Tag Archives: Lee Byung-hun

Joint Security Area (2000) Review

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Joint Security Area

Time: 110 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Lee Young-ae as Maj. Sophie E. Jean
Lee Byung-hun as Sgt. Lee Soo-hyuk
Song Kang-ho as Sgt. Oh Kyung-pil
Kim Tae-woo as Pvt. Nam Sung-sik 
Shin Ha-kyun as Pvt. Jung Woo-jin
Director: Park Chan-wook

Two North Korean soldiers are killed in the border area between North and South Korea, prompting an investigation by a neutral body. Sgt. Lee Soo-hyeok (Lee Byung-hun) is the shooter, but lead investigator Maj. Sophie E. Jean (Lee Young-ae), a Swiss-Korean woman, receives differing accounts from the two sides. Lee claims he fired in self-defense after getting wounded, while a North Korean survivor (Song Kang-ho) says it was a premeditated attack — leaving Jean with her work cut out for her.

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Joint Security Area was one of the last Park Chan-wook films that I needed to get around to watching. All I knew about it was the director (and it’s one of his earlier movies), and that Song Kang-ho was in it. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from it, but it was better than I thought it would be, genuinely great.

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Joint Security Area is one of Park Chan-wook’s least extravagant movies in terms of plot, but this might actually be one of his best scripts and overall narratives. At first the movie starts as a murder mystery where the goal is to find the explanation for a killing where the perpetuator is known but the motive is missing. The setup starts off being pretty familiar outside of the setting and circumstances, but after the first 20 minutes it stops seeming procedural and the focus starts to shift to some flashbacks to the events leading up to the incident. I won’t go into too much depth about what it gets into because I went in not knowing what to expect and was surprised when I found out what the movie is really about. The movie takes place in the Joint Security Area in the Korean DMZ which separates North and South Korea. The representation of both North and South is actually even handed, especially with the characterisation. It isn’t the deepest or politically charged film but it is quite thought provoking. It gets at the heart of the pointlessness of war, and particularly reflects on the generational battle between the North and South. Like most of Park’s movies it is filled with humour, even the darkest of his films. However instead of dark comedy, this time its more innocent and pure. The story is surprisingly emotional and hits hard particularly at the end, but it’s also a very moving and hopeful movie. The move is slower paced but that didn’t take away too much from it, especially once it went into the flashbacks. The movie does have its issues. Some of the investigation scenes could have been a bit more interesting or stylised in some way. The flashbacks leading up to the event were definitely holding my interest more and when it cut back to the present-day scenes, while I didn’t dislike them, I wanted to go back to the other storyline.

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The acting is also great, you feel the level of emotion in this movie because you care about the characters and the relationships between them are believable. The main cast are rather well known South Korean actors in Song Kang-ho, Lee Byung-hun, Lee Yeong-ae and Shin Ha-kyun. All of them play their parts really well but for me the two standout performers were Song Kang-ho and Lee Byung-hun as they portray North and South Korean soldiers respectively. Song was particularly fantastic in his very nuanced performance, and he elevates any scene that he’s in. In terms of flaws, Lee Yeong-ae is good in her part, though it does feel like her character doesn’t get much to do in this movie despite playing the role of the lead investigator looking into the central incident of the movie. It’s likely because like much of that plotline, she’s overshadowed by the flashback sequences.

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This is one of Park Chan-wook’s first movies, and he already showed himself to be a great director with this one film alone, even before the revenge films that really made him known. The direction is snappy throughout, he manages to get a lot from a fairly straightforward story here. Everything on the technical level is great, the cinematography is great and its well shot, and the production design and costumes are top notch.

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Joint Security Area is another great film from Park Chan-wook. Along with the excellent direction and the superb acting from everyone, the story was surprisingly emotional and easy to get invested in, as was the characters it follows. Definitely check it out, especially if you like any of Park’s other movies.

Terminator Genisys (2015) Review

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the Terminator in TERMINATOR GENISYS from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.

Terminator Genisys
Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Guardian/Terminator
Jason Clarke as John Connor
Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor
Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese
J.K. Simmons Detective O’Brien
Dayo Okeniyi as Danny Dyson
Matt Smith as Alex
Courtney B. Vance as Miles Dyson
Lee Byung-hun as T-1000
Director: Alan Taylor

When John Connor (Jason Clarke), leader of the human resistance against Skynet, sends Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to protect his mother, Sarah (Emilia Clarke), from a Terminator assassin, an unexpected turn of events creates an altered timeline. Instead of a scared waitress, Sarah is a skilled fighter and has a Terminator guardian (Arnold Schwarzenegger) by her side. Faced with unlikely allies and dangerous new enemies, Reese sets out on an unexpected new mission: reset the future.

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I love the first two Terminator films, they are classics in their own right and have made a big impact on cinema, so naturally I was hyped for the fifth instalment to the franchise. I was initially worried when I heard that a lot of people really didn’t like this film, it currently holds a 27% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite the hate, I still decided to watch it and I surprisingly enjoyed it. It’s not without its faults (mostly with the plot) but I still managed to enjoy it nonetheless. It’s nowhere near the level of the first two terminators but it’s still better than 3 and 4.

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Before I talk about the film, I should mention first not to watch the trailers. The trailers show way too much and might actually affect your viewing. I will say though that the plot twist in the trailer I actually liked, even though there are some things that didn’t really make sense. The fault in the film is mostly due to its story and script. The problem with time travel movies is that it can get very convoluted and confusing. Genysis is trying to do an X-Men Days of Future Past but here there are some things that don’t get addressed. The film does have some continuity issues and plot holes, for example the T-1000 from Terminator 2 isn’t addressed. I didn’t notice a lot of problems on my viewing but I know that there’s a lot there that I haven’t noticed yet.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger slips effortlessly back into the role of the Terminator after many years, he was for me the best part of the movie. He wasn’t acting as just Schwarzenegger in another action film, he was the Terminator. Most people really didn’t like the rest of the cast but I found most of them to be fine. I bought Emilia Clarke as a younger Sarah Connor and the connection between her and the Terminator I thought really worked. I also thought that Jason Clarke was decent as John Connor. One casting however that I didn’t really like was Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese. He really didn’t seem like Michael Biehn in the original Terminator and didn’t honestly convey enough emotions. I think Jai Courtney is good in certain roles but Kyle Reese wasn’t the best choice for him. I really liked Matt Smith’s role but I would’ve liked it if the film had more of him in it.

Emilia Clarke plays Sarah Connor in TERMINATOR GENISYS from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.

The action were pretty good though not as memorable as the scenes in the first two films. The CGI for the most part was pretty good but like Jurassic World, it hasn’t gotten that much better than the original. Occasionally there was an explosion or two which really did look CGI and a little fake. The soundtrack I thought was also decent and did add more to the action scenes.

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Terminator Genisys is at times a little messy with its plot but I still managed to be entertained by what I saw. I can’t say that you will definitely enjoy this film but I think it’s a good idea to check it out and see for yourself. James Cameron gets the rights for the franchise back in 3 years and even though I liked this film, I do think that he should direct another Terminator film in between his many planned Avatar sequels.