Slash and earn: the blood-soaked rise of South Korean cinema
Next month, South Korean director Kim Jee-woon’s new film, I Saw the Devil, is released on these shores. It’s a bloody revenge fable, bulging with 360-degree stab-cams, decapitations and lines like,
“Your nightmare is only beginning.” Tough stuff, to be sure, and aficionados of the rough street justice favoured by a certain strain of Asian cinema are in for a treat.
So why is it that such gory stories of vengeance have become – to western eyes at least – the dominant feature of Korean cinema?
Kim himself contributed to the genre in 2005 with A Bittersweet Life, and there’s Park Chan-wook’s phenomenal revenge trilogy (Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, Lady Vengeance and Oldboy); and, though they’re not driven at their cores by revenge, it would be foolish to disregard the baroque bloodletting of films like Lee Myung-se’s Nowhere to Hide and Na Hong-jin’s The Chaser.