Tag Archives: Dog… ouch

JSA: Joint Security Area: focuses on the investigation after a fatal shooting at the highly sensitive North/South Korean border. The police-procedural investigation element is done very well, and as the story unfolds you’re drying to find out what really happened. It also does a good job of explaining the tensions between North & South Korea and most interestingly – shows a neutral account from both sides. The two main solders are outstanding Byung-Hun / Kang-ho; I couldn’t recommend both their filmographies enough. From Park Chan Wook, this is a sensational international debut, well-shot, showing a master craftsman in the youth of his career. The final shot is phenomenal, smart and pretty unforgettable. I’m glad this was made with ‘global’ in mind, aiding its travel and success – some English dialogue and title cards etc. The sleeping on the job / army bromance goes a little too far, but other than that, the film is a great drama piece, with characters that you fully invest in. Perhaps it’s that we only get the best released in the UK, but I genuinely believe that South Korea has some of the best talent in the film industry both in front of – and behind – the camera, and this is a great example.

Score: 7.5/10


Gozu: a mid-level Yakuza loses his crazy, narcoleptic, undead boss then sets out to find him. It opens with a memorable scene involving a dog but nosedives into nonsense shortly after. All but one of the characters are totally ridiculous and/or perverted, and a the basic story was just to facilitate more ‘wackiness’. The dark humour doesn’t work, it’s obviously supposed to be funny but something gets lost in translation. It’s typical Takashi: dry, minimal style and dialogue. His movies seem to be either hit-or-miss, for me this is definitely one of the misses but if you’re a fan it may be worth checking out. Although there are a few notorious scenes, the rest of the film doesn’t justify sitting through 130 minutes of Gozu. Released in the UK when Japanese cinema was trendy I think it’s unfair of distributors like Tartan (Asia Extreme) to endorse films where the native themes, values, humour and symbolism just don’t export well; if anything this will probably put people off foreign Cinema.

Score: 2/10