Tuesday, March 6, 2012

More than just the action kid!

Ryoo Seung-wan was simply a delight to have as a guest at KOFFIA 2011. His down to earth and friendly nature made him a hit with the local audience, who also loved his newest hit "The Unjust". A seminal figure of Korean cinema for more than a decade, we asked Julian Buckeridge from At the Cinema to take a look back at his filmography. His conclusion, was that Director Ryoo was More than just the action kid!

Ryoo Seung-wan, special guest at KOFFIA 2011

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. 

Ryoo Seung-wan Q&A for No Blood No Tears

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 film making. 

Ryoo Seung-wan Press Conference

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. 

Some lucky fans with a signed copy of Arahan

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. 

Ryoo Seung-wan presents The Unjust on Opening Night

A hard boiled thriller with heavy characterisations of lawyers 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 film makers.

Julian Buckeridge

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