At Fantastic Fest 2008 Na Hong-jin blew audiences away with his incredibly assured debut feature THE CHASER. For his sophomore film THE YELLOW SEA, Na has reassembled his two leads from THE CHASER and crafted a hyper-violent, border crossing crime epic sure to become another audience favorite.
Gu-nam (Ha Jung-woo) is a cab driver in Yanji City, a Chinese region between North Korea and Russia dominated mostly by Joseonjok, Chinese citizens of Korean ancestry. After going into extreme debt with shady types who smuggle his wife into Korea to work, Gu-nam fears his wife has left him in Yanji for good when he hasn’t heard from her for six months. The opportunity for him to pay off all liabilities comes in the form of an offer from Myung-ga (Kim Yun-seok), a powerful crime boss to whom Gu-nam owes many mahjong gambling losses. Myung-ga offers to smuggle Gu-nam into Korea where he will kill someone for him. Gu-nam accepts but gets far more than he bargained for when his plans go off the rails. He must then struggle to maintain balance in an increasingly chaotic series of events and find the time to track down his wife.
THE YELLOW SEA unravels organically, Na taking time to follow Gu-nam in his confusion as he loses track of shifting loyalties. The world he finds himself caught up in, though, is extremely volatile and he soon finds himself on the giving and receiving end of many sharp objects. Featuring enough chaotic knife antics, stress-inducing hatchet acrobatics, extended chases and car crashes to fill 5 movies, THE YELLOW SEA is a the kind of dark, violent crime epic we have come to expect from Korea and a film that firmly establishes Na Hong-jin as a major force in Korean cinema. (Brian Kelley)
When videographer Ian Palmer was hired to film a Quinn family wedding, he unexpectedly stumbled upon a documentary subject that would occupy him for over a decade. KNUCKLE centers around a feud between the Quinns and a neighboring clan, the Joyces. Both are part of a large group of ethnic Irish known as Travellers. Travellers are generally poor, travel from place to place in search of lodging and work and are often the victims of discrimination in Ireland.
In addition to sharing a Traveller heritage, the Quinns and Joyces are united by mutual hatred. Instead of resolving their issues in court or killing each other, the menfolk engage in bare-knuckle fights for honor and cash. One would think that a couple of fights would be enough to end a feud. However, the two families hated each other so much that they have continued to beat each other up for over 12 years.
Director Ian Palmer followed the Quinns and Joyces for years to document the arc of their long-running dispute. He captures numerous fights, most of which are brief and brutal, as well as the daily routines of various participants. The individual incidents that lead to the fights seem petty and slight, giving the impression that the family dispute has more to do with adrenaline and testosterone than family honor. However, a serious grudge borne of a real tragedy fuels the flurry of smashed faces. KNUCKLE isn't just about fighting; it’s about a group of outsiders trying to survive in a world that is hostile to their way of life. (Rodney Perkins)
KNUCKLE brought star James Quinn McDonagh to Austin to fight Tim League in the 2011 Fantastic Debates! Read about that here.
ELITE SQUAD: THE ENEMY WITHIN is a powerhouse of violence, and the life-changing consequences that happen from the choices we make. There are no second chances.
Lt. Colonel Nascimento (Wagner Moura) is Captain of BOPE, Brazil’s badass elite military squad. Everything that happens on a BOPE mission is Nascimento’s full responsibility. During a rescue mission at Bangu 1, the most violent penitentiary in Rio de Janeiro, one of his squad leaders follows his training and shoots a murderous and vicious prisoner to death. Most rejoice at this except for one man, a famous Human Rights activist in Brazil (Diogo Fraga) who just so happened to be on the scene in the middle of the action.
As time passes, Nascimento is relieved of command and, due to become highly popular among the people, gets promoted to Secretary of Security department, and Fraga becomes State Representative. Soon both discover a world of corrupt politics and dirty cops, abusing the vulnerability of the poor living in extreme poverty. Even though sworn enemies, Nascimento and Fraga inadvertently work together to peel back the layers of corruption in pursuit of the truth.
You don’t have to be versed in the original film (also great by the way). ELITE SQUAD: THE ENEMY WITHIN jumps right in with enough context and back story for the audience to jump in and hit the ground running. And run you will, Elite Squad 2 ranks up there as one of the all-time great crime thrillers, perfectly balanced with strong characters, genuine human emotion, gritty violent action and a zippy full-tilt pace. Imagine GOODFELLAS with less narration and an afro-Brazilian backbeat. (Chase Whale)