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In 2010, South Koreans are terrified by a series of murders targeting children. The police fail repeatedly to capture the killer. Finally, the Korean President becomes directly involved in the case. The cops, feeling pressure from all sides, pursue a possible suspect, but the suspect is shot to death by the cops. To avoid another dead end and any further heat, the National Police Agency wants to target another person, any plausible person, and close the case as soon as possible.
Police officer Choi Cheol-Gi (Hwang Jung-Min) is then chosen to do the dirty work. Police officer Choi Cheol-Gi is well respected by his peers and has an impressive resume of arrests, but due to the fact that Choi Chil-Gi did not graduate from the police academy he is always passed over for promotions. This time around, the police brass guarantees a promotion if he is able to close the case.
Choi Cheol-Gi then enlists the help of gangster Jang Suk-Gu (Yu Hae-Jin) to frame a possible suspect as the serial killer.
Meanwhile, prosecutor Joo-Yang (Ryoo Seung-Bum) is assigned to the arrest of the serial killer. He has also take on sponsorship by a powerful real estate businessman. When police officer Choi Cheol-Gi attempts to arrest Joo-Yang's sponsor, prosecutor Joo-Yang looks into Choi Cheol-Gi background to exact revenge. He hits paydirt when he comes across a deal between Choi Cheol-Gi and gangster Jang Suk-Gu.
During this time, the man imprisoned as the serial killer dies in an apparent suicide ...
- Filming began April 15, 2010.
Additional Cast Members:
- 2011 (61st) Berlin International Film Festival - February 10-20, 2011 - Panorama
- 2011 (35th) Hong Kong International Film Festival - March 20 - April 5, 2011 - Gala Presentation
- 2011 (12th) Jeonju International Film Festival - April 28-May 6, 2011 - Cinemascape: Korean Cinema Showcase
- 2011 (13th) Udine Far East Film - April 29-May 7, 2011 *Italian Premiere
- 2011 (14th) Shanghai International Film Festival - June 11-19, 2011 - Panorama - Spectrum
- 2011 (10th) New York Asian Film Festival - July 1-14, 2011 - Sea of Revenge: New Korean Thrillers *New York Premiere
- 2011 (15th) Fantasia Film Festival - July 14-August 7, 2011 *Montreal Premiere
- 2011 (2nd) Korean Film Festival in Australia - August 24-29, 2011 *Opening Film
- 2011 (17th) L'Etrange Festival - September 2-11, 2011
- 2011 (44th) Sitges Film Festival - October 6th-16th, 2011 - Casa Asia
- 2011 (6th) Korean Film Festival In Paris - October 11-18, 2011 - Landscape 2011
- 2011 (6th) The London Korean Film Festival - November 4-10, 2011 - Retrospective: Ryoo Seung-Wan
- 2013 (12th) New York Asian Film Festival - June 28-July 15, 2013
Q&A with dir. Ryoo Seung-Wan
Q&A took place after a screening of "The Unjust" at the 2011 Jeonju International Film Festival
on May 1st, 2011. AsianWiki editor Ki Mun
was there and transcribed/translated the session.
- Moderator: "What does the movie 'The Unjust' mean to you and your filmography? After 'Dachimawa Lee' you didn't make another movie, not by choice, for awhile. Then with the release of "The Unjust" you received positive reception from critics and the public."
- Ryoo Seung-Wan: "This movie has various significance to me. It's the first movie I directed in which I didn't plan or write the original scenario. Since a long while, I wanted to work as a hired director with everything already decided and see how much I could do under that situation. That chance arrived with 'The Unjust'. After 10 years of filmmaking, this movie was something of a new turning point. Since my last film 'Dachimawa Lee' failed commercially, people seemed to avoid my phone calls. But now, it's easy to make an appointment."
- Moderator: "What attracted you to the 'The Unjust'?"
- Ryoo Seung-Wan: "I wanted to talk about relationships. Before this movie, after 'Dachimawa Lee' failed commericially, I had time to think about fundamental things. I pretty much took an involuntary break from fillmmaking. People who manage funds for movie investments felt I was stubborn, would only work one way (my way) and also considered me an unlikeable director. Before 'The Unjust' there was a poll by CJ Entertainment and for awareness I ranked high but for preference to work with I ranked low. Several movies I had planned for could not get funding. At that time I had time to reflect on my 10 years in filmmaking and look back. I began to think about the relationships between people. I was angry at that time. I couldn't even keep my production company affloat. To pay my employee's retirement money, I appeared in CFs and directed music videos. During this time I received the script for 'The Unjust'. I was interested in people who work hard for a living and, without intending too, they harm other people. The movie didn't start to analyze the ills of a capitalistic society. I was interested in the endless food chain. I think I got more interested because I was wandering in that food chain."
- Moderator: "All the actors that appeared in the movie were good. Especially the main characters. What do you think about Hwang Jung-Min and Ryoo Seung-Bum's acting? In the movie, tell us about some scenes that you liked in particular".
- Ryoo Seung-Wan: "Many directors say the only area that cannot be controlled by the director is acting. From a certain point, I do not try to control the acting during filming. I consider casting to be important. I don't try anymore to pull new aspects out from actors. I pick actors who contain certain qualities I am looking for. If actors have tough aspects, I cast them for tough characters and same thing for smooth characters. Before filming, I talk and exchange opinions with the actors a lot. On the filming set I was totally dependent on the actors. In the past, I used to think that the director made every scene. That was the director's mission. But as time went by, I found another way. That is to choose better ideas that are suggested by staff members and actors. Before filming or rehearsals, not only main actors Hwang Jung-Min, Ryoo Seung-Bum and Yu Hae-Jin, but also other good supporting actors continuously suggested ideas and I picked ideas from them. The scene I personally like was while I was preparing for this movie, I showed Hwang Jung-Min the movie 'Point Blank' with Lee Marvin. Lee Marvin's style of acting is acting to me. Even when he has an expressionless face I can feel his emotions. If you have a chance to watch the movie 'Point Blank' I would recommened you check out that movie. Hwang Jung-Min was thinking about how acting was not acting. Let's leave out the acting emotions. In the movie, I can see his expressionless face, for example when the police chief pours alochol and suggests something ... it seemed that moment was frozen in time. Another time when Hwang Jung-Min kneels down in front of the prosecutor ... I get the feeling of the first son protecting his own family from watching that scene. Hwang Jung-Min suggested that part of taking off his clothes. In the case of Ryoo Seung-Bum, the scenes when he becomes hysterical infront of his subordinate. Ryoo Seung-Bum knows me more than other actors. He is aware of the nuances of the script. He did also pull off well the comedic parts. In the case of Yu Hae-Jin, his crazy acting in the trash dump area was the most memorable. During the shooting it smelled so bad in the trash dump area that even on the next day of shooting an assistant director went to the hospital. The actors there could not wear masks. I think his crazy performance was from being addicted to the gas smell. I think the supporting and minor actors did a great job also. The positive response to the movie is in large part due to the great performances.
- Ryoo Seung-Wan: "He used to be a body builder and a trainer for MMA athletes. He was a trainer for actor Park Joong-Hoon. He's also an angel. He knows many detectives, so because of him, I was able to observe detectives prior to filming. Also, staff members and actors got along very well. That affects a movie."
- Moderator: "By following detectives prior to filming what were you able to bring to the movie?"
- Ryoo Seung-Wan: "Cheon Ho-Jin (who played the police chief) when he poured the alcohol ... real detectives pour alcohol like that. Also, many other details contained in the movie. The detective were a big help."
- Moderator: "Most people say that this movie is rhythmical, speedy, and doesn't appear from afar like a 'Ryoo Seung-Wan' film."
- Ryoo Seung-Wan: "This movie was the most comfortable movie I have made so far. I didn't have any dilemmas, like on how to the end the movie."
- Moderator: "How do you evaluate yourself as an actor?"
- Ryoo Seung-Wan: "Did you see me in the movie 'Battlefield Heroes'? My acting is embarrassing."
- Moderator: "Don't you feel sad when you see the last scene in 'The Unjust'? I did have talks about whether it was necessary."
- Ryoo Seung-Wan: "I did not read the original scrpt by Park Hoon-Jung. When I joined the movie, there was already 3 directors that had gone through the project. When I joined, the script was already adapted. Later, I heard from Park Hoon-Jung that in the original script all three characters survived. The movie finished with unfair dealings. If I saw the original, I would choose the original."
- Audience Question: "3D seems all the rage these days. Do you want to make a 3D ssammayi (b-grade) action movie?"
- Moderator: "Must put in ssammayi."
- Audience: "Personally I like Ryoo Seung-Wan's ssammayi action movies."
- Ryoo Seung-Wan: "I'm not sure what the meaning of 'ssammayi'. What is 'ssammayi'?"
- Audience: "I like your ssammayi style movies."
- Ryoo Seung-Wan: "You mean my style is ssammayi?"
- Ryoo Seung-Wan: "I don't think so. And I can't forget the word ssammayi."
- Moderator: "Get over it."
- Ryoo Seung-Wan: "I can't. To me, my style of movie in 3D is a negative. I watched a boxing match shot in 3D and thought it was a distraction and personally I don't like 3D movies. I am just confused. I was not crazy about 'Avatar' either. It does not mean it is a bad movie. I think erotic and slow thriller movies are the most suitable for 3D. For example, if in the movie "No Country for Old Men" the curtain scene was shot in 3D, that would have been chilling. I don't want to make a 3D movie."
- Audience Question: "This movie critized politics and politicians. People thought this might also be reflective of the real world. In the interview with writer Park Hoon-Jung, the case of the elementary school student who was kiddnapped and the criminal could not be apprehended. After the president's harsh words the criminal was caught. The writer thought this kind of scenario was possible. That case inspired him to write this. Even since this movie was release I do think this type of pressure from the outisde exists. Have you ever experienced this type of pressure?"
- Ryoo Seung-Wan: "Didn't have that kind of pressure. In 2010, one of my favorite films was 'A Little Pond'. Prior to the movie's release, people thought the movie may never be released. The cultural policy of the government is more capable than you think. I think if there might be some problem than they don't deal with it. That is their stragety I think. From experience in the past, directors have self censorship. No such things happened to me. In case something happened, the last card I have is the script I did not write."
- Audience Question: "Do you think in the movie there is a victim. If so who is it?"
- Ryoo Seung-Wan: "I never thought about who the victim is. I just focus on the situation. I don't think anybody can be a good person 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Everyone has a different side. Each audience member has their own opinions on the movie. I think as time goes by the director's thoughts should be minimized. Back to the original question, I tried not to think who the victim was."
- Audience Question: "How do you view Ryoo Seung-Bum as a brother and as an actor?"
- Ryoo Seung-Wan: "He is a good brother and a good actor."
- Audience Question: "When you cast actors, what is important to you?"
- Ryoo Seung-Wan: "I consider two things ... their acting ability and their image at the same time. Excellant image with no acting skills, I can't cast. Excellant acting, but not having the right image for the movie I can't cast as well. Next thing I avoid is the over enthusiastic person. The kind of person who would work for free or they would put their life on it. Their enthusiasm usually hides many other problems. Acting is also not a solo thing. Need to work together. I don't cast rowdy drunks, because they cause trouble with other people. If I can't make eye contact than I probably can't catch their good moments."
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