Let's get your first objection out of the way: yes, I agree there have been far too many films with "Once Upon a Time" in the title (28 exact and 67 partial matches, per IMDb). Even in South Korea, there's already been one recent entry (Once Upon a Time in High School). But ignore the title and focus on the premise: "Set in 1953, immediately after the conclusion of the Korean War, two boys struggle for survival in the remains of the city that cannot afford to take care of people lost and weak." (Synopsis courtesy of Darcy Paquet's Koreanfilm.org, which posted it earlier this year.) Described as a "hard-boiled action film," Once Upon a Time in Seoul is scheduled for release later this year by MK Pictures.

The film's director, Bae Hyeong-Joon, is certainly ambitious. Too Beautiful to Lie, his debut feature, was a cheerfully energetic modern-day story about a young woman who spins an increasingly convoluted web of lies and somehow falls in love in the process. (See TarsTarkas for an impressively detailed plot summary/review.) The story was slight, but I loved the snappy pace and the bright primary colors adorning the backgrounds. How will the director handle a more somber period action drama?

His new film is based on a novel by Japanese author Kenzo Kitakata. Kitakata has published more than one hundred books since 1970, ranging from "mainstream polite literature" to hard-boiled novels to historical fiction. A few of his hard-boiled novels (Ashes, Winter Sleep, The Cage) have been translated into English in recent years to considerable praise. I don't know which book Once Upon a Time in Seoul is based on and haven't been able to find any additional plot details in English, but Filmphilia recently posted what looks like a publicity still. The MK Pictures site (look for the "English" link) indicates Seoul is in post-production, so hopefully we'll hear more about it soon.
categories Cinematical