With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Monday, September 17, 2012

ACF 1625: MOSS - DVD review

CJ Entertainment
and 5 Points Pictures
Moss / Iggi
Directed by KANG Woo-suk
South Korea, 2010, 163 minutes

CJ Entertainment and 5 Points Pictures recently released this terrific 2-disc Special Edition DVD of Moss, an award-winning mystery thriller based on an online comic by YOON Tae-ho.

RYU Hae-guk (actor PARK Hae-il, Memories of Murder) is a recently divorced young man who travels to an isolated village where his elderly father has died. RYU senior was the spiritual leader of the village, and though father and son were estranged for some time, Hae-guk take his filial duties seriously. When certain shortcuts are taken with regard to the cause of death, he becomes suspicious. This feeling grows when it becomes clear that the village chief, CHUN Yong-duk (a fantastic JUNG Jae-young, Silmido), and his three cronies would prefer that he leave immediately.

RYU previously had exposed improper behavior by public prosecutor PARK Min-wuk (YOO Joon-sang, seen in HONG Sang-soos The Day He Arrives and Like You Know It All). PARK was consequently demoted and, understandably bearing a grudge, warned RYU to "Stay low and live like the moss...quietly."

But Hae-guk is not one to live quietly and let well enough alone. His insistence on "getting to the truth" about his father's death sets in motion a chain of events that threaten his father's reputation, the village chief and his cronies, as well as Hae-guk himself.

Can Hae-duk force the truth to be revealed, and if he can, will he be able to handle it?

RYU Hae-guk, left, faces the village chief, CHUN Yong-duk

In 2010 the cast and crew of Moss won several various awards at the Blue Dragon Film Awards, the Daejong Film Awards, the Icheon Chunsa Film Festival, and the Korean Film Awards ceremonies. Such accolades are well-deserved testimony to the film's attributes.

One would expect a Two-Disc Special Edition have an ample number of extras. Well, those expectations are more than met with the almost 90 minutes of video extras. The first four listed below are particularly worthwhile:

- "The Making of Moss"
- "The Beginning of the Story - The Comic Behind the Story"
- "The Birth of the Village" - a documentary about the film's art and set design
- "Come Out to the Real World" - a featurette about its make-up and effects
- Poster shoot video
- Original South Korean teaser and trailer
- Cast and director bios
- 5 Points Pictures trailers

I first learned of Moss when it was shown as a special Halloween screening of Korean Cultural Service's Korean Movie Night series back in October, 2011. (The AsianCineFest announcement post about that screening is here.) As one of the co-hosts of the VCinema Podcast, I participated in our review of it in Episode 37 in November. (The Moss portion of the episode begins at time-code 44:42.) Coffin Jon and Josh didn't care for it, at least not much, and I gave it a moderate recommendation for a rental, but said definitely don't buy it. So much for a first viewing.

When I heard of this 2-disc release, I thought it would be interesting to give the film another shot, and I'm so glad I did. My opinion of it changed dramatically. I now recognize it as a really fine movie, a taut thriller that's well structured, extremely well acted, and full of suspense. And the bonus disc is like delicious icing on an already tasty cake.

I think this special edition DVD release of Moss is worthy of a place in your collection. It doesn't merely hold up to but gets even with repeated viewings. ACF Ratings: 3.5 out of 4 stars for the film (very highly recommended) and 4 out of 4 for the special features (outstanding).

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