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The Yellow Sea(2010)
The story of a cab driver in Yanji City, a region between North Korea, China and Russia. His wife goes to Korea to earn money, but he doesn't hear from her since in 6 months. He plays mah-jong to make some extra cash, but this only makes his life worse; but then he meets a hitman who proposes to turn his life around by repaying his debt and reuniting with his wife, just for one hit.
For more about The Yellow Sea and the The Yellow Sea Blu-ray release, see the The Yellow Sea Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on March 28, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Kim Yun-seok, Jo Sung-Ha, Lee Cheol-Min, Jung-woo Ha
Director: Na Hong-jin
» See full cast & crew
The Yellow Sea Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, March 28, 2012
Screened at the Cannes Film Festival and winner of Best Actor Award at the Asian Film Awards, South Korean director Na Hong-jin's "Hwanghae" a.k.a "The Yellow Sea" (2010) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Bounty Films/Eureka Entertainment. The supplemental features on the disc include theatrical trailers, teaser, and making of documentary. In Korean, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
The film opens up in Yanbian, a Korean Autonomous Prefecture surrounded by Russia, China, and North Korea. This is the home of more than 800,000 Korean Chinese known as Joseonjok. Approximately half of them have permits that allow them to legally live and work in South Korea. The rest rely on illegal activities to make ends meet.
Gu Nam (Ha Jung-woo, The Chaser, Take Off) is a taxi driver who lives alone in a tiny apartment on the outskirts of the city. He has a wife but she has managed to get a permit and moved to South Korea. He misses her and often thinks about the days when the two would make love and talk about the future.
A local gangster, Myung-Ga (Kim Yun-seok, Tazza: The High Rollers, Woochi: The Demon Slayer), offers Gu Nam a deal: If he agrees to travel to Seoul and kill a man for him, he would pay off his debts. It goes without saying that Myung-Ga will also take care of all traveling expenses. Realizing that this could be his one and only chance to get out of Yanbian and reunite with his wife, Gu Nam immediately agrees.
A few days later Gu Nam enters South Korea illegally. He quickly locates his target, a wealthy and extremely careful businessman, and begins studying his daily schedule. He also begins looking for his wife.
Eventually, Gu Nam decides that it is time to eliminate the target and heads to his home. However, much to his surprise someone else does before him. Nevertheless, as requested by Myung-Ga, he cuts one of the target's fingers to send it back to Yanbian. But before he could leave the murder scene, the police arrive and a wild chase ensues. Soon after, the South Korean mob and the Chinese mafia also join the party.
The film is divided into four rather large chapters - The Cab Driver, The Killer, Joseonjok and The Yellow Sea. Though the majority of the time the camera follows closely Gu Nam, there are also large sequences dedicated entirely to a couple of secondary characters participating in the chase.
The tempo is incredible. There are various excellent twists as well. Naturally, even though the film runs at a little over 140 minutes, it never feels like it drags. Additionally, the character transformations are all very convincing. The result: a truly engaging action thriller that keeps one intrigued and on the edge of his seat literally until the final credits roll.
It is worth mentioning that quite a few of the killings in the film are very graphic. Especially during the second half, where the Korean and Chinese gangsters clash while trying to track down Gu Nam, the violence is at times uncharacteristically brutal and mean spirited.
The Yellow Sea is directed by South Korean helmer Na Hong-jin, whose equally impressive The Chaser was screened at the Berlin International Film Festival and consequently won the Orient Express Award for Best Film at the Sitges Film Festival.
Note: The Blu-ray release contains the film's director's cut, which runs at approximately 140 minutes. A longer version of the film, running at approximately 156 minutes, was screened theatrically in its native South Korea.
The Yellow Sea Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Na Hong-jin's The Yellow Sea arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Bounty Films/Eureka Entertainment.
Contrast and clarity tend to fluctuate as the main protagonist moves from one location to another. The color-scheme also constantly evolves, though cold grays and blues are always part of the mix. Despite the fact that the camera never stops moving, detail is consistently very good, while clarity is pleasing even during the nighttime sequences (see screencapture #4). The wider panoramic vistas also convey pleasing fluidity. There are no traces of post-production sharpening. I also did not see any serious transfer-specific anomalies, such as banding or aliasing. Compression artifacts also do not plague the transfer. Finally, there is no distracting flicker or serious stability issues to report in this review. All in all, this is a competent presentation that should please fans of The Yellow Sea. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
The Yellow Sea Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. For the record, Bounty Films have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they split the image frame and the black bar below it.
The loseless audio track boasts a wide range of dynamics. During the action sequences the surround channels are also intelligently used, creating the impression that one is placed right in the middle of the various crashes and shootouts. There is one specific sequence, in particular, where a number of police cars are destroyed, which is likely to test the muscles of your audio system. The dialog is crisp, clean, stable, and easy to follow. Additionally, there are no high-frequency distortions, sync issues, or audio dropouts. The English translation is also very good.
The Yellow Sea Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Yellow Sea Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Na Hong-jin's The Yellow Sea is one heck of an action film. It reminded me of Dante Lam's Fire of Conscience - it is fast, loud, deadly serious and uncompromisingly brutal. What a shame that 20th Century Fox, who apparently helped finance the film, decided to release it only on DVD in the U.S. as part of their Fox World Cinema series. The Yellow Sea would have been an instant hit on Blu-ray. If you could play Region-B "locked" releases and enjoy high-octane action, make sure you pick up this disc. I guarantee you will not be disappointed. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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The Yellow Sea Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Yellow Sea Officially Announced - January 12, 2012
Independent British distributors Eureka Entertainment have officially announced that they will release on Blu-ray Hwanghae a.k.a The Yellow Sea (2010), a Korean drama starring Yun-seok Kim and directed by Hong-jin Na, who won critical acclaim for his previous film ...
• Yakuza Weapon Blu-ray - October 4, 2011
Bountry Films, an independent UK label whose releases are distributed by Eureka Entertainment, will release on Bu-ray Japanese directors Tak Sakaguchi and Yûdai Yamaguchi's Gokudô heiki a.k.a Yakuza Weapon (2011), a wild combination of hard-boiled gangster action, ...
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