Ha Jung-woo goes underground for latest filmActor Ha Jung-woo teamed up again with Kim Byung-woo, the director of the 2013 hit action film “The Terror, LIVE,” for “Take Point,” the latter’s first feature in five years.
The new film, whose Korean title is translated as “PMC: The Bunker,” tells the story of an elite mercenary force on a covert CIA operation to apprehend a high-profile North Korean official at an underground bunker about 30 meters (98.4 feet) beneath the surface in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that bisects the two Koreas.
During a promotional press conference for the forthcoming film on Wednesday, Ha said that the movie started with his idea to make a film set in a secret underground tunnel in the DMZ.
“I proposed to him five years ago that it would be fun if a film can tell a story that takes places at such a place in the DMZ, and this simple idea spawned a film.”
The star of “The Handmaiden,” “Tunnel,” “1987: When the Day Comes” and the “Along With the Gods” franchise said that he wasted no time before choosing to be in the new movie.
“I decided to appear without hesitation because I trusted that director Kim would do it very well.”
Ha plays the role of a global private military company employee by the name of Capt. Ahab who lives in the United States as an illegal immigrant. He returns to Korea to carry out the mission to capture the target in the DMZ.
Since the character mostly communicates with his American colleagues in English, Ha had to spend a lot of time learning the language.
“I don’t speak English well in reality,” he said, adding that he had to practice hard to become a fluent speaker.
To better depict the character who lives in an African-American neighborhood, Ha studied music videos and documentaries about rappers and their culture.
“It may sound strange, but I thought this was the best way to learn,” he said.
Lee Sun-kyun of “A Hard Day” plays Yoon Ji-ui, a North Korean elite doctor who happens to enter the bunker.
“I had no reason at all to not choose this film,” Lee said. “I really enjoyed the movie ‘The Terror, LIVE’ and was eager to work with Ha.” The film’s “tightly woven screenplay that feels like the script for a well-built computer game” was another draw for him.
Except for the two main actors, it took a while for the director to cast the other members of the mercenary force because they had to be foreigners.
“I contacted a Hollywood casting director and watched more than 1,000 casting videos,” Kim said.
Some of the Americans picked for the roles are former members of a special forces unit, he added.
The director was confident about the film’s quality.
“I had prepared for it for five years after ‘The Terror, LIVE.’ I’m sure this film is more fresh and interesting than my previous piece,” he said. “I had the idea that it would make an interesting film to dramatize a situation that happens when the military unites with capitalism.”
When asked about the focus of the bunker’s design, Kim answered that making the space feel real was the most important part.
“The bunker had to be designed with the flow of human traffic in mind, so I tried to keep in mind where the characters should separate and reunite again, as well as how deep the tunnels should be.”
The film was often shot from a first-person shooter point of view to make the action scenes feel more real.
“How to shoot the action scenes was like homework to me,” he said. “Since the focus of the film is on Ahab, it was important to give the viewers the feeling that they experience the battle by his side. So, I thought it was important to adopt proper shooting methods for this.”
The CJ Entertainment release will hit Korean theaters on Dec. 26. It will also be released on Dec. 27 in Singapore and Malaysia and on Dec. 28 in Taiwan. This will be followed by a Jan. 10 release in Hong Kong, while its release is set for later in the month in Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines. Yonhap