All posts by pridgeob

Shiri: Film Review

Shiri, written and directed by Kang Je-gyu, is a 1999 release, action packed, South Korean, blockbuster film that challenges the preconceived ideas of identity and what happens when those ideas combined with the theme of undying love. Blockbusters are often similar in action and progression, but Shiri involves deep things, hidden within symbols in the movie. The actors are important when analyzing the film.

The actors and actresses do a solid job on making the characters believable. Yunjin Kim portrays the vicious, cold-blooded, North Korean named Hee. Hee assumes the stolen identity of Hyun, a gentle, feminine girl who tends to fish. Her identity is a warped and not until the end of the film is it revealed if both sides of her are reconciled or not. Hyun is happily engaged to Yu, who is portrayed by Han Suk-kyu, another secret agent, but from South Korea. This mixture of secret agents, North Koreans, and South Koreans creates a volatile mix and tests the boundaries of identity. Those factors also play a large role in how if identity is undecided, then undying love cannot exist properly.

While the story itself was not so realistic, the themes keep the viewer captivated. Identity and undying love bring the story together and give the film meaning, while the character’s actions within the film are justified by the themes. The North Korean persona portrayed is believable based on the previous knowledge on North Korean life. A large amount of the population is in the military and trained to be ruthless. The ruthlessness is show by Hee burning the picture of her family with not remorse. The simple them of undying love is rattled in this film due to the apparent opposites paralleled in the film. The kissing gourami fish oppositely parallels the relationship of Hyun and Yu. Kissing gourami are explained in the film as symbols of the truest form of love, dying if the other dies. Yu and Hyun could resemble the fish, but Hee ruins the sanctity of the bond. Of course, at the end, to complicate matters further, another character appears and gives more insight on what happens when identity combines with the theme of undying love.

Plot is important when telling a story, but in Shiri, the plot is rather action heavy with little explaining points, however, the storyline is logical and does follow a linear timeline. The structure of the film is decent, but the action heavy points throughout most of the duration of the movie are exciting at first, but eventually become a bit stale and pointless. However, it must be understood that, these directing choices were mainly made to fit this film into the action genre, which is what eventually allowed it to become a blockbuster.

Cinematic aspects of the film should not be overlooked either. The non-diegetic sound effects of all the ammo being fired give the film a war like tone, which is accurate. Even though it is not a war movie, it is a war of North and South Koreans, as well as their identities. Non-diegetic music within the film was appropriate in timing from when love is in the air all the way to when all seems lost. None of these elements detracted from the film as a whole, but rather contributed greatly to it.

Film Review of Tokyo Story – Brian Pridgeon

Tokyo Story is a tale of a Japanese family with a dark undertone. Shukichi and Tomi, the grandparents of Koichi, Shige, Shoji, Keizo, and Kyoko, are growing old and decide to go visit their children. They have traveled from Onomichi to Tokyo, which is an extremely far distance, especially for an elderly couple, to visit their children. However, upon arrival, they are shocked to find out that their children have no time to spend with them, leaving the question of what will happen to Shukichi and Tomi?

Ozu Yasujiro is a widely renowned, Japanese film director, as well as a screenwriter, who is known in the directing world for his unique style. Tokyo Story is one of his most famous films out of the dozens he has created and directed. His specialty is being especially particular with his directing, giving him a distinct style. Ozu uses the Rule of Thirds, which is the appeal of things being in threes, breaks the 180-degree rule as well as the fourth wall, and is quite famous for having characters look directly into the camera. He uses his characters to the fullest, having them convey emotion with their facial expressions and their actions with full body shots. He captures the real essence of the aging couple whose children are too busy for them, which can be displayed with the themes of the film.

While watching attentively, the main theme that comes out of Tokyo Story is the timeless, Asian theme of filial piety, but in this film it is the lack of respect for filial piety. Once the grandparents arrive in Tokyo they are shifted around from child to child. This is not an acceptable action to do in filial piety and it is heartbreaking to watch in the actual film itself. It is a dark story, due to the underlying theme of time running out and not cherishing what you have until it is no longer there, because the grandparents remain hopeful that their children will wish to be by their side and not find them to be a burden on them. The pawning off of the grandparents comes to a halt once they visit their late son’s wife, Noriko. Noriko is technically no longer related to their family since the death, but she is still hospitable towards them. Filial piety does make a return nearing the end of the film though, when one event forces all of the grandchildren together and helps them realize the error of their way of life by not cherishing their time with their parents.

            Tokyo Story ’s themes are important to drive the story along, as well to learn from personally. Ozu is trying to stress this theme to convey that life is limited and while you may be busy, there should always be time for family. Tokyo Story can even be categorized as a “Slice of Life” style film. That style of film gives insight into daily, non-spectacular, average, life. While it is specifically Japanese life that does not mean that it could not be applied to other nationalities. Family is universal and this scenario could occur to anyone, but it could be interpreted that Ozu used a Japanese family, which is practically based on filial piety, to show that even in the tightest of families, separation is possible. While Ozu does a sort of ellipses within the film, leaving out some rather key scenes, it is still a captivating, emotionally darker film that could leave the viewer moved by the sincerity of the film that Ozu has created with the directing and story.