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Secret Executioner

Hill of Freedom (South Korea, 2014) - Hong Sang-soo movie

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The latest effort by Korean director Hong Sang-soo deals with a Japanese guy who comes to Korea to visit a girl who means a lot to him. During his stay, he writes a bunch of letters and gets them delivered to her since they couldn't meet. However, the woman trips in the stairs after being given said letters and all the letters are scattered, so her reading of them doesn't reflect the chronology of the events.

 

The narrative, as the summary suggests, is very deconstructed, but it shows a brilliant part of Hong Sang-soo's film making: the little scenes that make up a movie of his can be put in a random order. The Day He Arrives seemed to start going backwards about halfway thru (and the movie could play in a loop and make perfect sense since the ending could well lead to what happens in the beginning of the movie) and Our Sunhi seemed at points to show different continuities occuring (with characters acknowledging having heard a recurring musical theme but not remembering where) - on a sidenote, these two are IMO much better films. Here, we have a chronological puzzle with events being referred to and being shown later (like the rescuing of the dog that's alluded to a few times before we actually see it happening) or even events shown backwards (the lead talks to a man throughout the picture and towards the end, we see him meet this man)
A strange element is that the movie is essentially in English due to the lead character being a non-Korean speaking guy. And it feels a bit strange hearing these Korean people talk English, though there's a good chunk of scenes with dialogue in Korean.

Finally, a funny thing I did while watching the movie was spotting the Hong Sang-soo tropes. Like:
- a character (a stranger or someone returning after a long time) shows up somewhere and meet various people
- the movie taking place in a couple of locations (here you essentially have the inn where the main character says and the titular bar - the movie's title is explained by a character who mentions said bar and explains that its (naturally) Korean name means "Hill of freedom")
- an exploration of relations between people (a maid at the Hill of freedom seems to get a soft spot for our leader as she treats him much better and more kindly than another customer)
- scenes involving people drinking alcohol (and at least one character getting drunk)
- sentences being repeated several times (not as obvious as in Our Sunhi though)

Actually, even the summary for the French release (dealing with the Japanese guy showing up and meeting other characters) feels a lot like a Hong Sang-soo movie and I'd have gone "sounds like a Hong Sang-soo movie" if I hadn't known it was actually one.

 

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The Korean DVD has a quite nice package though.

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Great review.  Hong Sang-soo is one of the few directors who I own every movie he's been involved in.  Personal favorites would probably be 'The Day He Arrives', 'Tale of Cinema', and 'On the Occasion of Remembering the Turning Gate'.

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I really liked The Day he arrives, it was the first film of his I saw.

Since I haven't been able to find any of his movies on DVD (in local stores that is, I could easily have purchased them from yesasia - something I'm considering doing seeing how great the Korean DVD releases look), the only ones I saw were the ones I could see in theaters - The Day he arrives, Our Sunhi (my personal favorite - I'll probably write a review for this one too) and Hill of Freedom. I skipped In another Country back at the time, but now I wish I had checked it out.

 

The title of one of your favorites reminds me of another of his tropes that is downplayed (if even present) in Hill of Freedom - characters that are linked to cinema, either being people from the industry or simply teachers and students in that field.

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I really liked The Day he arrives, it was the first film of his I saw.

Since I haven't been able to find any of his movies on DVD (in local stores that is, I could easily have purchased them from yesasia - something I'm considering doing seeing how great the Korean DVD releases look), the only ones I saw were the ones I could see in theaters - The Day he arrives, Our Sunhi (my personal favorite - I'll probably write a review for this one too) and Hill of Freedom.

'The Day he Arrives' was also my first Hong Sang-soo title, saw it back when it was released in 2011.

 

I have the Korean DVD's of all of his movies, with the exception of 'Woman on the Beach' (Region 1 US version), and wouldn't hesitate to purchase them. -

 

 

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Cheers SE (I still keep on going to type GHW!)....a few of the titles that I had to back fill really burnt a whole in my pocket, but definitely worth it!

 

If you're looking to pick up his other titles now, there's a pretty nice looking Blu-ray box set which contains - 

 

The Day a Pig Fell into the Well 
The Power of Kangwon Province 
The Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Barchelor 
On the Occasion of Remembering the Turning Gate 
Woman is the Future of Man 
Day and Night

 

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& 'In Another Country' and 'Nobody's Daughter Haewon' can also be picked up as a set - 

 

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If you're looking to pick up his other titles now, there's a pretty nice looking Blu-ray box set

 

Do you remember how good subtitles are? I wanted to pick it up, but I read that The Day a Pig Fell into the Well has really bad english subtitles.

I wonder if it's the same case on dvd.

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Do you remember how good subtitles are? I wanted to pick it up, but I read that The Day a Pig Fell into the Well has really bad english subtitles.

I wonder if it's the same case on dvd.

Hi LamLok, it's been a while since I watched 'The Day a Pig Fell into the Well' (I only have it on DVD, not Blu-ray), however I don't recall the subtitles being any worse or better than on any other releases of his movies.

 

I doubt they would have re-translated them for the Blu-ray, so I think it's probably a safe assumption that the subtitles on the DVD are the same as on the Blu-ray.

 

These sets look really nice, though I'm more into DVD than BD. 

Yeah me too, however at this point a lot of those DVD's are now OOP, so it may actually work out cheaper to purchase them on Blu-ray.

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