With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

ACF 059: A Bloody Aria

Well the New Year is upon us, and I'd like to wish all Asian Cinema Fans a great 2008.

The year will be getting off to a fine start for those lucky enough to make it to a screening of A Bloody Aria (Guta-yubalja-deul) a terrific 2006 film from South Korea. (Writing that actually felt a bit redundant. I mean if it's a fine Korean film, it's gotta be from the South, right? Gonna be a long time before the Commies in the North come up with something worth watching, if ever.)

Anyway, Aria is coming to the U.S. in two limited theatrical engagements. Its U.S. debut will be in New York starting January 4, 2008 at The ImaginAsian Theater. The Los Angeles premiere will follow on January 18th at The ImaginAsian Center.

Helmed by writer/director Won Shin-yun, the film is a gripping tale of psychological and physical torture. Yeong-sun (Lee Byuong-jun), an arrogant music professor, is driving his beautiful student In-jeong (Cha Ye-ryun) back from a singing audition in his gorgeous white Mercedes. Showing off, he takes a side-road to elude a pursuing policeman named Moon Jae (Han Seok-gyu, who was in Shiri) and winds up at a dead end on a rocky area alongside a river.

There he tries to force himself on Yeong-sun, who fights off his advances and flees. While he's sitting in his car with it's darkly tinted windows, a local named O-guen (Oh Dai-su, of Oldboy fame) comes along. A veritable retard, he employs a most peculiar technique to capture birds. Soon he's joined by two friends on motorcycles who've brought along a young male student in a bag that's tied to the "sissy bar" of one of the bikes.

Meanwhile Yeong-sun has gotten a ride with Bong-yeon (Lee Mun-shik), who's promised to take her to the local train station on his motor scooter. Instead, they wind up joining the others.

So what we've got her are four locals who give strong evidence of growing up in a rural village where there's been too much inbreeding over too long a time. They take great delight in subjecting their three "companions" to sick mind games and physical violence, both threatened and actualized.

Fortunately, this is not pointless "torture porn." There are distinct characters at work here and it's compelling to watch their interactions, the psychological ones even more so than the physical. I found myself almost continuously wondering what the hell's gonna happen next.

If you can, get yourself to one of these upcoming screenings. If not, seriously look into finding A Bloody Aria on DVD. And if you do see it, pay attention to Bong-yeon's tale of the Dickhead and the Barbarian. This story will have interesting relevance later in the movie.

ACF Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars [Highly recommended]

For info about A Bloody Area screenings at The ImaginAsian Theater, click here.

For info about A Bloody Area screenings at The ImaginAsian Center, click here.

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