Green Fish (2001) Review

"Green Fish" American DVD Cover

"Green Fish" American DVD Cover

Director: Lee Chang-Dong
Producer: Myeong Kye-Nam
Writer: Oh Seung-Wuk
Cast: Han Seok-Kyu, Shim Hye-Jin, Moon Seong-Keun, Myeong Kye-Nam, Kim Yong-Man, Lee Ho-Seong, Han Seon-Kyu, Oh Ji-Hye, Sohn Young-Sun, Cha Yu-Kyeong
Running Time: 111 min.

By Equinox21

The story of a guy who can’t find a job so he ends up involved in gangs is nothing new, but don’t let that dissuade you from seeing this one. There is plenty to keep your interest, even if the story isn’t entirely original. If you are at all a fan of Wong Kar-Wai’s work, you will enjoy Green Fish.

Because the plot is nothing special, I won’t bore you with the details about it. Instead I’ll enlighten you to the great points of this movie (and there were many). One stand out point is the acting. It was some of the best I’ve seen. Han Suk-kyu is one of Korea’s most lauded actors, and he deserves every bit of praise he receives. He doesn’t play a tough guy, he doesn’t play a high-ranking member of a gang, instead he merely plays a regular guy who can’t find work, ends up in a gang and eventually makes a bad decision, which costs him dearly. Along the way he falls for the boss’ girlfriend, the gorgeous Shim Hye-jin. She positively glows in her role. The very end was truly moving, and it was all because of her. Rumor had it (though I am having a hard time verifying this) that she’d have a role in Wong Kar-Wai’s 2046, if that’s the case then 2046 jumped from my most anticipated film of the year to my most anticipated film of all-time! I sure hope it’s true.

The music in this movie was another aspect that worked extremely well. Every song sounded perfect and enhanced the emotion of every scene in just the right way. In the same way a Wong Kar-Wai soundtrack perfectly suits the film, so did the soundtrack for Green Fish.

Another superb aspect of this film was the direction. There were many terrific shots, and many scenes that would have fit perfectly in a Wong Kar-Wai film. I am starting to think that Lee Chang-dong (Oasis, Peppermint Candy) MIGHT be Korea’s answer to WKW. Both directors have very similar styles, and both generally write and direct their own films (Lee Chang-dong was a novelist before getting into the Korean Film industry). I’ll still have to check out more of this director’s work before making a final decision on this, however.

While not the best movie of this genre, it’s really not the plot nor the genre that you should see this movie for. You should see it for the acting, the soundtrack, the direction and the absolutely, positively gorgeous Shim Hye-jin.

Equinox21’s Rating: 8/10

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