[ENTERTAINMENT]A Once Celebrated Film Team Returns

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[ENTERTAINMENT]A Once Celebrated Film Team Returns

"He has instincts that just turn out right for me. . . . We identify with each other through the characters he acts out and I direct," Martin Scorsese said of his lifetime work partner, Robert De Niro.

What more could an actor want from a director than this kind of compliment? Since 1973, De Niro and Scorsese have worked their combined magic in eight films, including the stalwarts "Taxi Driver" (1976) and "Cape Fear" (1991). Their collaboration is so celebrated that they now have a joint tribute Web site (at http://home.att.net/~vellinor).

Is there an equivalent creative team in Korean films? Though it does not boast as long a history as Hollywood, Korea's film arts boast something similar to the Scorsese-De Niro collaboration in 48-year-old director Bae Chang-ho and 49-year-old actor Ahn Sung-gi. The actor and director recently joined forces again, after a prolonged separation, for a new release. They worked on 12 films together in the 1980s.

"When I first saw his face in 1979, he seemed very intellectual. At first sight, I had the feeling that he was going to be a huge success," said Mr. Bae. Mr. Ahn's first impressions of the man who would figure predominantly in his success were not quite so glowing. Mr. Bae was then an assistant to the veteran director Lee Jang-ho, who was considering casting Mr. Ahn, then an unknown, in his new movie, "Barambuleo Joeun Nal" ("A Good Windy Day"). "At first," Mr. Ahn said, "I thought Mr. Bae wouldn't do so well in the movie business, especially when I heard his major was business administration."

But the years have proved Mr. Ahn wrong. Mr. Bae has become one of Korea's most successful directors. And ironically, the man who doubted him at first ended up with star roles in Mr. Bae's first 12 creations, including "Gorae Sanyang" ("Whale Hunting").

After a number of theatrical releases during the 1990s their partnership seemed to come to an end. Mr. Bae took a detour in his film career, directing independent films such as "Love Story" (1996) instead of box office blockbusters.

Now, Mr. Bae is back with his partner Mr. Ahn, who stars in the lead role of the new movie, "Heuksuseon." The movie, currently being filmed, is scheduled for a summer release. Mr. Ahn says, "I knew we would be back together some day. I missed Mr. Bae and his pushy yet powerful style of directing, especially when I worked with several other young directors. I can't wait."

The two appear to be perfect complements. Where Mr. Bae is passionate and quick-thinking, Mr. Ahn is placid and prudent. And, like Scorsese and De Niro, they have absolute trust in each other's skills. Mr. Ahn added at the end of the interview, "Mr. Bae is the right person to be at the foundations of the Korean movie industry. Now that I know him so well, I know he will meet my high expectations."

by Shin Yong-ho

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