Assassination (2015 film)

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Assassination
Assassination (poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byChoi Dong-hoon
Produced byAhn Soo-hyun
Choi Dong-hoon
Written byChoi Dong-hoon
Lee Ki-cheol
StarringJun Ji-hyun
Lee Jung-jae
Ha Jung-woo
Music byJang Young-gyu
Dalpalan
CinematographyKim Woo-hyung
Edited byShin Min-kyung
Production
company
Caper Film
Distributed byShowbox[1][2]
Release date
  • July 22, 2015 (2015-07-22)
Running time
140 minutes
CountrySouth Korea
LanguageKorean
Japanese
Mandarin
BudgetUS$16 million[3]
Box officeUS$90.9 million[4]

Assassination (Hangul암살; Hanja暗殺; RRAmsal) is a 2015 South Korean espionage action film co-written and directed by Choi Dong-hoon.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13]

The film is currently the eighth-highest-grossing movie in Korean film history with over 12.7 million admissions.

Plot[edit]

In 1911, during Japan's rule over Korea, a resistance fighter named Yem Sek-jin tries but fails to assassinate the governor-general and a pro-Japanese businessman named Kang In-guk. That evening, Kang discovers that his own wife was helping Yem. Kang kills his wife but a wet nurse runs off with one of his twin daughters. By 1933, there are over 30 Korean independence factions operating in Korea, China, and Manchuria. Yem has become a captain in one of these factions, but his colleagues are unaware that he is secretly reporting to the Japanese, since back in 1911 he was tortured by the Japanese into submission.

Yem meets with some Korean politicians in Hangzhou, including Kim Koo and Kim Won-bong, and is asked to gather three delinquent resistance members—Big Gun, Duk-sam, and Ahn Okyun—so they can enter Seoul and assassinate Kang, along with a general named Kawaguchi Mamoru. After bringing them to Shanghai, however, Yem sells this information to the Japanese. The Japanese attempt to find Ahn, but a skilled contract-killer named Hawaii Pistol decides, on the spur of the moment, to pretend that Ahn is his wife, allowing her to elude the soldiers.

Kim Koo questions Yem's loyalty giving Yem's subordinates, Myung-woo and Se-gwang, orders to kill him if he is a spy. However, Yem manages to come out the victor instead. Additionally, Yem hires Hawaii Pistol to intercept and kill the three resistance members, telling Hawaii Pistol that they are Japanese spies, anticipating a great reward from the Japanese. As Hawaii Pistol and his assistant Buddy travel to Seoul, they befriend Kawaguchi's son, who is a lieutenant in the Kwantung Army. In Seoul, Hawaii Pistol locates Big Gun and shoots him as he is running. With Big Gun missing, Duk-sam and Ahn proceed with the operation, hoping to ambush their targets at a gas station. To their misfortune, the car is a decoy and both Duk-sam and Korean sympathizer Kimura are killed in the attempt. Ahn is then ambushed by Hawaii Pistol, but he recognizes and spares her, and even sympathizes with her mission, since he is himself a Korean.

Ahn discovers that she is Kang's missing twin daughter. The other daughter, who happens to be engaged to Kawaguchi's son, recognizes Ahn and visits her apartment, but is killed by her father Kang, Yem and a group of soldiers. The latter are none the wiser and believe they have successfully killed Ahn. At this point, Ahn assumes her twin's identity, and a few days later, enters the wedding as the bride. Assisted by Hawaii Pistol, Buddy, and Big Gun—who survived his injuries—they carry out an attack on the wedding. Ahn kills Kawaguchi, and Hawaii Pistol kills Kang when Ahn hesitates to do so, revealing that he killed his father, a Japanese sympathizer, and did not want Ahn to live with that and become a mercenary like him. Big Gun is killed while covering their escape, taking Kawaguchi's son hostage, they are hemmed in by army reinforcements. Hawaii Pistol, realizing that she can still pose as her twin, shares a kiss with Ahn, promising to meet her again in the cafe they met in Shanghai. Ahn walks out and is rescued by the Japanese soldiers—she later absconds back to Shanghai. Hawaii Pistol and the Buddy attempt to escape but Yem kills them.

For his services to Japan, Yem is made head of the secret police. However, the Japanese are defeated in World War II and Korea is liberated. In 1949, a commission for war crimes investigates Yem—now a senior officer with the Korean police—who protests his innocence and points to his resistance service. The only witness to Yem's guilt is found murdered, so the charges are dropped. Even so, Yem is cornered on the streets by Ahn and Myung-woo, who survived his injuries earlier in the film but was rendered mute and slightly disfigured. They proceed to shoot Yem and he dies. Ahn sadly recalls her friends in the Resistance, Hawaii Pistol and Buddy before the screen fades out.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

With a budget of ₩18 billion (or US$16 million), Assassination filmed in both Shanghai and Seoul for five months. A special set of 13,500 square meters was created in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, to recreate the Seosomun Street in Gyeongseong. The rest of the filming took place at the Shanghai set in Chedun, which is 27 times the size of the Hapcheon set in South Gyeongsang Province. (The 2007 Chinese film Lust, Caution was also shot in Chedun.)[3]

Music[edit]

  1. Antonín Dvořák's Humoresques Op. 101, No. 7 (heard during the group photo scene)
  2. Antonín Dvořák's Symphony No. 9
  3. Robert Schumann's Kinderszenen Op. 15 Träumerei (heard during Ahn Ok-yun posed as Mitsuko at her home)
  4. Johannes Brahms's Hungarian Dances No. 17
  5. Frédéric Chopin's Piano Concerto #1 in E Minor, Op.11[19]
  6. Richard Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg Vorspiel zum III. Aufzug-Knappertsbusch
  7. Jean Gabin's Leo, Lea, Elie issued from album DOM_1606 of Disques Dom (heard during the dancing scene after the three assassins arrived in Nanking)

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Opening on 1,260 screens on July 22, 2015, Assassination earned ₩3.59 billion (US$3.1 million (exchange rate 2016.05.04)) from 478,000 admissions. It was the best opening day for a local film in 2015 and the second-best opening day overall in Korea behind Avengers: Age of Ultron.[20][21][22] As of August 26, 2015, it has grossed a total of US$77 million from 11.79 million admissions, making it the highest-grossing Korean film of 2015 as well as the eighth-all-time-highest-grossing film in Korean cinema history.[23][24][25][26] The film earned CN¥46.959 million at the Chinese box office.[27]

Critical reception[edit]

Assassination has received mixed to positive reviews, holding an 88% "Certified Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes, most reviews of which praises the film's entertainment value but criticizes its length and complicated narrative. Village Voice's Simon Abrams found the film's highlights to be during its lighthearted scenes, and summarized Assassination as "the kind of overstuffed historical mega-production that Hollywood doesn't make anymore."[28] Although lamenting the film's characters and running time, Screen Daily's Jason Bechervaise praised Choi Dong-hoon's direction and his execution of the movie's action sequences.[29] The Washington City Paper praised the film as a "revelation for Korean cinema and a rediscovery of form."[30]

The New York Times' Jeanette Catsoulis also praised the film's action scenes, but argued that its screenplay contained too many characters and surmised that "it's possible to follow [Assassination] without taking notes, but I wouldn't recommend it."[31] Similarly, The Hollywood Reporter's Clarence Tsui admired the high production values of the film, but heavily disapproved of its poor characterizations and Choi's approach to the historical film genre, particularly labeling the film's ending as "half-baked commentary."[32]

Plagiarism lawsuit[edit]

On August 10, 2015, novelist Choi Jong-rim filed a lawsuit against director Choi Dong-hoon, production company Caper Film and distributor Showbox, alleging that various elements from Assassination, including the setting and the female protagonist, highly resemble those of his book Korean Memories, published in 2003. Choi is seeking ₩10 billion (US$8.65 million (exchange rate 2016.05.04)) in damages. Caper Film denied those claims, rebutting that the female character in Choi's novel is not a sniper, and that assassination schemes were common in the anti-Japanese movement.[33][34][35][36]

Seoul Central District Court rejected Choi's request for an injunction to stop the film from being shown in theaters, ruling on August 19, 2015 that an abstract summary cannot be protected by copyright laws, the female protagonists in the novel and the film are "depicted in completely different ways" with the assassination plan not a major plot point in the novel, and that supporting characters Kim Koo and Kim Won-bong are real historical figures and hence cannot be viewed as a source of similarity between the two works.[37]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient Result
2015
24th Buil Film Awards
Best Film Assassination Nominated
Best Director Choi Dong-hoon Nominated
Best Actor Lee Jung-jae Won
Best Actress Jun Ji-hyun Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Cho Jin-woong Nominated
Best Cinematography Kim Woo-hyung Nominated
Best Art Direction Ryu Seong-hee Won
Best Music Jang Young-gyu, Dalpalan Nominated
35th Korean Association of Film Critics Awards[38]
Best Film Assassination Nominated
Best Director Choi Dong-hoon Nominated
Best Actress Jun Ji-hyun Nominated
Best Cinematography Kim Woo-hyung Won
Technical Award Ryu Seong-hee
(Art Direction)
Won
Top 10 Films of the Year Assassination Won
52nd Grand Bell Awards
Best Film Assassination Nominated
Best Director Choi Dong-hoon Nominated
Best Actor Ha Jung-woo Nominated
Best Actress Jun Ji-hyun Won
Best Supporting Actor Oh Dal-su Nominated
Best Screenplay Choi Dong-hoon, Lee Ki-cheol Nominated
Best Cinematography Kim Woo-hyung Nominated
Best Editing Shin Min-kyung Nominated
Best Art Direction Ryu Seong-hee Nominated
Best Lighting Kim Seung-gyu Nominated
Best Costume Design Jo Sang-gyeong, Son Na-ri Nominated
Best Music Jang Young-gyu, Dalpalan Nominated
High Technology Special Award Jeong Do-an, Kim Tae-ui
(Special Effects)
Nominated
Best Sound Recording Kim Suk-won, Park Joo-gang Nominated
36th Blue Dragon Film Awards
Best Film Assassination Won
Best Director Choi Dong-hoon Nominated
Best Actor Lee Jung-jae Nominated
Best Actress Jun Ji-hyun Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Cho Jin-woong Nominated
Best Screenplay Choi Dong-hoon, Lee Ki-cheol Nominated
Best Cinematography Kim Woo-hyung Nominated
Best Editing Shin Min-kyung Nominated
Best Art Direction Ryu Seong-hee Nominated
Best Lighting Kim Seung-gyu Nominated
Best Music Jang Young-gyu, Dalpalan Nominated
Technical Award Jo Sang-gyeong, Son Na-ri
(Costume Design)
Won
Lee Jeon-hyeong, Lee Dong-hun
(Visual Effects)
Nominated
2016
52nd Baeksang Arts Awards
Best Film Assassination Won
Best Director Choi Dong-hoon Nominated
Best Actress Jun Ji-hyun Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Cho Jin-woong Nominated
Best Screenplay Choi Dong-hoon Nominated
10th Asian Film Awards
Best Supporting Actor Oh Dal-su Nominated
Best Cinematographer Kim Woo-hyung Nominated
Best Sound Kim Suk-won, Park Joo-gang Nominated
21st Chunsa Film Art Awards
Best Director Choi Dong-hoon Won
Best Actress Jun Ji-hyun Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Cho Jin-woong Won
Best Screenplay Choi Dong-hoon, Lee Ki-cheol Nominated
Technical Award Assassination Nominated
7th KOFRA Film Awards
Best Supporting Actor Oh Dal-su Won
11th Max Movie Awards
Best Film Assassination Nominated
Best Director Choi Dong-hoon Nominated
Best Actor Lee Jung-jae Nominated
Best Actress Jun Ji-hyun Won
Best Supporting Actress Kim Hae-sook Nominated
Best Poster Assassination Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kil, Sonia (22 March 2015). "HK FilMart: Hefty Pre-sales Titles Head Showbox Slate". Variety. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  2. ^ Frater, Patrick (23 July 2015). "HK FilMart: Assassination Strong On Korean Theatrical Debut". Variety. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  3. ^ a b Yun, Suh-young (21 July 2015). "Historical action flick, a promising hit". The Korea Times. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  4. ^ "Assassination (2015)". the-numbers.com. Retrieved October 17, 2015.
  5. ^ Won, Ho-jung (22 June 2015). "Assassination an ode to Korea's 1930s independence fighters". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  6. ^ Baek, Byung-yeul (23 June 2015). "Thieves director returns with thriller". The Korea Times. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
  7. ^ Conran, Pierce (30 January 2014). "CHOI Dong-hoon Sets ASSASSINATION as Next Project". Korean Film Biz Zone. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  8. ^ Kim, Hee-eun (28 January 2014). "Jun Ji-hyun thinking Assassination". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  9. ^ Conran, Pierce (5 September 2014). "CHOI Dong-hoon Plots ASSASSINATION". Korean Cinema Today. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  10. ^ Ma, Kevin (6 September 2014). "Choi Dong-hoon begins Assassination shoot". Film Business Asia. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  11. ^ Conran, Pierce (17 February 2015). "Production on CHOI Dong-hoon's ASSASSINATION Wraps". Korean Film Biz Zone. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  12. ^ Jin, Min-ji (20 June 2015). "Assassination release is set". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 21 June 2015.
  13. ^ "Actresses lead Korean film industry this summer". Yonhap. 29 July 2015. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  14. ^ Yoon, Sarah (22 June 2015). "Jun Ji-hyun released stress by shooting guns". K-pop Herald. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  15. ^ Ji, Yong-jin (3 July 2015). "Not trying to be the pretty girl". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  16. ^ "Actress Jun Ji-hyun faces second heyday with Assassination". The Korea Times. 21 July 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  17. ^ "Jeon Ji-hyun Shows off Tough Side in New Espionage Film". The Chosun Ilbo. 1 August 2015. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  18. ^ Won, Ho-jung (22 July 2015). "Herald Interview: Ha Jung-woo brings romance to dark era in Assassination". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
  19. ^ "Classic music becomes a new formula for success of movies". The Dong-a Ilbo. 18 August 2015. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  20. ^ Ma, Kevin (23 July 2015). "Assassination has ace opening in South Korea". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  21. ^ "Assassination 'jackpot' on theater opening". The Korea Times. 23 July 2015. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  22. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (27 July 2015). "Minions, Ant-Man Grow In Actuals; Pixels Powered By Latin America – Intl B.O. Final". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  23. ^ "Assassination 2015's top Korean movie". The Korea Times. 2 August 2015. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  24. ^ Kim, Bo-eun (16 August 2015). "Assassination ticket sales pass 10 million". The Korea Times. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  25. ^ Lee, Hyo-won (18 August 2015). "South Korea Box Office: Local Action Movie Assassination On Top, Becomes Biggest Film of 2015". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 18 August 2015.
  26. ^ "Assassination Ranks as 10th Most Viewed Korean Film". The Chosun Ilbo. 24 August 2015. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
  27. ^ "暗杀(2015)". cbooo.cn (in Chinese). Retrieved October 17, 2015.
  28. ^ Abrams, Simon (4 August 2015). "Korean Adventure Assassination Is The Kind Of Production Hollywood Gave Up On". Village Voice. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  29. ^ Bechervaise, Jason (27 July 2015). "Assassination: Review". Screen Daily. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  30. ^ Paarlberg, Mike (12 August 2015). "Assassination is a Revelation for Korean Cinema". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  31. ^ Catsoulis, Jeanette (6 August 2015). "Review: Assassination, With Twists and Hired Guns in 1930s Seoul and Shanghai". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  32. ^ Tsui, Clarence (10 August 2015). "Assassination (Am-sal): Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  33. ^ "S. Korean movie Assassination sued for plagiarism". Yonhap. 12 August 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  34. ^ Bahk, Eun-ji (12 August 2015). "Novelist files compensation suit against Assassination". The Korea Times. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  35. ^ Lim, Jeong-yeo (12 August 2015). "Assassination embroiled in plagiarism dispute". K-pop Herald. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  36. ^ Jin, Min-ji (13 August 2015). "Author files suit over Assassination". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  37. ^ Jin, Eun-soo (19 August 2015). "Assassination claim rejected". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
  38. ^ Conran, Pierce (2 November 2015). "THE THRONE Tops Korean Association of Film Critics Awards". Korean Film Biz Zone. Retrieved 6 November 2015.

External links[edit]