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Bob K.
Posted on Friday, December 10, 2004 - 11:41 pm:   

Lucius' newest review surveys the action-movie genre in Korea, and details the atmospheric "Nabi," a film featuring an "oblivion plague," and "Lost Memories: 2009," an alternate history that sounds a bit like East Asia's answer to The Man in the High Castle.

http://www.electricstory.com/reviews/review.aspx?title=new/koreanfutures

Note that to access older reviews, you must now sign up for a free account.

Thanks,
Bob


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Bill Reynolds/Socrates17
Posted on Monday, January 03, 2005 - 07:41 pm:   

I guess this is as good a place as any to place a coda to this great article.

My (Korean) wife and I are working in Qingdao, China for a while. (More about Qingdao, as well as the massive death and destruction of last week, over at Liz Hand's board.)

I've been checking out the local DVD stores and I've found an absolute dearth of Western product in the real retailers like Jusco or Carrefour. Sure, the stands that sell bootleg copies for a buck have a few Western blockbusters, but even those places don't have many and don't have recent films.

I thought the saving grace (ha ha) for the US economy (ha ha ha) was supposed to be that we were going to earn livings selling media to other countries. (Ha ha ha ha.) That certainly does not seem to be the case in the bits of Asia where we have been hanging lately.

Amid the cultural issues and the growth of domestic cinema industries, certainly one reason for this must be that American blockbusters are SO STUPID. Given that many films that failed in the US market (King Arthur et al) are supposed to recoup their money "overseas," if US industry keeps playing to the lowest common (US) denominator they will probably get shut out of that as well.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, January 03, 2005 - 08:20 pm:   

Bravo. Amen. What you said. And it's not as if we can't do it, we just don't bother.
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Rich P.
Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2005 - 05:18 am:   

Bill: I'm surprised you're having difficulties finding DVDs in Qingdao. I'm south of you in Xiamen and this place is a gold mine of cheap DVDs. Of the 13 Korean movies Lucius mentioned in his review, I was able to locate 11 of them in an afternoon. All in the 7 to 10 Yuan range. As far as American flicks go... there havenít been that many I've wanted to buy recently, but anything I've looked for has been available. I just wait until after the US DVD release date to ensure my copy is ripped from a DVD rather than recorded on some chap's cell phone at the theatre.

To your point about American film profits in Asia... I don't see how the American film industry makes a dime in China anyway. Everything you can buy here IS a copy (hence no region codes). Some better, some worse. Does any legitimate commercial company manufacture films in VCD format? I've never heard of either Jusco or Carrefour and I'm pretty sure there aren't any "real" movie retailers in this city.

Now if they could just figure out a way to bootleg books...

Lucius: Thanks! This review was like a nice Christmas present.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2005 - 07:15 am:   

Glad it was helpful, Rich,
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Bill Reynolds/Socrates17
Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2005 - 09:53 pm:   

Hi Folks

Sorry for the late response. Been having laptop problems.

Rich - Thanks for your information. Is Xiamen as cold as it is here? (Actually, I was in Korea for the weekend and after that Qingdao is positively balmy.) I could not find Lucuis' Korean films here but I did find most of them in Seoul - and bought a bunch. Jusco and Carrefour are department stores, and Carrefour is French owned. That's why I thought they might not sell bootlegs. I'll keep trying. Admittedly, the only English Language DVD I have wanted to buy was the extended LOTR RotK (despite my serious problems with Tolkein.) While looking (without success) for that I noticed the absence of anything else.

Also, in previous visits to Seoul either for work or to visit my wife's family, I haven't found nearly the percentage of newer US films that I would have expected from the common "wisdom" I cited above. Seoul has one of the world's great CD stores, Si Wan, who are owned by the label of the same name who kept in print many early '70s progressive bands like Italy's Piccio Dal Pozzo. (I think, legally.) However, there seems to be no good DVD store there.

Anyway, my point stands. The US industry is pi***ng away whatever opportunity it had to recoup US losses by being constantly and unremittingly dumb. (Oh, and did I mention being jingoistic?)
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Rich P.
Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 01:20 am:   

It could be Xiamen's proximity to Taiwan that explains the abundance of DVDs - there's also a lot of 25 yuan Rolex watches about which I'm sure are Taiwanese. Although they call this climate "sub-tropical" it gets pretty cold here too. Like a cold day on the Florida coast - the dampness makes it feel colder.

You're right, I haven't seen the extended RotK yet, but shopkeepers tell me 2 more weeks. Just spotted the new Criterion Cassavettes box though - Faces, Shadows, Chinese Bookie, WUtI, Opening Night... 42 kwai,, hmmm.

I'd love to hear what Lucius thinks of Cassavettes as a director.

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