[VIDEO REVIEWS]2001 chart-toppers for home rental

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[VIDEO REVIEWS]2001 chart-toppers for home rental

The top five Korean movie rentals of 2001, according to Cinetown magazine, were "Joint Security Area," "Friend," "My Eccentric Girlfriend," "Kick the Moon" and "Libera Me." The top five foreign-language rentals were "Gladiator," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," "Charlie's Angels," "Gone in 60 Seconds" and "The Sixth Day." Here are the two chart-toppers:



JOINT SECURITY AREA (2000)

Directed by Park Chan-wook. Starring Lee Yeong-ae, Lee Byung-heon, Song Gang-ho, Kim Tae-woo and Shin Ha-kyun. (Korean; no subtitles.)

Based on the novel "DMZ" by Park Sang-yeon, this film swept the Blue Dragon Awards last year, and continues to top Korean video rental charts.

Gunshots ring out on a clear night in the Demilitarized Zone. South Korean soldiers rush the border to save a wounded comrade. Two North Korean soldiers are left dead. Later, a young Swiss-Korean, Major Sophie Jean (Lee Yeong-ae), is sent to conduct a simple investigation.

But what she finds is a tangled web. One witness, Seong-shik (Kim), is ready to commit suicide; the other, Soo-hyeok (Lee Byung-heon), refuses to talk. Sophie' superiors tell her, "Here, the peace is preserved by hiding the truth. They want this investigation to prove nothing at all."

By the time Sophie solves the mystery of the deaths, she has unearthed a tale of friendship, humanity, and the confusion of political ideology.

The plot is not linear and switches back and forth in time. The first 30 minutes of the film is confusing, but once the plot gets under way, the story takes over.

The story actually begins on an earlier night. Soo-hyeok was in training in the lonely border area and he became separated from his comrades. Two North Korean soldiers, Gyeong-pil (Song) and Woo-jin (Shin), saved him from a land mine, and the three became friends. They exchanged letters and nightly crossed the Bridge of No Return. Soon a second South Korean, Soo-hyeok, joined them in sharing cigarettes, celebrating birthdays and exchanging gifts. Park Chan-wook depicts their friendship with compassion, humanity and humor. But it's not all quiet on the front.



GLADIATOR (2000)

Directed by Ridley Scott. Starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Richard Harris and Connie Nielsen.

From the opening scene to the grand finale, this movie is a grand epic. Maximus (Crowe) is a noble Roman general who wins a stunning victory over the barbarians of Germania. His liege, Marcus Aurelius (Harris), is dying, and begs Maximus to be his successor. Marcus Aurelius trusts Maximus over his own son, Commodus (Phoenix), to restore Rome to a republic.

But Maximus is betrayed and his family is murdered. He becomes a slave, then a gladiator who defies the new emperor, Commodus.

Crowe dominates the screen, while Phoenix also turns in a solid performance as a corrupt but frail villain.

by Joe Yong-hee

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