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During the Japanese occupation of Korea in 1928, young Tatsuo (later played by Joe Odagiri) arrives with his parents in Seoul where Tatsuo's grandfather is stationed as an army official. On his arrival at his grandfather's house, Tatsuo meets a young Korean boy named Joon-Sik (later played by Jang Dong-Gun). Joon-Sik, his younger sister and his father all work and reside in the Japanese official's home. Young Tatsuo and Joon-Sik both enjoy running and have competed since as marathon runners.
As high school students, Tatsuo wins a marathon race. To celebrate Tatsuo's victory, a party is held at his grandfather's home. Joon-Sik and his family serve food during the party. A man then hands a small box to Joon-Sik's father instructing him to give the box as a present to Tatsuo. Joon-Sik's father then hands the present to Tatsuo in front of all the guests. Tatsuo opens the box and takes out a small doll like present. A clicking sound is then heard. Tatsuo's grandfather suddenly grabs the doll and dives on top of it. A violent explosion then occurs.
Tatsuo's grandfather dies from the explosion and Joon-Sik's father is taken away by the police. Joon-Sik's father is released by the police, but not as the same man as he was before. He was severely beaten and is now crippled. Joon-Sik and his family are kicked out of Tatsuo's home. Tatsuo also points a sword at Joon-Sik and warns him to never cross his path again.
Time passes and Joon-Sik supports his family by working as a rickshaw runner. A qualifying marathon race is about to be held for the upcoming Olympics, but Koreans are not allowed to participate. A press conference is held for the qualifying match with Tatsuo in attendance. Korean marathon runner Son Ki-Jung, winner from the Berlin Olympics, crashes the press conference and demands that Korean runners be allowed to compete in the qualifying race. Son Ki-Jung made it to the press conference with the help of Joon-Sik, who ran through the streets at incredible speeds with Son Ki-Jung riding in his rickshaw. During the press conference Joon-Sik asks to take part in the match.
Meanwhile, Tatsuo grew up under the influence of his military officer grandfather. Tatsuo is extremely loyal to the Japanese Emperor and willing to die for his country, but Tatsuo's father is different. Tatsuo's father is a doctor and believes human life is more important than war. Tatsuo's father wanted Tatsuo to follow in his footsteps and become a doctor, but Tatsuo refused.
Son Ki-Jung then arrives at Joon-Sik's home and gives him the good news that he is allowed to take part in the Olympic qualifying match.
The race takes place with a large attendance. Koreans and Japanese stand by cheering on their favorite runners. Towards the finish line, Tatsuo holds a slim lead over Joon-Sik, but is overtaken prior to crossing the finish line by Joon-Sik. Yet, the announcer declares Tatsuo as the winner. Joon-Sik protests in front of the marathon director, but is beaten by nearby guards. A riot quickly ensues. The Koreans that riot against the Japanese guards are then arrested. The arrested Koreans, including Joon-Sik, learn that they are now conscripted into the Japanese army as their punishment.
Now Joon-Sik and other Koreans find themselves fighting for the Japanese Imperial Army in China. One day, they gather in line to greet a new Japanese colonel for their unit. The man that gets out of the car is Tatsuo ...
- Filming began October 15, 2010 in Saemangeum, South Korea.
- Shooting locations will take place in South Korea, China, France, Russia and Latvia.
- Movie budget is 28 billion Won ($25 million).
- Actress Son Ye-Jin was originally cast as the main female lead Yeon-Hee, but due to scenario changes dropped out of the movie prior to filming.
- As of January 13th, 2011 - "My Way" has completed 40% of its shooting and is on track for a December 2011 release date in Korea.
- Filming finished June 12, 2011 in the country of Latvia. The final scene filmed was a fierce battle set during the Battle of Normandy.
- "My Way" opened in Japan, January 14, 2012. During its opening weekend, "My Way" came in #3 selling 71,644 tickets for a gross profit of 85,266,600 yen ($1.1 million USD).
Additional Cast Members:
Press Conference (Busan International Film Festival)
Press conference for "My Way" took place at the 2011 Busan International Film Festival on October 8, 2011. Appearing as speakers are Japanese actor Joe Odagiri, Chinese actress Fan Bingbing, Korean actor Jang Dong-Gun & Korean director Kang Je-Gyu. AsianWiki editor Ki Mun was there and transcribed/translated the session.
- Press Question: For director Kang Je-Gyu why did you pick this movie?
- Kang Je-Gyu: I received the original scenario 4 years ago. I then watched a 3 episode SBS documentary on the same subject which made me unable to sleep. So, roughly 2 and a half years ago I made the decision to direct the movie myself.
- Press Question: Why did you pick the title “My Way,” which is also the title of a very famous song?
- Kang Je-Gyu: The way I walk, we walk .. the movie is about a marathon and a dream. The meaning of the title represents the way Joon-Sik walks and the way we walk. Even though many people were against “My Way” as the title I love the title.
- Press Question: Could you introduce your characters?
- Jang Dong-Gun: My character is a young Korean man named Joon-Sik who dreams of becoming the 2nd coming of Olympic runner Son Gi-Jung. By unforeseen incidents, he is forcibly conscripted into the Japanese military and into World War II. Joon-Sik is the same from beginning to the end. He never loses his dream while he goes through many hardships. I hope people become encouraged by Joon-Sik.
- Fan Bingbing: My character is a female Chinese solider. Before filming began, the director told me she is sharpshooter. I was happy to work with Jang Dong-Gun and Joe Odagiri. In the movie I play a female solider with strength.
- Joe Odagiri: Simply put, Tatsuo is the man who is next to Joon-Sik. Joon-Sik's character is to achieve his dreams no matter what. Tatsuo is more introspective and grows by the various things that happens. He grows up and goes through a lot of changes.
- Press Question: In general, what’s the size of the movie’s budget? Also, what’s the percentage of fiction and nonfiction in the screenplay?
- Kang Je-Gyu: 80% of the budget came from Korean companies SK and CJ,10% from China and 10% from venture financing companies. In general, production cost was about 28,000,000,000 Won ($25-$28 million USD). The structure of Joon-Sik’s journey is non-fiction. The marathon element is fiction. The story has a combination of fiction and nonfiction elements.
- Press Question: In the past, the 3 countries of Korea, Japan and China have gone through painful relationships. When you made this movie, how were you able to walk the fine line of not causing more pain?
- Kang Je-Gyu: This movie doesn’t dramatize who are the offenders and who are the victims. The story is about one human being who doesn’t let go of his dream even though he is caught in World War II. Because of his dream there is forgiveness and understanding. The movie is basically a human story.
- Press Question: It's been 7 years since you worked with director Kang Je-Gyu in the movie “Taegukgi.” Compare your time shooting “Taegukgi” with “My Way” and were there any differences?
- Jang Dong-Gun: I think Kang Je-Gyu keeps getting younger. After “Taegukgi,” I thought I couldn’t do another war movie and wouldn’t do another war movie. What else could be said about war? Then, about 3 years ago, Kang Je-Gyu told me about a documentary and a potential movie from that material. At that time, he wasn’t sure if he would direct the movie himself. I hesitated to take part in the film. When I learned Kang Je-Gyu would direct the movie then my decision came easily.
- Press Question: You worked with two handsome men. Give your thoughts about them and who is closer to your ideal male figure?
- Fan Bingbing: In reality, they are both chic and like you see in their movies they both have charisma. Both are close to my ideal figure so I can’t choose.
- Joe Odagiri: Korean food is delicious. Korean people have good personalities and it only takes about 2 hours to get here from Japan. Those things make it perfect for me to work with Koreans. Korean movies are also big in scale. Korean movies have things that Japanese movies do not have. Every time I have worked here I have enjoyed my time.
- Press Question: Were there any difficulties for you as an actress while shooting action and war scenes?
- Fan Bingbing: It was hard. In particular, there are a lots of gun battles and explosions. I was scared a lot at first. As time went by, and watching Jang Dong-Gun & Joe Odagiri work without fear, I thought I shouldn’t be afraid either. Shooting took place in extremely cold weather. I thought I had to put up with the cold weather. While shooting this movie, I learned the Korean word “pigonhaeyo?” (“tired?”). Filming occurred late at night and sometimes I felt exhausted. Every day, Jang Dong-Gun would ask me “pigonhaeyo?” Because of this I learned the Korean word “ahn pigonhaeyo” (“not tired”). During the difficult circumstances I felt good that they treated me well. I thought director Kang Ke-Gyu treated the actors and actresses well and he is a director who protects the actors and actresses. Many actors and actresses in China told me they envied me. Even though it was difficult work I feel it was worth it.
- Press Question: To the director, would you evaluate the three main performers? Also, since “Taegukgi” Jang Dong-Gun has always taken strong characters. Do you feel burdened being fixed to the strong image type?
- Kang Je-Gyu: In this type of movie if the actors are not aggressive it is hard to make the movie. I felt they all did well in their roles and put out 120% effort.
- Jang Dong-Gun: I don’t intend to seek out strong characters. I think it is fun to express strong emotions as an actor. I’m not afraid of my image being fixed to a similar image, but I would like to play a character who takes part in ordinary daily life.
- Press Question: Any memorable episodes during filming and what were your initial impressions of each other?
- Joe Odagiri: Filming took about 10 months. There are many memorable episodes. I will mention one funny incident. We were to film on a snow covered mountain. The scene involved knocking down a tree. For that scene an actual woodcutter was called in to prepare the tree for us. Before anybody noticed, the woodcutter had completely knocked down the tree. That was funny. Impressions. Handsome actor and beautiful actress who represent their countries. Jang Dong-Gun is kind and a leader type, who leads on the filming set. Bingbing Fan appers in a Oolong Tea commercial in Japan. In the commercial she devours the tea and I thought she looked attractive.
- Press Question: There are lots of battle scenes, explosions and marathon scenes. That must have been difficult? Also, what are your impressions of acting together?
- Jang Dong-Gun: I already had experience in a war movie, so before filming began, actors, including Kim In-Kwon, asked me about bombing scenes & gun battles. I told them about my previous experiences. But, it turned out on the filming set for “My Way,” I was the one who was startled. The firepower and explosions were much powerful than I expected. I could tell from that it was different from Taegukgi. Technology also progressed. But, no matter the size of the battle, in front of the camera an actor has to recognize the situation and concentrate. Have to remember the location of the bomb and pay attention mentally and physically. For the marathon scene, before the shooting began I learned how to run for a marathon and practiced. The longest I ran was 8 kilometers. Joe Odagiri actually ran in a marathon in Japan. The scenes with Joe Odagiri I used Japanese mostly. I practiced a lot to deliver emotions in Japanese and Joe Odagiri helped me a lot. Joe Odagiri is an actor who thinks deeply and has firm thoughts as an actor ... so we are on the same wavelength.
- Joe Odagiri: About running in a marathon. I tried running and I liked it. So I participated in a marathon. Running in a marathon is good for your health so I think I’ll continue to do that into the future. About Jang Dong-Gun. As you know Jang Dong-Gun is a good actor. While acting together I could tell he was also considerate. I felt we understood each other well. If I were a woman I would have a crush on him. Actually, as a man, I felt enough to have a crush on Jang Dong-Gun. I think, same as Jang Dong-Gun, that the language thing was no problem.
- Press Question: “My Way’ has held a press conference at Cannes and cast actors from South Korea, China and Japan. The movie is being released in South Korea and Japan at the same time. Tell us about the prospects for the international market. Question for Jang Dong-Gun. I think from some of your recent and future work, you have aspirations for working internationally? For the actors and actress were there any dangerous moments while filming?
- Kang Je-Gyu: “My Way” will be released in South Korea in late 2011 and January 14, 2012 in Japan. The release dates for China and America are still being decided. It might be late January, 2012. Unlike other movies, “My Way” will be distributed directly. We’ll combine efforts to distribute directly to those markets. For other areas and in Europe, decisions will come out soon.
- Jang Dong-Gun: I don’t intend or have a specific strategy. I pick films I like and that is what it is. It might be a personal tendency that I am interested in certain titles.
- Fan Bingbing: In the movie, every scene was dangerous while shooting. Fortunately, actors, director and staff took great care and we were able to finish safely.
- Joe Odagiri: For me the most dangerous moment is the fight scene between myself and Jang Dong-Gun. At one point, my fist hit Jang Dong-Gun in the face. When that happened I was frightened. I thought if I injure Jang Dong-Gun, who represents Korea, I might not be able to enter South Korea again or it might have international repercussions.
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