9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 20 December 2012
The new movie from the director of 'The Chaser' is as good and even more thrilling. I might point out at this point that Amazon does not advertise that this is the director's preferred and longer cut which has only been available thus far in Korea. The blu-ray is exemplary and I would suggest to anyone who loves World Cinema and Korean movies in particular to get this release while it is still available. The sub-titles have been newly translated and the main special feature is actually quite sufficient - a documentary comprising of smaller features which reveal the film-making process.
I won't go into too much detail about the film so as not to spoil it for anyone but suffice to say that if you enjoyed 'The Chaser', as well as other Korean movies such as 'Nowhere to Hide', 'Tell Me Something', 'Green Fish' and any of the great Korean thrillers between 1999 and 2005 will be well-pleased with this film. Of recent some Korean Thrillers have failed to reach the heights of the aforementioned with the exception of 'I Saw the Devil',and 'The Man from Nowhere' but 'The Yellow Sea' is very much a return to form.
The blu-ray release is from Bounty Films and distributed By Eureka. The cover and case are slightly different from the one shown on Amazon U.K. in that the case is light green and the cover has additional text.
If you buy just one film this year - this ought to be the one! Watch it back-to-back with 'A Bittersweet Life' and you will see why people like me talk about how some of the best films over the last twelve years have come from South Korea. Make it a Korean film night with 'Epitaph' and 'The Host' and you will feel like you are in film heaven!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 14 March 2012
This is truly a vicious tale that will totally grab your attention from beginning to end. A poor taxi driver strikes a bargain that he feels will get him out of debt once and for all. What it does is set him up for betrayal and he winds up running for his life from the cops and a vicious band of killers.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 25 December 2011
I saw this at the Melbourne International Film Festival in 2011 and have been dying to finally get this on blu-ray. This is a movie that has very few guns but all the knives and meat cleavers you could ask for. And uses them all.
The violence is brutal, bloody and often up close. It is also excessive and never ending. Western films often glorify an intense moment of violence whilst The Yellow Sea follows it to its (un)natural conclusion. Remember the days when Seagal would walk into a room with a knife and kill everybody? This is the modern equivalent but done with Asian flair, outstanding production values, and a human-centred, relevant and modern tale. Like many Asian films, it's also slightly confusing if your mind switches to autopilot. So whilst you could watch this as a straight 'action' film and be happy with the violence, it's much better getting involved in the story too.
The perfect non-Western action film.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 19 July 2012
this movie is by the same guy who made the chaser and stars the same two main protogonists in the earlier movie. but this time around, the roles are swapped and the pimp from chaser is the baddie while the psycho from chaser is the good guy.
offered a chance to clear his debts by taking up a contract killing, a north korean immigrant in china goes to seoul (south korea) to complete his mission and also find his wife who had moved there earlier.
but things aren't always what they seem and so the story veers from one twist to another to climax tragically ...
the hypnotic music, the grainy amosphere, the hardships of illegal immigration, the savegery of mob life and the varied dynamics of the human condition make this movie a very entertaining offering from south korea. you just can't beat these guys when it comes to thrillers.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This is a truly stupendous film that takes a while to sink in. It is South Korean (with sub titles) but starts its story in Yanju City in the Yanbian Province of China. This is an area next to the borders of North Korea, Russia and China, the local Koreans are referred to as Joseonjoks and Gu Nam (Ha Jung-Woo) is one such man. He has borrowed 60,000 Yuan to send his wife to a better life in Korea, but that was six months ago and he has not heard from her, most suspect that she is a bit of a flibbertigibbet and as such has dumped him and their daughter for the high life of making a living from lying down. He meanwhile has to repay the debt to some local low life's. The money he makes as a taxi driver is not a lot, so he augments this by gambling on Mah-Jong.
However, he is as adept at gambling as a high wire actor with vertigo. Thus his debts start mounting, then he gets approached by local gangster and all round nasty bloke, Myun jung-Hak (Kim Yoon-seok), who offers him a wad of cash and a bank deposit account - without the Pin. He gets that on delivery of the thumb of a Korean man he wants to be `taken out', and I don't mean to a local restaurant.
Thus he is despatched to South Korea, but things do not go as planned and whilst trying to find his wife and carry out the job, he unintentionally end up being on the wrong side of the Chinese mafia, the police and the Korean mob. What happens next is a movie so full of twists as to make your eyes water. We have some spectacular car chases, gory violence, manic man hunts and what can only be described as good old fashioned medieval butchery.
Director and screenplay writer Hong Jin-Na has made a second great and original film, his first offering `The Chaser' was a debutante success and featured the above mentioned actors too. This has the same high end production values, and manages to keep the momentum up for most of the 157 minutes, though it could have benefitted from some editing in places. Some have criticised the many chase scenes too, but I found it edge of seat stuff and what appears to be more cars trashed than in the seminal `The Blues Brothers'.
This is one for action, thriller, violence, conspiracy and intrigue lovers as well as any one who like World cinema, all of the acting is top notch and even though some may find it bleak, I actually went `wow' at the end - very highly recommended.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 May 2012
The next film by The Chaser's director builds on many of the themes in that film. Here we have a twisted world in which probably no-one would choose to inhabit, where cops are useless or incompetant, bad guys are demonically strong, and protagonists dirtied by it all - in The Chaser for example we followed a cop turned pimp, but we also learn that he was hardly a model officer when he was on the force..
Yet at the same time in the Chaser there were many moments of humanity. In the Yellow Sea I struggled to find this humanity within most of the characters themselves. Partially difficulty in finding reasons to empathise with the characters comes from some of the detracting features in the film. Reviews abound on the internet, and you might seek out and find comments there such as 'women not portrayed in enough detail', 'overly long', 'lacks editing'.
But at the same time there are many reasons to watch this film. Let me give you a few:
- As social comment, albiet from the director's angle, this film differs from many of the more popular Korean films of recent years, examples here would be Oldboy, Bittersweet life, in particular The man from nowhere. Instead there is possibly a lack of character development, in the traditional sense, in favour of seeing the poverty and hardship of the lives in the first third of the film. This focus on Urban life/poverty/hardship demonstrates why the characters do as they do (to some extent).
- The cinematography here is very good, much as in The chaser there is attention to detail, artistry with the lens. Not as polished looking as The chaser I would say the investment of more money, possibly time, and locations for filming opened up the use of different camera styles. Some may find this jarring - esp near the last third of the film - but I think it does add to the direction of the scenes. There is a lot of action which I think is best seen not described.
- The acting as ever is good, despite my earlier point about a lack of character development in the traditional sense. The main character speaks little and we must therefore look to his experiences, facial expressions and suchlike. In terms of the other characters the villians work well, if again we learn little about them as people, but they seem clearly 'products' of their environments - note the 'clean' looking vs 'dirty' looking Boss theme!
- The plot. Though there seems to be some confusion in interpretations, the film warrants a re-watch to understand the goings on after about an hour and a bit in. There are a number of twists and plot changes, notably the shift between the first third and middle/last portions of the film.
Overall I would recommend the film, if it must be compared to exisiting Korean film then something like Sympathy for MR Vengence would be applicable, perhaps too Memories of murder. I would stress though that this is one of the bleaker films out there in Korean cinema, we are encouraged perhaps to learn (again in a limited way) about the plight of Koreans outside of the pop/glamour-world. Even more starkly less of the popular Black humour appears in this film than is ususally present in Korean thrillers; though it is there in small doses I think you might check your moral compass if you come away from this film smiling!
#Buyers may be interested to know this features 2 discs, with a long making of feature. The film is a 'directors cut' in which about 15/20 mins is removed in comparison to the Korean release. There is a comparison on the net, but I would add that the film is long enough as it is.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Korean thriller The Yellow Sea didn't make as much impact in the west as director Na Hong-jin's previous thriller The Chaser [DVD] did, but it's a much more satisfying film. Where that had the benefit of a premise with a certain amount of ingenuity, this offers a much more generic plot that we've seen a thousand times before - a down on his luck loser is persuaded to carry out a crime only to find himself pursued by cops and crooks alike - but gives it a degree of verisimilitude that helps sell many of the plot contrivances and unlikely escapes. Taxi driver Ha Jung-woo is struggling with a debt he can never repay after buying a fake visa to South Korea for his wife, who has left him and their child in the lurch in the impoverished bored area between Korea, China and Russia without a word. Offered the chance to pay it off by carrying out a contract killing in Korea, he reluctantly accepts, taking the opportunity to try to track her down while he's there. Naturally things go very wrong (though not necessarily in the way you might expect) and get particularly messy and he finds himself outrunning small armies of overenthusiastic cops or hatchet-wielding crooks who want to get rid of him...
Although there's a lot less action than the trailers might lead you to believe (much of the first hour of the 140-minute running time of the director's cut is effectively naturalistic buildup), it's impressively handled when it comes. Our tarnished hero's ability to escape against overwhelming odds stretches credibility a bit on paper, but the execution on screen is convincingly chaotic enough to sell them even if there seem to be an inordinate number of crashing vehicles at times. Similarly Kim Yun-seok's almost indestructible villain seems to have almost superhuman powers of endurance but somehow the film gets away with it by creating a believable world around its characters. It doesn't add up to much or offer much that's new, but it's still an effective if bloody bit of Korean noir.
For the most part Eureka's Region B Blu-ray release is an impressive 2.35:1 transfer, though there are a few bits of noticeable edge enhancement and the limitations of the digital photography are very apparent in parts of the big car chase. Extras are a decent 77-minute eight-part collection of behind the scenes featurettes and three trailers.
on 29 October 2014
This is a great gritty drama. Other reviewers have given their own synopsis, but here's mine. Set in an impoverished grim part of south east China during winter, an ethnic Korean-Chinese has not heard from his wife for 6 months whom had gone to South Korea to find work, leaving him with her travel costs to pay. An underworld figure offers to wipe the debt in return for him going to Seoul on a mission to kill a man - and will also have time to look for his wife. Many twists and turns occur and during the third quarter of the film it all became a bit confusing. But this did not affect the end of the film. This is a grim and depressing film where the protagonists come from a dog eat dog world well away from the glitz and glamour of some parts of modern China. Keep watching when the credits roll as there is a final scene here that will change the whole film and make it seem all the more depressing and futile.
Don't watch if you are in a depressed mood - or do if you want to wallow. This is a great thriller and I recommend it.
on 12 October 2013
From the award wining director of THE CHASER brings you yet another great action crime thriller,The story of a cab driver in Yanji City, a region between North Korea, China and Russia. His wife goes to Korea to earn money, but he doesn't hear from her since in 6 months.
Great car chase sequences, The violence is brutal, bloody and often up close, Good performances all round, fast paced and tense with twists that keep you watching and hanging on the edge of your seat.
THE YELLOW SEA is the first Korean film to ever receive investment from a major Hollywood studio (Fox International Productions).
Highly recommend this film!
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 14 May 2012
Yanji is a place which exists somewhere near the border between North Korea, China and Russia, a mild-mannered cab driver Gu-nam (Ha Jung-Woo) is given an offer to clear his debts by traveling to Seoul to kill a businessman. Gu-nam is one of three central characters to this film. The second character is the man who has given Gu-nam this task, small-time racketeer Myun-Ga (Kim Yun-Seok). The third main character is Mr Kim (Seong-Ha Cho), an organised crime boss in Seoul who gets caught up in Gu-nams activities.
Whilst making preparations for the killing, Gu-nam also looks for his wife, who has left him. Gu-nam is clearly out of his depth, and things start to go from bad to worse to the completely incomprehensible! There's double-crosses, triple-crosses, human trafficking, international gangland violence, bone-crunching action and spectacularly choreographed chase sequences that defy belief. Enough to fill 3 action films!
Typical of Korean films of this ilk, everything is raw, visceral, and bloody realistic. The kill-rate is off the chart, and most were caused by some epic knife-fighting. The killing sprees were relentless, none more so than by the brutal Myun-Ga who seemed to revel in dispelling more and more bloody mayhem. Myun-Ga was so watchable that you didn't want him to stop, much the same as Min-sik Choi's Kyung-chul stole the show in the equally demented `I Saw the Devil'.
`The Yellow Sea' is by no means a perfect film, the last third of the film was let down by some dizzyingly poor camerawork. It could be half an hour shorter, the film only really gets going near the first hour mark. Witnessing Gu-nam's transformation from a hapless taxi driver into a Houdini clone and one-man killing machine was probably a step too far.
For such a simplistic plot, director Na Hong-jin ekes out an incredible amount of drama. Though by the end the plot is thick with confusion, to be honest i actually didn't know whether I understood it all or not! But there is a lot to admire in the `Yellow Sea', just park your brain and suspend all disbelief and enjoy the type of action that the Koreans have become masters at over the past decade.