Korean audienceshave always had a complicated relationship with big-budget local movies.
Some, such asaction film Shiri (1999), military drama Silmido (2003), orKorean War film Tae Guk Ki (2004), have emerged as record-breaking smashhits, with up to a quarter of the population lining up to buy tickets.
At other times,however, an anti-blockbuster bias seems to set in, such as a string ofaction/sci-fi films like Yesterday (2002) and Natural City (2003)which struggled to earn back even their p&a costs. Wrestling biopic Rikidozan, about anethnic Korean pro wrestler who lived in Japan, ranks as another recent exampleof an ambitious, expensive production that left audiences cold.
Yet viewers willhave no shortage of large-scale films to choose from in the latter part of thisyear, as a post-Tae Guk Gi rush of big-budget productions start makingtheir way to screens.
The biggest of allis CJ Entertainment's Typhoon by KT Kwak, whose smash hit Friendgrossed over $40m in 2001. Set inBusan, Thailand and Vladivostok, the maritime action film about a modern-daypirate betrayed by both North and South Korea will cost $15m before p&acosts, which ranks as the highest budget ever for a Korean film. Top star Jang Dong-gun (Tae Guk Gi)and Lee Jung-jae (Il Mare) take the lead roles, and a release isscheduled for December.
Meanwhile,swordplay epic Shadowless Sword, a co-production between TaewonEntertainment and New Line Cinema, is in the midst of production in China. Although budgeted at a more modest $6.5m,the film's promo reel is said to have impressed buyers at Cannes for its strongvisuals. Centered around a femalewarrior who attempts to restore a prince to his throne, Shadowless Swordwill open in Korea by the end of the year, with New Line Cinema reportedlyplanning a worldwide release in 2006.
Although targetedmostly at the Asian region, Daisy is drawing buzz for its casting of topactress Jeon Ji-hyun (My Sassy Girl), its 100% location shooting in theNetherlands, and for its recruiting of Hong Kong director Andrew Lau (InfernalAffairs). Jeon's last film Windstruckby Kwak Jae-yong (who wrote the screenplay for Daisy) grossed over$18m in Japan, and expectations will be similarly high when this new filmreaches audiences in late 2005.
Other upcomingworks that boast large budgets and big-name local stars include Showbox'saction/noir Running Wild by debut director Kim Sung-soo; Korea Pictures'Duelist, a period-set action film by one of Korea's premiere stylistsLee Myung-Se; Soldiers Of Heaven, a time-travelling historical comedyfrom Showbox that despite its large budget, will be targeted mostly at localviewers; and Korea Pictures' Cheung Yeon, the story of Korea's firstfemale aviator who lived in Japan in the 1920s.
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