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Gah! "Shiri": what was I thinking??

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Phil Florian, Jan 6, 2003.

  1. Phil Florian

    Phil Florian Screenwriter

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    Howdy,
    I really was pumped to see Shiri , the well hyped Korean import spy/action/drama. It was lauded as being a first in Korea to directly address some of the issues of a split nation in such a format. It was lauded as having high production values. Lastly, it was lauded as being a movie in the "old school" of Hong Kong style filmmaking with over-the-top stunts/action. Ugh. I was sorely disappointed. Sure, it was neat to see an Asian film from a new country with a new perspective. True, it was also good to see if from a new quarter, since many of the cool HK filmmakers (of "my" generation...Hark, Woo, Lam, etc.) seemed to have run out before the 96 return of HK to China (or was it 97? Ah! My history!). But man, it was tepid in the sense of an action film. I was expecting at least grandiose spectacles of many HK films but what I saw was the simple "I shoot from behind a barrel/enemy shoots back from behind another barrel" type of shoot-em-up that Leslie Nielsen's "Police Squad" made fun of so well.

    I did like the story but it was pretty contrived (and easy to see through) but while this can be said of many HK films, they easily make up for it with creative flourishes in the way it is shot or the fact that they completely throw out logical narrative for the sake of a fun film. This just wasn't it. Maybe I had my expectation meter up way to high and should have found a way to rent it (dang...haven't done that in soooo long) but it was sad. Should I try again? Am I missing something?

    I also bought sight unseen "Time and Tide" which I am told marks Tsui Hark's return to HK (making me hopefully forget his regrettable US forays...Double Team, anyone? (shudder)). I am thinking this is more akin to what I am looking for, but man!


    Phil
     
  2. ernie.bin

    ernie.bin Stunt Coordinator

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    I bought this movie after reading two very good reviews on it, and was horrified by it.

    The cops (swat team included) pull the most ridiculous and stupid moves, as does everybody in the movie really. I was really hoping to enjoy it, and while I'm usually able to suspend disbelief (I'm fine with bond movies), I almost started shouting at the screen, "Why are you so stupid?".

    Cops running blindy into gunfire isn't good action. It's just dumb. This is one of the very few movies I wish I hadn't bought. The other one is Star Wars Ep II.


    Why did the truck carrying the secret super mega ultra weapon stop at an unauthorized roadblock?

    Why would one of the main agents choose to confront a very deadly enemy agent by himself behind closed doors?

    Why did a swat team member try to hide from bullets behind a glass aquarium?
     
  3. Richard Kim

    Richard Kim Producer

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    Shiri was okay. I wasn't particularly fond of the frequent use of the "shaky cam" which make most of the action scenes incomprehensible.

    As for the plot, yeah, it is contrived and hamfisted, but I saw the love story as a metaphor for the turbulent relationship between North and South Korea(for example, the fish that dies if its partner dies, the soccer match which was supposed to facilitate reunification). This is probably one of the reasons it beat Titanic in the box office in South Korea.
     
  4. Phil Florian

    Phil Florian Screenwriter

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    Yah, good point. The "highly trained" SWAT team looked like newbies at a paintball game. I am wondering what the hype was, I guess, beyond the rough hewn symbolism (needed, especially in these times, though). I would rather have watched a powerful and complex love story without the "action movie" subtext vs. a ham-handed attempt at action with little in the way of an engaging love story. Oh well. Win some, lose some. If there are other good Korean flicks that might make me win back some of the love, though, please let me know! [​IMG]
    Phil
     
  5. ernie.bin

    ernie.bin Stunt Coordinator

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    JSA and 2009 Lost Memories were better movies IMO. Lost Memories had some good action sequences without becoming too stupid, and an interesting story.

    JSA isn't very action oriented, but told a good story of north and south korean relations.

    My favourite korean movie is Volcano High or Whasango. Very funny, with some cool fight scenes.
     
  6. Peter Kim

    Peter Kim Screenwriter

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    I was fooled too. I forced myself to watch the entire film and later wondered, why? An awful film.

    I can appreciate effort, but the execution and story were so over-the-top.

    Nevertheless, I recall being impressed by the quality of the transfer.

    The renaissance in Korean filmmaking has a long way to go. However, despite Japan and Hong Kong's cinema pedigree, it appears that Korean movies are currently the hot ticket in Asia.
     
  7. ernie.bin

    ernie.bin Stunt Coordinator

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    almost forgot the film Nabi (the butterfly). A beautiful semi sci-fi movie about a virus that wipes one's memories. Tells a great story about identity, both finding it and losing it.
     
  8. Randy Korstick

    Randy Korstick Producer

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    I was dissapointed in this film too after reading so much hype about it. I love Hong Kong films and was expecting alot from this but was very bored by it. I'm sorry I bought it also. I did enjoy Time and Tide. I actually enjoyed alot of the post 96 Hong Kong films more than Shiri.
     
  9. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    Perhaps this should be in Movies (would be interested to hear some of the HK regulars on this topic).

    I found it to be pretty entertaining. The plot was fairly clear, but I think some of the symbolism worked well.

    The action wasn't totally spectacular, but I think it was better in my eyes than some have made it out to be. They offer up tons of people to be cannon fodder, but there were some good sequences.
     
  10. Donnie Eldridge

    Donnie Eldridge Supporting Actor

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    Count me as one who liked it. Could it have been better? Yes, but we can say that about just about every movie. It was a blockbuster for a KOREAN action movie. I think people tend to forget that.
     
  11. Randy Korstick

    Randy Korstick Producer

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    Quote:
    --It was a blockbuster for a KOREAN action movie. I think people tend to forget that. ---


    I didn't forget that and it was exactly why I was expecting alot more from the action scenes. Maybe Hong Kong movies are for me but Korean ones aren't. Shiri is the only Korean movie that my wife and I have seen so far and it left a bad taste in our mouths.
     
  12. JohnAD

    JohnAD Cinematographer

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    I have to say that I liked Shiri as well. Lots of action, and the story was pretty good, IMHO. It certainly wasn't Shakespeare, or Kurosawa, but then again, it didn't try to be, either.
    John.
     
  13. Jeff Wilson

    Jeff Wilson Stunt Coordinator

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    I find it a bit silly that people are condemning Korean cinema outright because of one movie that disappointed them. Granted, Shiri is no masterpiece, but Korean cinema does not begin and end with this film. I'd encourage anyone interested to dig further into Korean cinema, as there are quite a few fine films among their output, certainly more (in my opinion) good films than have been made in HK recently. I would imagine there's a thread somewhere here at HTF that has plenty of recommendations to offer; my own would be Volcano High (a manga come to life), Kick the Moon, The Foul King, Joint Security Area, Chunhyang, Musa, Christmas in August, and My Sassy Girl, to name a few. Some of these are only available on R3 discs, though, so region-free capability is necessary. Also, Korean discs are usually of much better quality than their HK counterparts.
     
  14. Donnie Eldridge

    Donnie Eldridge Supporting Actor

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  15. Tim RH

    Tim RH Second Unit

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    What I find odd is that most of the detractors of SHIRI seem to be comparing the film to Hong Kong action movies, which isn't what the film was going for. In fact, they were trying to imitate Hollywood action blockbusters, but with a Korean twist, which is what I think they achieved quite successfully. I'd say that SHIRI is at least as good as (and probably better than) most of the dumb action flicks that get churned out of the US film industry every year.
    So please look at it from that perspective from now on, if you could? Thanks. [​IMG]
     
  16. Paul-Gunther

    Paul-Gunther Stunt Coordinator

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    I rather liked it. I wasn't expecting much, as I knew it was the first big budget action movie Korea had put on the market. I liked the plot and the characters, and got caught up with the love story.
     
  17. Jason Hennigan

    Jason Hennigan Stunt Coordinator

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    Jason Hennigan
    Chalk me up as another person who liked the film. It wasn't great, but I've seen MUCH worse.

    If you were going in expecting "Hard Boiled" or "The Killer," I'm sure that you would come away disappointed.

    When I picked this film up, it was my first experience with Korean cinema, and I thought that it was a good Hollywood action film clone.
     
  18. Brajesh Upadhyay

    Brajesh Upadhyay Supporting Actor

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    I'll second what Jeff said above on Korean movies. "Christmas in August" is very good. I'm halfway through "My Sassy Girl" & so far pretty good. I've read Dreamworks has bought the rights to do an American remake of this movie. "Il Mare" was okay. I expected better. Same goes for "Failan", which people at dvdtalk.com recommended, but I didn't like. I plan to check out "JSA" & "My Wife is a Gangster" soon. Re: "Shiri", it isn't perfect, but I thought it was a pretty good movie.
     
  19. Phil Florian

    Phil Florian Screenwriter

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    I guess I went in expecting a cross between James Bond and a John Woo flick and got neither. I expected that because the buzz on it made it sound that way. I usually don't have the highest expectations for sight-unseen films (especially with the hit-or-miss HK ouevre) but this one had so much hype going into it, I couldn't help it. I think someone found the reason why it didn't work for me...it was a clone of a Hollywood action film and I hate Hollywood action films! That must be it! HK action cinema ruined most Hollywood actions films (though they have been adopting many stylings of HK in the last few years) for me. Repetetive and trite and, like most Hollywood fare, they have to shoehorn a romance in even when there doesn't need to be one. In Shiri's case, though, I would have been more impressed with a "cross the DMZ" romance without the "spy/thriller" bit. More of a "West Side Story"-esque take on it. If there needs to be violence, let it come out of the cultural conflict and not some super-police-force type arrangement. I guess it tried to be both political and trite and leaned heavily on the trite but with enough political to be disappointed.

    I will definitely keep an eye out for the other stuff mentioned. I have a local anime/HK rental store but they haven't expanded into much of the other asian cinema. Here is hoping they do!

    Ciao,

    Phil
     

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