Five Senses of Eros

A handful of South Korean helmers riff on love in its varying forms.

A handful of South Korean helmers, all one-time grads of the Korean Academy of Fine Arts, riff on love in its varying forms in portmanteau feature “Five Senses of Eros.” Despite its title, the pic is light on eroticism, but as Korean Cinema 101 (both arty and commercial), this is fine fare with considerable fest potential. Pic took a so-so 440,000 admissions on its July release, and one seg has since preemed at the Pusan fest in a feature-length director’s cut.

Many of the players have bit roles in other episodes, but apart from that, there’s nothing to link the shorts beyond the directors’ shared KAFA background.

The most avowedly commercial seg, placed in the middle, is “33rd Man” by Yu Yeong-shik (“The Anarchists”), which shows a bitchy middle-aged actress (Bae Jong-ok) training a nervous young ingenue (Kim Min-seon) to become an equal bitch while making a cheesy horror movie together. Caught between their fangs is hack director (Kim Su-ro), who then falls for the latter.

Equally entertaining, in a visual designerish way, is the pretentiously titled “La Fin et le debut” by Min Kyu-dong (“All for Love,” “Antique”), centered on two women (Eom Jeong-hwa, Kim Hyo-jin) who enter into a mild S&M relationship after the death of the man they both loved. Heavily compressed story actually works much better than Min’s extended one (“In My End Is My Beginning”), as the lack of believability hardly has time to register between the immaculate visuals.

Hardest to follow, but with a fresh flavor, is “Believe in the Moment” by Oh Ki-hwan, which shows the same light touch as his performance-driven “The Art of Seduction.” With a young cast playing six high schoolers who decide to swap partners for 24 hours, Oh floats from couple to couple in an impressionistic way: a boy (Song Jung-gi) who’s about to fly overseas and the athletic girl (Lee Seong-min) who fancies him; the boy’s ex (Shin Se-gyeong) and the hunk (Jeong Eui-cheol) she falls for; and the hunk’s feisty ex (Lee Shi-yeong) and a nerdy guy (Kim Dong-wook) she pals up with.

The two artistically strongest segs kick off the picture, with both name directors in top form. “His Concern,” showing the genesis of a one-night stand between a man (Jang Hyeok) and woman (Cha Hyeon-jeong) who meet by chance, enjoys great chemistry between its leads and is far better than either of helmer Daniel H. Byun’s two features (“Interview,” “The Scarlet Letter”).

Hur Jin-ho, Korea’s finest purveyor of the grace notes in human relationships (“Christmas in August,” “One Fine Spring Day”), contributes the shortest but most delicate seg in “I’m Right Here,” about the game of hide-and-seek played by a loving couple (Kim Gang-woo, Cha Su-yeon) in light of the wife’s terminal illness.

Look of the episodes ranges from super-glossy to practical, but tech packages are all fine within their requirements.

Five Senses of Eros

South Korea

  • Production: A Cinergy release and presentation of a Daisy Entertainment, Culture Cap Media production, in association with Soo Film, Ho Pictures, Haengbok Pictures. (International sales: Showbox, Seoul.) Produced by Kim Weon-guk, Choi Sun-shik. Executive producer, Kim. Camera (color/DV-to-35mm); sound designer (Dolby Digital), Choi Tae-yeong; associate producers, Shin, Gang-yeong, Jo Il-hyeon, Gang Tak-yeong, Park Yi-dal, Lee Nam-gi. Reviewed on DVD, London, Oct. 24, 2009. A Haengbok Pictures production.
  • Crew: <B>His Concern</B><BR>A Culture Cap Media production. Produced by Choi Sun-shik. Directed by Daniel H. Byun. Screenplay, Bun; adaptation, Shin Mu-ho. Camera, Kim Mu-yu; editor, Ham Seong-weon; music, Choi Man-shik; art director, Yu Jeong-eun; costume designer, Ryu Gyeong-suk; sound, Yun Seong-gi. <B>I’m Right Here (Na, yeogi isseoyo) </B><BR>A Ho Pictures production. Directed by Hur Jin-ho. Screenplay, Lee Jeong-hwa, Kim Gyeong-mi. Camera, Yun Ji-woon; editor, Choi Jae-geun; music, Choi Yong-rak; art director, Kim Jun; costume designer, Han Hye-suk; sound, Jeong Gun. Running time: <B>21 MIN. </B>Original title: <I>Na, yeogi isseoyo.</I> <B>33rd Man</B><BR>A Culture Cap Media production. Produced by Choi Sun-shik. Directed, written by Yu Yeong-shik. Camera, Goh Nak-seon; editor, Ham Seong-weon; music, Choi Man-shik; art director, Son Min-jeong; costume designer, Kim Jeong-weon; sound, Jo Min-ho. Running time: <B>25 MIN. </B>Original title: <I>33-beonjjae namja.</I> <B>La Fin et le debut</B><BR>A Soo Film production. Produced by Min Jin-su. Directed, written by Min Kyu-dong. Camera, Kim Byeong-seo, Kim Jun-yeong; editor, Seong Su-ah; music, Kim Jun-seong; production designer, Jeon Gyeong-ran; costume designer, Chae Su-gyeong; sound, Jo Woo-jin; visual effects, Jeong Chang-ik. Running time: <B>28 MIN</B>. Original title: <I>Ggeutgwa shijak.</I> <B>Believe in the Moment</B><BR> Directed by Oh Ki-hwan. Screenplay, Oh; adaptation, Choi Yun-heui. Camera, Kim Yeong-heung; editor, Ham Seong-weon; music, Choi Yong-rak; art director, Shin Seong-seon; costume designer, Yang Min-hye; sound, Kim Shin-yong. Running time: <B>24 MIN. </B>Original title: <I>Sunganeul mideoyo.</I>
  • With: <B>His Concern</B><BR>With: Jang Hyeok, Cha Hyeon-jeong, Kim Su-ro, Kim Nan-hwi, Kim Yeong-geun, Shin Mu-ho. <B>I’m Right Here (Na, yeogi isseoyo) </B><BR>With: Kim Gang-woo, Cha Su-yeon. <B>33rd Man</B><BR>With: Bae Jong-ok, Kim Su-ro, Kim Min-seon, Lee Dal-hyeong, Lee Seo-bin, Park Jin-taek, Han Guk-jin, Gong Mi-na, Kim Dong-hyeon, Cha Ji-eun, Jo Il-ju, Yu Byeong-ho, Lee Min-woo, Gang Jang-deok, Cha Su-yeon, Lee Shi-yeong, Lee Seong-min, Kim Hye-yeong. <B>La Fin et le debut</B><BR>With: Eom Jeong-hwa, Hwang Jeong-min, Kim Hyo-jin, Lee Hwi-hyang, Kim Gang-woo, John D. Kim. <B>Believe in the Moment</B><BR>With: Kim Dong-wook, Shin Se-gyeong, Song Jung-gi, Lee Shi-yeong, Jeong Eui-cheol, Lee Seong-min, Ahn Seong-min.