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Rough Cut

(Yeong-hwa-neun yeong-hwa-da / A Movie Is a Movie)
Sponsored by: Jägermeister

Canadian Premiere

  • South korea 2008
  • 113 min
  • 35mm
  • Korean with English subtitles

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“Intelligent and thought provoking, whilst at the same time entertaining and exciting on a more basic level” – James Mudge, BEYONDHOLLYWOOD.COM


Director: Jang Hun
Screenplay: Kim Ki-duk, Jang Hun, Ok Jin-gon, Oh Sei-yeon
Cast: So Ji-sub, Kang Ji-hwan, Hong Su-hyeon
Producers: Kim Ki-duk
Distributor: Showbox


Well-known for his turns in assorted gangster movies, actor Soo-ta (Kang Ji-hwan) maintains his bad-boy attitude long after the director yells “cut!” His aggressive, narcissistic diva behaviour is starting to generate friction with his colleagues and admirers, particularly one of his fans, Kang-pae (So Ji-sub), a formerly a bit-part actor, more recently a real-life gang member. Kang-pae has an attitude too, and he’s fully prepared to back it up. Crossing each other in a bar one night, Kang-pae requests an autograph from Soo-ta, who responds with his customary arrogance. Bad idea. After Soo-ta sends a fellow actor to the hospital following a mid-shoot freakout, nobody’s willing to work with him anymore. Almost nobody, rather—Kang-pae’s the only one out there who’s up to the challenge. But to sign on, Kang-pae has one condition. The fights have to be real. Fake just won’t do. And if the script is to be respected, Soo-ta better be able to beat Kang-pae senseless.

Letting his fists do the talking, a gangster whose menace is matched by his might teaches a vain and self-absorbed celebrity actor a few lessons from the school of hard knocks. How cool is that? When the tale is spun but a promising novice director with a knack for knockout intensity, things look even cooler. And when it’s Kim Ki-duk, director of THE ISLE and BAD GUY, producing and co-scripting, we’re really hitting escape velocity. With ROUGH CUT, Jang Hun marks himself as a talent to watch in the years to come. He’s hardly content to ride his mentor Kim’s coattails and cop his style, but rather asserts himself as an auteur in his own right, delivering a bold work bursting with powerful symbolism and exceptional aesthetic refinement, but nonetheless a riveting thrill ride. A movie of multiple personalities, ROUGH CUT is an acerbic critique of the Korean star system and of the hypocrisy pervading the film industry. A classic gangster flick, with its share of betrayals and settling of accounts. A fascinating physical and psychological battle between two characters vividly portrayed by a pair of solid actors, notably So Ji-sub, at once vulnerable and threatening, and remarkably subtle throughout. More than anything, ROUGH CUT is one of the best films produced in South Korea in 2008.

—Nicolas Archambault (translated by Rupert Bottenberg)

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