is set in a future where, after a failed experiment to stop global warming, an Ice Age kills off all life on the planet except for the inhabitants of the Snow Piercer, a train that travels around the globe and is powered by a sacred perpetual-motion engine. A class system evolves on the train but a revolution brews.
“I remember it was around the end of 2004,” director Bong said, ”It was when I finished Memories of Murder and was working on The Host. I went to a comic book store near Hong-ik University. I go there once or twice a month when I am stressed out. ‘Le Transperceneige’ suddenly came into my sight, and I read the whole trilogy standing there. I could not wait until I got home to read.”
“This train has enraptured me,” he continued, “I believe everyone has a fantasy about trains giving off chugs and puffs, and landscapes viewed from the window. What you can see from the window in this story, however, is only the world icebound, with minus 80 degrees outside. Survivors live in the train, but they can’t stay in harmony even at a time of adversity.”
Snow Piercer boasts an impressive ensemble cast that includes Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Octavia Spencer, and South Korea’s Song Kang-Ho, a talented chameleon actor who has starred in films directed by Park Chan-wook, Kim Ji-woon, and Bong Joon-ho.
Director Bong Joon-ho mentioned that approximately 80% of the film was shot in English.
Snow Piercer will be released in 2013. (the trailer is not available at the moment)