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.