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Science fiction thriller makes innovative debut: ‘Night Rider’ will be released in four parts on Naver’s TV Cast

Oct 21,2016
Actors Joo Won, far left, Kim Gang-woo, middle, and Kim Sang-joong play agents of Bureau of Unidentified Genes, an organization founded with the aim to eliminate deadly creatures, in the web-movie “Night Rider.” [ALL THAT CINEMA]
Korea may not be known for its science fiction films, but an effort to develop the genre has been under way over the last few years, and “Night Rider,” helmed by rookie director Kim Geon, is an attempt to grow the genre in an already robust Korean film industry.

The sci-fi action film starring actors Kim Sang-joong (“The Jingbirok: A Memoir of Imjin War”), Kim Gang-woo (“The Treacherous”) and Joo Won (“Fatal Intuition”) begins in a world where legendary and dangerous monsters have long been living alongside humans. Centering on three agents - a professional veteran, a rule-abiding mid-career worker and a reckless rookie - from the Bureau of Unidentified Genes, an organization founded with the aim to eliminate the deadly creatures, the 34-minute film is filled with action scenes that keep viewers entertained throughout.

The movie will be distributed online through Naver TV Cast over four episodes instead of being screened at theaters. The first part of the series will be released at 8 a.m. today, followed by the rest which will become available on Oct. 25, 28 and Nov. 1.

Since the film is not long, the movie collaborated with webtoon writer Heo Il to supplement the details that the film lacks. Two episodes have already been published and the next six episodes of the webtoon will be released every Friday in conjunction with the movie.

“Since it is like a pilot film, there is a limit to including the entire story,” said the filmmaker during a press event held at CGV in Yongsan, central Seoul, on Wednesday. “Therefore, being able to add additional visuals and plot through the webtoon is one of the biggest advantages of this crossover.”

The director also expressed his determination to make the film into a global success.

“We made a new experiment. It might become possible to see this film in its full-length within three to four years. I hope we can develop this movie into Korea’s top science fiction film and [make it competitive enough to] export abroad.”

Despite good intentions and the director’s firm determination, however, it may not be easy for the film to avoid being dubbed by some people as a promotional video for Hyundai Motor. Within the 34 minutes of the film, the automaker’s old, current and latest Grandeur models appear in accordance with each episode’s time period. The car-chase scenes, found throughout the movie, may confuse audiences about the film’s purpose.

Regarding the possible controversy, the investor-producer Andy Yoon spoke vaguely at the press conference.

“Even when we made this into a pilot, it still required a great production cost, and therefore, it was inevitable to add a few products placements,” said Yoon.

“Turning the movie into a full-length film will require at least 10 billion won ($896,800), which not many investment distribution companies would be willing to invest. As a result, it is important that we prove we can do [science fiction] in Korea [for the sake of the genre’s growth].”

As science fiction is an uncommon film genre in Korea, the participating actors encountered new experiences while shooting the film.

“It was a great opportunity for me to get used to [working with] computer-generated images (CGI),” said Joo Won. “When I first met the director, he was so sure of what he was doing that I felt we [actors] also had to [quickly] become accustomed to shooting with CGI.”

Kim Sang-joong similarly expressed that the style of shooting was his “first time” and described it as a “novel experience.” And his co-star Kim Gang-woo also labeled the filming experience as “unusual.”

“The three actors were cast because I wished for each character to have his own distinct attractiveness,” explained the director. “Since this project draws on three men chasing destructive creatures, I hoped the combination of the three characters would be refreshing.”

Despite the novel attempt, however, some may find the film to be quite similar to the “Men in Black” series in terms of its characters, their interactions and the overall concept. Whether viewers would judge the movie as a refreshing attempt or an imitation of the Hollywood original, or even as a Hyundai Motor promotional video, is yet to be seen.

BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]


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