The Handmaiden (2016)

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Movie: The Handmaid /Lady (아가씨)
World Premiere: May, 2016 (Cannes Film Festival)
Release Date: June 1, 2016
Runtime: 144 min.
Genre: Thriller / Period-1930 / Erotic / Award Winning
Distributor: CJ Entertainment

Main Cast:
Cho Jin Woong – Uncle Kouzuki
Ha Jung Woo – Count Fujiwara
Kim Min Hee – Lady Hideko
Kim Tae Ri – Sook Hee

Review:
Mesmerizing! I finally watched this critically acclaimed movie and I loved it!

It’s 2 hours and 25 mins long but I didn’t even realized the time. Everything looked so beautiful. The story is about a fake count hiring a handmaiden to help him marry the lady and steal all her money. But turns out who is really scamming who?

There are three parts, told from different perspectives but of the same narrative, so it was interesting to realize what each character was thinking of. I honestly was so surprised after part I! I totally didn’t expect it! But i feel like I’ve seen another movie similar to this or maybe a book but I can’t remember which one. (I have never read Fingersmith). There are a lot of sexy and some torture scenes so don’t watch with your parents or if you can’t stomach these kinds of scenes.

This is Kim Taeri’s first ever role and she was phenomenal. Actually all the 4 leads were so good. And there were also some funny moments. Count’s reactions are mostly funny (Ha Jung Woo is always unintentionally funny). Even when Lady Hideko tried to hang herself and Sookhee was holding her made me chuckle.

I didnt like what happened to the count, i thought he deserved the money as much as the ladies deserved their freedom. Or maybe i’m just biased because it’s Ha Jung Woo 🤗

Rating: 9.5/10

1987: When The Day Comes (2017)

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Movie: 1987: When The Day Comes
Release Date: December 27, 2017
Runtime: 129 min.
Distributor: CJ Entertainment
Country: South Korea

Main Cast
Kim Yun Seok – Park Cheo Won
Ha Jung Woo – Prosecutor Choi
Park Hee Seon – Jo Han Kyung
Lee Hee Joon – Yoon Sang Sam
Kim Tae Ri – Yeon Hee
Kang Dong Won – Lee Han Yeol
Yoo Hae Jin – Han Byeong Yong

Review:
This movie is based on actual events called June Democratic Uprising in Korea which happened in 1987.

It all started when a college student was tortured and killed by anti-communist group and they tried to conceal his death.

I love how the director was able to tell the story through different people, starting from the prosecutor who demanded autopsy, to jail guard who passed on info to the opposition, the reporter who tried to reveal the truth to the public, and to the students who bravely rallied against the government.

Not for the faint hearted. It’s moving, horrifying and inspiring. The extra romance between the two college students slightly felt out of place but the end made up for it.

Rating: 8.5

The Closet (2020)

Movie: The Closet (클로젯)
Release Date: February 5, 2020
Distributor: CJ Entertainment
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

Cast
Kim Nam Gil – Kyung Hoon
Ha Jung Woo – Sang Won
Heo Yool – In Na
Shin Hyun Bin – Seung Hee
Kim Shi Ah – Myung Jin
Park Sung Woong – Myung Jin’s dad

Review:
Since it’s October, though I’d watch a few horror or suspense movies this month. And this is my 5th HJW movie this year.

The Closet is about a father and daughter who moves to a new house after a traumatic accident. Yup moving to an old abandoned house in the middle of nowhere is always a good idea. LOL.

So one day the child disappeared while the father was out in Seoul working. While searching for her daughter he meets a modern exorcist who tells him that a lot of kids who lived in the house have disappeared for years and he will help find his daughter.

The movie is only 1 hour and 39 mins and I think that’s why the movie felt emotionally incomplete. We know what happened during the accident but we didn’t see enough reasons why there was a strained relationship between the father and daughter, enough for the ghost to take her to her special world. It just felt like both were grieving and the father didn’t know how to cope and raise his child alone. The daughter seemed sad but i didn’t think she hated her father.

There weren’t a lot of scary scenes, the ghost of the darkness are probably the scariest but the rest were just enough creepiness. We also didn’t get enough background of the exorcist and his shaman mother. So far i’ve seen KNG play a fiery priest, now an exorcist and i think his new drama is also about exorcism.

The reason for the ghost was heartbreaking and it felt like they could have explored the main social message in the epilogue better to have a deeper impact to the people watching.

Rating: 8/10

Ashfall (2019)

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Movie: Ashfall (백두산)
Release Date: December 19, 2019
Distributor: CJ Entertainment
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

Plot
Mt Baekdu erupted, causing massive earthquake in Seoul. A team tries to retrieve the nuclear bomb with the help of a NK spy to prevent Mt Baekdu from further erupting.

Main Cast
Ha Jung Woo – Jo In Chang
Lee Byung Hun – Lee Jun Pyeong
Ma Dong Seok – Kang Bong Rae
Jeon Hye Jin – Jeon Yoo Kyung
Bae Suzy – Choi Ji Young

Review
My 4th Ha Jung Woo movie this month 😊

This movie felt like two movies combined into one. It starts with a disaster movie, where Mt Baekdu erupted and the resulting earthquake severely impacted Seoul and North Korea. And a team was dispatched to steal a detonator from NK and to place it in one of the mines in Mt Baekdu to diffuse the pressure and prevent an even massive eruption.

The SK team met the NK spy who made their mission difficult by double dealing with the Chinese to bring the detonator of the nuclear bomb and somehow the US army found out about it and the movie became a spy thriller.

Great effects although the earthquake was too severe to be realistic. I love the tandem of Lee Byung Hun and Ha Jung Woo. Their fights were intense as they tried to outsmart the other but they worked best as a team. I was also laughing out loud at some of their scenes. Would love to see them in a proper action comedy flick again. It’s my first time seeing Ha Jung Woo in this kind of role since he always plays roles where he is just so good and smart at everything, so it was nice seeing him fumble and be funny. Of course by end of the movie he was able to solve everything!

Suzy as his wife i think didn’t really have a lot of scenes and was just there to provide some emotional reason for the captain to come back alive. The professor who thought of the most harebrained idea of detonating Mt Baekdu also had a side story which I also liked.

Overall I would say this is more of a spy thriller under the guise of a disaster movie. The plot is unrealistic but still fun to watch.

Rating: 8/10