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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Hyeongsa" )


directed by Lee Myeong-se
South Korea 2005


Like director Lee Myeong-se’s previous movie 'Nowhere to Hide', the movie follows a couple of detectives trying to catch their man. This time, their man is circulating counterfeit money. (The Korean title, by the way, means 'Detective', not 'Duelist'.)

The movie is a man telling a story, and the first scene sets the mood perfectly. It's dark, mysterious, full of misdirection and comes with nice music and incredible editing. The lady walks around you, asking a 'low-class bastard' to fix something. The camera moves around the room, with the lady asking you about where some wine might be. She's goading this poor fellow, teasing him (with more than just the wine, might I add) with something he wants. In the end, he screams, afraid at what he sees after he sees what he's after.

The editing and camera work are smooth and look exactly like their comic book roots. The lady swirls around the room, appearing here and there, left and right. You never know where she'll come from next. There's no point of reference for cuts. The beams, walls, shadows act as cutting points, creating an incredible sense of misdirection. This will pretty much be echoed the first time you Sad Eyes in the mask, with all the drapes hanging around. Mystery fills the room, you never quite know what she's doing, you never quite understand what's going on. She walks you through twisted, maze-like room while you watch as she's weaving her web for the poor sap there to fix her bedpan.

As the camera guides you through the shadows, the scene has very little score, but plays with the sound. The scene uses all your speakers, the lady running around your room. The little score there is, is delightfully creepy. It only starts when the man visits the lady, and is very subtle. It's almost non-existent, like the danger is almost non-existent. The lady's maniacal laughing, though, cutting through this impression.

The man and the woman, with their slightly exaggerated personas, may seem a bit off in this movie, but in fact they're just right. The same goes later for stars Ha Ji-won, Ahn Seong-gi and Kang Dong-won. They inhabit this comic book world perfectly and their performances are quite accurate. Anybody familiar with Korean or Japanese comics will recognize this. The first scene between the low-class man, telling you his bawdy story, and the reactions of the lady set this up pretty well. From the composition of the first scene alone you should know this isn't quite in our world.

It does however, have people that have real emotions. The relationships and characters may seem simple, but there's a deeper meaning within everything. The movie is well constructed and once again Lee Myeong-se has created a tale of determination and perseverance. This time he decided to inject a little bit of romance, which, depending on how you view the movie, may seem out of place. I believe the focus is somewhere else, and the slight romance does serve a certain purpose.

The entire framing of the movie is important, and Mr. Lee, along with cinematographer Hwang Gi-seok, create something wonderful to watch. Like 'Sin City', they recreated the comic world perfectly. The fluidity with which the camera moves is great, and you never notice the way the camera moves unless you specifically look for it. Likewise, the music is sometimes so subtle, you never know you're hearing it, yet it has many different genres. It's heavy when it has to be, yet soft when the scene demands it. Everything gels perfectly to create an incredible mood.

The characters and setting of this movie belong in a comic book, and that may be why the movie’s had the reaction it's gotten. Nevertheless, it's a great piece of cinema. At the very least you have pretty pictures to look at. The people inside it may not seem important, but they do have goals and desires. They end up being real people. The detective, like the old man in the beginning, is looking for something she can't have. She's running after something she'll never get.

Pat Pilon


Theatrical Release: September 9th, 2005

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DVD Review: EnterOne (3-disc Limited Edition) - Region 3 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

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Region 3 - NTSC

Runtime 1:51:48

2.31:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.79 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Korean DTS (768 kbps), Korean Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps), Music & Sound Effects 5.1 (448 kbps)
Subtitles English, Korean
Features Release Information:
Studio: EnterOne

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.31:1

Edition Details:
• disc 1:
• Commentary by director Lee Myeong-se, actors Ha Ji-won, Kang Dong-won and Ahn Seong-gi
• Commentary by director Lee Myeong-se, composer Joh Seo-woo and film critic Kang Han-seob
• disc 2:
• Joseon Love Story (making of) (45:19)
• Beyond the Historical Investigation (making art direction, costume, props)
• Interviews with the actors (11:44), the editor (15:19), the composer (12:18)
• CG & DI (12:34)
• Conversation between the director, the composer and a film critic (22:39)
• EPK (teaser, Cannes promo, theatrical trailer, music video, tv spot)
• disc 3:
• Joseon Noir: The Making of Duelist (1:13:19) (w/ optional English subtitles)
• Duelist Poison (premiere footage) (8:23)
• End credits music video (2:56)
• 48-page booklet

DVD Release Date: January 18th, 2006
Fold-out case with 3-disc digipak

Chapters 13


Comments First thing's first: the picture is amazing. Probably the best of a Korean DVD/movie I've ever seen. It's anamorphic and progressive, and simply outstanding. The colors are bright and accurate, and the tremendous cinematography comes out looking amazing.

The sound is likewise amazing, the mixing using up all the speakers for a dynamic experience. The DTS track is a joy to listen to.

On the extra side, the set keeps up the high quality, with both high quality and quantity. My Korean is far from perfect, but I listened to the first commentary track. I did catch enough to know it's very nice, and if you know Korean, you're in for a treat. The rest of the interviews/documentaries keep up the same pace. There's plenty of behind-the-scenes footage to keep most people interested. EnterOne has gone one step further and subtitled the great documentary on the third disc, which will make every English speaker out there jump for joy.

EnterOne pulled all the stops for this release (the interviews/documentaries are even anamorphic!), and it'll certainly be a release to remember once list-making time comes around.

 - Pat Pilon


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

   Thinking of buying from YesAsia? CLICK HERE and use THIS UPDATED BEAVER PAGE to source their very best...



Region 3 - NTSC



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