Movie night: Korean Movie Extravaganza

Day 44. 95,500 words.

On Saturday I once again travelled to the Old Fahrenheit Place to meet up with dreameling, The Pas and – in this instance – Mr. Kalakukkos[1] for a movie night. The theme of the night’s movie selection was “Korea”.

[1] Look, we all have more nicknames than we need, okay? But it’s fine. We’re fine.

We entertained ourselves during The Pas’s many, many cigarette breaks, and while we waited for food and / or Mr. Kalakukkos to arrive, watching these cartoons. They were about True Korea, admittedly, not Korea. But they were surreal and disturbingly funny.

What followed was a very interesting set of movies unified by some great action and filming techniques, as well as some other things that were less immediately obvious, like Harry Potter references and bleakly regimented and law-abiding character tropes.

 

1: Train to Busan

This movie, which sounded like a war-era drama-tragedy[2], turned into a straight-up zombie movie quicker than you could say “watch out for that deer”. In an opening with amusing similarities to Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, the whole thing starts with a temporary roadkill. And it unfolds from there, dramatically fast and extraordinarily brutal.

[2] I would have been concerned, except this is Mr. Fahrenheit we’re talking about.

Easily the unexpected treasure in this movie was Dong-seok Ma, who was apparently the main actor’s personal trainer and was given his role in the movie as a friendly gesture. His bio somewhat backs this up but it doesn’t matter. He was brilliant.

busan1

“Are you prepared for fast zombies, or did you skip leg day?”

Of course we had the classic horror movie trope of the neglectful dad with struggling marriage, doing his best to get across country with his daughter to reunite with his wife, but that was a pretty minor part of the story. We had other delightful zombie-fodder in the shape of railway employees, school kids, army guys, and travelling businessmen. And a truly unprecedented sequence of stupid dick moves by panic-ridden members of the general public, which resulted in short-lived but glorious scenes of carnage.

busan2

Most of it, it has to be said, the work of this cunt here. Keep an eye on him.

For a statement on the general selfishness and frailty of the human condition and society in general, it was entertaining viewing. Goddamn excellent cinematography, and some of the nicest ‘fast-zombie’ characterisation and movement I’ve seen. I know a lot of people have issues with fast zombies, but I don’t mind them. Slow zombies are kind of dull.

busan3

These ones were not dull.

Highly recommended if you’re not completely over the zombie apocalypse trend of the past ten years yet.

 

2: The Villainess

This movie had even more great action, including a nice Doom / Hardcore Henry opening sequence that was straight out of Lucas Thorn’s Assassin of Dragonclaw. It was, on the other hand, extremely confusing.

villainess1

You could just sit and watch the action sequences and enjoy it, but attempting to put together the plot was a bona fide Pas-buster. Our own ‘The’ Pas broke after about 45 minutes and just sat there laugh-crying into his jallu.

As near as I can tell, the plot went something like this:

A girl and her father are involved in some sort of shady dealings. The dad finds a jewel called ‘the white oval’, although that might have been bad subtitling. The dad is then killed by an organised crime ring and the girl, who was hiding under the bed watching, is found and adopted by Scarface. She is trained and initiated into the crime ring, although it seems as though she is on a mission – endorsed by the crime ring – to find the people responsible for killing her father. She marries, or pretend-marries, Scarface. Scarface later dies. The girl, while on a rampage through some sort of crime warehouse, is caught by some syndicate of assassins and taken to brainwashing school where she is taught to be a sort of Black Widow character like all the other girls in the school.

villainess3

This is the school. Just to break up the wall of text.

She is pregnant and the syndicate hold her baby as insurance. She is released at the end of her training and is required to give ten years’ service before being allowed to live her own life. She moves in next door to Creepysmile, who is one of the surveillance desk-jockeys for the syndicate and is now her handler although he doesn’t tell her he works for the syndicate and she doesn’t tell him. They eventually fall in love and get married. On her wedding day she is sent on another mission (she’s been on a few by now) and her target turns out to be Scarface. She hesitates and he gets away. Then some more action scenes happen and she finally has a showdown with Scarface and he is revealed as her father’s true killer, then she kills him and then gets arrested I think.

All of this, incidentally, happens in jumbled-up order through my favourite narrative devices, the flashback and the flashback-within-flashback.

villainess2

The Wikipedia page has the plot in more detail, I don’t have the will to live to figure out whether I was in the ballpark or not. Being drunk didn’t help.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun and really cool to watch. Confusing as Hell, but very cool.

 

3: Okja

After a break to order pizzas, get Mr. Fahrenheit Jr. into bed and watch half of Grimsby on Netflix[3], we sat back down to our last movie of the night.

[3] I may review this once I finish watching it, if I ever do; we were drunk enough to be highly amused by it but it is essentially just a new Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen is a master of the too-far, oh-God-no grade of low-brow humour and it’s good for a guilty chortle.

Okja was a strange movie, as you might expect bizarro actors such as Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal to take part in. Again, it was gorgeously shot and edited, the action and motion sequences were handled amazingly, and overall it was a very entertaining movie. Easily my favourite of the night.

okja1

Does she even make normal movies? Come to think of it, why would you?

Okja is a “super pig”, one of a new breed intended to lower carbon footprints, solve world hunger, and “taste fucking delicious”. The movie is a touching story about the super pig and the young girl who has raised her and is her best friend. Also there are hilarious animal rights activists, a TV zoologist, corporate businessfolk, and really disturbing glimpses into the psychotic minds of all of the above.

okja2

Plus Okja goes on several rampages and they’re all quite brilliant.

Prepare yourself for a bit of a harrowing ride, because apparently Koreans don’t do simple action movies or non-gut-wrenching endings. They make USian action movies look pretty dumb, actually – not that I don’t enjoy the Hell out of dumb on a very regular basis, but I’m just saying, it’s different. I mean, if Bruce Willis or The Rock were in this movie, they would absolutely have been trampled or swallowed in the first half an hour.

okja3

And it’s not a sad or depressing ending, before you get too concerned – but, if you give it some thought and reflection … actually yeah, it kind of is.

I won’t spoil it any further, but will just reiterate that this is a tough one to really confront, but a lot of fun to watch both visually and emotionally. It wasn’t enough to turn me vegan, but it’s right up there with those battery-farm guilt videos you see on social media. Don’t go into it if you’re not prepared to at least consider the vegetarian or cricket-based option in your future eating practices.

It was also interestingly close to my “cow plague” and associated recovery steps, which are introduced in Bad Cow and will continue through the Oræl Rides to War series. Perhaps one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much. This is easily a very-near-future or even present-day world I can see just by looking out of the metaphorical window.

It is also worth pointing out that there is apparently a post-credits scene that we missed, but it is just a bit more about the animal liberation guys. I was additionally amused to see that the movie was boo’ed at Cannes, most likely because of the Netflix brand. This just confirms my low opinion of the Hollywood glitterati and film critics in general. Imbeciles. Welcome to the future.

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3 Responses to Movie night: Korean Movie Extravaganza

  1. brknwntr says:

    Could you not have simply summed up the second movie by saying “Korean Kill Bill tropes”

    • stchucky says:

      No. I liked Kill Bill, but this was definitely a different story. Sure, revenge porn tropes gonna revenge porn trope, that’s why I cited Nysta. But overall a different story and summarising it in reference to Kill Bill would have been misleading.

      • brknwntr says:

        Fair enough. Your summation, while explaining too many details for me to watch it anytime soon, definitely interests me in watching it at some point.

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