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One Armed Boxer

Han Gong-Ju (2014)

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Lee Su-jin's debut, 'Han Gong-Ju', in which he serves as director, script writer, and producer, claimed a heap of awards during its festival run last year, as well as receiving praise from the likes of Martin Scorsese.

Having watched it just recently, it's safe to say that it's a very powerful piece of film-making, which becomes deeply harrowing very quickly, and doesn't offer any happy endings. While it would be easy to accuse Su-jin of making a remarkably nihilistic debut, the fact that the events in the movie are based on a true story elevate it to something more than just a standard piece of cinema, instead serving as a mirror to reflect the heartbreak of how Korean society often still treats victims of certain crimes.

Actress Cheon Woo-hee is outstanding in the title role of Han Gong-ju, and as the movie opens we are introduced to her being transferred to another school. The narrative structure plays with the timelines of what's on screen throughout the movie, often juxtaposing Woo-hee's emotional outbursts which seem to come with no explanation, with a flashback that feeds us just enough information to understand she's come from a very dark place. By the time events are fully revealed, the full horror of the past is hard to comprehend, and makes for an emotionally exhaustive viewing experience.

All in all 'Han Gong-Ju' is that unique movie which is amazingly crafted and put together, not to mention the outstanding performances from everyone involved, yet somehow it remains difficult to recommend simply based on the fact it's such a tragic tale.

Both the Korean DVD & Blu-ray also come with director Lee Su-jin's short film 'Enemy's Apple', which is much lighter in tone. During a rally which see's police and protestors clashing, one of the protestors and a rookie cop dressed in riot gear are separated from the crowd, trapped in a dead-end alley. The police man just wants to get his helmet back, which somehow the protestor has got a hold off and keeps it dangling over an open manhole, and the protestor just wants to re-join the rally, but the police man is blocking his way.

The film is entirely set in the alley, with just the 2 characters trying to negotiate with each other, and it's a humorous piece which delivers its message effectively during its short run-time.

'Han Gong-Ju' will be getting a UK Blu-ray release by the always reliable Third Window Films on April 13th.

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Interesting movie with an uncomfortable subject Korea needs to deal with. This movie was based on a real incident.

***SPOILER*** Highlight to see.

Victims rights in Korea is foreign concept. Up until a couple years ago rapists were let go if the claimed being drunk during the crime.

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Hey yojimbo, I've edited your post to include a spoiler warning.

Moving forward if you include details of any major plot points, events that take place in a movie etc., please add the spoiler warning so that people who haven't seen the movie can still enjoy it not knowing what all the details are. Thanks!

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