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Author Topic: Movie review: Moo Jeok Ja by Hollywood Reporter  (Read 6130 times)

Offline busanyok

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Movie review: Moo Jeok Ja by Hollywood Reporter
« on: October 25, 2010, 09:36:31 AM »
"Better Tomorrow" remake inevitably mediocre

TOKYO (Hollywood Reporter) – John Woo's "A Better Tomorrow" is not about gangs or guns, but all about the swish of an Italian coat, the dandy way a toothpick is chewed, and the graceful arc in which its heroes (not protagonists) cock their guns.

None of these can be found in Song Hae-song's Korean remake, executive produced by Woo and his regular partner Terence Chang. In Korea, where the 1986 version has TV reruns as ritualistically as "The Sound of Music" is aired during Christmas, under-performing box office is said to be accompanied by mobs of angry bloggers slamming it online.

To be fair, the production is on the money, with plenty of bombastic action balanced by some dramatic heft. But the film raised the bar to the skies by brandishing itself as a remake of a classic, without understanding what makes the original click -- namely pose and self-parody. The film should be judged less harshly abroad, as the four dashing leads and its fiery Korean brand of machismo have enough allure in most Asian markets.

For the rest, the screenplay follows the original story fairly closely, but with the love subplot taken out. The main stage has been moved from Hong Kong to the port city of Busan, which gains in gritty hardboiled atmosphere as a hub for illegal trafficking. The pivotal early scenes which define the heroines' stances and determine their fates are shifted to Thailand. Since locations are unexciting and the heroes can't wear coats in the sweltering heat; thus making the surprise of betrayal and climax of revenge are slow to warm up.

The conflict between the original's gangster brother and his policeman younger brother is intensified by making the brothers, Hyuk (Joo Jin-mo) and Chul (Kim Gang-woo), North Korean defectors.

The plot of "A Better Tomorrow" is a potboiler to begin with. What elevated it is Woo's chivalric ideal of heroism and the iconic gestures or poses that go with it. His gun fights are described as "balletic" because they are as formalistic as duels. In the remake, the men just bash each other to a bloody pulp. Style is what's lacking in overall proceedings.

Several action setpieces take place in huge spaces, deploying hundreds of extras but the larger their scale, the messier the choreography. The cast scurry all over the place and shots are fired aimlessly. And if in doubt, the filmmaker stages an explosion.

The rift between guilt-ridden Hyuk and self-righteous Chul caused by the former's abandonment of the latter, takes precedence over Hyuk' bonding with fellow gangster Young-chun (Song Seung-heon). Joo and Kim play their roles in earnest, externalizing the male rivalry that was submerged in the original, and giving the characters more complexity. Complex is the last thing in the characterization of Young-chun, the man of honor who got crippled trying to avenge Hyuk's betrayal by their junior Tae-min (Jo Han-sun). Song has Chow Yun-fat's cockiness, but not his nonchalant charm. With his odd mixture of goofball, Machiavellian and psychopath, Tae-min becomes the most flamboyant but least formidable role.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20101025/review_nm/us_film_better


Offline busanyok

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Re: Movie review: Moo Jeok Ja by Hollywood Reporter
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2010, 09:49:13 AM »
"The rift between guilt-ridden Hyuk (Joo Jin Mo) and self-righteous Chul (Kim Kang Woo) caused by the former's abandonment of the latter, takes precedence over Hyuk' bonding with fellow gangster Young-chun (Song Seung-heon). Joo and Kim play their roles in earnest, externalizing the male rivalry that was submerged in the original, and giving the characters more complexity. "

Personally, what stood out for me is the relationship between the brothers.  A lot were said with very little dialogue between them. 

Offline NaughtyJoy

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Re: Movie review: Moo Jeok Ja by Hollywood Reporter
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2010, 02:31:48 PM »
Thank you busanyok for sharing this article with us here...

I'm looking forward to seeing this movie
;)


"To alcohol: the cause of --- and solution to --- all of life's problems."

Offline KDF

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Re: Movie review: Moo Jeok Ja by Hollywood Reporter
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2010, 07:17:27 PM »
Thank you busanyok for sharing this article with us here...

I'm looking forward to seeing this movie
;)


Me too.  I have been going here --> http://movie.daum.net/moviedetail/moviedetailNetizenPoint.do?movieId=42000&t__nil_NetizenPoint=tabName to see what moviegoers think.

It seems that a lot of those who compared "Mujeokja" to the original "A Better Tomorrow" were severely disappointed and those who watched it not as a remake but as "Mujeokja" had a better experience. I saw a lot of praises for Joo Jin Mo's acting. One even commented that JJM's performance was "like a black hole which sucks you in".  Many said the movie was so moving that they cried though some harsher critics felt the movie was like a comedy. :) Some thought the four actors did a good job but that they were wasted in a movie without a good story or good direction.

Offline LoveJooJinMo

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Re: Movie review: Moo Jeok Ja by Hollywood Reporter
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2010, 01:11:04 PM »
@busanyok,

Thank you so much for sharing.   No matter what other people say, I look forward to seeing this movie.    Actually, I was a big fan of Hong Kong's A Better Tomorrow when I was in high school, mostly because of Chow Yun Fat's Mark.   About 1 or 2 months ago, I watched it one more time, I was surprised when I realized this time I loved Ti Lung's role Ho so much more than Mark and Kit (Ho's younger brother)

 (my husband said I like Ho most because this is also Joo Jin Mo's role in Moo Jeak Ja, but I didn't agree.)

No matter a movie is a remake or not, you can always appreciate it from a new angle.   This time, I would rather see this movie as a new movie with Joo Jin Mo, :)


It seems that a lot of those who compared "Mujeokja" to the original "A Better Tomorrow" were severely disappointed and those who watched it not as a remake but as "Mujeokja" had a better experience. I saw a lot of praises for Joo Jin Mo's acting. One even commented that JJM's performance was "like a black hole which sucks you in".  Many said the movie was so moving that they cried though some harsher critics felt the movie was like a comedy. :) Some thought the four actors did a good job but that they were wasted in a movie without a good story or good direction.

hahah, KDF's comment is really sharp.  Everybody will choose a side. 

hahha, I'm ready to witness the 'black hole which sucks you in', :)   

(to be honest, in my eyes, some of those sort/kind of 'critics' keep themselves arrogant to look 'professional'. )


Offline LoveJooJinMo

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Re: Movie review: Moo Jeok Ja by Hollywood Reporter
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2010, 01:52:01 PM »
"The rift between guilt-ridden Hyuk (Joo Jin Mo) and self-righteous Chul (Kim Kang Woo) caused by the former's abandonment of the latter, takes precedence over Hyuk' bonding with fellow gangster Young-chun (Song Seung-heon). Joo and Kim play their roles in earnest, externalizing the male rivalry that was submerged in the original, and giving the characters more complexity. "

Personally, what stood out for me is the relationship between the brothers.  A lot were said with very little dialogue between them. 

Totally agree.

In my eyes, the emotional parts of the movie are the key ingredients - this is where these 4 actors' performance should be appreciated most.

Offline busanyok

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Re: Movie review: Moo Jeok Ja by Hollywood Reporter
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2010, 01:20:30 PM »
Some thought the four actors did a good job but that they were wasted in a movie without a good story or good direction.

The fact is Moo Jeok Ja, with all the hype, did not do so well at the box office.   

If the actors did well, as most comments suggest, then what did not work?

Was it the story? This story had worked, it was made into a hit movie in 1986. 

Was it the screenplay or the way the story is told?  Perhaps. 

Just goes to show that , star power alone does not a hit movie make.  This movie has not one, but four dashing actors, all attractive in their own right.   

Something for Joo Jin Mo to mull over when deciding his next project.   

I wish MJJ would have commercial success and artistic success.  One without the other would not garner more supporters and opportunities for JJM.  At the end of the day, that is what I want for him.

Offline KDF

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Re: Movie review: Moo Jeok Ja by Hollywood Reporter
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2010, 02:45:35 PM »

Was it the story? This story had worked, it was made into a hit movie in 1986. 

Was it the screenplay or the way the story is told?  Perhaps. 

Something for Joo Jin Mo to mull over when deciding his next project.   

I wish MJJ would have commercial success and artistic success.  One without the other would not garner more supporters and opportunities for JJM.  At the end of the day, that is what I want for him.
Well according to netizens, some of them thought the story was not true to life, put another way, the story does not resemble the realities of Korea. Authentic emotions in an inauthentic story perhaps?  Some simply avoided the movie because of low ratings but when they changed their minds and watched it without expectation, they thought the movie was very moving.

I have not watched the original and just learned that it also is a remake - a remake of a 1960's movie.  I do not know how I missed this one when I was such a huge fan of Chinese movies back in high school, especially Zhang Yimou films starring Gong Li and I am still a huge fan of Jet Li.

Getting back to JJM...I did not know that "Mujeokja" is a box office disappointment.  Hopefully, JJM will be okay and come back with another astonishing performance.  Sometimes I think though, JJM is better off making wiser financial investments with his money and taking longer breaks.  I say this because JJM, in general, seems to be painfully sensitive and prone to nervousness and insomnia.

@LoveJooJinMo I may not be so great a fan as you but I am a fan that cannot imagine being so open about it with my boyfriend.  I support Joo Jin Mo as a friend and fan too and as a fellow Korean, I recognize some cultural dilemmas he has faced or could be facing. Still, I would never be open about it with my boyfriend.  You are pretty lucky.  :)

Offline Kaew

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Re: Movie review: Moo Jeok Ja by Hollywood Reporter
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2010, 11:26:56 PM »

Dear All Lovely,

As all above comment . I need to watch this movie.

Don't know how long will show in Thai , wait wait and wait.

Love/Kaew


Offline busanyok

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Re: Movie review: Moo Jeok Ja by Hollywood Reporter
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2010, 11:34:20 PM »
Some simply avoided the movie because of low ratings but when they changed their minds and watched it without expectation, they thought the movie was very moving.

Power of "word of mouth" vs. independent search for the truth.  I wish more will find out for themselves.

Unfortunately it is true that there exist artistes who cannot act, but because they are famous, they attract a following and investors.  All the more reason for us to worry and angst for JJM.

Sometimes I muse at how we wish what we think is "good" for JJM.  I resolve to let this go and let him decide for himself,  for he must know best what he wants, what he is prepared to pay for what he wants, and that he knows how to be kind to himself.

 


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