야수 (Running Wild) Press Screening Report

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Although Film Noir has a long tradition in other film industries, people in Chungmuro never really felt comfortable with the genre. It's not that noir films were never made, but they had a hard time catching the public's attention, perhaps because the influences from Hollywood and Hong Kong were too strong to ignore. A lot of films used certain elements of the genre, like Lee Myung-Se's 인정사정 볼 것 없다 (Nowhere To Hide), or even Kwak Kyung-Taek's 친구 (Friend), to move their narrative or visuals forward; some just took the core of what made those Hong Kong or Hollywood films successful, and tried to adapt it to a Korean setting, mostly resulting in failure. Some of them, like Ryu Seung-Wan's early films, extrapolated certain elements of the genre to create something entirely new.

But full fledged Korean noir with a clear and distinctive identity were hard to find, like the rare gem 게임의 법칙 (Rules of The Game) by Jang Hyun-Soo, one of the few salvageable noirs from the 90s. But, in a way, Kim Jee-woon's 달콤한 인생 (A Bittersweet Life) changed the cards, offering the kind of verve and style rarely found in Korean films of the genre, but most importantly combining all the elements which make a film noir work into a cohesive unit. Stylish down the smallest details, in love with its rhythm and flair, the film rejuvenated a moribund genre all in one shot. It wasn't a major commercial success, but its accolades showed the industry film noir could be made effectively in Korea.

Several noir films are under-production and/or planning at the moment: director Choi Ho's return to the big screen in 사생결단 (死生決斷, Bloody Tie) will pair off Hwang Jung-Min and Ryu Seung-Beom in what looks like one of the most interesting films of the year; Lee Jung-Beom's 열혈남아 (Hot Blooded Boy) [Ironically, the same Korean title as 熱血男兒 (As Tears Go By) by Wong Kar-Wai] starring Seol Kyung-Gu and Jo Han-Seon is another; and Yoo Ha's 비열한 거리 (Mean Streets), with idol star Jo In-Sung transforming into a third rate gangster, are just a few of the many noir films we'll see in 2006.

But the first of the season, Kim Sung-Soo's 야수 (Running Wild) is finally ready to meet audiences, after avoiding the big fight between blockbusters last Christmas (which was a smart move, all considered). Another tentative by Kwon Sang-Woo to distance himself from the image of pretty boy he has created over the years -- mostly with his syrupy TV Dramas, like the agonizingly bad 천국의 계단 (Stairways To Heaven) -- 'Running Wild' is the debut film of director Kim, not to be confused with the Kim Sung-Soo of 무사 (Musa: The Warrior) nor the actor of 분홍신 (The Red Shoes). He worked as assistant director for many films since the early 90s, most notable Park Chan-Wook's 1997 black comedy 3인조 (Trio).

The 10 Billion Won film had its press screening at the Megabox in Samsung-Dong. Present at the Premiere the director and stars Yoo Ji-Tae, Kwon Sang-Woo and Son Byung-Ho. 'Running Wild' debuts in theaters on January 13.

Press Reaction

Reaction was generally good, with a few exceptions. Most people said this is basically a rather 'safe' commercial film, but the ending is quite unconventional, the action is quite good, and especially the acting [with Son Byung-Ho on top, surprise surprise] adds several points to the film. On the other hand, the continued excess of sentiment as a whole might both become burdensome for the viewers, and give the film an 'old' feeling, reminding of the kind of Hong Kong noir films which were extremely popular in Korea during the 80s. But one thing's for sure, this is a very intense and powerful film, even if the story might be a little too simple. Lee Sang-Yong probably sums it best: the 2 hours running time won't bore you, but it's won't be a very fast ride either. As for box office, despite the 18 and Over rating, most seem to think the star power and the popularity of the genre should be enough to grant the film a good box office run. It debuts a week before Andrew Lau's 데이지 (Daisy), but we'll have to see which one commands the attention of the public, as both feature big stars.

Interview & Comments

DIRECTOR KIM SUNG-SOO
"I wanted to show how people change while being slowly torn apart by failure. You may call it an action noir, but 'Running Wild' is a film about violence, more than simple action. When your beliefs and principles are lost, all you're left with is violence, it's the only thing you can use to deal with things. That's what I wanted to convey, how all the characters, from Yoo Gang-Jin (Son Byung-Ho) and Jang Do-Hyung (Kwon Sang-Woo) to Oh Jin-Woo (Yoo Ji-Tae) show different sides of their personality depending on the situation, and the inevitably ambiguous nature of men. It might be a 'macho' film and make some female critics a little uncomfortable, but I wanted to show all the foolishness, ambiguity and contradictions buried within the characters' machismo. The character of Yoo Gang-Jin has actually a real life model, a gangster boss who made an u-turn in his life, doing missionary work and finding redemption. Frankly I was a little shocked the film was rated 18, I wanted to show it to all of Yoo Ji-Tae and Kwon Sang-Woo's young fans. It's not really about box office, it's just that I don't see the point in only showing the bright side of our society to minors, shouldn't they also see there's a darker side, and learn to avoid it? If anything positive comes out of this film, it's all because of the actors and the great staff. And, if anything went wrong, that's just my responsibility."

KWON SANG-WOO
"I choose this film just because of the last scene, when three characters become 'beasts' [Korean title means 'beast'] and everything falls apart, I could feel its beauty just reading the script. Viewers might feel a certain sense of nihilism in that last scene, but there's also a very deep feeling hidden behind their actions, and I'm confident they'll be able to sense it. I gave all I had to shoot this film, working as hard as I could. As for the 18 and Over rating, I'll give you a 'Kwon Sang-Woo style' reply: you kind of feel the need to rate a film like this 18, 친구 (Friend) was rated the same... (laughs)"

YOO JI-TAE
"I think everyone has a beast-like nature inside them, and especially actors carry that. Even doing a press screening like this is a chance to show that inner nature. Whether you're on stage or shooting a film, you always carry the desire and power of a beast, two things that walk hand in hand until you've finally made your dreams come true. I don't really think the rating the film received has any importance, and on the contrary I think the fact this film will now be evaluated simply on its quality [opposed to its box office potential, if the rating was lower] is even better."

SON BYUNG-HO
"Even if I might feel a little sad about certain things, as a whole I really liked the film, especially for showing in that last scene how people pushed to the limit by something or someone can react. I think everyone can become a beast, the difference is whether you can calm down and find another solution or not. Personally I think of myself as a beast, too (laughs)."

Quick Judgment

Cinetizen's Kim Geon-Woo
Film Quality: AVERAGE
Box Office Potential: GOOD

Movieweek's Kim Soo-Yeon
Film Quality: GOOD
Box Office Potential: GOOD

Screen's Park Hye-Eun
Film Quality: GOOD
Box Office Potential: GOOD

Premiere's Shim Soo-Jin
Film Quality: GOOD
Box Office Potential: GOOD

Hanguk Economy's Yoo Jae-Hyuk
Film Quality: AVERAGE
Box Office Potential: GOOD

Herald Economy's Lee Hyung-Seok
Film Quality: GOOD
Box Office Potential: GOOD

Sports World's Hong Dong-Hee
Film Quality: AVERAGE
Box Office Potential: GOOD

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야수 (Running Wild)
Director: 김성수 (Kim Sung-Soo)
Cast: 권상우 (Kwon Sang-Woo), 유지태 (Yoo Ji-Tae), 엄지원 (Eom Ji-Won), 손병호 (Son Byung-Ho)
Official Website
Theatrical Trailer (Streaming, 700k, Windows Media)
Theatrical Trailer (Streaming, 300k, ASF)

Theatrical Trailer (Streaming, Real Media)
Teaser Trailer (Streaming, 300k, Windows Media)
Teaser Trailer (Streaming, Real Media)
TV Spot (Streaming, 300k, Windows Media)
Music Video (Streaming, 700k, Windows Media) [Hwisung]
Movie Stills/Posters
Produced By: 팝콘필름 (Popcorn Films)
Distributed By: 쇼박스㈜미디어플렉스 (Showbox)
Rating: 18 and Over
RELEASE: January 13

[Sources: Film2.0, nKino, Star News 1, Star News 2, Star News 3, Yahoo Korea]

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