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Director Im's rebel streak -- which has given us bold sexual talk in Girls Night Out, teenage delinquency in Tears, family scandal in A Good Lawyer's Wife and political intrigue in The President's Last Bang -- manifests itself here in quieter ways: in the cat-who's-eaten-the-goldfish sparkle of Hyun-woo's eyes, or in the way the director toys with viewer expectations and sets up striking but awkward contrasts in mood.True to form, the narrative is also spiced with sudden eruptions of violence that you really feel in the pit of your stomach.Nonetheless, year-end statistics showed that Korean films only accounted for a little over half of ticket sales in 2007 -- its lowest level since 2002.Clearly, the Korean film industry was in need of a boost in 2008. Seoul population: 10.42 million Nationwide population: 49.1 million Market share: Korean 50.8%, Imports 49.2% (nationwide) Films released: Korean 112, Imported 280 Total admissions: 158.8 million Number of screens: 2,058 (end of 2007) Exchange rate (2007): 935 won/US dollar Average ticket price: 6247won Exports to other countries: US,283,339 (Japan: 27%) Average budget: 3.7bn won including 1.2bn p&a spend A socialist student activist named Hyun-woo and his colleagues are on the run from the police in the months after the Gwangju Massacre.Later, the film flopped in its US theatrical release, though by some accounts it is doing better on DVD.The latter part of the year might be considered a recovery of sorts, although producers and investors continued to fret about sinking profitability.
Meanwhile thriller Seven Days emerged as a true word of mouth hit, boosted by the fast tempo of its story and an electric performance from Kim Yun-jin.Its refusal to provide cathartic release is also admirable, given that the film bills itself as a melodrama.But there is a magic in the first half -- a sense of everything clicking together in harmony -- that evaporates in the latter reels, and I don't think this was the filmmaker's intention.Reviewed below: The Old Garden (Jan 4) -- Before the Summer Passes Away (Jan 18) -- Pruning the Grapevine (Feb 22) -- Beautiful Sunday (Mar 29) -- The Show Must Go On (Apr 5) -- Paradise Murdered (Apr 12) -- Driving With My Wife's Lover (Apr 26) -- Bunt (Apr 26) -- Secret Sunshine (May 23) -- The Evil Twin (May 23) -- Hwang Jin-yi (Jun 6) -- The Wonder Years (Jun 14) -- Never Forever (Jun 21) -- Black House (Jun 21) -- The Cut (Jul 11) -- Muoi (Jul 25) -- D-War (Aug 1) -- Epitaph (Aug 1) -- HERs (Aug 2) -- Wide Awake (Aug 8) -- Someone Behind You (Aug 22) -- The Happy Life (Sep 12) -- Happiness (Oct 3) -- Resurrection of the Butterfly (Oct 11) -- Going by the Book (Oct 18) -- Shadows in the Palace (Oct 18) -- M (Oct 25) -- Desert Dream (Nov 8) -- Fantastic Parasuicides (Nov 8) -- Seven Days (Nov 14) -- Our Town (Nov 29) -- Rainbow Eyes (Dec 27) -- Hansel and Gretel (Dec 27). Showing themselves in Seoul would surely result in their capture and arbitrary prosecution on some trumped-up charge, so they split up and go into hiding, with Hyun-woo being put up in a remote cabin by a woman named Yoon-hee.Yoon-hee is more than hospitable, and very soon the two are sharing a bed and falling in love.
Even bigger was Shim Hyung-rae's English-language monster movie D-War, shot in Los Angeles with American actors and a mostly American crew.