[DVD REVIEWS]A Theater Where the Seating Is Always GoodWith the rise of the Korean movie industry, it is frustrating to be living in the middle of it but stuck with less-than-fluent Korean-language abilities. Fortunately, with the increasing popularity of DVDs, there is an option for the linguistically disinclined who want to see (and understand) Korean movies. In addition, there are many international movies available in Korea on DVD that are not available on video.
DVDs offer many advantages over videotapes. Most significantly, DVDs usually have subtitles. In addition to Korean movies, thanks to DVDs, movies from all over the world are now fair game. Be careful though, because not all DVDs are created equal. There are unfortunately all too many Korean DVDs (and some others) that do not offer English subtitles. So check the subtitling on the back of the case before buying or renting.
Also, the copyright-obsessed movie companies have, in their infinite wisdom, created a series of different, incompatible region codes. The United States is region one, but Korea is region three, meaning that a DVD designed for one country will not play on a player designed for another. Most of the time. I have encountered several region three DVDs that can work on region one machines. In addition, more than one company can put out DVDs, often with different options, levels of quality and codings. Confusing? Yes. But every other week (alternating with video reviews) this column will try to help you out.
KICK THE MOON
Directed by Kim Sang-jin. Starring Cha Seung-won, Lee Seong-jae and Kim Hye-su.
This fun, although unremarkable, film about friendship and gangsters (aren't they all these days?) took in 4.3 million viewers during its run this summer, making it the sixth-highest grossing film in Korean history.
"Kick the Moon" (known as "Silla eui Dalbam" in Korean) begins with a high school taking a trip to the historic city of Gyeongju. The students party and end up getting into a huge fight with the locals. In the fray, the cool Choi Gi-dong (Cha Seung-won) leads the high school, while the brainiac nerd Kim Young-joon (Lee Seong-jae) hides.
Flash forward 10 years, and Gi-dong has become a high school physical education teacher in Gyeongju, while Young-joon is a gangster/tough guy. Young-joon leads a plan to bring his Seoul-based gang into Gyeongju, where he meets Gi-dong.
The two fall for the same girl, Min Ju-ran (Kim Hye-su), then spend much of the film trying to beat the tar out of each other. But in the spirit of testosterone-laden, gangster cinema, you know they will join together to fight the common foe when the time comes.
The DVD of "Kick the Moon" has many extras, like deleted scenes, trailers, interviews and a music video. Sadly, like all too many Korean DVDs, the extras are not subtitled; they are informative, just not as accessible as they could have been.
by Mark Russell