Entertainment K-Film

Tunnel (2016) – FILM REVIEW

Cast: Ha Jung Woo  하 중우(The Handmaiden),  Bae Donna배 도나  (Sense8), Oh Dal Su 오달수 (Assassination).

The story follows the events that take place when a Kia car salesman becomes trapped underneath a collapsed tunnel.

This was a great cinematic experience, from the superb acting to the tight spaces used. The film starts off in a rather calm manner, however events take place that change the lives of many. The protagonist is Ha Jung Woo’s character Jung Soo 중수, who is trapped underneath massive amounts of rubble and debris. He expertly manages to build his character around his limited space, capturing the hearts of many. Bae Donna 배도나 has been in the hollywood spotlight this past year, and has shown that her acting abilities are global. She plays Jung Soo’s wife who is trying to keep it together on the other side of the tunnel, where the rescue workers are busily working to save her husband. Black humour was used in a wonderful way to uplift the mood of the audience, who were in shock of the events that were unfolding.

Throughout the film the director had to be space conscious; this can be seen from the scenes of Ha Jung Woo’s 하 중우 character, wherein he had to move around in such uncomfortable spaces, as well as some scenes relying heavily on his facial acting. The great acting from those inside the tunnel (including the pug) and those outside were noted. This is the kind of movie that makes you question ‘when is it the right time to give up?’. The exhilarating pace of the movie was just magnificent, the gut wrenching moments of despair and hope made it a ‘Heart in your throat’ type of movie, we definitely recommend it!

For a deeper insight, take a look at the Q&A with the director Kim Seong Hun 김성훈 below:

Q. Were the origins of the movie based on real events?

No, the events were based on a novel, and I added some elements from my own imagination.

Q. How did you come across the book?

A friend of mine recommended the book after I had finished my last movie.

Q. There were a few themes that were clear to the audience such as corruption, were you imitating real life?

What I would like to see is for the themes used in the film to stay in the film, but in reality we are not quite there yet. The film deals with many painful issues, however I added humour; black humour of course.

Q. The cast that was chosen, were they your first choice?

Yes, the cast are very well known throughout Korea for their wonderful acting.

Q. Did you think to have a sad ending for the movie?

Yes I did, and of course there was a part of me that wanted me to go there with the story, however I wanted to show hope too. There were elements in the movie that showed hope. Before I’d made the film there were other incidents that were happening in Korea. I didn’t want to portray that in my film, I wanted to at least save a life. 

Q. The lady character that represented the minister, does she represent the current president of Korea?

As for the minister standing in place of the President is entirely up to you and I cannot make that decision for you. I have to keep living in my country (laughs).

Q. Did the movie do well in Korea?, were there any political reactions to it?

The movie was seen by 7.12 million viewers, considering the fact the Korea’s population is 50 million. I don’t think the film did bad at all and I made a little money too (laughs). My last film did half as good, so maybe my next film can do better than this one? In regards to the political reaction, conservative newspapers had a lot of comments saying it wasn’t realistic since no completed tunnel has collapsed. I hope it doesn’t happen for real. This was hard topic but I did in a way that allowed some light humour to be applied.

Q. How did you manage to keep your movie style in such a small space?

I grew up in a small house, but my parents wouldn’t be happy with me saying this since they thought it was quite big (laughs). It was the case of my last movie as well, if you put someone in a such a small space it creates fear and quick responses in all life forms. So I think if the right space was used, the right actors, it doesn’t matter if is it small.   

Q. How did the actors deal with the dust and the limited space?

I had to protect the civil rights of the actors especially the main actor. All the dust in the car was edible, however as for the dust around the car?, no comment (laughs).

Q. Can you talk about the visual effects? The studio and such, it must have been expensive?

As for the film it was a pretty big budget, just for the production alone it cost 7.9 billion Won. We paved a tunnel that wasn’t used by the public anymore also there wasn’t much CG. Most of it was done quite realistically, the rocks falling were quite real. Of course CG is really advanced, but a film like this isn’t quite there yet with things such as rocks and weight, so I only used a little.

Q. Are you working on a project at the moment?

I think my new project is going to form, but I can’t say much as some things are quite sensitive. I’m going to visit some more European countries and then return mid November, after this my plans will become more concrete, no pun intended (referring to the Tunnel).

Nabila Abib

An avid reader, constant day dreamer, and an occasional writer. If it’s Korean, I want to know about it! Walking K-film and K-drama dictionary. Has a soft spot for K-indie music.



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