Thursday, August 18, 2011

Spotlight on: Ryoo Seung-Wan

More than just the Action Kid

The opening night for KOFFIA is just around the corner for Sydneysiders! With a special Q&A session featuring the producer and director of the opening film 'The Unjust', KOFFIA shines a spotlight on director Ryoo Seung-Wan, his career and his invaluable contribution to Korean cinema.

After creating one of the most phenomenal debut features in Die Bad, a kinetic coming of age drama, Ryoo Seung-wan was initially misunderstood as Korea’s answer to Tarantino. While influences of Peckinpah, Scorsese, Buster Keaton and the Shaw Brothers were apparent in his features, Seung-wan injected an enthusiasm and creativity that was missing in Korean genre and commercial cinema.

From the wild homage to films he grew up with in the Dachimawa Lee shorts to the gritty noir No Blood No Tears, the director balanced extreme realism with fantastical cinematic sensibilities. While most of this was due to Seung-wan’s partnership with action choreographer Jung Doo-hong, it also developed as the director matured in his filmmaking.

After the slapstick wuxia-styled Arahan, Seung-wan would return to a scrappier form of action in Crying Fist, which would also signal the director’s graduation from the “enfant prodige” label and his move beyond traditional critical boundaries. Perfectly blending action with story, Crying Fist was something entirely the director’s – completely stripped of his influences and defying generic conventions.

After returning to homage for City of Violence and a feature version of Dachimawa Lee, Ryoo Seung-wan’s newest feature, The Unjust, expands the director’s territory into social commentary, with a more solid, steady, and intense stylisation. A hard boiled thriller with heavy characterisations of prosecutors and the police force, the film continues his long-standing partnership with brother, Ryoo Seung-beom, and is his most commercially successful film. A further movement into new territory, The Unjust proves Ryoo Seung-wan is one of Korea’s most diverse and talented filmmakers.

By Julian Buckeridge ,

Can't get enough of Ryoo Seung-wan? Join us at our Masters & Students event where Variety's Russell Edwards will host a forum with Ryoo Seung-wan himself. The event also features a special screening of Park Chan-wook's award-winning Night Fishing and top prize winner at the Critic's Week at Cannes Film Festival Blue. Dr. Bruce Isaacs will also give a presentation on digital aesthetics. Watch the Young Korean Filmmakers in Australia finalist films, and the awards ceremony as well. This is an event you can't miss!

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