[K-FILM REVIEWS] 음란서생 (Forbidden Quest) - Part 2

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[K-FILM REVIEWS] 음란서생 (Forbidden Quest) - Part 2


음란서생 (Forbidden Quest)
Limited Edition

Released by enterOne on May 24, 2006
2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1, 2.0
NTSC Region 3 - DVD9
142 Minutes - Colour

DVD (English, Korean Subs)

Package Art




Considering the visual style of the film, emphasizing the contrast of most of its scenes, this is a very good transfer, with splendid colours and no significant problems with the print. Audio is excellent as well, taking advantage of excellent sound design and a good soundtrack. As for the subtitles... finally, something living up to the charm of Sageuk dialogue. Of course a lot of the nuances in the tone used in this film will be lost in any translation, even the best ones, as it's something impossible to translate without writing a tome. But the fact speech patterns are more important than dialogue itself helps a lot. Although English can't convey Korean's different tones, these subtitles do their best to 'refine' the level of dialogue used by Yangban vis-a-vis commoners or merchants. Translation is quite good, and what's more important, the timing follows the speech patterns in Korean as much as grammar allows it, which is something you rarely see. A few spelling and grammar mistakes here and there, but it's definitely not a problem. Big applause to whomever worked on these subtitles: they're not perfect, but as good as you can get given the circumstances. Knowing a little Korean would help a lot, but unlike DVDs such as the 야수 (Running Wild) Director's Cut, this time you won't be left alone if you don't.


Audio Commentary with Director Kim Dae-Woo, Assistant Director Lee Chan, Art Director Jo Geun-Hyun, Producer Kwak Joong-Hoon

A good listen. The four mix scene-specific commentary with plenty of interesting anecdotes regarding production. Not as good as the 야수 (Running Wild) commentaries, but well worth listening to. Also, because of the slow tempo and low-key atmosphere of the commentary, it's also quite enjoyable to listen.

- They start talking about the very first scene, which was very important, but Director Kim feels they didn't have enough time to prepare it as well as he wanted. He'd usually work with a lot of people without major problems, but he was particularly nervous for this scene, as all the extras look like zombies when walking (a sort of connection to the 'happiness' theme of the film). They focused a lot on the lighting here, especially once Oh Dal-Soo opens the door. The focus here was on trying to get the tone right from the start, with costumes, props and lighting, so it was a difficult scene. For the first scene with Lee Soon-Jae, director and DP/lighting director talked a lot about the different aspects of lighting and camera angles related to 한옥 (traditional Korean houses), and how they deviated a little from reality by using more light than usual. This was a key point for Kim, as he focused a lot of effort on contrasts giving a strong impact—but more than always going for intensity, he wanted a sort of plateau, a flat linearity and flow enveloping the film from start to finish. They also talk about the use of closeups, especially important for Kim Min-Jung, as she didn't have many scenes, so her facial expression and ability to convey sentiments just with her face was crucial.
- The director kept wondering if he should have let the first outdoor scene with Yoon-Seo and Gwang-Heon in (the one where they talk about each other's age, one of my favourites actually), but people convinced him to keep it in the film. Lee Chan thought this perfectly showed Yoon-Seo's personality, mixing that dignified 'weight' of the Yangban with a kid-like aura, a sort of Peterpan Complex hiding under the hanbok. The general tone of the comedy in the film followed Oh Dal-Soo's rhythm, in a way, as it's the kind of comedy that improves on repeated viewings—something you could certainly say for some of Kim's past works, especially 깡패수업 (Hoodlum Lessons) and 반칙왕 (The Foul King)—something the crew felt themselves while seeing Oh act. The director put a lot of effort in the scene where Yoon-Seo finds the 'secret' room with the transcriber, as the 'direct' mood of the film starts here. He also was concerned about how to mix effectively all the comedy, the violence and all the other elements in this scene, and even wanted to make Gwang-Heon look a little scary, perhaps to further strip Lee Beom-Soo of the kind of comic image he carried from the beginning of the film. If anything, he was a little disappointed at how the scene in Gwang-Heon's room turned out. He felt like shooting it again on the set, but he realizes now how he didn't prepare well enough for it. Major problem seems to be the fact that painting of the horses didn't completely satisfy him, as it's not the kind of detail which sticks out—it's not, for instance, the impressive work we see from Choi Min-Shik in 취화선 (Chihwaseon). Some people joked that the scene where Yoon-Seo and Hwang first talk about the ÏßÑÎßõ (flavour) had a sort of homoerotic undertone, with the facial expressions between Hwang and Woo Hyun's character.
- They talk about how exciting working with Oh Dal-Soo was. Exciting essentially because unlike other actors, Oh would walk straight into the film without any nervousness—and even his characters always seems to blend with the scenery, in a way, until he 'breaks the mood' with his speech patterns. One scene the director felt really bad about after seeing the film in theaters was the 덧글 (Reply) one. The first plan was to mix women and men, but as it ended up with only women, he regretted his decision later. There were scenes with men a little embarrassed to admit they enjoyed the book, but in some way this is compensated by a scene after that with all the men turned down because all the copies were out. An interesting factoid about the 'reply' scene is that all the women who replied are the court ladies who talk with Jung-Bin inside the palace later, when she realizes rumours about her started spreading. One of them was even responsible for the storyboards.
- Han joked on the set that so much of the film was very tense and burdensome to him as an actor, but then of all the scenes shot in a really comfortable setting, the first meeting with Jung-Bin (which was supposed to lead to sex, in Jung-Bin's mind) ended up being the most relaxed. Director Kim feels a little sorry to people like Lee Soon-Jae, because he shot many more scenes regarding Yoon-Seo's family, but then decided to edit out most of them. The thought behind this was that since Yoon-Seo's interest lie somewhere else, focusing too much on the family would have ruined the tempo of the film. One of the most comfortable days on the shoot was that 'dream sex scene' between Jung-Bin and Yoon-Seo. The couple we see already there before their arrival were actually one of the assistant directors (who had to stay a few hours half naked in that position) and an Adult Video actress. And then came the most 'exciting' moment between Yoon-Seo, Gwang-Heon, Hwang and the transcriber, when they think out various positions to use for the illustrations. The key here was mixing a child-like enjoyable atmosphere with the uniqueness of the dialogue. But, something Kim never felt while writing the script, the sole fact they were dealing with an adult simulating sex with an elder like that was quite an interesting experience on the set.
- Most people who watched the film didn't know this, but Han Suk-Gyu and Lee Beom-Soo were actually the ones used for the 'kids' showing the positions. They thought of different things during the pre-production process, including using a naked man and woman, but they thought this was the best choice, not only because it was funny as it was, but also because it allows Lee and Han (in their 'real size') display their impressive comic talent. The director didn't feel it so strongly until he watched the film in theaters, but their speech patterns, the tone of those scenes shows how good they were with this kind of scenes. There was a lot of debate regarding the sex scene between Jung-Bin and Yoon-Seo, with some people wanting revealing scenes, others just 'tasteful' sex scenes. One of the thoughts which came to mind is that if the scenes were more revealing—say, Jeon Do-Yeon in 스캔들 (Untold Scandal)—there would be a lot of unnecessary complaints about the nudity which would have very little to do with the film. But the most important thing for Kim was trying to keep a sense of dignity for Jung-Bin. This was a non-factor while writing the script, but it's something he felt strongly about around the middle part of the shoot. Another scene which created a few headaches was when Gwang-Heon asks the prisoner about the three different expression of ecstasy. The problem was that, essentially, all three facial expression differ very little. What won him over was Lee's timing and tone, making them feel different anyway, which at the end was what saved the scene, and made it entertaining (there's a bit in the script about the prisoner getting angry because of Gwang-Heon's 반말/plain tone of speech that was quite funny, but as it is I think it's good enough).

After Commentary [3:12]

A nice little clip with 3 of the four involved talking about their feelings after recording the commentary. Director Kim says that watching the film after a long time, all the struggles, the happy moments and memories made during the shoot came back to mind. He started this commentary as a way to allow viewers to know a little more about the film, but since those sentiments were strong while watching it, he doesn't know if he did a good job explaining the film. He was really happy working with his fellow staff members, and if they get another chance to work together, he'd like to improve upon this film even more. Lee Chan comments that before starting the commentary, he thought about the essence of commentaries itself, so he tried to focus on telling the truth and not make excuses about their shortcomings. Since it was a sort of open door into the production process, showing how certain struggles led to particular scenes with sincerity was the best way to go for him. Finally, Producer Kwak really liked the experience, as watching the film in theaters he was too nervous to pay attention to the film for its entertainment value. Watching it again today, he feels they could have improved a few points, but overall he's quite satisfied with their work.

SPECIAL FEATURES - DISC 2 [~125 Minutes]

(Indecent Secret History- Pre Production) [19:02]

Your usual Making Of Doc, mixing interviews with cast and crew and footage from the shoot. Kim starts talking about how the film got started, essentially repeating my introduction of the film, and then we get to see the actors at the script reading. We see Han Suk-Gyu and Kim Gi-Hyun taking calligraphy lessons (which are great if you want to learn Hanja, even if you do them online. There's plenty of sites out there). We then get to see the prosthetics made for Han Suk-Gyu's leg (while he's calmly reading Film2.0), and Kim talks about casting and introduces the characters a little. Han adds his comments about the theme of happiness+sense of responsibility (which marks an evolution from Kim's previous characters), and Lee Beom-Soo and Kim Min-Jung say a few words as well.

(Indecent Film - Production)
Play All On/Off [35:07]

This featurette is quite enjoyable, as we simply get to see the actors perform in front of the camera, like an extended behind the scenes making Of. This might be a little irritating to go through for those who need Subtitles, but if you remember lines from the film or understand Korean, you'll enjoy this even more. Enjoyable, if a little repetitive.

(Indecent Sets)
Play All On/Off [18:08]

Part 1 features one of Chungmuro's most talented art directors, Jo Geun-Hyun. He talks about the concept behind the production design, while we see the art direction team build the sets (really interesting how they give an 'old feeling' to the new sets). He talks about the struggles in matching the costumes, in giving some colour to places like the Brassware shop, and how they focused on making this film look good—while he talks, we continue to see the staff build the set, prepare lights and build that magnificent tracking crane shot outside of Yoon-Seo's house. Part 2 is about the props used in the film, emphasizing the 'heavy' feeling of a lot of the art direction. It almost feels like giving an 'old look' to the props was just as difficult as making them in the first place. We get to see all the brassware in the film, the various pots and other wooden equipment, while the concept of the props is explained. Finally, Jung Kyung-Hee talks about the costumes in the film, as we get to see some of them, along with the actors trying them out. After a general introduction of the tone used in the costumes, she spends a few words for each of the major characters, and how they sort of complemented one with the other according to the scene's emotional tone. The last few minutes of this featurette deal with the make up for all the extras, and how the Costume director tried to focus on their image a little more than the usual use of extras in other Sageuk.

(Indecent Behind The Scenes - Post Production)
Play All On/Off [20:11]

We start with the Music in the film. Music director Mok Young-Jin comments that, since this film used elements from several different genres—from sageuk to romcom—he didn't want to stick to traditional music found in Sageuk. So he wanted to distance himself from the usual traditional Korean music feeling, adding a modern touch to a traditional foundation, like the gayageum—which is what the director wanted. This is because history itself wasn't the focus of the film, it was a mere background (hence the 'Sageuk as a production method' trend) to tell the story. Director Kim comments that creating the music for the film required quite a difficult preparation, as he always had the desire to do something new with the genre. Mok says that although Kim was never the type to talk a lot, he was able to make him understand what he wanted in a few words. We then get an introduction of the main themes, like the one for the final scene, which had to convey a certain energy, similar to what happened with the music for the 'replies' of the readers. The main theme was quite simple, with only three notes repeating with the background doing a crescendo, and that's because he wanted to emphasize that sort of fixed, prescribed simplicity of the first meeting between Yoon-Seo and Jung-Bin. Overall, in working on Forbidden Quest, Mok focused more on the moment when music would come in, what impact it added to the scene, rather than simply standing out with particular style. It was just part of the 'scenery', in a way, just like the Sageuk setting, the costumes and art direction.

Second part is about the editing process, with Choi Min-Young and Kim Chang-Joo. They comment that this film was a nice challenge for them, as it involved different genre elements, from drama to comedy, from erotic scenes to action. The big focus of the film was on the balance between the two sides of Yoon-Seo's personality, with the greed to continue his career despite everything that's happening at home, probably painting him as someone who doesn't look too nice a person, combined with the love he experience. Director Kim comments that if it weren't for Choi and his experience in dealing with a film rhythm he couldn't have endured editing a film like this. The two editors like the fact there were plenty of sources to choose from when shooting was over, and they emphasized how important the rhythm was in this film, as most of the comedy deals with the actors 'breaking the mood' despite remaining very serious. As for the sex scenes, while there might not have been much in the way of exposure, he liked the elegance and charm shown by Han and especially Kim Min-Jung, and the focus was on giving it a Sageuk feeling anyway, so revealing too much wouldn't have fit with the film's concept. A particularly memorable scene for them was when Hwang meets the other traders with the gisaeng's. They prepared four version of this scene, with dialogue edited differently, as they liked its variety. They conclude commenting that it was a nice experience working with Kim on this film, and that they learned a lot.

Final part is 3 Minutes of extremely well produced before/after shots of all the CG in the film, starting from the original source and slowly adding all the changes made via CG. As always with high-end Korean films, there's always tons of CG in places you'd never imagine, which means they must be doing something right.

(Indecent Discussion - Deleted Scenes)
Play All On/Off [18:37]

Deleted Scene 1
Yoon-Seo is in his bedroom, staring at one of his latest works with satisfaction
Yoon-Seo: Ahhh.... yes.

Suddenly, he sees his father coming in, and hides the paper in a rush.
Father: What are you hiding there?
Yoon-Seo: It's... it's nothing important, Father.
Father: What do you take me for? Do you think I don't know you've been spending entire nights writing what you're trying to hide from me? I don't know what you think of me, but I'm not that close-minded. No matter how much other people criticize you, I'm always on your side. So whatever you're writing, do your best until the very end, your Father is always with you, is that clear?
Yoon-Seo:... yes, Father.
COMMENT: This is quite a nice little scene, it's right after Hwang praises Yoon-Seo for his first work. Although there's no commentary to explain why it was taken off, I'd guess it was because showing a softer side of Yoon-Seo's Father would have made his desire to find a departure less effective.

Deleted Scene 2
This is a very quick insert, coming before the scene where Gwang-Heon goes to Yoon-Seo's house to accept his offer. Misunderstanding his visit as being possibly related to party matters, Yoon-Seo's Father runs to his room (this is where the scene starts), and in a rush tells his son to hide what he was writing. Of course he never realizes Yoon-Seo is writing an indecent novel, he just takes the paper and hastily hides it behind a wallpaper, then we cut to the scene in the film with Gwang-Heon emerging from that umbrella.

Deleted Scene 3
From the second floor of the tavern (the same where Gwang-Heon and Yoon-Seo joke about the dog), Yoon-Seo stares at the street below, as people are passing by. Then, a man carrying a pot on his back attracts his attention.

Yoon-Seo: Hey... you, there. I'm talking to you.
Man: Yes?
Yoon-Seo: By any chance, do you know who I am?
Man: I... don't really know, Sir.
Yoon-Seo: You don't know.... I can understand that... you can go.

While the first part of the scene looked from Yoon-Seo's shoulders, we go to a reverse shot, showing Yoon-Seo reflecting about what he said.

Yoon-Seo: I don't know who I am either.... Kim Yoon-Seo by day, and then at night...

Someone puts his hand on Yoon-Seo's shoulder, we don't see his face.
Man: Chuwolsaek...

We move to some Yangban's house, with a great frontal shot of Yoon-Seo sitting in front of him. Yoon-Seo looks around. And then we see the Yangban's face [the actor is Ryu Seung-Soo, from 달마야 놀자 (Hi, Dharma!) and many other films].

Yangban: I'm a big fan of yours.
Yoon-Seo: And...
Yangban: They say Chuwolsaek is the best when it comes to indecent novels. I have a favour to ask you.

As we move back to Yoon-Seo, we realize this Yangban is quite the exhibitionist, as he has plenty of small mirrors around his bed, and constantly looks at himself.

Yoon-Seo: A favor? Hmmm... I don't know. People say I'm the best? I wouldn't say that... there's Inbonggeosa (In Bong in the English Subtitles)...
Yangban: Inbeonggeosa.... he couldn't compare with you from the beginning. He writes about what people dream, you write only about your own dreams. How can you compare yourself to him, you've always been the best.
Yoon-Seo: In that case, I'll thank you for the compliment, even if you don't really mean it.
Yangban: I'm the one who should be thankful. I really love your work [his facial expression suddenly changes, he now seems sadder, as he looks at the mirror] Yet... there's something I feel a little sad about, if you pardon my insolence.
Yoon-Seo: And what would that be, may I ask?
Yangban: Do you really need to have a man have intercourse with women all the time? Can't you... at least once... do it amongst men?
Yoon-Seo: [Looks at him a little shocked] What... what are you talking about? That's nonsense. And tell me, who would possibly read a novel like that?
Yangban: [with confidence] Me. Someone like me.

Now this Yangban's facial expression gets a little different. I don't know if it's Ryu's acting, or the mood, but it reminds me of some Lee Joon-Gi scenes from 왕의 남자 (The King and The Clown), that 'might be... or maybe not' sexual undertones to his facial expression.

Yangban: That's why I summoned you here, and I also wanted to ask if you could write a book like that, even if just for my eyes only. For that, I'll fulfill any desire of yours, be it material, or any favour you might ask.

As the Yangban gets up and walks around in his room, Yoon-Seo looks at him, slightly smiling.

Yoon-Seo: Are you that great a person, able to do that?
Yangban: Not myself, but there's someone in very high places who can... and we're really close.
Yoon-Seo: If I write something like that, what will you do? Pass it around to people in your same situation and 'read it' together?
Yangban: No, that's never going to happen... but, you know, since he wants to 'read it' lying side by side...
Yoon-Seo: [Stares him for a few seconds, silent] This world... you learn something new every day.
Yangban: That's right, us humans... that's the scariest thing. There's nothing scarier than people in this world. And you know why? That's because everyone has secrets, everyone. Even you must have some secrets, right?
Yoon-Seo: [Looks at him, probably thinking that he's giving him a sort of warning in case he refused] ...I don't know if I'll be able to do a good job, but... [he nods]

The Yangban slowly pours tea in Yoon-Seo's cup.

Yangban: But let me ask you a question. You were already the best just with words... why the need to add pictures, of all things?
Yoon-Seo: Inbonggeosa.... I wanted to beat him at his own game.
Yangban: [laughs loudly] Hahahaha.... how silly of you. Here, drink some tea.

We move to a shot of Yoon-Seo lying on the floor outside, thinking. The Yangban's final words come to mind (in voiceover), as he quickly gets up, fixing his hat and walking away. While we hear the voiceover, a beautiful, Sergio Leone-like reverse tracking shot closes the scene.

Yangban [Voiceover]: Don't be too greedy. Being the best is not important, it's happiness that counts. No matter how good you are, if you're not happy, then you can't be the best. Look at me, I might live inside this room all day, but do you realize how happy I am?
Yoon-Seo: That's because you're loved by someone...
Yangban: I'm not happy because I'm loved. I'm loved because I'm happy. Silly you...
COMMENT: Aahhhh... just brilliant. I absolutely loved this. Very subtle comedy, with some sadness thrown in, very smart dialogue, great facial expression from Ryu and Han. It's really too bad this is not in the final film (that last line by the Yangban was constantly mentioned by the Press when interviewing Kim, and I do recall being impressed by the scene when I read the script a few months ago). Yet... I do understand why it's not in the final film. It's quite a long scene in an already very long film, and in a way it ruins the mood of the epilogue, by taking off the 'surprise' factor of Yoon-Seo's new idea. But it's a lovely, lovely scene. Great writing.

Deleted Scene 4
We start with the same scene in the film, with Yoon-Seo washing his hands, when something attracts his attention. Then the scene moves to Gwang-Heon playing with other people (I don't know if it's soccer, but there's a ball. Foot-volley as we know it today existed ever since the early Joseon Dynasty, so it's not entirely unrealistic). As he sits drinking, and the other people walk away, two guards approach him.

Gwang-Heon: Do I really have to go?
Guard 2: Of course...
Gwang-Heon: It's not even treason... and we're not even dealing with an interrogation...
Guard 1 Ehh.... I know it's not that, but since an Official acted improperly, we're scaring him a little and sending him away.
Gwang-Heon: Is writing those books a crime, too?
Guard 1: It's immoral, obviously. What are you waiting for... let's get ready.

Gwang-Heon looks worried, while we move inside the Kim Clan's Meeting room, with Yoon-Seo's Father and the Clan's Elders debating on how to solve Yoon-Seo's problem with the court and the consequences for the Kim Clan as a result.

Elder 1: This is a total embarrassment. Let's get to the point, what are you going to do about it?
Yoon-Seo's Father: What do you expect me to do?
Elder 1: What do you think!? Take his name off the family register right now, and prepare his funeral. Since there'll be no memorial tablet, we don't even need sacrificial rites!
Elder 2: I tried to read the book, but my hands were shaking, I was too shocked to continue reading, eohhh uhmmm...!!

We go to a closeup of Lee Soon-Jae showing all the fire of decades doing Sageuk, with charisma oozing from his eyes. He looks at the elders, with confrontational eyes.

Yoon-Seo's Father: May I ask, are you elders only seeing this book as indecent tripe?
Elder 2: Uh? What are you talking about? You mean it's not an indecent book? Then what?
Yoon-Seo's Father: You show once again how little you know about our Yoon-Seo [the 우리 in this case means 'our' as in part of our clan, not 'my son']. Good... good. Should we take a look at this book, then? [Looks at the Book, while the elders join him] OK, as you can see, the protagonist is a member of the Kim Clan [he writes the clan's name on the book, Kim (金)], and when he covets that part of the Court Lady's body, he takes off his 갓 (gat, the traditional cylinder hat worn by Yangban in the Joseon Dynasty), right?
Elder 1: What a deplorable act... an Official taking off his hat and then with his mouth.... Eohh Uhmmm... Really...
Yoon-Seo: So if you take the 'hat' off of Kim (金), what is left? Isn't it the character for King (王) itself [as he talks, we get to see the 金 of Kim hiding the 王 of Wang, King. The way Yoon-Seo's father writes the Hanja for Kim emphasizes how taking off the top of the character for Kim leaves you—more or less—with the character for King]?
Elder 2: Don't you see there's two points left [again, they're more strokes than points, but the way he wrote it, they look like points. While he says that, Yoon-Seo's father looks at him]. Uhhh.... Oh! The beard.... [the King has a beard]
Yoon-Seo: Don't you see he's subtly talking about the mother's side of the Imperial Household meddling with Palace affairs? Isn't that obvious?

The elders look at him with a shocked look.

Elder 4: Isn't that a little... too much?
Yoon-Seo's Younger Brother: Father, even I think it's a bit...
Yoon-Seo's Father: How dare you say that! [Looks at everyone in the room] Here, look at page 27... and here we find an illustration with the man and the woman standing while having sexual intercourse. Even looking at this, nothing comes to mind? Nothing? Are you telling me it's not the character for forest (林, Rim)? [After drawing the character, he shows it to the elders] If it's not making fun of the man, then what do you think this is? And that's not all, the more you dig into it, the pictures have hidden meanings! So much I can't contain my admiration for what my child has done here!
Elder 1: Eohh.. uhhmmm.... well... but then, if he wanted to make those allusions, the way he did it.... [slowly gets up]
Yoon-Seo's Father: If this were a simple indecent novel, he'd get some government post thanks to it. But take a look at this... people have eyes, they know what he's trying to do, unless they're fools. They're just feigning ignorance, that's the thing. Of course I'd like them not to...

A servant enters the room in a rush.

Servant: What should we do! They said they're going to revoke his 고신 (Goshin, letter of appointment to a governmental post)!

All look a little relieved.

Yoon-Seo's Father: I feel sorry for making you Elders worry for nothing, accept my apologies.
Elder 1: That's right! It was obvious something like that couldn't happen to our Yoon-Seo, the best writer in Joseon!
Yoon-Seo's Wife: Touching the hearts of commoners through indecent novels... ahhh, it's Yoon-Seo after all! [Proud]
COMMENT: Brilliant, brilliant comedy, but it might be a little too sophisticated for most people. If you can't read Hanja, the first half of the joke is lost, if you don't know much about Joseon customs, the second half is lost, and it's quite difficult irony as it is. I understand why they took it off, and I wouldn't want to be the one who'd have to subtitle something like this, that's a nightmare waiting to happen. Does this guy know how to write comedy, or what?

Deleted Scene 5
After Yoon-Seo's torture, Gwang-Heon brings him away from there, and they sit down together. Gwang-Heon feels guilty about what happened to him, but he doesn't blame him. As Gwang-Heon tries to kill him off not to make him feel any more pain, he changes his mind, and finally lets him go. This ties really well with the 'Friend' theme of the epilogue, ironically. Nice little scene, with particularly good chemistry between the two.

(Indecent Video)

(Theatrical Trailer) [2:43]
Great work, just brilliant. Starts out with a Yoon-Seo voiceover which feels like a narration from one of his novels (with scenes from the film tied to it), then moves to the comedy bits, almost perfectly edited, and manages to sell all the major points (the 'eroticism', the drama regarding the Eunuch and King later on) while always maintaining a tongue in cheek. So at the end of the day this never feels like a 색즉시공 (Sex is Zero) in the Joseon Dynasty, and gives the idea it was going to be a fun film. Around 2.5 Million people agreed, so it didn't work out too badly.

(Press Meeting) [3:31]
A bit throwaway, but clips about Press Meetings/Screenings always tend to be. Han Suk-Gyu introduces his character, and then comments that despite a few regrets, he was pretty happy with his performance, just as Lee Beom-Soo. Kim Min-Jung jokes that she can't forget to thank the director, as thanks to him she was able to look really pretty in the film. Jung-Bin was a difficult role, and there's probably no actor out there who will be completely satisfied with his or her own performance, but despite a few problems she felt really good about this film. Director Kim closes with a few thoughts, and then we move to the usual photos.

(Poster Shoot) [4:16]
This is pretty fun, with a nice, relaxing melody (Caribbean-ish) in the background. We start with Han Suk-Gyu, Lee Beom-Soo and Kim Min-Jung going through makeup, with them fooling around, and then we move to the poster shoot itself. Movie posters weren't great in terms of design, but the non-graphic designs with the actors was excellent, especially their facial expression.

(Still Gallery) [3:00]
Really beautiful stills, with a stunning red background made of flowers, and little decorations around the borders. They're essentially the same stills you can find at the usual Korean movie portals, but seeing them with this design feels like looking at a photobook. Well produced.


I could describe Forbidden Quest as being three things, essentially: an excellent debut as a director for Kim Dae-Woo; another proof—if we ever needed one—that we're dealing with one of the best writers in Chungmuro; and, finally and perhaps most importantly, that even Sageuk are stripping themselves of genre tropes, which can only be a positive—and you will continue to see films like this, as it ended up recouping its 7 Billion Won budget selling almost 2.5 Million tickets. If you want to add another to the list, this could open a new chapter of Han Suk-Gyu's career—go figure, right after this he chose his first serious 'villain' role in 구타유발자들 (A Bloody Aria)—not only because he was able to show his ever improving range, but because he finally got past that preconception about his image, which in many cases ends up guiding actors' choices in a negative way. Sure, a few cuts and there, staying around the 2 hours a 10 Minutes would have certainly helped, but this film never really drags, it only enjoys its slow tempo. A fabulous script, top notch production values, and excellent acting. Not a masterpiece, but one of the most enjoyable films of the year, so far.

DVD is in line with enterOne's other big releases (which means excellent), and looks just plain fantastic, with one of the best booklets of recent memory (which contains the FULL script, the one which took 3h40m for the reading) and a great looking package. Extra features are well produced and enjoyable, and for once subtitles live up to the standard of the rest of the DVD. A no brainer purchase, especially if you liked Kim Dae-Woo's past works, enjoy Sageuk and/or are a fan of the actors.

OVERALL (Film Rating Counted Twice): 8.21

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paratizeJune 12, 2006 4:18 AM

This was definately a unique film experience, a thing that could be said about a lot of Korean films, actually, but I mean that in a good way. I wasn't expecting the dark violence or the "quiet" humour, nor was I expecting there to be a complete lack of nudity or anything that could really be called erotic. This film, along with "Bewitching Attraction" (which I saw right after) definately had unfair ad campaigns, although I can understand why they wanted to get more people to see the films, as they are both beyond classification. Certainly some interesting new directors still coming out of Korea...

Eight RooksJune 12, 2006 6:44 AM

It's a hard one to rate, for me; I wasn't quite so enthusiastic. I liked it, and there were some truly magical bits in there, but it was way, way, way too long and the plunge into darkness was not properly introduced. The jokes - or at least as far as I could understand them through the subtitles - grated on occasion, too, or tried a little too hard. Nonetheless, it's definitely worth a purchase, and yes, I agree, kudos indeed on the near complete lack of anything even slightly overly sexual, pornographic, whatever. Before the dark stuff I was even considering showing it to my parents. ;)