As Business Warms Up, Distributors Swap Action for Laughs
2020 has been a rough year for the film business, but in Korea at least, the last few weeks have brought with them a ray of hope, as a few big-budget action tentpoles have proven that some audiences are willing to return to cinemas. But now it’s time for something different. Hoping to serve up a tonic to the masses that have had their lives turned upside down by COVID-19 these past six months, Korea’s distributors are lining up a series of broad comedy titles throughout most of August.
In addition to being somewhat cheaper films with lower break-even points, which makes them more ideally suited to the depressed grosses of the COVID-19 era, this crop of films may serve as a form of comfort for viewers during what has been a difficult year. An array of top stars are headlining these films, which are suitable for all ages and largely focus on disrupted family dynamics, something most viewers will be able to relate to.
Director LEE Cheol-ha
Cast UHM Jeong-hwa, PARK Sung-woong
Release Date August 12
UHM plays Mi-young, a woman running a local snacks store in a traditional market, while her husband Seok-hwan, played by PARK, works as a computer repairman. Seok-hwan wins a free trip to Hawaii one day and the couple excitedly prepare for their first ever overseas trip together. However, once they’ve boarded their plane, things start to fall apart. Unbeknownst to them, their fellow passengers include terrorists who have boarded the aircraft looking for a secret agent. Before long, the passengers become hostages and it is up to Mi-young and Seok-hwan to save the day.
The Therapist: Fist of Tae-baek
Director CHOI Sang-hun
Cast OH Ji-ho, SHIN So-yul,
Release Date August 20
Seong-joon (OH Ji-ho) is a devoted martial arts student who is practicing to master the art of Taebaekwon, but the night before he is to enter a final round of an important competition, he disappears, leaving his mentor and fellow student and friend behind. He meets Bomi (SHIN So-yul) by chance and the pair are soon married. He moves to a different town with Bomi, has a child with her and the two eventually set up an acupuncture clinic, but after a slow start, Bomi finds out about some of Seong-joon’s special Taebaekwon skills, and she pivots the business into a finger-pressure treatment clinic. Success soon finds them, but so do loan sharks and shady redevelopers.
The Golden Holiday
Director KIM Bong-han
Cast KWAK Do-won, KIM Dae-myeong, KIM Hee-won, KIM Sang-ho
Release Date August
Already on screen in the geopolitical action-drama Steel Rain2: Summit, KWAK Do-won will appear once more in cinemas this August in a very different kind of film, as the lead of the Showbox title The Golden Holiday. Shot on location in the Philippines, the film, which is the sophomore effort for ORDINARY PERSON (2017) director KIM Bong-han, assembles an array of popular character actors, such as KIM Dae-myeong (Bluebeard, 2017), KIM Hee-won (The Merciless, 2017) and KIM Sang-ho (Haemoo, 2014).
On the occasion of their tenth wedding anniversary, Byung-su (KWAK Do-won), a slacker countryside detective, brings his family to the Philippines for a holiday. However, Byung-su has a hidden agenda; he’s hoping to track down his old friend Yong-bae (KIM Sang-ho), who swindled him out of a large sum years ago and absconded with it. Byung-su tracks Yong-bae down in a prison, where he is serving a sentence for murder. Yong-bae tells him a tale about ‘Yamashita’s Gold’, and after being promised a share of the spoils, Byung-su gets involved in a case that will soon find him in over his head.
The Golden Holiday is the second major Korean film this summer to be mostly shot in a Southeast Asian country, following DELIVER US FROM EVIL in Thailand. Previous Korean works shot in the Philippines include the indie film Fire in Hell (2014) and the star-driven thriller Master (2016).
Oh! My Gran
Director JUNG Se-kyo
Cast NA Moon-hee, LEE Hee-jun
Release Date September 2
Moon-hee (NA Moon-hee) sees herself as a princess in an animated TV show, but in reality she’s a grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, who is cared for by her son DU-won (LEE Hee-jun) and her granddaughter Bo-mi. One night, while out with Bo-mi, Moon-hee witnesses her granddaughter being knocked down in a hit-and-run accident. She is the only witness but her gibberish testimony is of no use to investigators. While Bo-mi is in a coma and with the police useless, Du-won looks to track down the perpetrator himself, with only a few shreds of evidence and his mother’s unclear but possibly crucial ramblings about the evening.