Magazine article Screen International

Kim Jee-Woon, the Last Stand

Magazine article Screen International

Kim Jee-Woon, the Last Stand

Article excerpt

The acclaimed Korean genre filmmaker talks to Ian Sandwell about his English language directorial debut The Last Stand which also marks Arnold Schwarzenegger's solo return to the big screen.

Having made his name with acclaimed genre outings such as A Tale of Two Sisters, The Good, The Bad, The Weird and I Saw The Devil, The Last Stand marks Kim Jee-woon's English language directorial debut as well as governing him with the task of overseeing Arnold Schwarzenegger's solo return to the big screen.

The tale of a small town sheriff (Schwarzenegger) who becomes the last line of defence in stopping a drug lord crossing the Mexican border, The Last Stand disappointed with a $7.2m US debut this past weekend. But is just beginning its international rollout, with openings in the likes of the UK [Jan 24] and Germany [Jan 31] to come. Lionsgate handle international sales.

Can you tell us how you got involved in the project?

Lionsgate and Lorenzo di Bonaventura saw my Korean Western-style film The Good, The Bad, The Weird, and probably felt that I would be right for The Last Stand, which could be classified as a modern Western. The two films are similar in the sense that Good, Bad, Weird is about outlaws racing through the great plains to reach a goal, while The Last Stand is about a sheriff trying to stop an outlaw in a supercar racing to a destination.

Was there a particular reason behind choosing now as the time to make your Hollywood debut?

Ever since A Tale of Two Sisters (which has been remade in the US), I have been receiving many offers from Hollywood. Unfortunately, most of the projects I was offered were horror films or already packaged projects that were ready to go, and I was not interested in these. On top of that, timing was not opportune due to the projects I was working on in Korea. Then right after The Good, The Bad, The Weird, I received the offer for The Last Stand. I felt that the timing was perfect, and also I was given the opportunity to work with the writer from the beginning of development, so I decided that The Last Stand would be my Hollywood debut.

Did you notice any major differences between shooting a film in the US as opposed to Korea?

The whole system in itself is very different. In Korea, when a director makes a decision, that decision is immediately put into action. A director has that much power in Korea. In Hollywood however, the studio and the producer have as much authority as the director does, so the three must work together in the decision-making process.

Also, an assistant director in Korea is someone who supports the director and makes sure that the director's thoughts and artistic vision is reflected within the film. Basically, the AD is the director's closest ally, and also has the ability to make decisions on behalf of the director.

However, it seems to me that the main role of the assistant director in Hollywood is to maintain the efficiency of the production. I felt more lonesome as a director here because of that fact. At the same time though, I have learned to make more prudent decisions in this new environment.

Another difference would be the existence of strong unions and their strict rules, especially regarding time. There were so many more rules to follow compared to Korea, and now I have new found respect for the US based directors who are able to create excellent films despite the constant burden and pressure of following these rules. …

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