Yonggary Rises From the Ashes

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Yonggary Rises From the Ashes

A 500-foot-tall, fire-breathing monster with razor-sharp teeth named "Yonggary" is set to crash into domestic theaters once again.

Only this time the movie is a better-edited version. The 1999 version of "Yonggary" was met by harsh criticism from both moviegoers and critics. In contrast, the new "Yonggary" has received positive responses from the mass media following a well-received preview at the Cannes International Film Festival in May. CNN reported, "It's not Godzilla. It's Yonggary, the monstrous star of the South Korean movies."

"With the help of advice from the public and Internet users, most of the weak spots in the script were touched up. Special effects, sound effects and acting all went through radical changes," said Shim Hyung-rae, the director of "Yonggary." Why did the original "Yonggary" fail, despite its multi-million-dollar budget? It was hyped to take Korean cinema onto the world stage, but it received a stony welcome both at home and abroad. According to the critics, this was due to a combination of a weak storyline, cliches and bad acting.

"One of the things I just couldn't stand was the excruciating dialogue of the poor actors, as well as the obviously fake set designs," said Jane Hoker, an English teacher calling herself a "monster movie maniac." "It was supposed to be a metropolitan city, New York, but it was full of Koreans and Korean signs."

However, despite bombing at the box office, "Yonggary" number one did manage to make it onto video release in Russia, China, Germany, Poland and the United States. "It was a very valuable experience and I learned a lot," Mr. Shim said. "It was a tough time. I had to say to myself over and over, 'Make a new start, and never give up. Hollywood is not so far away.'

As far as the future of the edited "Yonggary," Mr. Shim, a former comedian, is suitably optimistic. "There have been many instances when the edited version of a movie performed better than its predecessor. For example, George Lucas's edited 'Star Wars.' Steven Spielberg is now in the process of editing 'E.T.' for re-release next year."

One good thing about the old "Yonggary" was the special effects, which were comparable to those in "Godzilla"(2000). As Mr. Shim said, "The new-born Yonggary has even more charm, thanks to better computer effects."

This fantasy sci-fi family film centers on the adventures of Yonggary, a dinosaur who is brought back from extinction to serve the evil purposes of aliens who intend to destroy the Earth. But Yonggary catches on to his creators' designs and turns against. All the actors playing the seven lead roles hail from Hollywood, and include Harrison Young and Eric Briant Wells. The edited "Yonggary" will appear in January.

by Kim Jae-seon

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