2009 [KOREAN]


Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 60%
IMDb Rating 6.5 10 490

Keywords:   woman director

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April 12, 2022 at 04:35 AM



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1019.89 MB
Korean 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 51 min
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2.05 GB
Korean 5.1
24 fps
1 hr 51 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by nmegahey 7 / 10

Mood-piece melodrama

Melodrama, particularly romantic melodrama, is pretty much a staple of Korean cinema, but even though there are a couple of domestic incidents in Paju that are to have tragic consequences that deeply scar the lives of two people, director Park Chan-OK handles the material with a great deal more restraint than you are accustomed to see in popular Korean movies.

The first incident involves a baby in a domestic accident that occurs in similar circumstances to Lars von Trier's Antichrist (although thankfully, Paju doesn't go anywhere near that level of overwrought hysteria), and it's responsible for Kim Joong-shik (Lee Seon Gyon) leaving Seoul for a grim outlying suburb of the city called Paju. Attempting to start a new life for himself Joong-shik helps out a Christian church group and teaches a study group. He meets and marries Choi Eun-soo (Shim Yi Young), the elder sister of one of his students, Eun-mo (Seo Woo), but the family arrangement isn't a happy one, particularly for Eun-mo, who resents this new presence in her house, but all in not well either between Joong-shik and Eun-soo, the former still unable to shake off events that have happened in the past – but there is another tragedy that will tear them further apart.

Essentially then, there are two lost souls here, carrying deep pain within them for the duration of the film, unable to deal with life and move on. Eun-mo is constantly running away from home, while Joong-shik becomes more radical in his political protests as an activist in a Task Force trying to prevent a housing redevelopment in Paju that will evict many of its inhabitants from their homes. Using such political undercurrents Park Chan-OK (Jealousy is my Middle Name) manages to simultaneously undercut the traditional melodrama while raising the high emotive content through other means, the non-linear narrative and passing between time-frames additionally adding to the complexity and preventing any simple judgements being reached about the characters and their motivations.

The young-actress Seo Woo looks a little inexperienced in places, but has undeniable qualities that contribute to the effectiveness of the director's technique. Demonstrating a delicate fragility she has at the same time an unpredictable edge of self-abandon to her character that has the potential to take Eun-mo, Joong-shik and indeed the film, anywhere. It's within these contradictions in her character, and the contradictions that the film plays with between melodrama and understated mood-piece that Paju functions most effectively and convincingly.

The Korean Region 3 DVD release benefits from an outstanding presentation, the film shown at a ratio of 1.85:1, which looks correct, not 2.35:1 as stated on the sleeve.

Reviewed by ajit2106 8 / 10

An anatomy of life, uncertainty, perplexity, dilemmas and relationship.

The volatile activist Kim Joong-sik persuades his girlfriend Yes-young for lovemaking. Meanwhile, her baby seriously injured at the same time. Joong-sik fled from his guilt to Paju, a city between Seoul and the border with North Korea. There he joined a church and taught students and lives in a house owned by Choi Eun-soo . Choi Eun-soo falls in love with him and marries him - against the wishes of her younger sister Eun-mo , who is a student of Joon-sik class. Seven years later Eun-soo is dead, killed in a gas explosion, while Eun-mo was in Seoul. Although Eun-soo's life insurance policy in in the name of Eun-mo still she believes that her brother-in-law Joong-sik was behind the death. Yet she lives with the man who now acts as an activist against real estate speculators.

Director Park Chan-OK comes with a significantly superior work with "Paju", it devotes more on the female side and clearly sophisticated, exciting and haunting. With notable actors and a subtly effective staging, well planted evidence on the cycles of guilt and atonement, which later became the driving figures. It is not always easy to decipher, but extremely rewarding, even for a second sighting.

Chronologically first scene that takes place after a small prologue is fierce in nature. The occurrence shows "tragedy during s*x" looks similar to Lars von Trier's "Antichrist", but in "Antichrist" pathos and stylization has been used as a weapon, here realism that enters your soul. Lee Seon-gyum is a much mapped character: A man in debt, on the run from his own feelings and looking for a way to rehabilitate himself morally, Lee (Our Town) plays the part as a sovereign restrained and is the real main character, but most importantly there are the three women who shape his life.

The core of this quadrangle makes the relationship with Eun-mo, played by the young Seo Woo (Crush and Blush). Her performance is not only fabulous, Park also drawn the most complex figure out of her. It oscillates between hatred and gratitude for her brother-in-law, not knowing that there is much more behind his behavior. She herself is always understandable, but never predictable and subtle nuances in her inner conflict shows significantly. Despite of smaller rolls, the little-known Shim Yi-young and Kim Bo-kyeong are more peripheral with quite facets.

Kim Joong-sik becomes the leader of an activist group against the demolition of houses; the mighty Land speculators have hired brutal gangsters to do the job. The city of Paju of over 300,000 inhabitants appears as apocalyptic-looking area; the location used to shoot the film is perfect. We witness a fantastic portrayal of atmospheric backdrop as the lower classes struggle against the anonymous powerful gangsters.

The detailed political and emotional battlefields of "Paju" have been brought to the attention. The subtle gestures and documentary-inspired images from cameraman Kim Woo-hyung (Voice of a Murderer) describe everything beautifully. At the end of each a puzzle some pieces for the two main characters are not resolved, it may be irritating, but it reflects the reality in which we can never put it ourselves altogether, but we know our truth from the concept.


Reviewed by KineticSeoul 7 / 10

Draws the viewers in with it's emotion and realistic picture of modern femininity makes it worth watching.

I sort of liked "Paju" sure the story builds and builds and leads to nowhere, but that isn't to say the film has a nice pitch and is actually riveting. This isn't some movie that revolves around some love triangle like the trailer makes you believe, it has more to do with a jealous school girl that rebels to deal with her circumstances and unravels the truth about her sister's fate. Everyone put on a fine performance, even Lee Seon-gyoon who I dislike but he fit right into his role. The slow pace and complex character can be a turn off for some viewers, especially western viewers but a lot of elements of this film was captivating for me, I guess mainly cause of Sim I-yeong's character portraying the sleazy husband's wife. The emotion and the way it draws the viewers in with it's realistic picture of modern femininity makes it worth watching.


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