To continue on from my entry on how I discovered Korean cinema, I've decided to talk about another film that really changed the way I looked at Korean film and the different ideas in cinema. My previous entry highlighted my first Kim Ki-duk experience, and it was the beginning of what I am today.
I raved about 3-Iron (2004) and how much I loved it to Kieran not long after that. I had already, by then, heard about a few big names in the Korean film world. Bong Joon-ho, Kim something or rather, another Kim this and that, and then - Park Chan-wook. I heard much about Old Boy (2003) throughout film school, here and there in pockets throughout the interwebs and still did not rush to see it. It was kind of like the hype around Kill Bill (2003). It's awesome, It's epic, It's amazing. Or so I had heard. Kieran had a couple of Park's films in his gargantuam of a DVD collection, one of which was J.S.A.: Joing Security Area (2000), a film I had not heard about and had little interest to see at the time. The title alone was uninteresting - that and I had little concrete knowledge of the DMZ and the current situation between the North and South. I looked past all of this and decided to give it a go.
I'll be absolutely honest with you: I could not and did not get through the first 20 minutes of the film in my first viewing. It was all talk, no substance to me. I wasn't paying attention to the lengthy discussions between Lee Young-ae's character and Mr Tall Swiss man, who to me seemed like an excuse of a 'white' man in an Asian film. I fell asleep, and looked no further past the beginning. Kieran had told me what a great film it was, and I simply could not see it. And that was that.