Fantasia 2012: ‘Poongsang’ – another brilliant Korean cinematic jewel
Directed by Juhn Jai-hong
Written by Kim Ki-duk
South Korea, 2011
The year in cinema would not be complete without a new South Korean gem. The much revered Kim-Ki-duk wrote and produced this Juhn Jai-hong directed action thriller, Poongsang, about a a mysterious smuggler (Yoon Kye-sang) who helps families reunite by transporting, via his own one-man operation, men and women from North Korea to the South. His missions always occur under the blanket of night, but let that not have believe there are no risks involved. Highly skilled, extremely professional, and never uttering a single word, his austere nature is betrayed by humanity the night he falls for his latest parcel: the wife (Kim Gyu-ri) of a wealthy Northern expat. Now, the Korean federal police are after him, as are Northern spies who have infiltrated the South.
It is ironic that Poongsang should have its North American premier at Fantasia film festival in the leadup to the release of the latest Bourne adventure, The Bourne Legacy. There are some striking similarities between the two characters and how they go about their projects. Both operate outside the boundaries of institutions, both have earned reputations as being near-mythic individuals, both are trained in the martial arts so as to make any assailants appear as pathetic amateurs, both are quick and creative thinkers when the odds are stacked against them and neither says very much…