Saturday, September 09, 2006

The President's Last Bang

The President's Last Bang (Geuddae Geusaramdeul)

Release Date: 2005
Director: Im Sang Soo
Writer: Im Sang Soo

Song Jae Ho ... President Park Chun Hee
Han Suk Kyu ... KCIA Chief Agent Ju

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A head of state, notorious for his womanizing, is gunned down during a night of carousing by his director of central intelligence. In Hollywood this scenario would be a screenwriter's fantasy. In South Korea it's a true story, which Im Sang-soo has transformed into a curious, gripping movie that is part tense political thriller, part chaotic and bloody black comedy. In 1979 Park Chung Hee, who had ruled South Korea since 1961, was assassinated by the director of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency.

Park, a sometimes brutally authoritarian leader who had overseen his country's economic modernization, is portrayed in the film (by Song Jae-ho) as a sour old man living in a cocoon of elaborate protocol, tight security and self-indulgence - more like a crime boss than a head of state. The assassin, played by Baek Yun-shik, is a bit of an enigma, as is his obedient co-conspirator, a gum-chewing agent named Ju (Han Suk-kyu). Mr. Im does not plumb their political or psychological motives, focusing instead on the violent farce of their actions.
— A. O. Scott, The New York Times


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