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June 30, 2023

The Childe

the childe.jpeg

Park Hoon-jung - 2023
Well Go USA

Family relationships have been a part of the most recent films by the Korean Park Hoon-Jung. The escalating revenge between gangsters in Night in Paradise begins with the accidental murder of family members. The characters in The Witch: Subversion and The Witch: The Other One are clones from the same mother. The Childe fits in thematically with the two Witch films in that children are used as tools for the benefit of their parents. Park's protagonists often experience a sense of dislocation, both in the geographic sense as well as their own sense of selves.

Marco is a Kopino, half Korean, half Filipino, young man. He gets by fighting in the underground boxing circuit, hoping to gather enough money to pay for his mother's needed surgery. What needs to be mentioned is that Kopino children are usually raised by single Filipino mothers with no acknowledgment from their respective Korean fathers, and this is an issue of race and class being addressed by the two country's governments. Marco is contacted by men representing his unknown Korean father, and taken to Seoul. While on the flight, a well dressed young man has given Marco an ominous warning that his life is in danger.

Once in Seoul, Marco is pursued by rival gangs and assassins. A bit of patience is required on the part of the viewer as it is deliberately not made clear for the first hour why these killers are shooting each other when they do not have Marco in their sights. There are several gun battles offering visceral pleasure. There is also some humor, as when the anonymous young assassin gets his Mercedes stuck in an increasingly narrow street while chasing Marco. What begins for Marco as the long wished for family reunion has turned into his being caught in a literal battle over inheriting a family legacy.

At this time, there is very little in English available on Park Soon-jung aside from his filmography and some general information. He has made enough films available for English language cinephile to discern certain recurring themes and character types. I would say Park's two best films at this time are both gangster films, The New World and Night in Paradise. Certainly the over-the-top action in The Childe can be appreciated and enjoyed for what it is, but the cultural concerns suggest that a deeper investigation into Park's films is in order.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at June 30, 2023 06:44 AM