Park Chan-wook

"Although he exploded on to the international movie scene in 2004, Chan-wook Park had been directing feature films in South Korea for some time. Known for his sleek, dark thrillers, Park is one of the most unique and recognized talents to emerge from South Korean New Wave filmmakers." - William Sean Wilson (501 Movie Directors, 2007)

Park Chan-wook

Director / Screenwriter / Producer
(1963- ) Born August 23, Seoul, South Korea
21st Century's Top 100 Directors

Key Production Country: South Korea
Key Genres: Thriller, Drama, Psychological Drama, Action Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Gothic Film
Key Collaborators: Kim Sang-beom (Editor), Chung Chung-hoon (Cinematographer), Jo Yeong-wook (Composer), Ryu Seong-hie (Production Designer), Song Kang-ho (Leading Actor), Jeong Seo-kyeong (Screenwriter), Kim Jae-beom (Editor), Shin Ha-kyun (Leading Character Actor), Kim Byeong-ok (Leading Character Actor), Oh Dal-su (Leading Character Actor), Lee Yeong-ae (Leading Actress), Choi Min-sik (Leading Actor)

"The reigning godfather of extreme cinema studied philosophy and toiled as a film critic. Having seen Vertigo (1958) one too many times, he decided on a career as a director. After his breakthrough feature Joint Security Area (2000) became a blockbuster in South Korea, Park Chan-wook turned to a trilogy of independently produced revenge thrillers that would win him international recognition as a baroque craftsman of artful violence - a Hitchcock for the Asia extreme set. - Andrew Bailey (Cinema Now, 2007)
"This South Korean director has rapidly become the figurehead for a new wave of sophisticated ultra-violent films from East Asia… Though it is reductive to make the case that there is a template for Park's vengeance films, it is true to say that they all contain shocking violence, nausea-inducing physicality - the eating of a live quid in Oldboy being a signature example - and punishing levels of physical and psychological cruelty… Western focus on the Vengeance trilogy has, however, blinded viewers to Park's wider oeuvre, which has touched on horror, science fiction, historical drama and fantasy, with the afterlife being a favourite theme." - Richard Craig (The Rough Guide to Film, 2007)
"Alongside his contemporary Bong Joon-ho (The Host, Snowpiercer), Park Chan-wook perhaps best exemplifies South Korean cinema’s surging 21st century wave of global prominence. Whereas fellow countrymen like Lee Chang-dong (Poetry) and Kim Ki-duk (Moebius) remain more international festival circuit names, Park, Bong and Kim Jee-woon (A Tale of Two Sisters, The Age of Shadows) have added commercial appeal to critical acclaim. In Park’s case, it’s easy to see why his hyper-stylised, pacily entertaining genre hopping has attracted fans worldwide… His narratives flourish in immorality and graphic brutality. In person, his wry, enigmatic demeanour suggests it’s a game he enjoys, but his movies also make serious points about the way individuals grapple with their external environments and interior demons." - Leigh Singer (BFI)
"An artisan of deviance, South Korean master Park Chan-wook imbues his captivating tales of revenge with elegant depravity and profound romanticism, even if they are occasionally drenched in explicit gore. Is it this poetic excess that has made him one of the most admired moviemakers of our time? When his uncompromising attitude meets irreproachable craft, brilliance often emerges." - Carlos Aguilar (MovieMaker)
"After winning a major prize at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, Oldboy cemented Park’s international reputation as well as his fixation with spectacles of bloody and convoluted revenge (see also Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Lady Vengeance, with which Oldboy forms a trilogy). Since then, the director has attempted to mine fresh genre territory with movies like Thirst, a playful vampire-themed riff on Thérèse Raquin, and Stoker, an eccentric English-language creepfest with Nicole Kidman and Mia Wasikowska — and in both cases wound up confirming rather than transcending the limitations of his talent." - Justin Chang (Los Angeles Times)
"Park Chan-wook’s acclaimed and varied body of work has a handful of core themes. Whether it’s the gothic overtones of Stoker, the supernatural horror of Thirst, the surreal technological dreams of I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK, or the violent revenge of Oldboy and the rest of the Vengeance Trilogy, the South Korean director specialises in drawing real emotion out of outlandish fantasies. Violence or lust is almost always transgressive in Park’s work, and often comes with a disturbing twist." - Kambole Campbell (Little White Lies)
TSPDT Guide
Worth a Look
Oldboy (2003) , Lady Vengeance (2005) , I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK (2006), Thirst (2009) , Stoker (2013)
Approach with Caution
J.S.A.: Joint Security Area (2000), Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002) , The Handmaiden (2016)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films
Park Chan-wook / Favourite Films
Park Chan-wook lists 53 of his favourite films at La Cinetek.
Source: La Cinetek (2016)
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    Oldboy
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