Amongst the plethora of brilliant, inventive directors that have come out of South Korea in the 21st century, Park Chan-wook occupies a special place in my heart. Before high-caliber artists like Bong Joon-ho and Hong Sang-soo came into prominence, Chan-wook made a staggering introduction with two of the most powerful and thoughtfully violent tales of vengeance in recent memory, namely the new classic Oldboy and the less-known, just-as-great Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. Following those films, he’s made a handful of very good violent melodramas, including Lady Vengeance, Thirst, and Stoker, his English-language debut, and earlier this year, he debuted his latest twisted tale, The Handmaiden, at Cannes, where several critics wrote of being enamored by his artistry once again.
Chan-wook is one of those rare foreign artists that, thanks to Oldboy, has a decent following in the states, which would explain why Amazon Studios and Magnolia Pictures quickly partnered to bring The Handmaiden to US theaters. You can check out the first American trailer for the film right below, and one should notice the wild, desaturated colors that he uses as much as the turns of the plot, which focuses on a scheme to bilk a Korean heiress out of her money via seduction and murder. There are plenty of promising American films hitting theaters in the next few months, including Sully and Ava DuVernay‘s The 13th, but in the realm of foreign films, The Handmaiden is easily at the top of my most anticipated list right now.
Here’s the first official trailer for The Handmaiden:
Here’s the official synopsis for The Handmaiden:
1930s Korea, in the period of Japanese occupation, a new girl (Sookee) is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress (Hideko) who lives a secluded life on a large countryside estate with her domineering Uncle (Kouzuki). But the maid has a secret. She is a pickpocket recruited by a swindler posing as a Japanese Count to help him seduce the Lady to elope with him, rob her of her fortune, and lock her up in a madhouse. The plan seems to proceed according to plan until Sookee and Hideko discover some unexpected emotions.