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(aka 'Hanyo' or 'The Housemaid')

Directed by Ki-young Kim
South Korea 1960

 

Widely considered one of the best Korean films of all time, the 1960 black and white classic The Housemaid is finally available on DVD! Known for his psychodramas and sexual horror films, Kim Ki Young made The Housemaid in the early years of a career that would see him continuously pushing the boundaries of cinema. This domestic noir about sexual obsession and a family's dreadful unraveling shocks and thrills even half a century later. The Housemaid stars Lee Eun Shim as the eponymous femme fatale, and Kim Jin Kyu and Ju Jeung Ryu - two of the greatest stars from the Golden Age of Korean Cinema - as the married couple who self-destruct under her will. Acclaimed actor Ahn Sung Ki, only eight years old at the time, also appears in the film. Great efforts were taken by the Korean Film Archive and World Cinema Foundation to digitally restore and remaster The Housemaid, unveiling this great masterpiece to film fans worldwide.


Middle-aged composer Dong Sik (Kim Jin Kyu) has his hands full trying to provide for his pregnant wife (Ju Jeung Ryu) and two kids. He hires a housemaid (Lee Eun Shim) to help out around the house, but the strange and sultry young woman has other plans in mind as she sets out to seduce Dong Sik. Tragedy begets tragedy, as wife and mistress face off in increasingly manipulative and horrifying manners for power over the household and their clueless lover.

This release comes with a 40-page English-Korean booklet, plus commentary by Bong Joon Ho and film critic Kim Young Jin and pre- and post-restoration image comparisons.

Poster

Theatrical Release: November 3rd, 1960

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DVD Review: Korean Federation of Film Archives - Region 0 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

   

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Distribution Korean Federation of Film Archives - Region 0 - NTSC
Runtime 1:50:52 
Video 1.55:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.0 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.

Bitrate:

Audio Korean (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles Korean, English, French, Japanese, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Korean Federation of Film Archives

Aspect Ratio:
Aspect Ratio 1.55:1

Edition Details:

• Commentary by Bong Joon Ho and film critic Kim Young Jin (in Korean with optional English subtitles)
• Restoration comparison (28:48)
• Image gallery (transition - 1:45)

• 42-page liner notes booklet with photos (1/2 in English)

DVD Release Date: July 29th, 2009

Custom Case (see image below)
Chapters: 12

 

Korean Federation of Film Archives Package

 

 

Comments:

The restoration looks impressive - especially going by the 28-minute split-scene comparison footage found in the extra features. The transfer is on a dual-layered disc, anamorphic - in and around 1.55:1 aspect ratio. It appears to have utilized the 'alchemist' transfer method (very light combing in scene/chapter transitions), but I'd still consider it progressive with a tinge of edge-enhancement. Black level boosting has brought up the detail - which is very strong and contrast is effective. There are a few artifacts in the darker scenes but nothing I would seriously complain about. The vast majority of 'light' scratches have been removed although certain indoor sequences look a little like rain with the heavier scratches appearing as giving the film a very work look. This happens at around 1 hour 15 minutes and it is here the image looks more affected. There are also a few sequences that 'jump' where the frames were obviously missing or too damaged to utilize. Considering the original source and the work done this is a totally watchable and important film - just prepare yourself that it is not always as pristine in-motion as represented by the still screen captures below. 

Audio has some occasional weaknesses but is certainly clean and clear enough to enjoy the film. I noted no huge pop or similar sound flaws that disturbed my viewing. There are removable Korean, English, French and Japanese subtitles (sample below).

Extras include a commentary with Bong Joon Ho and film critic Kim Young Jin and they know extensive details about the film's production. Thankfully their discussion is optionally subtitled and you can simultaneously run the film's subs with the commentary subs (see sample below). They talk about the claustrophobic shots of the film building tension. We also get the almost 1/2 hour restoration demonstration and a transition image gallery. A very nice booklets is included with some weak quality photos and a filmography, biography, a couple of film review excerpts, an essay by film critic Lee Yeon-ho and comments on the restoration by researcher Kim Ki-ho.

Overall this is a great package - one can't help but recall much more modern films like 'Fatal Attraction' that also contained surprising 'domestic' violence. I loved the many inventive shots in The Handmaid and the story development is totally masterful. I'm so happy I had the opportunity to see this outside a festival or film retrospective. This is a solid package to own and we encourage a purchase.      

Gary W. Tooze

 



DVD Menus


 


Film Subtitle Sample

 

Commentary Subtitle Sample on top portion of the frame with film subs on the bottom.

 


 

Screen Captures

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 

 


 

 


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...

Distribution Korean Federation of Film Archives - Region 0 - NTSC




 

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