Klock Worx Co.

Tell Me Something (1999, Chang Yoon-hyun)

Tell Me Something is, for a graphically violent serial killer movie, kind of goofy. It mixes genres–well, but it leads to the problem–starting off a straight cop movie, moving to the serial killer, then bringing in Shim Eun-ha as the damsel in distress. The serial killer aspect slows over time (especially since the killings, all related to Shim, disqualify the killer from actually being a serial killer). Where it gets goofy is in the conclusion, the surprise ending. None of it makes sense and not an after watching the movie senseless, it’s obviously problematic when it goes on, because once it stops being about a serial killer (or close to it), the question of motive comes up. And that question is never answered. Now, ending without revealing the motive is fine, but here the big problem is the lack of explanation for the murders starting. That detail, the impetus event, needed addressing if the utterly goofy conclusion was going to be palatable.

Besides the plot, it’s a decent movie. It moves real well for a two hour thriller, even if another five or ten minutes would wrap up all the first act loose ends (the straight cop stuff) and maybe have a nice bridging scene for one of the big discoveries. The acting from the leads–Shim and detective Han Suk-kyu–is fine. Unfortunately, their chemistry isn’t what it could be… another genre-mix problem. The first act establishes Han one way and, when Shim enters, it’s clear they aren’t going to have much deep interaction. Shim’s playing the riddle in the mystery in the enigma, which closes her off a lot too. The gore factor and the imminent danger do a bit to make them sympathetic, but there’s very little development. Jang Hang-seon plays the personable sidekick cop and does a great job.

The most interesting part of Tell Me Something is the music. While I’m guessing the Nick Cave is in there for a Scream reference, all the music is excellent. The direction’s adequate, but when the music fits well, it makes for some great sequences. There’s one in particular–the cop racing through traffic jams, down hilly streets, et cetera, et cetera, and the music really makes it pay off cinematically. The music’s even good enough to make the conclusion effective, if not particularly well thought out.



Directed by Chang Yoon-hyun; written by Chang, In Eun-ah, Kim Eun-jeong, Kong Su-chang and Shim Hye-weon; director of photography, Kim Sung-bok; edited by Kim Sang-beom; music by Bang Jun-seok and Jo Yeong-wook; produced by Chang and Ku Bon-hau; released by The Klock Worx Company Ltd.

Starring Han Suk-kyu (Detective Cho), Shim Eun-ha (Chae Su-yeon), Jang Hang-seon (Detective Oh), Yum Jung-ah (Oh Seung-min), An Seok-hwan, Park Cheol-ho, Yu Jun-sang (Kim Ki-yeon) and Lee Hwan-Jun.

Battlefield Baseball (2003, Yamaguchi Yudai)

Japanese manga adaptations tend to be absurd–at the same time amateurish and sublime, as all the actors in Battlefield Baseball keep a straight face throughout. The movie’s low budget, so very few of the punches connect and waiting for Versus’s Sakaguchi to have similar, beautifully choreographed fight scenes (even with Kitamura producing) is in vain. Most of the fight scenes are slow motion, absurdly stylized. Battlefield Baseball, while keeping (I imagine) the manga’s plot line, is also a very well-conceived rip on sports movies. Not being a fan of that genre, I didn’t notice any direct references, but the overbearing, sappy melodramatic music as the characters embrace or realize baseball’s all about friendship… it works beautifully.

There’s a significant problem with the film’s structure though. It’s split in to three parts, the lengthy introduction–complete with Sakaguchi singing about himself (one of two great musical sequences)–the baseball game, then the attack on the enemy team’s “Invincible Hell Island,” or something to that effect. The movie’s best when it’s dealing with the absurdities in a mildly realistic setting (the obsessive school principal), the pseudo-sappy moments and so on. The rest doesn’t quite work (particularly the running gag of a constantly reincarnating villain turned hero)… it’s sometimes cute, sometimes funny, but it doesn’t actually work… much like the film’s frequent saunters into misogyny.

Sakaguchi is more of a screen presence than a good actor and he carries the film quite well (though, like I said… keeping a straight face through this one is a sign of some acting quality). The best performance is from the principal, whose name I can’t find online (IMDb is useless for Japanese films).

The director shoots the locations, for the first half hour, rather well and it makes it rather unfortunate the film doesn’t stick to those settings. Good cinematography, a little flat, but good.

I was expecting a lot less from Battlefield Baseball, but it has some good laughs in it–and it knows how to build a joke, particularly the big reveal at the end.



Directed by Yamaguchi Yudai; screenplay by Kiriyama Isao, Takatsu Ryuichi and Yamaguchi, based on the manga by Man Gatarô; edited by Kakesu Shuichi; produced by Kitamura Ryuhei and Satani Hidemi; released by Klock Worx Co.

Starring Sakaguchi Tak (Jubei), Ito Atsushi (Megane) and Sakaki Hideo (Hôichi).

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