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New year, new movies

  • Published : Jan 4, 2015 - 18:20
  • Updated : Jan 4, 2015 - 18:20

From local star directors to Hollywood sequels, a guide to Korean cinema in 2015 Last year may be remembered as an eventful year for the South Korean silver screen as a number of films rewrote box office history. The periodic action flick “Roaring Currents” drew 17.6 million viewers becoming the most-watched film of all time, while three other films joined the coveted 10 million viewer’s club, including “The Attorney,” “Frozen,” and “Interstellar.”

This year is also marked with a stellar lineup of new films from local heavyweight directors to Hollywood blockbusters -- some starring Korean actors.

Here’s what we have to look forward to in 2015.

Return of star directors

“Gangnam 1970” is the final installment of director Yoo Ha’s trilogy of “street series,” dubbed after his first two films that depicted street gangsters -- “Once Upon a time in High School” (2004) and “A Dirty Carnival” (2006).

A poster of “Gangnam 1970” (Showbox)

The noir action film is set against the backdrop of an exploding real estate market in Seoul’s Gangnam district in the 1970s, a turbulent era under the so-called developmental dictatorship of military strongman Park Chung-hee. Two childhood friends find themselves forced to become enemies, mired with misunderstanding, revenge and conspiracy. The film marks the big-screen debut of heartthrob Lee Min-ho as he joins actor Kim Rae-won.

The film opens in theaters on Jan. 21.

A scene from “Gangnam 1970” (Showbox)

Following 2012’s box-office hit “The Thieves”-- which garnered 12.98 million viewers -- director Choi Dong-hoon is back with another star-studded flick “The Assassination.”

Actress Jun Ji-hyun and actor Lee Jung-jae from “The Thieves” star with actors Ha Jung-woo and Cho Jin-woong. The film tells the story of assassins taking out a pro-Japanese group set in Shanghai and Seoul in 1930s.

The film is slated for release in July.

Renowned director Im Kwon-taek’s 102nd film “Revivre” will be released here in March, following the critically acclaimed premiere at last year’s Venice Film Festival.

A scene from “Revivre” (Myung Films)

Based on Korean author Kim Hoon’s award-winning novel “Hwajang” (Korean word with two meanings: makeup and cremation), the film centers on a top marketing executive at a major cosmetic company (played by veteran actor Ahn Sung-ki) who falls in love with a young women when his wife is dying of a brain tumor. It is Ahn’s seventh film with the director.


More Hollywood glory days?

Riding on the success of last year’s Hollywood flicks, including “Frozen” and “Interstellar,” this year also brings a lineup of imported blockbusters, peppered with Korean actors, vying to win over the hearts of cinemagoers here.

“The Avengers: Age of Ultron,” a highly-anticipated superhero sequel to the 2012 box office hit, will arrive in the theaters in April. The viewers will finally be able to see the superheroes fighting their battles in different venues in Seoul, including Mapo Bridge, Saebit Dungdungseom and Gangnam district, as the flick was filmed here last March.

A scene from “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (Marvel)

Marvel Comics’ favorite heroes, including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), assemble again to battle their new nemesis Ultron (James Spader).

Newcomers for this edition feature Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Dr. Cho, a friend of Iron Man played by Korean actress Kim Soo-hyun.

The Wachowski brothers, credited with the hit movies “The Matrix” and “Cloud Atlas,” are delivering another mind-boggling sci-fi thriller “Jupiter Ascending” in February.

Korean actress Bae Doo-na will appear in her second Wachowskis’ film since “Cloud Atlas” (2012), alongside Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum and Eddie Redmayne.

Actor Lee Byung-hun stars in “Terminator Genisys,” the fifth installment in the “Terminator” series which is said to serve as a sequel, prequel and reboot to the series. The former governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to his Terminator role after a hiatus from the fourth installment.

By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)

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