Are Korean films superior to Hollywood films?

Film and book

Something has been happening in Hollywood and European cinema since 2013. For mainstream viewers, Korean directors and actors seem to appear out of nowhere on the international stage. However, this is no coincidence. For years, South Korean cinema has been proving that it is not only equivalent to Hollywood productions, but also far superior in terms of story and standards. Clearly recognizable since around 2010, a South Korean film noir developed, parallel to this a South Korean Cinema du Look.

It seems like Korean filmmakers have rewritten directors' textbooks on their own terms. The result is a series of high-quality productions that attract international attention and, especially in South Korea, Hollywood's sales are bad. 60% of all films shown in South Korea in 2013 were domestic productions. Hollywood and European films had to make do with the remaining 40%.

Hollywood producers have now also recognized that South Korean directors are true masters. In 2013, two Korean directors were hired there. On the one hand Park Chan Wook for the thriller "Stoker", on the other hand Kim Jee Woon for the action film "Last Stand", in which Arnold Schwarzenegger played the leading role.

"Stoker" was produced by brothers Ridley and Tony Scott. The film is strongly based on the works of Hitchcock, screenwriter Wentworth Miller confirmed this influence in an interview. It's about a mysterious uncle who turns a family's life into a nightmare. Despite good reviews, “Stoker” didn't quite bring in its production costs. This led to the fear in the Korean media that Bong Joon-Ho's film "Snowpiercer" would not raise the costs either. The subject was even covered on the main news.

Korea's concern, however, proved unfounded. "Snowpiercer" has already brought back double its costs. The Franco-Korean co-production not only received positive reviews without exception, but is already considered one of the most intelligent and demanding SF films ever made.

The word entitlement in particular gives Hollywood producers headaches. Since they think the audience is stupid, the rule is to make films simply and without pretension. The consequence: a flood of completely superficial action and superhero films. In any case, Bob Weinstein, who took over the sales for "Snowpiercer" in the USA, requested a shortening of more than 20 minutes. Bong Joon-Ho refused to perform these cuts, with the result that Weinstein only allowed the film to be shown in arthouse cinemas.

In addition to Korean directors, Korean actors are now gradually entering the international spotlight. Song Kang Ho and Go Ah Sung appeared in "Snowpiercer". Song should be known to horror fans above all for the Korean film "Thirst". The actors Go Ah Sung became famous for the monster film "The Host".

In the meantime, Korea's most famous actor Choi Min Sik has also entered the international stage. The actor, who also became known outside of South Korea through films like “Old Boy” and “I saw the Devil”, took on the role of the villain in Luc Besson's latest film “Lucy”, which is still in the post-production phase.

It is certain that these will not have been the only trips by Korean filmmakers and actors to Hollywood or Europe. It is much more likely to speak of a successful start in this regard.

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Discussion, essay action film, Korean directors, Last Stand, Snowpiercer, Stoker, Thriller