Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Director & Spectator / Han & Fuller

Hand of Fate (Han Hyeong-mo, 1954)

Serge Daney on Samuel Fuller: “He takes off from an implicit idea: the spectator knows nothing." But remember: knows nothing is not the same thing as is an idiot. Call it Fuller's journalistic tendency, or his "AP Style," but he had a singular way of spelling out all of the facts (in action, dialogue, camera movement and editing) while assuming a degree of intelligence on the part of his viewer. Fuller hides nothing about his films. To a certain degree, that's true of the three Han Hyeong-mo films I've seen (well, there are only four of them anyway, so I've got 75% covered), and part of that might be because, like Fuller, Han makes movies for two reasons: to tell a good yarn and to show what he believes to be a certain social truth (however, his intentions are much less "corrective" than Fuller's). The plot of Hand of Fate is Fulleresque (North Korean spy falls in love with a struggling college student), but that's about as far as they overlap subject-wise (hard to imagine Cigar Sam coming up with Madame Freedom or Hyperbola of Youth). What they do have in common (moreso in Hand of Fate and Madame Freedom than the more "elegant" Hyperbola) is the willingness to go all out with an image or an idea or a framing (Han tends to be a little more pulpy and less punchy). Which isn't to say that Han is "simple" or "a primitive" (a word that still gets lobbed at Fuller a lot), because in going all out with a fairly pulpy plot, he manages to get at certain nuances; a "restrained," procedural handling of an espionage love story would have made it all about the espionage, but with Han it's all about the emotions (and here we return to The A-Team, where Liam Neeson mutters "Overkill is underrated.").

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