When the Korean remake of John Woo’s seminal, genre-defining shoot’em up, “A Better Tomorrow” rolls out in multiplexes all over Korea during next month’s Chuseok holiday, don’t expect a faithful update.
Song Hye-sung, director of such searing melodramas as the critically acclaimed “Failan” and “Rikidozan,” says that the focus of his version was the dramatic portrayal of loyalty, family, friendship, and the always popular theme of male bonding.
“When I decided to get on board the project, I watched the original film again and although it was still the exhilarating action picture it was when I first saw it as a university student in the ‘80s, there was something lacking and that was drama,” Song said during the film’s official unveiling on Wednesday in Seoul.
“So I decided that would be the driving force of our remake because I would like audiences to expect our film to be not just an action film but a dramatic film.”
Song quickly added “people are talking about the film as if it’s going to be this big action spectacular but what they will get is a strong dramatic film that also happens to have action. The action is just an incentive. The drama in the film is the driving force. The scenes not involving gunfire aren’t an intermission in between action sequences.”
The remake stars Joo Jin-mo, Song Seung-hun, Kim Kang-woo, and Jo Han-sun with a plot that, for the most part, retains the basic framework of John Woo’s 1986 original, according to the film’s producers.
Like the original, the main focus of the story involves the contemptuous relationship between two brothers ― on the opposite sides of the law.
Kim Hyeok (Joo) is an illegal weapons dealer, while his brother, Cheol (Kim), is a rookie detective assigned to take his brother’s operation down. Both share a tragic past as defectors from the North.
Meanwhile, Song Seung-hun has the unenviable task of taking on the role that Chow Yun-fat made famous. He plays Lee Young-choon, the hot-headed life-long friend of Hyeok who ends up penniless after being betrayed by a fellow crime syndicate member in Jung Tae-min (Jo).
According to director Song, it was three years ago that producers first approached him with the prospect of remaking the film that made international stars out of Chow Yun-fat and the late Leslie Cheung.
It was a tall order for Song to take on as he had never helmed an action picture before. So at first, the notion of taking the project seemed a little too tall.
“At the time I flat out refused,” Song said.
“A large part of my refusal to get on board was because the original was such an iconic film that defined a specific era. At the same time, however, the gravity of the project pulled me in and I thought even if I got blasted by fans of the original, I thought I could do it justice if it was done right.”
On stepping into the shoes of veteran Hong Kong actor Ti Lung’s role for the remake, Joo Jin-mo said he was a fan of John Woo’s original as a teenager but avoided seeing it again when he agreed to star in the film.
|Kim Kang-woo (from left), Song Seung-hun, Joo Jin-mo, and Jo Han-sun pose for photographers during the official unveiling of their new film “Invincible,” a remake of John
Woo’s 1986 action classic “A Better Tomorrow.”
“I stayed away from watching it before shooting began because I was fearful that if I did revisit the film, I would end up emulating the performance from the original,” Joo said.
“My character in this reboot is a complete overhaul and a reinterpretation. I’d like to watch the original now that we’re done filming and compare.”
Kim Gang-woo, who plays the role the late Cantonese pop star and actor Leslie Cheung played echoed Joo’s sentiments of describing the Korean remake as more of a reboot than a remake.
“The weight of pressure to deliver a film on par with such a famous film was lifted when we saw the final cut,” Kim said.
“The characters in our version carry added dimensions that are revealed in layers that show various emotions at play which was lacking in the original. Because of that, we were able to gain even more confidence that we made a good film.”
With the release of the original, the film’s director John Woo pioneered a new form of stylized action.
It was chock full of meticulously choreographed, operatic gunplay that thrilled audiences like never before.
It featured Hong Kong soap opera star Chow Yun-fat, virtually unknown in the West, brandishing a pair of guns clad in a sleek black Armani trench coat, rocking Ray-Ban aviator shades, topped with a toothpick in mouth.
The image he created instantly shot the lanky leading man into superstardom, becoming the iconic figurehead of the fabled golden-era of Hong Kong action cinema in the 1980s.
Joo and Song later spoke of the difficulties they experienced shooting key action sequences.
“The most difficult time I had while shooting was on location in Thailand for a scene which required me to run through a puddle of water that seemed like it had been there for about 100 years,” Joo joked.
“We ended up shooting that scene longer than everyone had anticipated and by the end of the day I had to be treated for a skin infection from being exposed to that puddle. The staff also got infected and had to be treated.”
For Song, it was negotiating a jump from a three-story building, landing on top of a car, and rolling off onto the jagged asphalt that was the most difficult.
“Our stunt coordinator asked if I wanted to have a go at it but I was quite fearful of doing it myself. I really wanted my stunt double to do it for me,” Song said.
“But when I turned to director Song for approval of my decision, he was quite adamant that I needed to do it myself.”
credit: Song Woong-ki (email@example.com)
The newly-released DVDs for MBC TV series “No Limit,” starring TVXQ leader U-Know Yunho, is selling off the shelves in Japan, according to the country’s Oricon charts.
According to Oricon’s weekly DVD charts for television drama category, the two DVD box sets for “Limit” were the two best-selling DVDs in the country, ranking at No.1 and No.2 for the week of June 21.
This week, “No Limit” DVD Box I and Box II, released in Japan on June 16, each fell a notch to No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.
It is the first time in over three years that a Korean television drama has topped Oricon’s DVD chart — Hallyu star Bae Yong-joon last conquered the charts in 2007 with TV series “Taewangsashingi.”
“Limit,” which aired in Korea last fall, starred U-Know Yunho as a soccer player named Cha Bong-goon and Korean actress A Ra as his sports agent.
The two lead actors, U-Know Yunho and A Ra, attended a fan event in Japan to celebrate the DVD launch of “Limit” over the weekend.
The prospect of having to wear shabby clothes and a grubby face in upcoming war drama “Road No. 1” did little to daunt actress Kim Ha-neul who thinks its script is one that comes along “once-in-a-decade.”
The 32-year-old actress made the remark during a press conference held at Sangmyung University in Seoul on Friday as she responded to reporters’ questions about how she decided to take on a role in the 20-part TV series set in times of the Korean War.
“I had strong belief in the director and upon reading all 20 episodes of the show, I could see how solid it was, to the extent that I wondered whether I would get to see such a script in the next 10 years,” Kim said.
“I knew I would be wearing less make-up but I was also attracted to the character because of what a strong and confident woman she is…… I figured I could look much more beautiful if I did a good job of portraying her character,” Kim explained.
In the series, Kim plays Soo-yeon, an aspiring doctor studying to enter medical school. She starts treating wounded soldiers with the breakout of the war.
Kim is joined by Hallyu star So Ji-sub for the role of Jang-woo, her life-long lover who is believed to be dead after fighting with a punitive force to make money to support Soo-yeon’s dream, returns alive.
Former boy band G.O.D member-turned-actor Yoon Kye-sang plays Tae-ho, an elite general who steps into Soo-yeon’s life as she recovers from the pain of losing her past lover.
The series has been garnering much hype ahead of its airing on June 23 due to its star-studded cast and blockbuster scale — it was produced on a 13 billion won budget over six months after three years of planning.
It was also sold to major Japanese media group Hakuhodo Media Partners, according to its producer Logos Films in mid-April, although they had finished shooting only 60 percent of filming was complete.
Directors Lee Jang-soo, of drama “Stairway to Heaven” fame, teamed with Kim Jin-min to film “Road No. 1.”
Logos is set on selling the show to other regions throughout the world which took part in the war such as the Americas and Europe.
Here’s the trailer of Road No. 1:
Korean actress Lee Na-young has been cast in upcoming KBS TV series tentatively titled “The Fugitive,” making her first small screen comeback in six years.
According to various industry sources, the actress is set to play the female lead opposite Rain, who is also returning to the small screen for the first time since starring in the 2005 SBS drama “A Love To Kill.”
Lee’s agency remained cautious about the news, however, saying they are “in negotiations” but has not yet finalized the deal.
“Fugitive” will be directed by noted television producer Kwak Jung-hwan and written by Chun Sung-il, the duo behind the recent hit TV series “The Slave Hunters.”
Lee, 31, first rose to stardom with TV series “Ruler of Your Own World” (MBC, 2002) and was last seen on the small screen in “Ireland” (MBC, 2004).
She has also starred in several notable films such as “Please Teach Me English” (2003) and “Maundy Thursday” (2006) and “Someone Special,” for which she won best actress at the 25th Blue Dragon Film Awards.
oh i love her~ She’s such a versatile actress. You wouldn’t think that she’s been in the business for quite a long time. And for her age (31), she established a name for herself. Bravo~!!!
Korean actor Lee Min-ho is proving his Hallyu star status with his recent TV series “Personal Taste” selling to five countries in the Third World.
According to an industry source on Thursday, the MBC Wednesday-Thursday drama has been sold to United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Jordan, Venezuela and Mexico.
“These countries are very interested in Lee Min-ho’s exotic looks in particular,” the source was quoted as saying. “They are even asking if he is really Korean.”
He also added that Lee is “likely to further solidify his position as a major Hallyu influence during the latter half of the year” as the overseas broadcast could bring about a new generation of Korean Wave craze, even if the series had only sold for a moderate price.
So far, the only Korean drama to have been exported to South America or Middle East was MBC’s 2004 hit “Jewel in the Palace”, which starred top Korean actress Lee Young-ae.
Lee, 22, became a household name in Korea and throughout Asia last year with the success of KBS drama “Boys Over Flowers”.
In “Taste”, he played a man pretending to be gay in order to move in with a female roommate, played by Korean actress Son Ye-jin.
It was just a water bottle shaped slightly different from the typical. But Lee Min-ho and Son Ye-jin talked about its shape as if they were extremely close friends ahead of a press conference held Tuesday on the set of MBC TV series “Personal Taste.” After drinking water out of the bottle’s cap which was much larger and spherical than usual, Lee kindly explained to Son, “I think this is used as a cup,” resembling the delicate and composed Jun Jin-ho he plays for the show. And before Lee finishes his observation and is able to say, “But the bottom of the cap is round so it would be impossible to prop it up,” Son too shows the character viewers have started to become familiar with by immediately spilling over the cap she had set on the table. As the water wets reporters’ voice recorders, Son, close to tearing, hastily wipes off the moisture with tissue and mumbles, “Oh no, I’m exactly like Park Gae-in.”
The reason that “Sanggojae,” the house built on the set of “Personal Taste” located inside the “Dae Jang Geum Theme Park,” feels closer to an actual traditional Korean-style house, is not just because of its elaborate features. “Sanggojae” comes to life the moment the two actors, immersed in their roles so much that they have slowly started to show images different from the past, enter the living room. And that is also when the house, where even the pine tree, small wild flowers and black and white pebbles placed with extreme delicacy, emerges to reveal its strong presence. As soon as rehearsals start, Lee Min-ho transforms into a new hard-working actor, reading his script as the first to take his place in the front yard of the house and helping the cameras set up. Son too becomes the meticulous actress she is, preparing for shoot while checking her lines and the line of movement she should take. “Sanggojae” does its own share of work as the only participant on set which fails to become worn out from the close-to-live shot show.
Major entertainment companies KEYEAST, JYP Entertainment and CJ Media have come together to create a new TV series titled “Dream High,” according to a press release by KEYEAST on Wednesday.
KEYEAST and JYP jointly established a drama production company under the name Holym which last week signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with major cable unit CJ Media in producing the series.
Hallyu star Bae Yong-joon, a major shareholder of KEYEAST, and famed producer Park Jin-young, also the founder and CEO of JYP, are set to take part in directing series as well as making guest appearances.
Bae is also expected to engage in the planning and producing of the show while Park is slated to arrange the music and choreography. CJ has been set to invest and participate in the drama as a co-producer.
Holym is currently searching for up and coming actors, singers and entertainers for the cast of the show which is aiming at broadcasting during the latter half of this year.
“Dream High” is about students attending a school of performing arts where the story will be relayed through song and dance.
KEYEAST engages itself in various facets of the entertainment industry including managing celebrities, exporting Korean cultural content and producing and investing in films.
JYP focuses on different aspects of the entertainment business including music production, new artist recruitment, training and management.