The Berlin File

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The Berlin File                                                             The Berlin File Film Poster

Release Date: January 29th, 2013 (South Korea)

Running Time: 120 mins.

Director: Ryoo Seung-Wan

Writer: Ryoo Seung-Wan

Starring: Ha Jung-Woo, Gianna Jun, Han Suk-Kyu, Ryoo Seung-Bum, Lee Kyoung-Young

I love spy films as my reviews of Skyfall, and Salt reveal. I also liked the Korean spy thriller Shiri. When the chance to see The Berlin File at the Terracotta Far East Film Festival came up I leapt for it.

The film opens stylishly with grainy footage and rapid cutting of espionage activities such as the creation of fake passports, code breaking and physical violence. It all begins to focus on a menacing man walking down grim streets and into his apartment where he self-administers medication. He is Pyo Jong-Sung (Ha Jung-Woo), the number one North Korean agent in the service and known as “the Hero of the Republic”.

The Berlin File Pyo Jong-Sung (Ha Jung-Woo) Shoots to Kill

Three hours ago he was at the Grand Westin Hotel with a Russian arms broker and a terrorist from the Independent Arab League. The meeting is being monitored by South Korean NIS agents led by veteran spy Jung Jin-Soo (Han Suk-Kyu). Just as the transaction is about to go ahead Mossad agents burst in and a gunfight ensues. Amidst all of the chaos Pyo Jong-Sung attempts to escape the hotel but Jung Jin-Soo pursues him and the two fight on the hotel roof. Jung Jin-Soo loses his prey but this just increases his determination to take him out even if his bosses are losing confidence in him.

The Berlin File Jung Jin-Soo (Ha Jung-Woo) On the Phone

Blowing the operation would be bad enough for Pyo Jong-Sung but when he learns that Dong Myung-Soo (Ryoo Seung-Bum), a rival from home, has been sent by Pyongyang to Berlin in order to investigate the possibility of a defector working at the North Korean embassy he finds himself in a deadly situation that threatens to drag his wife Ryun Jung-Hee (Gianna Jun), an embassy translator, into harm’s way. His loyalty as a husband and spy are tested to the extreme as a series of betrayals and defections unfold and the NIS, CIA and North Korean spy agencies tussle over Pyo Jong-Sung and his wife who are trying to flee Berlin.

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Genki Terracotta Far East Film Festival 2013 Banner Header

Tickets are now on sale for the fifth edition of the annual Terracotta Far East Film Festival. Due to Japanese language studies this post is about two weeks late but there is still time to order tickets.

The festival this year looks genuinely impressive with many UK premieres and a selection of films that cover a wide variety of genres and countries. There is strength and depth in this selection and it is heartening to see that the UK is getting to see these films.

For my part I have got four tickets thanks to fellow blogger Alua. I’m pretty hyped up at the prospect of seeing three Japanese films (A Story of Yonosuke, See You Tomorrow, Everyone, Land of Hope) and one Korean one (The Berlin File). Without further ado here is a word from the organisers followed by the line-up with some comments on the films I am familiar with and a preview of the Japanese films I will watch. Click on the titles to head over to the festival site for more information on the film and to order tickets!


Over the years the festival has seen the event go from strength to strength. This year is set to be the biggest yet, expanding to 27 films spread over 4 sections and 2 venues from 06 – 15 June 2013.

The core of the festival will remain a hand-picked selection of the best CURRENT ASIAN CINEMA at The Prince Charles Cinema. This all UK Premiere section reflects the vibrancy and energy in Asian filmmaking today. Ranging from realist dramas to romance, light comedies to spy action thrillers, swordfighting epics to gothic fairytales, the festival aims to balance the representation of Asian countries.

Terracotta Festival 2013 (TFEFF13) will open with Hong Kong action COLD WAR on Thursday 06 June 2013. 

This year’s edition will also see a return to last year’s Terror Cotta Horror night on Friday 07 June in association with Film 4 Frightfest. The triple bill has now extended to an all-night horror marathon.

The organisers also have added the “IN MEMORY OF” section to mark the tenth anniversary of two of Hong Kong’s best loved and most missed stars: Leslie Cheung and Anita Mui.

Terracotta Festival 2013 will close out at the ICA with “SPOTLIGHT ON: Indonesia”.  11 – 15 June will be an entire week dedicated to Indonesian cinema, from the country’s freshest emerging talent alongside work by established filmmakers. This new section will bring rare insight into one of Asia’s rising film powerhouses.


Terracotta Far East Film Festival full Programme:
IN MEMORY OF: Leslie Cheung & Anita Mui 

Both Leslie Cheung and Anita Mui were wonderful actors, two of the biggest stars in HK cinema, and they both died untimely deaths. It is pleasing to see that they will be remembered with this retrospective.

DAYS OF BEING WILD Dir: Wong Kar Wai, Hong Kong – Wed 29 May 2013, 20:45

1994/ Cantonese and Mandarin with English subtitles/ 94 mins/ starring Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Andy Lau, Tony Leung Chiu Wai

Days of Being Wild was one of Wong Kar Wai’s (WKW) earliest films and it contains all of WKW’s familiar from gorgeous cinematography to characters going trough deep existential self-questioning in a story about a man searching for his birth mother. It stars a whole gamut of HK stars.

ROUGE Dir: Stanley Kwan, Hong Kong – Thurs 06 June 2013, 17:50

1988/ Cantonese with English subtitles/ 96 mins/ starring Anita Mui, Leslie Cheung

Stanley Kwan’s film is described as Part Romeo & Juliet, part ghost story, an outstanding and timeless classic. It stars both Anita Mui and Leslie Cheung.

HAPPY TOGETHER Dir: Wong Kar Wai, Hong Kong – Fri 07 June 2013, 12:30

1997/ Cantonese and Mandarin with English subtitles/ 96 mins/ starring Leslie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Chen Chang

I really like this film. I have watched it numerous times and I just love (and own) the soundtrack which is inspired by its Argentinian setting and don’t get me started about the ending.


The film follows the story of a gay love triangle slowly fragmenting and dislocating amidst the beautiful city of Buenos Aires.


COLD WAR by Sunny Luk, Longman Leung, Hong Kong – Opening Film Thurs 06 June 2013, 19:50

UK Premiere/ 2012/ Cantonese with English subtitles/ 102 mins/ starring Aaron Kwok, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Andy Lau

This is a police thriller which reminds me a lot of Infernal Affairs and it looks to have similar impressive production values. It won big at the recent Hong Kong Film awards and UK film fans get to see it on the big screen with its premiere at the festival.

When police deal with a sophisticated hijacking of a police van they are outwitted at every turn and all the while the guys leading the police investigation are battling each other for positions of power in a tale of police corruption and politics.