July 07, 2006

THE QUIET FAMILY (1998) Korean black comedy on R2 DVD

THE QUIET FAMILY (1998, South Korea, titled Choyonghan Kajok)
Region 2 PAL DVD (Tai Seng)

The original "Katakuris" tale with a heavyweight cast

Not a full review here, but I just had to flag this movie as an 'instant favourite' from my growing list of Korean films, and it's available in the UK too. Great cast, familiar faces, cult director, but the film has been eclipsed by a Japanese remake by another cult director!

For all the critical fuss about The Happiness of the Katakuris, I wasn't impressed with it's low-budget, genre-busting shenanigans. I’m a Takashi Miike fan, but not of absolutely everything he takes on. Katakuris was a remake of this Korean film, The Quiet Family, which I enjoyed far more.

The set-up is roughly the same - a bankrupt family take on a backwoods guest house in the mountains (in this version it's near the border between North and South Korea).

Terrified of getting a bad reputation, the owners hide the fact that their first guests commit suicide on the premises. Desperate to protect their business, they'll bury their secrets and even resort to murder...

The Quiet Family like Katakuris, is a bloody black comedy that occasionally gets bizarre, there's even a little singing... But I found it more effectively shocking, and funnier.

Notably, it stars Min-sik Choi (Oldboy himself) and Kang-ho Song (Mr Vengeance himself) here convincingly playing the 21 yr old son. The two actors have been in most of the best Korean films in recent years, but here they play as part of an ensemble cast - the two daughters and the matriarch of the family are all equally strong characters.

The director Ji-woon Kim went on to make the classic A Bittersweet Life and A Tale of Two Sisters. So a growing audience should hopefully search back and find The Quiet Family.

The only downfall for me was the hurried ending which left too many plotlines unfinished, but it's still hugely enjoyable while it lasts.

Mark H

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