Following Chun Doo-hwan's ascent to power, brutality by government forces was common in order to assure that no one challenged the new political order. In Gwangju, on May 18th, 1980, this brutality reached a tipping point. Attacks against people who weren't even related to ongoing political protests enraged enough common citizens that they took to the streets and defied the government with show of force. "No Name Stars" is the story of those people- what they were doing then, and what they are doing today.
Hancinemas Film Review No Name Stars176 Articles
Based on the 2001 Japanese television drama "Pure Soul", John H. Lee's second feature film was his first in the Korean language, and a huge success, becoming the highest grossing domestic film in the romance genre in the history of Korean cinema. Furthermore, upon its release in Japan in 2005, became the most successful Korean film ever in the country.
The story revolves around Cheol-soo, a carpenter working in construction who aspires to become an architect, and Soo-jin, the daughter of the contractor Cheol-soo is working for, and a fashion designer who has been recently spurned by her lover, a colleague who was also a married man. The film is split in two parts. The first one describes the courtship of the two and the second their lives together, which are shattered when Soo-jin is diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
Soon-ae (played by Kim Hye-ja), Sang-beom (played by Song Jae-ho), and Soo-mi (played by Her Jin) are old people who knew each other a very long time ago as students. They don't anymore- nor do they ever meet as adults, and we don't find out what happened to the fourth character in the flashbacks either. Going by the generally dark overall tone of "The Way - 2017", he's probably dead. Still, memories of those idyllic times pop up in their individual stories, a stark reminder of a the radically different world they now live in.
Ho-bin (played by Jo Han-seon) is a mildly famous person who is the drummer in an even more mildly famous band- the kind that gets booked for weddings. The other members want to try and improve their prospects with a road trip and Ho-bin, facing personal problems of his own, agrees. The gimmick is, they're going to take South Korea by donkey. While being followed by a car and camera, which kind of defeats the purpose of traveling around slowly with a donkey cart but whatever, I don't get social media marketing anyway.
In the opening scene of "The Merciless", a couple of obvious criminals are having a dish of seafood, and discussing the unfortunate implications of of eating cuisine that appears to be looking at you. The end to their conversation is abrupt, and when the dust has settled, Jae-ho (played by Sul Kyung-yu) get one last ominous look at the fish, clearly the real villain. Then we see Hyeon-soo (played by Im Si-wan) exit jail and walk onto the set of a music video.
Both of these character introductions are interesting and noteworthy, and for awhile "The Merciless" continues that streak with a wild jailhouse scene where bored inmates entertain each other by playing mild restriction fight club. But after that, the more I try to remember of "The Merciless", the fuzzier the movie's actual plot becomes. It doesn't help that some of the most basic exposition is really weirdly late. We don't even find out why Hyeon-soo is in jail until maybe a third of the way through.