Erina, or Sakana chan as she likes to be called, was born and raised in Japan but has lived in Vietnam for over one year now. After moving there she noticed that people in Vietnam were interested in areas like anime, manga, cosplay and other areas of Japanese culture but really were not familiar with them. She decided to create Vietmoe, a maid cafe located in Ho Chi Minh City to help spread her personal style and love of Japanese culture. Read more
Yang Ik-Joon – Ddongpari AKA Breathless (2009)
Sanghoon, the character played by Yang Ik-June in Breathless, communicates mostly in cusswords, beats up people for a living, and thinks he’s got a God-given right to spit all over the place. Your everyday guy — just with all of the worst qualities one can get through the combination of unlucky breeding and bad genes.
Breathless Sanghoon works as a thug for a company. His job is to beat up and threaten weaker folks. It fits him like a glove. Maybe it is better for guys like him to stay there, instead of messing with other parts of society — although his victims probably would not agree.
Sanghoon is far from having a knack with people, but for some reason he’s got some complex relationships going on around him, which add flavor to the movie. His father, for one, is stuck at Sanghoon’s house after being released from jail. There is also his recently divorced stepsister and her son. One day he has a nasty run-in with a neighbor, a high school girl called Yeonhee, and due to Yeonhee’s odd taste in men (or perhaps a desperate ploy to incorporate at least one decent character into the film) the two build up something like a friendship. Yeonhee is burdened with a total jerk of a brother and a disturbed Vietnam veteran for a father. The cast also includes Sanghoon’s friend-slash-boss Mansik and his cronies at work.
These folks have one serious problem in common: their fathers. All of the father figures in this film are downright horrible people. They assert their existence only through displays of violence. They do awful things that come back to haunt them later. Of course, it’s not entirely their fault. Yeonhee’s father, for example, is the victim of some kind of illness. But somehow I don’t think he would have been much of a pleasant person even if he had not been sick. The film portrays a disease that spreads violence and ill humor, and fathers are the carriers of the virus.
From this sprouts the main dilemma of the film. The cure for this ‘disease’ is to cut away one’s life from the father, then run like hell. The few close-to-normal characters in the film, like Sanghoon’s stepsister or Mansik, have either succeeded in pulling away from the violent father figure or are fatherless from the start. In Sanghoon and Yeonhee’s case, though, it does not work out that way. Circumstances and blood-ties keep them tangled up with their fathers for life. Since they cannot get away, the film repeatedly attempts to reconcile them with the fathers somehow, showing symptoms of a whiny and unimpressive sort of self-vindication. Sanghoon, in particular, has already sunk pretty low, maybe as low as the father he hates so much, so he must take drastic measures to avoid serving as an excuse for the kind of man his father is, and one that he is becoming. This is not so easy. What the film shows us is probably the best he could have done under the circumstances.
Breathless is a rough and unpolished film, made extremely low-budget under the hands of an inexperienced director. However, being rough and unpolished does not equal lack of professionalism. True, 130 minutes is on the drawn-out side, and too many close-ups clog up the screen. On the other hand, Yang Ik-joon’s direction of his cast is close to perfect, and the lines jump straight out of real life. The plot could be more creative, but it is logical enough. The style goes well with the story, the pace is appropriate, and the music is well-designed. In other words, for all his talk about not knowing what he’s doing, Yang has turned out a better-made film than most films being churned out in the Korean movie scene today. Whether he can keep up the raw energy driving this honest-to-goodness portrayal of lives gone sour throughout his future career remains to be seen. With Breathless, he is just beginning to pour out the words that must have been fermenting inside him all his life.