In recent years, I’ve become increasingly interested in foreign auteurs making films either in Hollywood or with Hollywood stars (or, of course, a combination of the two). This certainly isn’t new, as we can always look to directors like Paul Verhoeven (Starship Troopers, Basic Instinct*) and Alfonso Cuarón (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Gravity), whose careers really took off after making forays into Hollywood-esque productions. Unfortunately, we can’t say the same for Asian auteurs; the one who was arguably the most successful was John Woo, but even a great film like Face/Off* was followed by a hollow Mission: Impossible II*.
It’s the same case for Korean directors as well (full disclosure: I’m Korean). I’ve long been a fan of Park Chan-Wook (Oldboy*), but I didn’t find Stoker engaging. Ditto for Kim Jee-Woon (A Tale of Two Sisters), whose English-language feature The Last Stand* I found lacking for an Arnold Schwarzenegger-fronted action film. That being said, I was relieved when watching Snowpiercer, directed by Bong Joon-ho (Memories of Murder), which bucked this trend. Better yet, it may be the best film currently playing in theaters at the moment (I’ve yet to catch Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Boyhood, both opening this weekend).