We usually try to avoid going to films on the weekend in Jochiwon, because the cinemas are crowded and because of the countrified behaviour of the locals during screenings really annoys us. (It’s not quite as ridiculous as in Saigon, though: I haven’t seen anyone surf the net on an iPad all the way through a film here yet…)
However, we decided to go to a film last weekend because it was Mrs. Jiwaku’s birthday, and since the film both looked interesting, and had sold fewer tickets than the other films showing, we decided to give it a shot. In our experience, there’s an uncanny-valley-like effect in Korean cinema: the bell-curve applies on most axes in determining how well a film does. Too bad or too good, or too smart or too stupid, too fast or too slow, to creative or too uncreative, all of these things hurt a film’s success. Yes, a film can be too good to succeed in Korea. Or too smart, or too beautiful, or too well-written. I’ve seen it happen many times, and wondered whether this particular film was flunking because it was too good, or too bad.
Unfortunately, after seeing 협녀: 칼의 기억, I can say pretty definitely it was the latter: it’s really just an unfortunate mess, one of those films where you watch it thinking, oh, there’s another lost opportunity every few minutes. Which I suppose should be no surprise, since it’s one of those films that got stuck on the way out to release for years on end, as I found out after we got home from the cinema. Yeah, it shows. Sometimes, creative friction creates energy: here, it worked more like sandpaper, wearing down all the film’s sharp, distinctive edges.
I’ll take a few moments and see if I can talk about both the good and the bad of this film. Continue reading