Asian horror pros in Hollywood

Korean film director Kim Jee Woon.

Besides Malaysia-born director James Wan, there are several Asian directors known for films that explore horror, violence and other dark themes who are breaking into the Hollywood mainstream, with varying degrees of success.

Acclaimed Korean director Park Chan Wook is best known for brutal vengeance-themed films such as 2003's Oldboy, which is being remade this year by American director Spike Lee in a movie starring Josh Brolin. But he has also made a vampire horror, Thirst, which was released in 2009, and directed one short in the Asian horror anthology, Three... Extremes (2004).

Park made his first English-language film this year, the suspenseful psychological drama Stoker, starring Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode and Nicole Kidman. It received generally positive reviews but several critics wondered if it might have been a better film if Hollywood had allowed Park the full creative control he is used to back home.

Kim Jee Woon, who has explored horror in Korean films such as The Quiet Family (1998) and A Tale Of Two Sisters (2004), made his Hollywood debut this year by directing The Last Stand, the comeback vehicle for ageing action star and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It made some Terminator fans happy but managed only a sub-par showing at the box office.

A third acclaimed South Korean director, Bong Joon Ho, is known for the dark drama Mother (2009) and the science-fiction horror monster movie The Host (2006).

He is about to unveil his English language science-fiction tale Snow-piercer, an adaptation of a French graphic novel that will feature big-name Hollywood actors (Chris Evans) and Korean ones (Song Kang Ho).

The movie earned more than US$20 million (S$25.4 million) when it opened in South Korea recently, one of the country's biggest box-office debuts.

Although many Asian horror directors are well regarded in Hollywood, the American film industry often remakes its own English-language versions with non-Asian directors.

Exceptions to this include Hideo Nakata and Takashi Shimizu.

Nakata was hired to remake an English language version of The Ring 2 (2005), a sequel to the 2002 Hollywood re-imagining of his cult hit Ringu. Shimizu is the creator of the Japanese Ju-on films that inspired the English-language The Grudge franchise, the first two films of which he directed in 2004 and 2006.

 


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