“Shall we go someplace warm? You can
fulfill your dreams there”
(Ri-soo Ha, “Yellow Hair 2”)
“Tell Me Something” (1999). The story of this serial homicide investigation unfolds in a series of misdirected revelations, much as the clues to an actual crime. Eun-ha Shim plays an isolated and seemingly vulnerable stalking victim whose male acquaintances die in a mysterious sequence. Her duplicity and ruthlessness are only appreciated in the very closing moments of this drama. This forces a re-evaluation of all that has gone before.
“Yellow Hair 2” (2001). Three strangers’ lives unexpectedly collide in the banal setting of a convenience store during which a single act of violence binds them in a mutual conspiracy. Ri-soo Ha plays a bisexual male-to-female transgender person who violently retaliates against rejection and discrimination. She unites with a naive victim of sexual exploitation (Yi Shin) to exact revenge on their respective tormentors.
“H: Murmurs” (2002). Jung-ah Yum proves yet again that she may have the coldest screen presence in contemporary Korean cinema. Her homicide investigator character is brave, intelligent and resourceful, yet emotionally crippled. Her pursuit of a serial killer leads through a charnel house of victims as well as evoking a barely controlled rage that has as much to do with her past as the present.
“No Blood No Tears” (2002). Hye-young Lee plays a washed-up petty criminal turned cab driver. Hounded by loan sharks, she is persuaded to become the accomplice to a dangerous robbery of illegal gambling proceeds staged by the battered girlfriend (Do-yeon Jun) of an ex-boxer mobster. The action sequences during the women’s struggle to execute the crime and keep the money are as bleak and unsparing as the title, which is a Korean expression meaning “no mercy.” The acting is superior.
“Resurrection Of The Little Match Girl” (2002). Viewing this film only as a postmodern parody of action film conventions diverts attention from an engaging cast of characters and a number of brutal set-piece action sequences. The film’s protagonists and setting within a video game effectively numb the viewer to the appalling acts on display, as Eun-kyeong Lim as the eponymous Match Girl and Xing Jin as a transgendered female action hero machine-gun their way through ordinary citizens and the agents of an all-too-real totalitarian security state.
“My Wife Is A Gangster 2” (2003).
Eun-Kyung Shin gives another exceptional, engagingly eccentric performance
as an amnesic former gangster now embroiled in the petty rivalries of neighborhood
disputes while working in a local restaurant. As her memories leak
back, she must reconcile why she has tattoos with what she currently does.
This action comedy takes an unflattering look at gender roles and everyday
discrimination as it builds toward a flamboyant action climax.