masterly master lee

a home for forgotten and famous korean pulp, its heroes, its heroines, and its pulpeteers

Vintage Korean film posters 2 한국영화 옛 포스터 2

the-stray-bullet.jpgHere are some more vintage Korean film posters. The first one is from what is commonly regarded as the best Korean film ever, The Stray Bullet 誤發彈 (1961). And Master Lee agrees. Although he doesn’t really think in terms of lists with at the top the best (except when it comes to himself, of course), The Stray Bullet is an exceptional movie. Directed by Yu Hyeonmok, it is based upon a short story with the same title and deals with the hopeless situation men and women found themselves in after the devastations of the Korean War. The soundtrack will haunt you for days, if not weeks. Picture quality is quite grainy, but just count your blessings that this movie still exists. The only copy left was the one that had been sent to the film festival of San Francisco in 1960 and has the English subs burnt into the celluloid. The Stray Bullet is quite critical of South Korean society and it was promptly forbidden by the military regime after the 1961 coup. No criticism needs to be voiced directly, however, the starkly realistic style of director Yu says enough. And for those who have seen the protests of the open market sellers who lost their livelihood when Cheonggyecheon was rebuilt (and who now again underwent the same fate, when the Tongdaemun Stadion to which they had been relocated was marked for destruction: Master Lee is aghast, the Tongdaemun Stadion? He wrestled there in the good old days!), the ending of The Stray Bullet is a must-see (and for anyone else as well, of course). It features a demonstration of laborers right in the midst of the covering of the original Cheonggyecheon stream, during which countless houses were destroyed and an elevated highway was constructed.

good-and-evil.jpgThe second one is Good And Evil (1965), a typical mid-60s gangster flick in which a gangster dates the younger sister of his boss. She is Protestant and converts him, but this doesn’t go down particularly well with Big Brother. He gives in though and allows them to marry. No happy end for these two lovebirds, I’m afraid. The ex-gangster and his wife open a small laundrette and try to lead an honest life. But when some gangsters start bothering them, the ex-gangster can’t control himself and kicks ass (Master Lee agrees with this strategy). He is then arrested and taken away by the police. Master Lee is not too sure about the combination of churches and gangsters, but he liked the fighting.

tumangang.jpgThe third one is Farewell, Tuman River! 豆滿江아 잘 있거라! (1962). This one was directed by Im Kwon-t’aek 임권택 when he still made good movies (and boy, that’s quite a while ago. Don’t get Master Lee started on this topic!). It’s about young Korean students during the colonial period who have to leave their families and flee to Manchuria on account of their resistance activities. In this all-out action/melodrama film, there’s a lot of fighting, drama (the protagonist leaves behind his pregnant fianceé whom he thinks betrayed him) and evil Japanese soldiers. At the end, everybody meets up at the banks of the river that forms the boundary between Korea and Manchuria, the Tuman River. Alas, the Japanese are also there…

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