The brohers are in search of Eun-joo but the question remains - why did she run?

Shuttlecock (셔틀콕) – ★★★☆☆

Shuttlecock (셔틀콕)

Shuttlecock (셔틀콕)

When their parents die in a tragic accident, Eun-joo (Gong Ye-ji (공예지) and her half brother Min-jae (Lee Ju-seung (이주승) are given an enormous life insurance settlement. Perhaps unsurprisingly as young adults, they quickly burn through the money as they live luxuriously and purchase without considering the consequences. When Eun-joo abruptly disappears with the remainder of the money, Min-jae makes it his mission to track her down and reclaim what’s his. With a lead on her whereabouts Min-jae sets off from Seoul to the south coast, not realising that step-brother Eun-ho (Kim Tae-yong (김태용) has stowed away on the back seat.

Angry and frustrated, Min-jae has strong motivation to track his sister

Angry and frustrated, Min-jae has strong motivation to track his sister

Shuttlecock (셔틀콕) is an interesting amalgamation of genres, combining the road movie with a coming-of-age social drama. The film is an impressive debut by director Lee Yu-bin (이유빈), who uses the conventions to keenly explore issues of parental responsibility, and its importance in defining and shaping youth during their formative years. Min-jae, for example, is initially a despicable character as he lies and cheats his way to get what he wants, a wayward youth without guidance or direction. His attitude is particularly awful in regards to his stowaway half-brother Eun-ho whom he treats terribly, poking fun at his bed-wetting and abandoning the young boy in the countryside. Yet as they travel together through Korea their bond is strengthened, not as brothers but as makeshift father and son and figures. Their relationship develops naturally and sincerely, with their evolution easily the highlight of the film.

Min-jae and Eun-ho set off from Seoul to Namhae in search of their missing sister

Min-jae and Eun-ho set off from Seoul to Namhae in search of their missing sister

Min-jae’s characterisation however is one of the central flaws of the film, as he is so deeply unlikeable that it is difficult to care about the journey he is on, not to mention whether he can succeed in finding his wayward sister. In order for him to change and grow Min-jae of course must begin as reprehensible, but he is so detestable he’s very difficult to empathise with. While Eun-joo’s motives for abandoning her brothers are elusive, Min-jae is so mean that it’s entirely feasible she did the right thing. In order for Min-jae to become a responsible adult, director Lee constructs some subtle and nuanced moments that delve into his psychology. Unfortunately however there are simply not enough events such as these, ironically even with an overly long running time of around 108 minutes, and the story often meanders whether in a city or on the road.

As well as notions of family, Shuttlecock also presents an interesting debate in regards to the younger generation’s attitude towards money, sex and responsibility, key issues in contemporary Korean culture. The siblings genuinely act like they are invulnerable upon receiving the payout, and have little concern for consequences, something the siblings must ultimately acknowledge when they are finally reunited. As such ‘shuttlecock’ is a wonderfully metaphorical title that conveys their constant up and down trajectory, adding a poetic sensibility to their tumultuous lives.

The brohers are in search of Eun-joo but the question remains - why did she run?

The brothers are in search of Eun-joo but the question remains – why did she run?

Verdict:

Shuttlecock is an interesting examination of contemporary Korean youth, their attitude towards money, and how they are shaped during their formative years by (lack of) parental guidance. The film is an impressive debut by director Lee Yu-bin, who competently employs the conventions of the road movie combined with a coming-of-age social drama in which to explore her characters. However, with a deeply unlikeable central protagonist, and an often meandering story within the overly long running time, Shuttlecock is an intriguing drama that depicts social issues rather than exploring them thoroughly.

★★★☆☆

 

Busan International Film Festival (제18회 부산국제영화제) Festival News Korean Festivals 2013
The 18th Busan International Film Festival

BIFF 2013: Korean Cinema Today – Vision

The 18th Busan International Film Festival

The 18th Busan International Film Festival

The Korean Cinema Today – Vision program at the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) aims to highlight some of the independent film making talent emerging in 2013.

While the Panorama section explores big budget affairs (see here for the full profile), Vision is often a very exciting category due the fresh and distinctive approach new directors take, while the films themselves are often quite creative due to their low budget nature. Typically, there are a few gems to be found as talented film makers use Vision as a springboard for their careers.

For BIFF 2013, there are a number of interesting works on offer. Several directors make their respective debuts, while there are a surprising number of genre films including gangster, thriller, and comedy, present within. There are also a number of films that tackle challenging social issues such as surrogate mothers, teenage problems, and the experiences of foreign wives.

For profiles of all the films within Korean Cinema Today – Vision, please see below.

Korean Cinema Today – Vision

Dynamite Man (다이너마이트맨)

Dynamite Man (다이너마이트맨)

Dynamite Man (다이너마이트맨)

Director: Jeong Hyuk-won (정혁원)

Synopsis: Revenge thriller Dynamite Man is director Jeong’s debut film. When two brothers betray their gang, one is brutally tortured. Filled with rage the surviving brother targets those responsible – with dynamite.

Godsend (신의 선물)

Godsend (신의 선물)

Godsend (신의 선물)

Director: Moon Si-hyun (문시현)

Synopsis: Based on an idea by Kim Ki-duk, the film is a modern nativity of sorts. A young girl plans to exchange her baby with a couple, but complications arise from the men in their lives.

Guardian (보호자)

Guardian (보호자)

Guardian (보호자)

Director: Yoo Won-sang (유원상)

Synopsis: In his debut film, director Yoo tells the story of an ex-fireman whose daughter is kidnapped. For the girl to return unharmed, he must do the unthinkable and kidnap a boy for an exchange.

Han Gong-ju (한공주)

Han Gong-ju (한공주)

Han Gong-ju (한공주)

Director: Lee Su-jin (이수진)

Synopsis: Student Gong-ju starts a new school, making new friends and becoming involved in after school classes. However when a group of meddling parents discover Gong-ju’s whereabouts, her troubled past is revealed.

Intruders (조난자들)

Intruders (조난자들)

Intruders (조난자들)

Director: Noh Young-seok (노영석)

Synopsis: Receiving a world premiere at Toronto, director Noh’s (Daytime Drinking) Intruders follows a screenwriter who travels into the country to complete his screenplay. Yet when mysterious strangers arrive, violent events are set in motion.

The King of Jokgu (족구왕)

The King of Jokgu (족구왕)

The King of Jokgu (족구왕)

Director: Woo Moon-gi (우문기)

Synopsis: Sports comedy The King of Jokgu tells the story of a team passionate about foot volleyball, a popular past-time in Korea. When their request for a court is rejected, the team fight to make it happen.

Mot (못)

Mot (못)

Mot (못)

Director: Seo Ho-bin (서호빈)

Synopsis: Sung-pil tragically lost his younger sister in a motorcycle accident. Years later, Sung-pil meets the man responsible forcing painful emotions to resurface.

Shuttlecock (셔틀콕)

Shuttlecock (셔틀콕)

Shuttlecock (셔틀콕)

Director: Lee Yu-bin (이유빈)

Synopsis: Following the death of their parents, a huge insurance payout is given to Eun-ju, but when she disappears half-brother Min-jae attempts to find her.

The Stone (스톤)

The Stone (스톤)

The Stone (스톤)

Director: Cho Se-rae (조세래)

Synopsis: When a mob boss losses a game of baduk (Go) to a young prodigy, the two begin to form a relationship as they continue to play each other.

Thuy (안녕, 투이)

Thuy (안녕, 투이)

Thuy (안녕, 투이)

Director: Kim Jae-han (김재한)

Synopsis: Another debut film, Thuy depicts the life of a Vietnamese girl living in the country with her in-laws. When her husband fails to return home, Thuy’s enquiries attract the wrong kind of attention.

Busan International Film Festival (제18회 부산국제영화제) Festival News Korean Festivals 2013