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The 21st Busan International Film Festival will hold Korean cinema retrospective for director Lee Doo Yong, a filmmaker who remains unmatched in numerous film genres that include action, social issues, romance, and historical dramas.

Director Lee Doo Yong who debuted in 1970, pioneered a golden age of taekwondo/martial arts action films in the 1970s. He was also the first Korean film director to be known worldwide by his films in the 1980s. He received the Integrated Social Development Assistance Program (ISDAP) Award for The Hut (1980) in Venice Film Festival; in addition, his work, Spinning the Tables of Cruelty Towards Women (1983) was invited as Un Certain Regard in the Cannes Film Festival.

From the 1970s on, Korean films started a downward trend in many aspects. However, director Lee surely was a successful Korean filmmaker of the age. A later generation of filmmakers, such as Park Chan-wook, Ryoo Seung-wan, and Oh Seung-ook now show their affection and admiration towards Lee and his films.

Lee Doo Yong is best known for his film genres in taekwondo action, indigenous themes, and societal issues; however, he is also famous for genres that include romance, horror, mystery and comedy. He sought ways for Korean films to be recognized worldwide, and this is one of the reasons why he decided to include indigenous Korean themes such as shamanism and taekwondo action.

BIFF plans to screen eight of his major works in the Korean cinema retrospective: taekwondo action film- Manchurian Tiger (1974), his first shamanism themed film- The Early Years (1977), social issue film- Police Story(1978), damaged film that has been restored- The Last Witness (1980), Venice Film Festival’s ISDAP award winning film- The Hut (1980), Un Certain Regard invited film at Cannes Film Festival- Spinning the Tales of Cruelty Towards Women (1983), an urban life film with that portrays the challenges of a family- The Oldest Son (1984) and historical drama film- Eunuch (1986).

LEE Doo Yong (1942-) | Director │ Korea

LEE Doo Yong
LEE Doo Yong

Director Lee was first introduced to the filming by the suggestion of his friend dreamed He dreamed of becoming a filmmaker after he worked as a staff member for directors Jeon Hongjik, Kim Sudong, and Jung So-young. He debuted with The Lost Wedding Veil (1970), but the film that truly marks his individuality was Manchurian Tiger (1974). He was believed that Korean action films should have a differentiated color from the action movies of Hong Kong led him to create action scenes with more kicking motions that started with his film, Manchurian Tiger (1974). In 1974, he made six commercially successful taekwondo action films including Manchurian Tiger(1974), Bridge of Death (1974), Returned Single-legged Man (1974), Left Foot of Wrath (1974), Returned Single-legged Man:2 (1974), and A Betrayer (1974).

Later, he became interested in indigenous themes such as shamanism while making The Early Years (1977) and this led him to create Muldori Village (1979) and The Hut (1990) which have their major themes set around shamanistic beliefs. Many of the scenes from one of his works, The Last Witness (1980) were altered and reedited because of government censorship at the time, but the deleted scenes were later restored, and the movie became known as one of his masterpieces. The Trouble Solving Broker (1981) which the hard copies of have been destroyed, is also one of his major action movies. His golden days continued until the mid-80s followed bySpinning the Tales of Cruelty Towards Women (1983), The Oldest Son (1984), Mulberry (1985), Imbecile (1985), and Eunuch (1986). He did not stop creating films until the 90s, but his most famous works were made between the 1970s to the 1980s.

Korean Cinema Retrospective: Screening Films

Manchurian Tiger (1974)
Cast: Han Yongcheol, Kim Moonjoo, Bae Sucheon
A movie that portrays a fight between Japanese karate master-Sasaki, Chinese martial art master-Wang, and Korean taekwondo master-Lee over a gold nugget needed to fund the Korean liberation army. This film was director Lee’s starting point in the taekwondo action genre. Also, notable is the young actor Han Yongcheol (also known as “Charlie Shell”) who became one of the best action actors of the age.

The Early Years (1977)
Cast: Kim Heera, Jeong Hyegyeong, Yoon Ilbong
This film is a cinematized work of Oh Taeseok’s play. The making of this film helped Lee Doo Yong open his eyes towards shamanistic themes in films. Murder suspect, Sodol comes back to his hometown island after a special release from jail due to the death of his mother. In his hometown, he witnesses a collision between traditions and modernization.

Police Story (1978)
Cast: Jang Donghwi, Han Ji-il, Yu Ji-in
A young man, who has turned down a favorable job, becomes a police officer. At the police substation, he meets the chief of the substation who has a professional attitude. Both policemen influence each other in a positive way. This film depicts police officers’ warm hearts despite their low wages and hard life.

The Last Witness (1980)
Cast: Hah Myungjoong, Jeong yunhui, Choi Boolam
Detective Oh is in charge of investigating the murder of a distillery owner- Yang Dalsoo. While investigating the case, Oh discovers the story of Son Jihye and Hwnag Ba-oo’s innocent deaths. Several scenes in this movie were altered and reedited due to government censorship, however, the movie has been restored back to the original 154 minute and has become recognized as one of Lee’s masterpieces.

The Hut (1980)
Cast: Yu Ji-in, Namkoong Won, Hwang Jeongsoon
A place to keep dead bodies for a short period is called “pee-mak” (a “hut”). This movie takes place in ancient Korea. The guard of the pee-mak dies, and the veiled secret is revealed as the daughter of the guard comes to revenge her father’s death. This movie was awarded the ISDAP Award.

Spinning the Tales of Cruelty Towards Women (1983)
Cast: Won Mikyung, Shin Ilryong, Moon Jeongsuk
The film depicts the life of a woman who suffers from paternalistic oppression caused by Confucian beliefs. The woman suppresses her personal desires to be a virtuous lady for her family’s honor, yet encounters injustice and becomes a scapegoat who is sacrificed for the family honor. This film was the first Korean film to be invited to Un Certain Regard Section at Cannes Film Festival.

The Oldest Son (1984)
Cast: Shin Seong-il, Tae Hyunsil, Hwang Jeongsun
An eldest son and his aged parents move to the capital as their hometown was designated a redevelopment area. The son strives to help his parents to settle into and the urban life, which turns out to be a struggle. The film portrays the confusion of a family in the midst of modernization. The scene where a coffin bier travels down in an apartment elevator is impressive.

Eunuch (1986)
Cast: Ahn Sungki, Lee Misook, Namkoong Won
Director Lee Doo Yong did a remake of Eunuch (1968) by director Shin Sangok, in a personal style that does not refer to Shin’s original film. In the extension of The Hut (1981) and Spinning the Tales of Cruelty Towards Women (1983), Eunuch (1986) is a historical drama that depicts the story of an innocent eunuch and a woman suppressed by the paternalistic beliefs of a Confucianism society.

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