Since Arirang is coming out on Friday (review tomorrow) I’ve decided to kick off a short season of Korean films where I will review some of the best films to come out of the Korean New Wave.
Korean Films and Me
I grew up on a combination of Hong Kong action/martial arts films and black and white Japanese classics. I would frequently watch films like Onibaba, Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow and Police Story as a kid but I had little idea of Korea’s cinematic output or the country at large. All of that changed when I was in high school, a time when the Korean new wave was really gaining international prominence and I started shopping online. My first purchase was The Quiet Family.
I can’t remember why I purchased it (I think it might have been cheap) but I loved it. The verve, the wit, the style. There was real energy that you did not see in films coming from Europe and Hollywood and so they just could not compete.
Thankfully British television started to screen movies like Guns and Talks, No Blood No Tears and Shiri, films with so much story, substance and style that I started to import Korean films. That didn’t last long as the UK DVD label Tartan started to license the films and even screen them at the cinema. I would go out and support each film they released – I still have the ticket stubs for Old Boy and Lady Vengeance. While I only review a few Korean films a year – The Quiet Family, Public Enemy, Thirst -the release of Arirang has inspired me to look at some of these classics like (and you know the Korean film industry was producing a lot of classics at the time) again, hence the short season. I’m not touching on a lot of titles but enough to provide a nice mix of genres.