The Establishing Shot: The London Korean Film Festival 2011


Posted by Craig Grobler on Google+ On Thursday, September 15, 2011

London Korean Film FestivalWhile London ramps up for the 55th BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL. I thought I would mention a couple of other brilliant film festivals being held in the capital this year that you may have missed.


The first of these festivals is The London Korean Film Festival 2011. The 6th annual London Korean Film Festival (LKFF) returns 3 – 17 November 2011 showcasing the very best Korean films, UK premieres and events, ranging from the traditional gritty thrillers and skin crawling films, to family animation films new to the Korean film scene. So far I have received the heads up about 2 films to be screened at The London Korean Film Festival 2011 which are; Arrow, the Ultimate Weapon (Choi-jong-byeong-gi Hwal) and The Front Line (Go-ji-jeon).

Last years LKFF saw the premieres and early screenings of some of the most innovative, exciting and critically acclaimed films of the year. And again highlighted how Korean film is steadily on the rise to being internationally recognised as original, exciting and entertaining. The following should be read bearing in mind I have a penchant for good action films. As an example two films from last year's The London Korean Film Festival that I saw and loved are:

The Man from Nowhere
I knew very little about The Man from Nowhere apart from seeing the trailer
- which got me excited enough to want to see it. And whilst on paper:
A quiet pawnshop keeper with a violent past takes on a drug- and organ trafficking ring in hope of saving the child who is his only friend.
The Man from Nowhere could be read as a by the numbers man with a murky past applies his special skills to clean up the streets (again). However it does not play out by the numbers. It is a character driven and emotionally charged ACTION laden tale shot in the style of an art house film. Something Korean film-makers are fast becoming the de facto specialists in.

In terms of action some of the scenes have to be the best I have ever seen on screen, including an incredible stunt where the camera follows the lead character Cha Tae-sik (Bin Won) in a chase and straight out of a first floor window. I have seen nothing like this in western cinema. Also I should point out that something lacking in many action films is that the action aspect of the film are over emphasised to the detriment of everything else. With The Man from Nowhere performances are just as important.

The Man from Nowhere also has one of my favourite fight scenes of all time. When conflicted hero Cha Tae-sik (Bin Won) takes on a gang of armed hoods, armed only with a knife. The scene is reminiscent but expands upon another of my greatest fight scenes of all time, also from another Korean film. I am of course talking about Oldboy's hammer fight scene.

If you are looking for well made character driven, stylistically shot action films, both The Man from Nowhere and Oldboy should be at the top of your list.


The Man from Nowhere (Ajeossi)
A quiet pawnshop keeper with a violent past takes on a drug- and organ trafficking ring in hope of saving the child who is his only friend.

Director: Jeong-beom Lee
Writer: Jeong-beom Lee
Stars: Bin Won, Sae-ron Kim and Hee-won Kim

The other awesome film I have seen from London Korean Film Festival 2010 was I Saw the Devil directed by Jee-woon Kim. Which by coincidence starred the lead from Oldboy, Min-sik Choi as well as the immensely watchable Byung-hun Lee as the lead super cop. If you get a chance, I also recommend seeing him in another great Korean film from Oldboy Director Jee-woon Kim A Bittersweet Life where Byung-hun Lee is in top form as the conflicted strong arm of a criminal organisation.


I Saw the Devil is absolutely mental. It is very well made, with some great performances and that a story that surprises at every turn. When an up and coming police detective who is wronged, takes the law into hands and plans his own revenge on potential suspects. Taking him on a bizarre journey to the dark side.

I loved I Saw the Devil . Although violently gross it is everything film should be clever, original, fresh and engrossingly innovative.

I Saw the Devil
When his pregnant fiancee becomes the latest victim of a serial killer, a secret agent blurs the line between good and evil in his pursuit of revenge.

Director: Jee-woon Kim
Writer: Hoon-jung Park (screenplay)
Stars: Byung-hun Lee, Min-sik Choi and Gook-hwan Jeon

OK! so that was last year what can we expect from The London Korean Film Festival 2011?

First heads up I received from the LKFF 2011 line-up is that The London Korean Film Festival 2011 will kick off 3 November with the European Premiere of Arrow, the Ultimate Weapon (Choi-jong-byeong-gi Hwal)

Arrow, the Ultimate Weapon (Choi-jong-byeong-gi Hwal)


The film is directed by Kim Han-min who has previously helmed; Handphone and Paradise Murdered with a cast including; Park Hae-il (Heartbeat and The Host) and Ryu Seung-ryong (Blades Of Blood).

1623, the 15th year of King Gwanghaegun's reign, King's loyal servant and legendary archer, General Choi Pyong-ryang, is frmaed for treason and gets executed. His entire household meet the same tragic fate but his young son and daughter, Na-mi and Ja-in, escape and flee to the safety of their father's longtime friend, Kim Mu-seon's home. The brother and sister take refuge under Kim's wing and are raised as his own. 13 years pass and the Qing China carries out a brutal invasion against Joseon, in what will later be known as "second Manchu invasion of Korea." On the wedding day of Ja-in and Kim Mu-seon's son, Seo-gun, Qing troops led by Commander Jiusinta attack the village and take the villagers as prisoners.

Ja-in is amoung the hostages. When Na-mi returns home later after getting injured in a battle, he finds his guardian murdered and his sister taken away by the Qing men. Na-mi chases after the troop in a desperate attempt to save his sister. Na-mi manages to track down Ja-in but must face a battle with Jiusinta's best men in order to escape.

Arrow, the Ultimate Weapon (Choi-jong-byeong-gi Hwal)
During Second Manchu invasion of Korea, one village is attacked by Manchurian soldiers. Manchurian kidnap Ja-in on her wedding day with her childhood sweetheart Seo-Goon...

Director: Han-min Kim
Stars: Hae-il Park, Seung-yong Ryoo and Mu-Yeol Kim

Arrow, the Ultimate Weapon UK release date to be confirmed.

The London Korean Film Festival 2011 will continue with the 4 November with the European Premiere of The Front Line (Go-ji-jeon). The epic Front Line set in the closing days of The Korean War has been selected as the Korean entry for the 84th Oscar foreign language film category.


Towards the end of the Korean War an uneasy ceasefire is ordered, but out on the Eastern front line of the Aerok Hills fierce fighting continues. A race to capture a strategic point to determine a new border between the two Koreas is the ultimate prize.

A bullet is then found in the body of dead company commander of the South Korean army. The bullet that killed the company commander belongs to the South Korean army. Lieutenant of the Defense Security Command Kang Eun-Pyo is ordered to go out into the Eastern front line and investigate the murder. When Kang Eun-Pyo arrives in the Aerok Hills he is surprised to find his old friend Kim Soo-Hyeok commanding troops in the Aerok Hills. Kang Eun-Pyo believed Kim Soo-Hyeok was dead. In their younger years, Kim Soo-Hyeok was a meek student, but he eventually became the leader of Aerok company as a lieutenant.

The situation in the Aerok company raises many flags in the eyes of Kang Eun-Pyo. Soldiers wear North Korean uniforms inside due to the cold weather, a 20-year-old leads troops as a captain and the reappearance of his old friend Kim Soo-Hyeok. The countdown to the ceasefire begins as the lives of countless soldiers fall to the wayside

The Front Line (Go-ji-jeon)
Towards the end of the Korean War an uneasy ceasefire is ordered, but out on the Eastern front line of the Aerok Hills fierce fighting continues...
Director: Hun Jang
Writer: Sang-yeon Park
Stars: Ha-kyun Shin, Soo Go and Seung-su Ryu

The Front Line UK release date to be confirmed.

I think the full line-up for the The London Korean Film Festival 2011 will be announced late tomorrow and I'll try get updates up but in the meantime head over to the official The London Korean Film Festival site over here: http://www.koreanfilm.co.uk/

The 6th London Korean Film Festival 2011 runs from 3 – 17 November 2011 and takes place in London at the Cineworld Haymarket, Apollo and ICA cinemas, and on tour nationally in Sheffield, Cambridge and Newcastle.

The Establishing Shot: The London Korean Film Festival 2011

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