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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Housemaid aka "Hanyo" [Blu-ray]


(Sang-soo Im, 2010)


North American customers:

Global customers:

Also available on DVD from IFC:



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Mirovision

Video: Candle Media



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:47:16.263

Disc Size: 26,734,548,488 bytes

Feature Size: 22,293,417,984 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.94 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 18th, 2011



Aspect ratio: 2.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video


DTS-HD Master Audio Korean 1811 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1811 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio Korean 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps



English, Korean, none



• Audio commentary
Making of (16:41)
Character featurettes
Cannes Film Festival





Description: Kim Ki Young's 1960 classic The Housemaid is widely regarded as one of the best Korean films ever made. Fifty years later, acclaimed filmmaker Im Sang Soo brings the thriller to screen again with a highly anticipated remake that has garnered both critical acclaim and huge box office. Invited to the Cannes and Berlin Film Festivals, the 2010 retelling of The Housemaid magnifies the lust, manipulation, and domestic power struggle of the original into a full-blown erotic psycho-thriller. While Kim Ki Young's Housemaid saw the unraveling of a middle-class family in the hands of a femme fatale maid, Im reverses and subverts the story by sending an innocent housemaid into the lion's lair and witnessing her abuse and transformation amid the cold and cavernous beauty of the palatial mansion.

Award-winning actress Jeon Do Yeon stars as poor divorcee Eun Yi, who gladly signs on to work as a nanny and housemaid for a wealthy, upper-crust family. In her naive eyes, the rich and handsome Hoon (Lee Jung Jae, Typhoon), his pregnant wife Hae Ra (Seo Woo, Paju), and adorable daughter (Ahn Seo Hyun) make the picture-perfect family. But that myth is soon shattered when the domineering Hoon finds his way to her bed. Their torrid affair upsets the balance of the household, unleashing a cruel power struggle as Hae Ra, her mother (Park Ji Young), and the head housekeeper (Yoon Yeo Jung) all answer with their own calculated measures.



The Film:

The ongoing renaissance in South Korean cinema is too stylistically diverse to constitute a movement, but its major filmmakers—Park Chanwook (Oldboy), Lee Chang-dong (Secret Sunshine), Kim Ki-duk (3-Iron), Hong Sang-soo (Woman Is the Future of Man)—share a taste for complex narratives that challenge social taboos. The most brazen of the bunch may be Im Sang-soo, whose work is founded on his irreverence toward national sacred cows. With The President's Last Bang (2005) he created a slick black comedy around the 1979 assassination of President Park Chung-hee; the president's son, Park Ji-man, was so offended by the film that he sued for defamation, hoping to block its release. By presenting sensitive subject matter in unabashedly bold terms, Im pushes viewers to take a hard stand on issues most people would prefer to tiptoe around.

This is certainly true of Im's latest feature, The Housemaid. The film is a remake of a 1960 thriller by Kim Ki-young that's widely regarded as a gem of South Korean cinema. In the original film a middle-class teacher at a women's college hires a beautiful student to serve as his children's live-in nanny. After winning over his wife and children, the young woman seduces the teacher, begs him to ditch his wife, grows increasingly violent, and ultimately holds his children hostage. For the new version, however, Im has transplanted the basic premise to a filthy rich family and turned the young nanny into a poor woman with few opportunities for advancement. The filmmaker told the website 10 Asia that he wanted to remake the movie so he could highlight the disparity between South Korea's rich and poor, which has grown substantially since 1960. In considering the young woman's plight, Im asks whether anyone in poverty can cross that corrupt class divide without becoming corrupted herself.

Excerpt from TheChicagoReader located HERE

The Housemaid itself is spectacular in its assemblage of atmosphere and ambiguity. Numerous scenes in the film are shot in an imbalanced manner through some well-crafted canted angles – almost every scene of The Housemaid makes Eun-yi’s fate unclear and keeps the audience in suspense. Admittedly, the film is a bit slow at times, but The Housemaid is nonetheless a most visually dense and psychologically taut film.

The Housemaid is a remake of a popular South Korean film from 1960. I haven’t seen its predecessor, but Im Sang-Soo’s film is an alluring piece of suspense and perversion. The whole affair mounts to an unexpectedly defiant, shocking, and satisfying climax. The final scene in which Eun-yi takes control of her fate is perhaps the best money shot this year. You'll feel dirty after watching The Housemaid, but in the good way.

Excerpt from Cinemablographer located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

I've had The Housemaid on Blu-ray a while but was hoping to nab another to compare it to. This is only single-layered with I believe the film was shot on 35mm (Arricam ST/LT) but looks to have some digitization in the 1080P transfer. It's stated as a Digital Intermediate (2K) master format and a Super 35 source format. Sometimes the black levels border on moiring. It's waxy and softer than I would expect and no grain is visible. Edge-enhancement halos are visible when zooming in. While indentifying it - I don't consider it fatal - just apparent to those sensitive to digitization. I don't know where in the process this occurred but it surely was unnecessary. In-motion the film looks less manipulated but limits the Blu-ray presentation's depth and detail.





Edge-enhancement halos




















Audio :

Candle Media use a modest DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at 1811 kbps (16-bit) in the original Korean-language. There aren't many effects but, without giving away details, there are some aggressive ones that gain some minor depth via the lossless. The subtle score is by Hong-jip Kim (A Good Lawyers Wife, Wanee & Junah) and sounds flawless. There are optional English and Korean subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.



Extras :

Plenty of extras, including a commentary, but nothing in English that I found. Menus and options are in Korean (except the English subtitle choice.)



Great film - a real modern update to Kim Ki Young's 1960 The Housemaid. It's very erotic without being salaciously graphic and is a wonderful thriller. I really enjoyed it. The Candle Media Blu-ray is far from ideal but appear to be the only 1080P, English-friendly, option (French subtitled Blu-ray version HERE). I think the film certainly deserves a better 1080P release to expose it to a wider audience. I will be re-watching this - with its, unfortunate, imperfections. 

Gary Tooze

July 2nd, 2017

North American customers:

Global customers:

Also available on DVD from IFC:


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

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Gary W. Tooze





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