[K-FILM REVIEWS] 혈의 누 (Blood Rain)
혈의 누 (血의 淚)
(Blood Rain, KOREA 2005)
HyeolUi Nu (lit. Tears of Blood)
119 Minutes - 35mm Cinemascope 2.35:1 - Colour
Rating: 18 and over
Released in Korea on 5/4/2005
Total National Admissions (Approx.): 2,267,780
Produced by: 좋은영화 (Fun & Happiness)
Distributed by: Cinema Service
Note: The review contains spoilers
Director 김대승 (Kim Dae-Seung)
[번지점프를 하다 (Bungee Jumping of Their Own, 2001), 가을로 (Traces of Love, 2006)]
Producer 김미희 (Kim Mi-Hee), 김성제 (Kim Sung-Jae), 강우석 (Kang Woo-Suk)
Writer 이원재 (Lee Won-Jae - Original Script, Adaptation), 김대승 (Kim Dae-Seung, Adaptation), 김성제 (Kim Sung-Jae, Adaptation)
Director of Photography 최영환 (Choi Young-Hwan)
Music 조영욱 (Jo Young-Wook)
Editor 김상범 (Kim Sang-Beom), 김재범 (Kim Jae-Beom)
Action 정두홍 (Jung Doo-Hong), 정창현 (Jung Chang-Hyun)
Art Direction 민언옥 (Min Eon-Ok)
Costumes 정경희 (Jung Kyung-Hee)
차승원 (Cha Seung-Won), 박용우 (Park Yong-Woo), 지성 (Ji Sung), 최종원 (Choi Jong-Won), 천호진 (Cheon Ho-Jin), 오현경 (Oh Hyun-Kyung), 정규수 (Jung Gyu-Soo), 박철민 (Park Cheol-Min), 유해진 (Yoo Hae-Jin, 최지나 (Choi Ji-Na), 윤세아 (Yoon Se-Ah)
Sitting down after a long day of work, drinking with the other staff members on the set of '번지점프를 하다' ('Bungee Jumping of Their Own'), someone joked with director Kim Dae-Seung: "Shouldn't you at least try Bungee Jumping once, like the title?&" Kim quickly answered: "Why? Did Park Ki-Hyung attend an all-female school to make '여고괴담' ('Whispering Corridors', lit. Female High School Ghost Story)?&" Kim never really liked horror, he never even enjoyed the thrill of roller coasters or bungee jumping. When producer Kim Sung-Jae approached him with the idea of directing a film tentatively titled '혈우' (where the English title 'Blood Rain' comes from), director Kim wasn't exactly known for Historical Dramas: after all, his first film was a slightly off-kilter melodrama, with two big stars and a controversial story. But what could the producer do? Most of the fresh new talent in the industry was either working in producer-driven, commercially safe genre Cinema, or doing their own thing. Even though 사극 (Historical Dramas) were all over TV, most directors knew how difficult directing one was, and avoided them like the plague. Finding appropriate locations to shoot a Historical Drama in Korea was becoming increasingly hard, the dialogue was too much of a burden for most actors, and the fact that it was a genre seldom translating well on the big screen made things even worse. Attempts to make serious Historical Dramas set in the late Joseon era were made in the past, but the scale had gotten so big, the stakes so high, too much was at risk.
In 2005, could you realistically spend 7-8 Billion Won on something like Park Jong-Won's amazing '영원한 제국' ('The Eternal Empire'), a simple murder story turning into an indiction of the corruption and hegemony of the Noron Party in Joseon politics? Could you spend two hours building political intrigue that most people who go to the theater (teenagers) had only a vague idea about? There's a reason why 70% of the Historical Drama audience on TV is made of 30 to 60 year old males. There's also a reason why a lot of the recent big hits on TV (including 해신 (Emperor of The Sea)) made huge changes to the format of those shows, to appeal to a wider audience. '대장금' ('Dae Jang Geum: Jewel in the Palace') might be a feast for the eyes (and mouth), and a tour de force for Lee Young-Ae, but it pales in comparison to the complexity and historical relevance of its older, more prestigious colleagues. So, in making 'Blood Rain', they had to pack an emotional punch, involve the average viewer, satisfy genre Cinema fans, be realistic enough to convey which era the film was set it, and connect the dots to make a good film. Not the easiest of things. But Kim was chosen because he went through all that before, being a longtime assistant director and disciple of Im Kwon-Taek. They worked together on '춘향뎐' ('Chunhyang'), he knew what he was getting into.
If you mentioned '혈의 누' to Korean people, most would bring up Lee In-Jik's masterpiece, one of the first Korean novels to use Western-style storytelling. But this script, written by Lee Won-Jae, had nothing to do with it. The moment Kim finished reading it, he called the producer right away: "I want to do it.&" It had that immediate human quality, like Umberto Eco's 'The Name of The Rose' or Victor Hugo's 'Les Miserables,' with a man coming to terms with his inner self, his emotions and weaknesses. The script had caught the attention of the film community for being a sort of '살인의 추억' ('Memories of Murder') set in the Joseon Dynasty, but Lee's inspiration went back centuries ago. To make Lee Won-Gyu's (Cha Seung-Won) murder investigation a little more realistic, he cross-referenced the '無寃錄' (Mo Yuan Lu in Mandarin/Mu Won Rok in Korean, the 'Book of No Resentment'), a forensic medicine book about murders in the Song Dynasty, written by Wang Yu in the Yuan Dynasty, which King Sejong's scholars later translated in Korean as 신주무원록 (新註無寃錄, add 'New' to the previous title). He also distanced himself from the lavish glamour of the Joseon portrayed on TV, using the island background of the film as a sort of 'hell on earth.' As the film begins, we're introduced to Donghwa Island, a small and mysterious lot of land surrounded by perennial mist. The villagers, controlled by the elder Yangban Kim Chi-Sung (the great theater actor Oh Hyun-Kyung, father of Oh Ji-Hye) and his son In-Kwon (Park Yong-Woo), run a successful mill, producing the best paper in the Province, with trade routes extending even to China. The bi-annual tribute to the King is paid through the manufacture of the best possible paper, a situation that allows the village to sustain itself independently, even if isolated from the Mainland's affairs. It was 1808, a very turbulent period in Korean History.
Just a few decades earlier one of the most famous incidents ever recorded in the Land of the Morning Calm, King YoungJo killing his own son Prince Sado to save Joseon, under the influence of the Queen Mother Sun-Hee, ruptured the country. YoungJo worked hard to eliminate a long and agonizing strife between the Noron (노론, Old Doctrine) and Soron (소론, Young Doctrine) parties, engulfing most of the country's political history for the better part of the 17th and 18th century. During his long rule, he promoted officials from both parties to government positions, trying to tame down all the background intrigues that influenced the fate of the throne for decades. The Noron party split in two further factions after the tragic death of Sado in 1762. Those who agreed his death was inevitable, given his madness and danger posed to the throne, formed the 시파 faction (ShiPa, 時派, Clan of Expediency). Those instead who criticized YoungJo's move formed the rival 벽파 (ByeokPa, 僻派, Clan of Principle) party. When YoungJo's grandson JongJo came to the throne in 1776, all the years of hard work trying to stop all the corruption created by the Noron party's dominance and abolish party strife went to ashes. The Hong family of Pungsan (from which King JongJo's faithful ally Hong Guk-Young came), ByeokPa members, started fighting vigourously with the Pro-Catholic ShiPa members of the Kim family from Chongpung. The ByeokPa clan subsequently tried its best to kill two birds with one stone: the increasingly popular Catholic sentiments, and any influence the ShiPa clan had.
Joseon's fight against the Catholic 'invasion' might be simply seen as trying to defend their Confucian beliefs, but there's more to it. Party strife, and also the relatively insular policies of the previous Joseon rulers were to blame. They saw the advent of Catholicism as a dangerous new wind that could corrupt the commoners' minds. Its promise of equality was too appealing to people who had to live under corrupt Yangban for centuries, never able to make anything out of their lives. They also worried about the military consequences this new religious movement could have brought to a country which always struggled in between foreign powers. A major incident pointed out to this belief in 1801, when aristocratic Hwang Sa-Young sent two silk letters to Bishop de Gouvea, stationed in China, asking for intervention from the West, to invade the country so that freedom of religion could be obtained. Although the plan was already in motion, his attempt to steer Western sentiment towards Joseon's problems might have accelerated that process, starting the persecution en masse. From 1801, Catholics had to either renounce their religious beliefs or be persecuted for high treason.
Some rich members of the newly established middle class (so called 중인, 'middle people') saw an opportunity in Hwang's ideals, and supported him financially, going down with him when his plot was discovered. One of them was Commissioner Kang (a fictitious character, played with great panache by Cheon Ho-Jin) of Donghwa Island, who was murdered under suspicion of being a Catholic follower. He and his entire family killed in five different, cruel ways (impaling, boiling in hot dye, strangling with paper, crashing his head with an arrow, and finally tearing one's limbs apart). The man was respected by the entire village, loaning money to many people at low interest. But for a village that lived of simple things, like work, food, the warmth of the family, the easy superstitions bandied around by the Shaman of the village, a new line of thinking clouded their mind. Greed made its unwelcome appearance in Donghwa Island, and from that moment on, their life became a living hell. People went crazy, believing the vengeful words of the dying Kang like a mantra, expecting his bloody revenge to be consumed soon. 'Bloody rain is coming! We're all going to suffer the consequences!' screams one of the many people who betrayed Kang's honesty. When the five terrible murders of Kang's family make an unexpected re-appearance in Donghwa, seven years later, Lieutenant Lee Won-Gyu is summoned to the Island to find out the culprit.
Cha Seung-Won ironically said, in an interview after the screening of the film: "I finally graduated from middle school. Now the real studying begins.&" He's got a point. While Koreans have elected him as one of the few bonafide box office draws, it was a long and painful process for him. Starting with modeling in the late 80s, getting a few decent roles in TV Dramas, finally debuting on the big screen, with only one-dimensional characters which did little to further his career. Then came '리베라 메 ('Libera Me'), not exactly a great film, but his performance there raised more than a few eyebrows. Do we have a good actors on our hands? It wasn't until Cha met and started working with Kim Sang-Jin and writer Park Jung-Woo that his potential got fulfilled. Several surefire comedy hits followed, establishing him as the (male) King of Comedy. Women loved him because he showed warmth, he was masculine without unnecessary machismo, and had a great sense of humour; men respected him because he was like the older friend next door, who acted tough but was always great fun to deal with. But the moment you realize people really like your work, something changes. You stop thinking about the quick bucks, and start worrying about your future. For how long could he continue to do comedies? Until people got tired of him? Then that positive greed and hunger to become a better actor comes out. One could safely say 'Blood Rain' is the turning point of Cha's career. Assuredly stoic and stubborn in the first part, slowly allowing his conscience to get the better of his rationality in the second, Cha gives what could be considered his best performance to date. Charisma and ability to deliver ad-lib aside, this role required a lot of focus: he couldn't explode with his screen presence, because Won-Gyu's tongue is sharper than his physicality. For that reason alone, his efforts doubled, and although it'll take time for him to adapt to his new 'clothes,' and maybe even more to be accepted by critics as a 'serious' actor, I think he's got all the potential in the world to do that.
Even the rest of the cast had that 'comedian' image to get rid of, at least for this film. Choi Jong-Won, a regular of TV Sitcoms and silly mid 90s comedies, but also someone who starred in great films with historical settings, like the aforementioned 'The Eternal Empire', Im Kwon-Taek's '태백산맥 (The Taebaek Mountains, 1994), 서편제 (Sopyonje, 1993) and 아제아제 바라아제 (Come, Come Upward, 1989); Yoo Hae-Jin, hilarious in many of Kim Sang-Jin's films, but also able to show his serious acting in somber Historical Dramas like '토지' ('Land', 2005 SBS TV) and of course '무사' ('武士', 'Musa: The Warrior', 2001); Jung Gyu-Soo (a Jang Jin regular), Park Cheol-Min, Park Yong-Woo, who played bit characters for years but then impressed in the Historical Drama '무인시대' ('The Age of Warriors', 2004). It's a peculiar cast, but a very good one, taking advantage of the charisma of its veterans (Cheon Ho-Jin, Oh Hyun-Kyung), masking the evident weaknesses of its youngsters with less dialogue (a very uncomfortable looking Ji Sung). And, the fact even the main characters never take center stage, but instead the general sentiment and emotional statement of the film is allowed to come alive is another of Kim's merits.
Just like the director's intention to leave the burden of genre conventions at bay, Jo Young-Wook focuses on rhythm instead of genre preconceptions. Looking at other Historical Dramas, even the great ones like 'The Eternal Empire,' traditional Korean instruments - like Gayageum, Daegeum, and so on - are predominant, but Jo goes back to the basics: the music doesn't carry the film on its shoulders, making a louder statement than the images (like the average John Williams score would do), but it slowly captures the mood, underlines the atmosphere of the scene, helps the images convey a certain tempo, rhythm, like the best Bernard Herrmann scores. For that reason, he's not afraid of using Western inspired music, like an adaptation of Rachmaninoff's 'Piano Concerto No. 2 1st Mov.' whose pumping trombones perfectly highlight the tense finale, or Chopin's 'Waltz No.3 in A Minor.' But only someone unfamiliar with Jo's style and past works would be surprised at such a choice. Since his first soundtrack, Jo has always combined Eastern and Western music, mixed genres in an almost diabolical way, and classical music has always been a staple of his soundtracks. He used an eclectic mix of Bach, Dusty Springfield, The Velvet Underground, Tom Waits and Sarah Vaughan in '접속' ('The Contact'), still one of the best selling Korean OSTs of all time; Mozart, Otis Redding, Graham Nash and Carla Thomas in '해피엔드' ('Happy End'); his mixing of Enya, Placebo, and of all people Shostakovich (the same 'Jazz Suit No. 2 - IV Waltz' used in Stanley Kubrick's 'Eyes Wide Shut') in '텔미썸딩' ('Tell Me Something'); and, last but not least, Vivaldi in '올드보이' ('Oldboy'). There must be a reason if every time I hear The Four Seasons (it's all over TV!) I'm reminded of that scene. The way he's able to mix the power and rhythm of the music he chooses with the images is something only the best can do.
What distinguishes the best Korean films of the last half decade from their foreign competitors is their ability to find a new milieu between genre fundamentals (which is different from conventions, mind you), and the creative will to distance themselves from easy labeling. Jang Joon-Hwan's '지구를 지켜라' ('Save The Green Planet') and Ryu Seung-Wan's films ooze love for Genre Cinema, but they're not just content with simply following the rules, they give a fresh and invigorating personal spin to them. Embarking on a genre like that of Historical Drama was like walking blindfolded on a mine field. There are too many established preconceptions about the genre, from the obsession with attention to details, historical accuracy, traditional music and tempo. But director Kim decided to take that blindfold off, and jump the entire field, abandoning genre preconceptions, and any need to follow particular rules: if anything, he used whatever he needed from the genre (like the obvious historical setting, forensic medicine, enough political intrigue thrown in to be able to make an allegory on the modern man's psyche), and went along on his own. That, in short, is the main reason why 'Blood Rain' works. Take it within the Historical Drama genre, and it might fail, for its flaws in historical accuracy (which are not many, but if you need to nitpick, you can have your day), its penchant for shying away from the period's political and social turmoil to make a more general statement; take it as a whodunit thriller, and it might fail as well. While a lot of the tempo of the film embraces the atmosphere of many giallo's, there isn't any obsession towards the identity of the murderer. 'Who' is the murderer is not important here, it's 'Why' he did it what the director cares about.
Choi Min-Shik's character in '주먹이 운다' ('Crying Fist') talks of how boxing is a metaphor for life. In this film, the 'collective' personality of the Island becomes a character of its own, and eventually a metaphor for life, telling us the only thing we should be afraid of is ourselves. For greed, ambition, jealousy and envy are scarier than ghosts or superhuman appearances; for a society that places all the attention on catching the killer without trying to understand why and what led him to do it is bound to repeat the same mistakes. In a way, the final allegory of the bloody rain, more than a 'Magnolia'-like McGuffin, is a warning that every single person's judgment can be blinded by such weaknesses. And the fact a film can carry all the burden of genre formulas effectively, and at the same time say something so simple yet so powerful, is in itself a great feat.
AUDIO, VIDEO, SUBTITLES
Transfer is good, although not exceptional. While skin tones are quite realistic, and there's no unnecessary digital noise, fine detail is a little lacking. Audio is nothing special. Clean and crisp dialogue, but the surround effects aren't really taken advantage of, but I suspect that has more to do with sound design than any fault of the DVD. DTS tracks is a little better, though.
Subtitles are good. Good timing, really nice font, no grammar mistakes. One thing they do really well is never translate things they're not supposed to. Explaining what 'Shimheoro' is when the next line of dialogue does exactly that is useless, so thankfully they leave the word intact. Thankfully, they never indulge in slang, which would kill this film since so much is based on complex dialogue. What I felt a little let down about was that they became a little vague during one of the most important exchanges of the film, between Kim Chi-Sung and Won-Gyu. Instead of JongJo they just say 'The past king' and instead of Noron 'a rival faction.' Those might only be details history buffs care about, but I'm sure not all people interested in Korean history speak Korean, a little help for them wouldn't hurt. But, overall, I'm satisfied.
Note: If the feature doesn't have a spoiler warning, it's generally free of any major spoiler.
Director Kim Dae-Seung, Art Director Min Eon-Ok
It's really hard to make commentaries like this exciting. I mean, how much fun can two hours of people debating the merits of magenta over white, or how bamboos look better under daily light, can be? Still, this is a Historical Drama, which puts everything in a new light (no pun intended... maybe). It's not something I feel is essential, but the two do reveal a lot of interesting info, although I would have liked a little more meat regarding the historical setting, which is something you could realistically ask from a discussion with the Art Director. It's also a shame that actors didn't get the chance to talk about the film via a commentary (there's interviews anyway), and this is just the kind of film I'd love to hear what people like Oh Dong-Jin or Kim Young-Jin have to say about. Anyhow, here's a few of the arguments:
- They started introducing a big leit motif of the commentary: the use of colour. They used colours that would fit with the water, the blood, and the scenery at the beginning.
- Talking about colours obviously leads to the costumes. As you probably know, different classes wore different costumes (in terms of colour, style, patterns, cloth). They tried to set a mood with colours vis-a-vis the social position of the characters. And, since class distinction was paramount in the Joseon Dynasty, it was essential to differentiate between different people. They also tried to create some kind of distance to convey seniority, how the lighter green clothes of the young commoners got darker as people aged.
- The role of Kim Chi-Sung, the elder of the village, is one of those 'movie people' who help the story flow better. They actually ended up using a location used for Im Kwon-Taek's Sopyonje in the past, that being the scene with the Mudang (Shaman) ritual. It was hard shooting there because many changes took place since Sopyonje's 1993 shoot, so they had to use a lot of blue screens.
- When Won-Gyu arrives to the island, the image from the boat is CG generated. That was the only way of conveying that mysterious feeling of a place haunted by something, or someone.
- They liked the image of the killer (whose identity you should know by now, since you're listening to a commentary), very soft, not like the average killer in other films. They thought a long time about how they could emphasize his personality with the colour of his clothes, the way he lives and talks.
- They tried to make the villagers of Donghwa carry a pain that didn't happen in one day. Theirs are faces carrying years of struggling to come to terms with the past.
- The Art Director mentioned how, within the boundaries allowed, they tried to distance themselves from conventions of the genre. They talk about how Park Yong-Woo's character was dressed in an unique way because his image didn't fit with pastel tones or primary colours. That's the reason why they had to test many different colour patterns on him.
- Discussing about the trees in the film, mostly Bamboos, they talked about how they were supposed to shoot the film with 1.85:1 lenses, but changed to 2.35:1 because it looked like the locations and general feeling of the village could be conveyed in a more effective way, using a larger scope.
- The first time Won-Gyu enters the paper mill, they wanted to create a sense of isolation from the other islanders. They used Cha Seung-Won's tall figure to emphasize he was completely different from the others, and people made him feel that way.
- Even when they had to 'build' locations by themselves, they tried to set an uniquely 'Donghwa Island' tone and culture. With the first murder on screen, they wanted to give a sense that the paper mill sort of came alive, and the scene transition from the dye container to the well emphasized that feeling even more, and it helped people make a connection to why the water smelled after that.
- The scene inside the victim's house used the same location for Im Kwon-Taek's The Taebaek Mountains. Director Kim admits Im has been a big influence on his filmmaking style, and helped him a lot. The location carried a lot of island-specific traits, so they chose it.
- They had a hard time finding the right design for Du-Ho's house, because he's a person with conflicting emotions. He's angry, but also a very meticulous person.
- Hunting for locations, more than just trying to find some place that looked like an island, they looked for places that would give a special feeling, recreating the desired effect. Whatever was lacking, they corrected or added via CG.
- That of the Mudang was a really important role, they wanted to give a mysterious and slightly mad aura to her persona. But they also wanted someone who didn't look like she belonged amongst the other islanders. That's why through her clothes, her living space and other things they established her personality.
- They start talking a little more about Won-Gyu's character, how his conscience starts to play an important role in the way he approaches the case.
- They talked about the horse riding chase, finally revealing the killer wasn't a spirit, but a person. How they wanted to recreate the feeling of being close to the action, right in the middle of the scene.
- They highlighted how setting up Kim Chi-Sung's character through the way he lived was more effective. His ideology, the way the poem behind him is written (very unique calligraphy, you can barely make out the 中 in the middle).
- Dealing with the flashback concerning Won-Gyu's father, they wanted to show how he realized his father's faults, at last. When they looked at it in the script, they worried a lot about how much of the dismembering scene they should have shown. Where to let the prosthetics start and the real actor stop. Cheon Ho-Jin's acting helped them a lot, and they tried to follow his performance in recreating the scene, more than going for realism at all costs until the end (would dismembered people really have the time to look at their killer's faces?).
- They showed how Won-Gyu and the main culprits had a distinctive colour to their costumes, whereas most of the other villagers had a very similar color tone, to convey their 'one mind' mentality even better.
- The scene with the boat, the killer and the girl, they wanted to shoot it without most lighting, to increase its mysterious aura, but it wasn't possible, so they just corrected it via colour grading later.
- Kim liked how they revealed the identity of the killer long before the end of the film. In a storytelling sense, that gave them more time to explain his situation.
Director Kim Dae-Seung, Music Director Jo Young-Wook
Jo Young-Wook has always been one of my favorites, his work featuring on some of the best Korean films of the last 10 years. For that reason, this commentary became all the more interesting. Jo forms a sort of 'movie clique' with directors Park Chan-Wook and Lee Mu-Young, who often work together, so it's always a pleasure listening to what he has to say. The focus wasn't always on music, so the fact there wasn't any commentary with the actors feels a little less of a regret. Here's a few excerpts of the discussion:
- The first scene works on a lot of levels, focusing on the costumes and colour, but also on the sound. Jo wanted to create an immediate impact, hinting to the general mood of the film that was coming. It was going to be a sad drama, so he tried to convey that with the score for the first scene.
- The two discussed how they didn't feel the need to follow genre conventions in creating the score for the film. But, for obvious reasons, some of the music might look in a different way, because after all creating suspense is part of the genre's conventions. They tried to avoid traditional music found in the other Korean Historical Dramas, with things like Gayageum or other instruments (in an interview Jo even said they started with techno in mind). They never tried to create music that would fit the period setting, but something that would highlight the characters' emotional and psychological state. After all, this is a Historical Drama, but it's not a film that thrives on revealing details about the period.
- About the image of the Island from outside, they wanted to create a 'hell' like feeling, something eerie that would convey Won-Gyu's state of mind in coming to the Island.
- Jo comments how the most difficult thing was trying to follow the film's tempo, and the camera movement. He didn't make something that would carry the rhythm of the film, but slowly integrated itself with it, instead.
- Since it's a Historical Drama, there are various conventions you're almost forced to use, but Director Kim would have probably used the table scene where they eat anyway. The most important thing they wanted to establish was Won-Gyu's pride about his father, so that the second part's feelings for him would echo in a stronger way.
- While shooting the film, Director Kim worried a lot about the use of jump cuts. He wanted to find a way to transform real time into cinematic time, but since there are preconceptions about Historical Drama and its rhythm, it was an issue he was concerned about for a long time.
- They used closeups when the most important dialogue was used, and even thought about using similar music for each of the murders, to connect the idea of the serial killer, but the different shooting situations, and the need to highlight sound in different ways made that impossible.
- About the role of the Shaman in the film, the director thought of her as a balancing force between the world of ghosts and reality. A milieu where people could relieve their madness, fear, and stress toward the murders.
- They discussed about the music for the horse chase (Won-Gyu and the masked murderer). The unique use of the 태평소 (Taepyungso, a trumpet-like metal bell instrument. You can find a site describing its use here, and an image here). That loud crescendo in the background helped immensely with the tempo of the scene, which was the most important thing the director wanted to emphasize. Jo explained how he doesn't like music that explains the feeling of the scene, but something subtly underlining its atmosphere.
- During one of the most important scenes of the film, Won-Gyu's discussion with Kim Chi-Sung, Jo wondered if using music was the right idea, to underline the tempo of their debate.
- The two noted that maybe people might think the killer was discovered too quickly (30 minutes before the end), but it was an obvious conclusion given how the investigation progressed, and that Director Kim didn't really care about following genre conventions.
- As for the last action scene in the paper mill, Kim asked Jung Doo-Hong to do something really simple and effective, action that wouldn't convey any type of technique. He joked how the dialogue for the final confrontation between the murderer and Won-Gyu lacked punch, but the performance of the two and their intense charisma made it even better than expected.
Chapter 1: 시대와 고증 (Period and Historical Research
-19c 조선시대 사회 (Society in 19th Century Joseon) [6:25]
A Historian introduces the historical background of the film, he talks about the changes in society, the status and economy of the average people in contrast with the yangban ruling class. He talks about the 신해통공 (Shin-Hae-Tong-Gong, 辛亥通共) in 1791 (the popup mistakenly refers to it as 1971), perhaps King JongJo's most important reform in terms of commerce. It allowed vendors without a license to operate next to the licensed ones in the capital, a sort of 'Joint-Sales' reform, which created a lot of conflict. He talks about the kind of goods sold in the period, like silk, fabric, cotton, paper, ramie and fish, and how people built riches in that era. He also highlights the strife between different social classes that emerged from so many changes. Before closing, he briefly mentions the Hwang Sa-Young incident (the one I mention in the review), and his reasons for sending the letters to Beijing.
- 수사과정 (Making The Investigation)[7:05]
The clip introduces the steps taken in the Joseon period to find out how the victim was murdered. They show all the tools used in the process, the ingredients (salt, herbs, rice) and the book they used to examine bodies (the Muwonrok I mentioned before). Professor Kim Ho talks about the two steps which were taken in making the investigation, 조검 (JoGeom, 助檢) and 복검 (BeokGeom, 覆檢). The first step consisted in examining the body in detail to find the causes of death. Second tried to recreate the murder scene, finding clues and asking people in the surrounding areas about the psychology of the suspect and the victim. In case the first two examinations wouldn't have a positive result, they'd move to a 3rd or 4th step. Professor Kim then talks about the Muwonrok, how Kim Sejong tried to adapt it so that Joseon scholars would be able to use it, without having to understand the Yuan Dynasty nomenclature. This new version was the ShinJuWonRok I talked about in the review.
- 형벌제도 (Penal System)[5:30]
Jin Su-Myung talks about the punishment systems of the era. He talks about what kind of sentence was given to people who broke martial law rules. A suspect accused of breaking the law would get three trials before getting convicted. There were six kinds of punishment: 태형 (whipping) for small crimes, 장형 (flogging) for bigger crimes, 도형 (penal servitude) involving from 1 to 3 years of forced labor, 유형 (exile) to a place the convict would never be able to come back unless pardoned by the King (or if an Amnesty was issued), 사수 (Shooting) if convicted of capital sentence, and finally 삼복 (Burning Alive) for the worst deliberate acts of cruelty. Then, the five different murders in the film are analyzed, and they also talk about the chances of finding them in Joseon era-murders.
- 제지소 (Paper Mill) [7:32]
This is really fascinating. Kim Jae-Shik from Andong Hanji (the traditional Korean Paper) explains how paper was and is still made today (although in very few places). The various processes are shown, from gathering the bark of the mulberry tree, cutting young branches in late Autumn. The bark gets boiled, the external skin peeled off before being soaked in running water for half a day. After peeling, the white skin of the mulberry is revealed. The process continues bleaching the skin, picking out knots and buds by hand, and drying it exposed to sunlight. It's a very painstaking effort, done manually since the old days. Although nowadays the tradition is kept alive by a few people to preserve its cultural uniqueness, in the Joseon era the Hanji was used for its toughness (it was nearly impossible to rip or tear), the ease with which they could dye them, and their light weight.
Chapter 2: '혈의 누' 제작기 (Production Diary) - 240일 날씨와의 사투 (240 Days - Fighting with Weather) [22:46]
narration by Producer Kim Sung-Jae
You know better than I do that sometimes sitting through long Making Of Documentaries can be a chore. I still remember the painful length of the 2009 Lost Memories one, or the 3 hours of the one for the LE of The Classic. Of course nobody forced me to watch, but length doesn't always mean quality, which is why the 20 odd minutes of this Making Of could look nothing special at first glance. But the way producer Kim narrates the production diary, and the linear structure help things.
- 2004, May 6
It's the day of the costume fitting. Cha Seung-Won, Park Yong-Woo, Ji Sung and the others try out the costumes, the make up and props, and give ideas on how to improve their image. Prosthetics, several props needed for the film (including maps) are prepared. The open set for Donghwa Island is built, after a long location hunting period.
- 2004, June 27
The crank in, first day of shooting. After the traditional ceremony, the first scene is shot, involving Choi Jong-Won drinking the stinking water. The weather is really hot, with the actors taking off all they can as soon as their scene is over. It's three years since the film entered pre-production.
- 2004, July
Uncharacteristically, they're all back to pre-production, after the first days of photography. To get used to the period setting, Yoon Se-Ah, Park Yong-Woo and Cha Seung-Won get lessons on etiquette, posture (both sitting and eating movements). They took the opportunity to do rehearsal while practicing that, learning each other's rhythm in the process.
Cha and Park also get horse riding lessons, and Ji Sung took painting lessons.
- 2004, July 29
Back to the shoot, with the boat scene. Cha was a little tall for a man of the Joseon era, but the director used that to his advantage to create a sort of barrier between Won-Gyu and the villagers. Ji Sung spent the shoot asking just a few questions, remaining quiet and obedient most of the time. They prepared everything for the scene where the boat catches fire, but the weather wouldn't help them. Suddenly it started raining, ruining things. They had to wait for the weather to fit the initial image, so the shoot took even longer.
The hard work of the actors, the stuntmen, the CG and special effects team is shown with the five deaths of the film. Yoon Se-Ah is shown struggling as the informants run after her. It was a really hard time for her, as a beginner, running in the cold weather, falling, hitting rocks.
Another hard things for the actors was riding horses. Cha fell off twice, even hurting himself and needing time between takes. Cha had other horse scenes to shoot, so he had to continue anyway. They built a prop horse head (similar to the one Liv Tyler used in Lord of The Rings) for the closeup chase scene.
Even for the final scene, they had to struggle with weather, when a storm disrupted their shoot schedule, forcing them to waste a week shooting little by little every day.
The shoot finally finishes. To film those 5 days, it took 8 months of struggling with heat, rain, and even cold weather.
Chapter 3: 1808 조선, 연쇄 살인사건 (1808 Joseon, Serial Murder Case)
WARNING! MAJOR SPOILERS!
- Production [9:27]
Producer Kim Won-Jae talks about the script by Lee Won-Jae, which started as just '혈우' (Bloody Rain), and was set in a village where murders happened, which was what created the 'Joseon era Memories of Murder' buzz. But the moment Kim read the script, he fed some ideas into the project, like using an Island setting to better show their isolation from the Mainland, and the paper mill as their workplace. Director Kim wanted to create a sense of shame and greed with the Island setting. Even looking for locations, they couldn't go to the Korean Folk Village, so they had to find something that would match their atmosphere, more than the usual scope of Historical Dramas. They wanted a feeling of a place where people have lived for a long time.
As for casting, they needed actors with a different image for the roles of Won-Gyu and Inkwon. And again, as far as Inkwon and DooHoo go, they wanted to recreate a sense of similarity between the two. Since one of the two was the secret missing informer, the other the killer, they had to look like if you exchanged their roles, nothing much would change. Since Cha wanted to try this new challenge, they went with him, and found out he was perfect for the role while working with him. Kim is really thankful he was able to find such dedicated actors, ready to sacrifice so much and undergo such trouble to make a better film.
Director Kim didn't really have a general idea on how to shoot the horse chase, but Jung Doo-Hong took the ball and ran with it. Jung comments how it was really hard to shoot it, because there was little space to move, even for the truck with the camera. There were lots of trees, making tracking shots a pain in the ass, sometimes.
Shooting the gore scenes, they thought of using the murderer's point of view. Since the reason for the killings was revealed later, they thought of making the murders as slow and painful looking as possible (which should kill off any 'gratuitous gore' argument), staying with the victim longer than usual, as if someone was checking whether he really died or not.
In conclusion, Kim considered this a commercial film from the beginning, but paying attention to details a little more would have made it so much better, so they worked extra hard. All the actors and the staff members had it tremendously hard, hurt themselves, fell off horses, suffered the weather, but it was all worth it.
- Art [10:58]
The extremely talented Min Eon-Ok - who also worked with director Kim on Im Kwon-Taek's Chunhyang - introduces the concept of the Art Design. She thought of the colour in the film as unique. The island looks like a beautiful place, which turns ugly and mad all of a sudden, that's why she emphasized simple colors like red, green and blue. She shows and comments some stunning maps of the various locations. She wanted to create a strange, mysterious feeling with the Island. In creating the concept for In-Kwon, she wanted to convey a man living in his own world, different from his father. A man you could love, but also hate. She followed the drawings of old Joseon men by Rubens to find his image. As for So-Yeon, she wanted to give the feeling of someone who was about to die, using purple. For the village people, she wanted to create an image of people happy on the outside, but nervous inside, ready for something to happen. She used a tree branch-style for the Bloody Rain.
What follows is a commentary about designs. In creating the island, she drew many more images than she needed, to visualize in her head what those people were doing for a living, wanted to create a sense of being trapped inside the Island. She follows commenting other locations, like the Paper Mill, and the boat.
In conclusion, she thought taking this challenge of working on the film was both interesting and something really hard as a production designer. And working to help visualize the director's ideas is both the beauty and responsibility that her line of work creates.
- Costume [5:57]
Jung Kyung-Hee talks about the concept of the costumes, conveying the harshness of life. In creating the special clothes, they use small patterns around the neck, and had to increase size. As far as the single characters go, the focused on clothes that would help Won-Gyu's movement, with long and wide sleeves. For In-Kwon, they wanted to create a strong and beautiful image, so they emphasized green and purple tones. For Doo-Ho, khaki and dark green tones because of his darkness. The village people had two different colors: blue for the outsiders, shades of brown for the locals. They might all look the same, but some minor details were changed for each person. They talk a little about maintaining the costumes in perfect condition, and a few episodes on the sets (actors taking off all the costumes right after the cut, with all the assistants wiping sweat off their bodies with a towel.
- Make Up [5:05]
Director Kim didn't want to use base tones that would stand out, so focused on bright colors. For Won-Gyu, since Cha had a particularly strong skin tone, they tried to match his eyes first. In-Kwon was more focused on the skin tone, and putting focus on his eyes. Doo-Ho emphasized Ji Sung's strong image, a very masculine feeling. Cheon Ho-Jin's Commissioner Kang had a Jesus-like concept, with long hair. They also talk briefly about blood and its importance in this film, and close with a few episodes about the extras.
- Special Art [6:57]
They show all the work that went into recreating the prosthetics, and the various techniques to make the 5 murders realistic, focusing on realism over gore. They also show the dummy horse head, looking incredibly realistic. The level Korea has reached with prosthetics is impressive, especially if you compare it with 1999 (Tell Me Something, or Shiri would do).
- CG [6:01]
The most important concept for the CG effects was making them blend perfectly with the rest of the film, so that you'd have a hard time noticing them. They show an example of that, with subtle changes, like the rocks around the port when the boat first arrives, and various backgrounds added to the scenery (with the use of before/after split screens). They also show how they added dead fish after the fire, and how they made the Shaman's house look more dangerous. They show the fake albatross around the cliff, and the blue matte scene at the end with the murderer on the cliff. They showed the murder inside the dye tub, where they added smoke (of course the water was cold), but not so much to ruin the actor's performance. Finally, they showed the very elaborate 'limb tearing' scene, explaining how they combined CG and prosthetics with live action to make the final scene. Finally, they show the 'Day For Night' effect (sadly, the most evident use of CG in the film), shooting a scene during the day, and color grading to make it look like it was dawn.
Chapter 4: 인물 관계도 (Connection Between Characters)
This is a table showing the relationship between each character, and of course, the way it's positioned, it spoils the whole film, so be careful if you haven't seen it yet. Clicking on the character will launch an interview (for the main characters) or a video profile, so if you just click without looking too much you can just watch the interviews. Of course if you can't read Korean, there's no problem.
- 차승원 (Cha Seung-Won) [4:27]
Cha introduces his character, talking about the challenges of playing Won-Gyu and his selfishness. He had a hard time finding the tone to use, and of course the dialogue was the hardest part. He didn't really go in thinking of the conventions of the genre in approaching his character, but since most of his previous characters worked on facial expression alone, trying to convey that power buried inside the dialogue was really hard. He talked about his accident on the set, falling off a horse, hurting himself in the process. He closes describing the feeling of someone who's never killed, but who stops being rational losing out to primal emotions. He talks about how it's important to consider the image people have learned to like over the years, but used this film as a new challenge that would change his career.
- 박용우 (Park Yong-Woo) [5:13]
Introducing In-Kwon, Park talks about him as a cold and self-conscious character, one who has strong feelings inside him, but who would rather hide them. With that in mind, it was hard for him trying to convey any kind of feeling. He felt sorry about some of the deleted scenes (involving moments In-Kwon shares with So-Yeon), but he trusted the director's vision. If he were in In-Kwon's shoes, he would never act like that, and would try to calm down.
- 천호진 (Cheon Ho-Jin) [3:27]
There's a textual character introduction first, then Cheon talks about Commissioner Kang. The first time they approached him with the role, he said it was too much for him. But reading the script, this new thriller set in the Joseon period could be a challenge for him. About the murder, he comments how cruel it was, how long they spent to make special make-up and prosthetics, but they really did a marvelous job, especially compared to what he was used to in older films. So he just went along, and trusted them.
- 윤세아 (Yoon Se-Ah) [2:05]
She introduces her character, the daughter of Commissioner Kang. The moment she won the audition, she felt great, and a greed to do better came out. Having to play a Joseon woman, she had to learn etiquette, posture, how to sit down, and more. She was a really feminine and tragic character, so no scene was easy for her. All she did is try to work hard, to let the beauty of the character emerge.
- 최지나 (Choi Ji-Na) [3:20]
Text introduction first. She talks about her character, being a mudang (shaman). More than following the conventions of the Mudang, they upgraded her character a little, making her more in tune with people's psychological state of mind. For that reason, she needed a lot of 기 (Energy) in the film. They practiced a lot, but since it was such a new challenge for her, she was constantly nervous and rarely talked on the set. As for her relationship with Won-Gyu, they even had 'melodrama' scenes between each other, but were taken out. She just worked hard, and even if she didn't appear on many scenes, tried her best.
- 최종원 (Choi Jong-Won) [2:42]
He introduced his character, as the investigation leader. It was a really fun character, but shooting was hard, especially because it took so long. He talked about the shooting on the boat, which took 9 hours, and other things. All in all, a difficult, but very rewarding and interesting role.
- 오현경 (Oh Hyun-Kyung) [1:35]
This is just clips of the shooting involving Oh. It's probably because he alternates between L.A. and Korea, needing the warmer weather for his health (which is getting a little better compared to the late 90s, but is still a problem).
- 최동준 (Choi Dong-Joon) [1:31]
Again clips only, plus a textual character introduction. He plays Won-Gyu's father in the film.
- 박충선 (Park Chung-Seon) [3:07]
He tried to find the tone of the character reading the script, more than everything else. It's a character with no particular ability, or possession. It was really hard shooting the chase scene, because they shot the entire night. The hardest thing though was standing still while they were preparing for the dummy prosthetics. But since the result was excellent, he was satisfied.
- 장규수 (Jang Gyu-Soo) [1:54]
He was one of the assistants of Won-Gyu. Someone who was only deceptively a good person, who acted the other way in the background. The death scene, since it was upside down, was really hard. Blood was getting to his head, he couldn't see anything. But if they kept doing NGs, they'd have to do it all again, so he tried to calm down and do it all in once. When going down, moving inside the liquid, he felt like dying in there. It was really hard.
- 유해진 (Yoo Hae-Jin) [2:30]
He's one of the informants, he's someone who thinks a lot about himself. They thought a long time how to approach his death (strangled with paper). They had a lot of NGs, so they shot for a long time that simple scene. He, too, describes the feeling of getting the dummy prosthetics made, having to wait a few minutes having a hard time breathing, afraid of being trapped. Some people even have a hard time accepting that feeling. It was really a scary feeling.
- 박철민 (Park Cheol-Min) [2:47]
A cruel and selfish person, even ignorant. He talks about the slapping scene, which went well the first time, then he wasn't able to repeat it effectively. He describes his death scene, a really cruel and complicated one.
- 지성 (Ji Sung) [4:50]
Doo-Ho was a good person, but after So-Yeon's accident he started having problems with Commissioner Kang, so rarely talked. This absence of dialogue, the need to express emotions without talking, was the difficult part about the character. He went to a painting 학원 (Academy) to get at least a feel of how to use the paintbrush, because he wasn't really good at painting. Only two scenes involved painting (the investigation, and at the beach), but he felt confident and proud about his work there. The scene in the paper mill was really dangerous, all he had separating him from a painful fall was the stuntmen holding him. Reading the script, he loved In-Kwon as a character, so he asked who was playing him, and he would have liked to play him if possible. The role went to Park Yong-Woo (thankfully!), so he was a little envious. This was an important film for him, and for all the people who worked hard on it, so he feels happy it turned out well.
Chapter 5: '혈의 누' 정신분석적 해석 ('Blood Rain' Psychoanalytical Interpretation) [4:53]
WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS!
Doctor Ha Jin-Hyun introduces the various psychological complexes at play in the film. First is Oedipus' Complex: this is not a film where mothers are a factor. Three relationships point out to this complex: In-Kwon and Won-Gyu's one with their fathers, and Doo-Ho with Commissioner Kang. Won-Gyu especially buries the hostility and desire to compete with his father at the end, showing the same flaws as he did. Second is 심허로 (Shimheoro, roughly translated 'Weakness of Heart'), which is an important part of the film. In short, it's a phobia, the likes of which we find in today's society: stage fright, vertigo... that kind of fear. Third is that collective state of mind at the end. When things people cannot explain happen, rather than trying to rationalize them, they become hysteric, they can't stand it. That's why they do things normal people would never do. He gives a few famous examples of this complex before the clip ends. Quite interesting.
Chapter 6: 직금도 (Jikgeumdo) [3:30]
The 'Jikgeumdo' of the title was a tradition back then, of wives who sent their man away to write a sort of love letter in silk. Art Director Min Eon-Ok shows the one used in the film, and explains what was written on it. There's a deleted scene where Won-Gyu finds the clues within the letter using a Talisman to uncover it.
Chapter 7: 사라진 단서들 (Disappearing Traces) [13:26]
WARNING! MAJOR SPOILERS! Spoils who the murderer is, but also explains the end
Right after the eating scene with Won-Gyu, Inspector Choi and In-Kwon. The two go out the day after, and talk about the paper mill. Won-Gyu asks In-Kwon why he's managing the mill while his father was the owner, he responds that he's taking care of it in his place. Won-Gyu mentions strange happenings at the mill, and In-Kwon all points to the Shaman. Before parting, Won-Gyu makes a crack about the fire on the boat, but the way In-Kwon answers makes him suspicious.
The director said they took this scene off simply because it was unnecessary exposition. To make the other scenes involving Shimheoro more effective, they took this off. At the end though, In-Kwon finally gives away he suffers from ShimHeoRo with that comment, leading Won-Gyu to believe later that he might be the culprit. Perhaps in that sense, even if it was expository, they could have used it.
After he's done asking people about the fire, Won-Gyu reports to his superior (while he's eating). He brings up the idea of setting up a 'rabbit'-like trap to find the suspect, but the superior isn't convinced. This ties to the scene where one of the informants goes to see the prisoner.
Since the preliminary investigation was over, the superior wanted to go home fast, since the atmosphere in the island was strange. But for two reasons Won-Gyu wanted to stay and continue investigating: first, because he didn't want to be replaced by someone else later (go back to the investigating methods featurette for this; second, because traces of his past were starting to re-emerge, he wanted to get to the end of this. Since it was more exposition and they talk about it later, Kim decided to take this scene off.
In-Kwon receives his gayageum from a servant, while Doo-Ho is hiding in ambush. Taking the chance while In-Kwon sends the servant on an errand, he enters the room. Connected to his murder attempt scene.
The director commented that this scene is more about In-Kwon testing Doo-Hoo's knowledge, if he came to the conclusion he was the murdered, that's why he sends the servant away. Kim thought it was too early to uncover the truth, so they just used a small part of it.
Won-Gyu is right out of the Mudang's house, with the camera from behind. He sips a drink, and his aid comes. Won-Gyu asks if the boat was ready, then his aid apologizes. Before going home, Won-Gyu wants to deal with something. His aid asks if it's about Commissioner Kang. Connects with the old man trying to kill himself.
Kim comments that the writer of the TV Drama '다모' ('Damo') gave him the idea for this scene. After Won-Gyu finds out it was all because of his father, he realizes he can't really do anything about this case, but before leaving he wants to pay his last respects to Kang. That's when what happens later puts him back on the investigation. He thought it was a nice scene, but it kind of slowed down the tempo a bit, it was a little too long, so they took it off.
So-Yeon and In-Kwon are sitting on their bedroom, he plays gayageum, she talks about animals and the sea, but he doesn't pay attention. She asks him why isn't he listening to her, then complains that she's tired of seeing and doing the same things every day; that she wants to see the sea riding a boat with him. They kiss, and she shows him a painting.
This scene showed that the love between In-Kwon and So-Yeon wasn't only on a psychological level, but had a depth. So-Yeon feels stuffy always confined in the Island, but because of In-Kwon's Shimheoro for the sea, he obviously cannot leave. So he pretends to ignore her. Later, when she shows him the pictures, it's actually a picture of the sea, which So-Yeon uses as a kind of photography to show In-Kwon what he can't see with his eyes, because of his ilness. This was probably the hardest scene to take off for Kim, because it showed them at their happiest moment, but again they risked of compromising the tempo of the film. And I might add, since Yoon Se-Ah's acting wasn't exactly up to par, it also would have somewhat ruined the image of the woman you could do everything for. She just looked like an annoying teenager in there.
In-Kwon carries a dead So-Yeon on his back, and they go to the paper mill. While putting her on a table he starts to get angry.
This was right after it was revealed In-Kwon was the killer. He brings her to the paper mill to sort of give Commissioner Kang his daughter back. But since they had the other scene where the two part at night, it was unnecessary to use them both.
This is the final scene at the paper mill. The flashback continues with Kang looking at the workers, In-Kwon and So-Yeon are shown in the background, the two men bow, and Kang nods. The flashback moves to In-Kwon and So-Yeon leaving on a boat, ending with Won-Gyu looking at them as the flashback fades out, moving into the finale. This
explains why he threw the silk letter in the sea, to give them peace, let them fulfill their promise at the end.
Kim basically explains the end. Won-Gyu imagines the entire flashback, of those people who will now live happily without him on the Island, of In-Kwon and So-Yeon leaving to stay together, that's why he throws the letter in the sea. It's not a real flashback, but something his conscience created. That's the moment he finally deals with his guilt, and even the wound stops bleeding. He only used the last part because he didn't like the image of the two leaving on a boat.
Chapter 8: 영화에서 못다한 이야기 (Neverending Story in The Film) [10:00]
2005/6/4 at Moon Studio - Video Commentary by Ji Sung, Cha Seung-Won and Park Yong-Woo
This is a nice little video commentary with the three joking and commenting some of the most important scenes. Most of the things they say were covered before, but it's an enjoyable little featurette, with Cha cracking jokes all the time. Nothing really necessary, but it's nice to have things like this on a DVD.
Chapter 9: Promotion
- 본 예고편 (Theatrical Trailer) [1:56]
Really good, conveys the power of the film in a nice way. Of course, as always, too many spoilers. Nice use of Rachmaninoff here.
- 티저 예고편 (Teaser Trailer) [1:22]
This gives away the more genre-specifics elements of the film, so in a commercial sense, it's probably more effective. Still, I didn't like it too much.
- TV Spot [0:32]
Quick, to the point, making its qualities stand out. Excellent.
Usually booklets are throwaway crap, but this one is really good. Explains the story of the film, the difficult language, the period setting, introduces the actors and crew. Excellent stuff.
That time when genre conventions don't make the difference, while at the same time not being completely disregarded... that's when I really enjoy genre Cinema. The power of the scenes, the impact of the ensemble acting, the superb technical achievements, those are the hallmarks of a good film. Comparing it to 'Memories of Murder' might stand on a pure structural basis (the stories are vaguely similar), but it'd be too cruel to expect this film, or any Korean film of this genre made in the last 2 years really, to live up to that kind of expectations. But I enjoyed Blood Rain on many levels, even though I expected something completely different. Bury all your expectations and preconceptions about the genre, how they approach it on Korean TV and past Korean Historical Dramas on the big screen. Just enter this experience expecting to be entertained, and I'm pretty sure you'll be satisfied. The film might show a few false steps, but you shouldn't fail it for not living up to expectations it never planned to fulfill from the beginning. Think 'energy' more than 'history'; think 'acting' more than 'dialogue.' Think 'adrenaline' more than 'action' or 'gore.' That'll make your viewing experience a little more fulfilling.
As for the DVD, it's a predictably excellent one. Although the quality of the extras varies, from the exceptional (the first few featurettes) to the predictable (all the deleted scene and what you have), overall the content is extremely solid. Good presentation too, so there's no reason to miss this release.