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Ryu Seung-beom's Movie Picks

최종수정 2009.10.23 09:01 기사입력 2009.10.22 23:52

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Most Unforgettable Films

Korean actor Ryu Seung-beom [10Asia]

“Doesn’t everybody know that I don’t watch a lot of movies?” (laugh) Ryu Seung-beom expressed his discomfort as soon as we asked him to make movie recommendations for fans. But then again, it would be most awkward if he answered that he analyzes every scene in a movie in detail and collects the acting patterns of the most famous actors for his work. He himself who admitted that he “believes in the familiarity of the body more than thoughts from the head”, is far from the kind of actor who uses his cold brain to learn the art. Just as a baby beast becomes a predator without learning, Ryu’s animal instincts makes the character come to life.

The role of Sang-hwan, the problematic child in the film “Die Bad” which made Ryu a household name, was a very unfamiliar yet familiar and strange appearance. Even though his face wasn’t the typical face one sees on screen, what made it so familiar was Ryu’s face that made viewers feel like they had seen such an impression lurking in the corner of the street somewhere and smoking cigarettes. From the TV series “Wonderful Days” and films “Waikiki Brothers”, “Conduct Zero”, Ryu was the perfect fit for characters who were a bit insecure and inappropriate yet clearly not a villain. He even gave those characters a dose of his own loveliness. From the drug dealer who loves designer goods in “Bloody Tie” to the little boy who throws fists at the unfair world in “Crying Fist”, one could sense in Ryu the energy of a predatory animal that smells of adrenaline, rather than the uncontrollable stamina or youth. And that energy has allowed Ryu to stamp his seal on his films.

His movie picks will be either great or awful, just like the roles he played. Nothing is just plain okay. The movies that his heart, not his brain, finds unforgettable are different in every way but surprisingly enough, they resemble Ryu. Hence these movies have powerful appeal, like “Brad Pitt, who can pull off both cheap and trendy styles”. These movies might “make you think about them and make you watch them over and over”, as Ryu said.


1. “The Matrix” (1999, directed by The Wachowski Brothers)
“It’s probably a movie that I’ve watched the most. I haven’t understood the big philosophy underlying “The Matrix”, but I keep thinking about it as I live. Just as Morpheus gives Neo the pills, I keep having to make a choice out of two selections. It’s a very well made film both technically and genre-wise but there are a lot of hidden meanings in it too. I’m not a very philosophical or cool person in nature, so I didn't watch the movie to find those. (laugh) I had no expectations for the film but it had a really big influence on me.”

At the time of its release, everything in the film “The Matrix” was new, from the special effects to the action scenes at the forefront of movie technology. The directors added various symbolisms in many parts of the film. With the simulation theory, which claims that replicated images replace reality, and characters names like Morpheus, Trinity, Neo that are like religious puns, the film “Matrix” offers new meaning the more you watch it. It could be called one of the best texts of the 21st century.

2. “Les Amants Du Pont-Neuf” (1991, directed by Leos Carax)
“It’s a film that makes me keep dreaming about melodrama. The first scene is very intense, and it overpowers the viewers to just focus on the film. It’s hard to tell you why I like it. When I saw it again recently, I saw the flaws that I hadn’t seen in it before but it has the power to override those flaws. This movie is also why I started liking Denis Lavant, and his acting! He doesn’t even care about fans when he’s acting. I love it but I feel like I’m being ignored when I’m watching him. (laugh)

For those viewers who were disappointed with the recent pairing of Carax and Lavant in “Tokyo!”, we recommend you watch “Les Amants Du Pont-Neuf” again. Their chemistry in the film is enough to make you forget all about what they did afterwards and even overthrows the criteria of ugliness and beauty and of love and hate. Could any film better portray lovers who meet, break up and meet again?


3. “Fight Club” (1999, directed by David Fincher)
“This film proved that Brad Pitt wasn’t just a good-looking actor. I think any man would have thought, ‘I wish I looked like that.’ Everything was good, the structure of the film and the story. Most people go on living without knowing their true self within, but I think the movie is asks that. It makes you really think about the questions you can ask yourself in life. In fact, I liked everything about this movie. The color, story, structure, acting and even the editing and angles, which I don’t know much about, I thought was the best.

Is there a better combination than Edward Norton and Brad Pitt to play a timid company man and the charismatic Tyler? The main character and Tyler, who are poles apart in their consciousness and in their restrictions and freedom, begin to prove their new selves by injuring the other person’s body. And at the end of the destruction, the main character realizes a new fact. This is a movie which maximized the diabolical and sexy appeal of Brad Pitt.


4. “Crying Fist” (2005, directed by Ryu Seung-wan)
“This is embarrassing but can I recommend my own movie? It wasn’t a big commercial success when it opened, so I want more people to see it. (laugh) When I started working on “Crying Fist”, I had a talk with the director saying that I want “many people to get a happy energy from this film”. Aside from Ryu Seung-beom’s acting and the director’s intention and all that, I wanted to give them a kind of hope like receiving a free discount ticket. Something heart-touching, a good feeling, you know? It took courage for me to recommend this movie, so I hope a lot of people can feel that way now.

Retired boxer Tae-shik (played by Choi Min-shik) and juvenile delinquent Sang-hwan (played by Ryu) are both desperate to win the rookie boxing championship. Tae-shik wants to escape from street life, making a living as a human punch ball, while Sang-hwan wants to save his ill grandmother. So the two fight on the ring. Watching the two characters fight each other at last in the finals, we strangely find ourselves rooting for both of them even though we shouldn’t be rooting for either. And hope, which is the other side of desperation, arises from it like an oasis.


5. “Legend of the Dragon” (1990, directed by Danny Lee and Lee Lik-Chi)
“I’ve been a fan of Stephen Chow since I was in middle school. These days, I feel like his previous unique appeal has lessened because he makes such great commercial movies now. But in this film, the crazy funny quality of Stephen Chow movies are alive. (laugh) So funny like you want to bang your head on the floor, you know? When you’re watching Stephen Chow movies, you gain a lot more if you unlock your inhibitions. You have to push aside thoughts like what does his laugh mean, or isn’t that too low? You can have a rare experience of laughing without thinking.

Siu-Lung (played by Stephen Chow), who suddenly moved to the city, accidentally discovers that he has a God-given talent in billiards and finds himself in billiards gambling. One of Chow’s early films, he appears in the movie with a slick 2:8 hair part and jumps on the pool table with ridiculous kung fu-style jumps. The only person who won’t find this stomach-achingly hilarious is the owner of the billiard room.


“I’m finishing up the shooting for “No Mercy” these days. I didn’t have much work but personally it was very hard because I had to use my brain a lot for the character. (laugh)” The role of murderer Sung-ho, who plays games with Korea’s best autopsy doctor (played by Seoul Kyung-gu), reminds viewers of Verbal in “The Usual Suspects”. Sung-ho, with a gentle-looking impression and a limp, is a god of evil who commits horrible murders. So it was a “new challenge” for Ryu, having always played characters whose actions not only matched his thoughts but also went forth like a shooting arrow. But Ryu moved onto a new job before the aftereffect of that challenge wore off.

He was invited to “2009 Global Gathering Korea” as a DJ, which he had been putting off because he “cannot do two things at once”. “I really wanted to go to that festival. It was a real honor for me to be at the same festival with Prodigy. When I first heard about it, I was so excited I didn’t know what to do. (laugh)” The man who can smile eerily like a killer and groove so excitedly that he falls off the DJ booth. Such a man is Ryu Seung-beom, indeed.

Editor : Lee Ji-Hye seven@10asia.co.kr
Editor : Lynn Kim lynn2878@asiae.co.kr
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