Han Gong-Ju (2013) DVD review

Out April 13th / 2013 / 112 mins / 15 rating / Third Window Films / Korean with English subtitles / Dir. Su-jin Lee

After being involved in a scandalous incident, 17-year-old girl named HAN Gong-ju is forced to change schools. Uncared for by her parents, her previous school teacher arranges a place for her to hideaway, his mother s place. Gong-ju s new friend at school discovers that she s a talented singer so she secretly creates an online fansite for her friend. But the video of her on the internet reveals her whereabouts and she is hunted down.

A slow burner of a film, this Korean release is an interesting tale of a troubled young girl with a mysterious past that repeats itself in a horrific way.

As the film progresses director Su-jin Lee slowly gives away little glues that will enlighten the viewer as to what is happening or has happened with Gong-Ju. The movies pacing is reminiscent of a teen melodrama at times due to this and at others, when the revelations do happen, the feature takes on a darker tone.

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The movie is very much about the character of Gong-Ju as a result. Other roles do crop up from time to time yet they don’t get the same amount of screen time as that of Gong-Ju and are no where near as developed. The young actress that plays her, Woo-hee Chun, is demure and shy. She plays the part with a quiet yet wide eyed approach that is believable. The character also undergoes some subtle changes that, given the films long run time, come across as realistic. Come the end of Han Gong-Ju she is outstanding as the title character.

The final thirty minutes make for some very uncomfortable viewing, however. Gong-ju’s pass seems to catch up with her and is relived again. The movie really becomes powerful and disturbing during the final act, made more frightening due to Han Gong-Ju allegedly being based on true events. Unfortunately these things happen in our world, this depiction bringing it right into the viewers home.

The movie was a massive hit in its native South Korea when released in spring 2014. Han Gong-ju has been entered at numerous film festivals as well as winning numerous awards. Woo-hee Chun has rightly won several Best Actress awards, too.

Special features.

As well as various trailers the main extra of note is below…

Enemy’s Apple (21 mins) – A short film by Su-jin which is a dark comedy that sees a riot police officer (Jong-pil Lee) in a stand off with a protester (Seung-mok Yoo). Filled with violence and comic acting it ends on a somewhat quirky note. Still, it is entertaining thanks to the performances of Jong-pil and Seung-mok.

Verdict.
A powerful slow burner that draws the viewer in before finishing on a gut wrenching note.

Third Window Films page
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