Kim Ji-su

A Werewolf Boy (2012, Jo Sung-hee)

Besides an utterly absurd title–and one nowhere near as clever as the film itself–A Werewolf Boy is something of a success. Jo proves one can successfully marry science fiction, werewolf romance, class bigotry and… I don’t know, ageless romantic melodrama. He doesn’t cop out at the end either, but turns the picture into some kind of a fairy tale. It doesn’t succeed on those terms, but there was no good finish for do a wild child romantic picture with so much sci-fi.

In terms of composition, Jo does pretty well throughout. He apparently told cinematographer Choi Sang-mok to make everything as pretty as possible–the light’s soft yet vibrant. The film’s utterly artificial yet completely engrossing.

The film’s mostly in flashback to the mid-sixties, when a family newly moved to the country discovers the titular character living on their property. The boy, played by Soon Joong-ki in appealing but rather easy performance, immediately takes to the older daughter, played by Park Bo-yeong. She’s really good in her role, which gets more and more difficult as the film progresses.

Much of the picture works just because Park’s family is so appealing. Jang Young-nam is great as the mom, Kim Hyang-gi is the adorable younger sister. It’s all very nice. Except, of course, odious villain Yoo Yeon-seok. Jo goes overboard with him.

A Werewolf Boy is a competent, sincere motion picture. It can’t work because of bigger things than Jo can control.



Written and directed by Jo Sung-hee; director of photography, Choi Sang-mok; edited by Nam Na-young; music by Shim Hyun-jung; production designer, Kim Ji-su; produced by Kim Sujin and Yoon In-beom; released by CJ Entertainment.

Starring Song Joong-ki (Chul-soo), Park Bo-yoeng (Suni), Jang Young-nam (Suni’s mother), Yoo Yeon-seok (Ji-tae), Kim Hyang-gi (Sun-ja), Yoo Sung-mok (Professor Kang Tae-shik), Seo Dong-soo (The Colonel), Woo Jeong-guk (Mr. Jung), Gu Bon-im (Mrs. Jung), Nam Jung-hee (Dong-seok’s grandmother), Ahn Do-gyu (Dong-seok), Shin Bi (Dong-mi) and Lee Young-lan (Old Suni).

Murder, Take One (2005, Jang Jin)

Usually when I say Korean films effortlessly mix genre, I mean it in a good way. It’s still impressive in Murder, Take One; director Jang definitely makes the final ingredient a surprise, but it’s a questionable choice….

The majority of the film—albeit on a reduced budget—is successful. It’s a police procedural with one caveat, the entire investigation is being broadcast live. It’s unclear why the police department is teaming with the TV producers, but it isn’t particularly important. The case is interesting enough (turning out to be Agatha Christie influenced) and the acting is good. Jang is able to make Murder, Take One feel absurdist, while still reasonably grounded.

Until the end, when he doesn’t just take away from the absurdist nature of the television show, he brings in a whole new element. It doesn’t destroy the film—it just pushes it below the fail line.

The acting is, as I said before, all good. Lead Cha Seung-won takes a while to get going—his first scene is opposite Shin Ha-kyun, who’s a far more nuanced actor—but he eventually turns in a solid performance. Ryu Seong-ryong is good as Cha’s colleague and initial competitor (they’re both racing to solve the case before the TV producers muddle it too much) and Jang gives them a nice arc.

Murder, Take One moves well—the first hour flies past; Jang knows how to plot a procedural. His composition’s decent, though he cuts too fast.

It’s generally okay.



Written and directed by Jang Jin; directors of photography, Choi Yun-man and Kim Joon-young; edited by Kim Sang-beom and Kim Jae-beom; music by Han Jae-kwon; produced by Lee Taek-dong; released by Cinema Service.

Starring Cha Seung-won (Choi Yeon-gi), Shin Ha-kyun (Kim Young-hun), Shin Goo (Yun), Park Jung-ah (Han Mu-suk), Jeong Jae-yeong (Bully), Kim Ji-su (Jung Yun-jung), Kim Jin-tae (Oh) and Kong Ho-su (Dr. Han).

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