• Sea Fog



    Released by: 88 Films
    Released on: March 26th, 2018.
    Director: Shim Sung-bo
    Cast: Kim Yun-seok, Park Yoo-chun, Ye-ri Han
    Year: 2015
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    The Movie:

    The directorial debut of Shim Sung-bom, who co-wrote with producer Bong Joon-ho (of The Host, Snowpiercer, Memories Of Murder – which Shim Sung-bom co-wrote) and quite a few more recent South Korean films worth seeing), 2014’s Sea Fog introduces us to Captain Kang Chul-joo (Kim Yun-seok), the captain of a fishing boat that is very much on its last legs. The boat is very much in need of serious repair, having been eaten away by rust and starting to fall apart. Kang isn’t quite ready to let go of his prized possession, however. In fact, he’s willing to do whatever he needs to in order to keep the old boat sea-worthy. That’s why he winds up taking a deal from a criminal wherein he’ll be paid a decent sum to smuggle a group of Chinese-Korean immigrants into South Korea. If he pulls this off, he’ll earn enough money to take care of the boat’s much needed repairs and even take some time off. There’s also the potential for more work of this kind should the job go off without any trouble.

    Kang tells his small, motley crew about the job and off they go, picking up their human cargo and carrying them to their destination. Everything is fine, until there’s an accident, at which point… all Hell breaks loose.

    This one builds really nicely, doing a great job of establishing Kang’s character and motivations. We are given the opportunity to understand why he’d be willing to break the law to save his boat and, maybe even more importantly, we’re able to understand why the creaky old rust bucket means so much to the guy. This makes his actions later in the film make sense, and in a lot of ways, despite his flaws, it makes him an interesting and reasonably sympathetic character. Kim Yun-seok plays this part well. There’s a sense of humanity to his performance that is, if not endearing, at least appreciable. He’s also insanely intense in the part, which makes him entertaining and interesting to watch. The supporting players all do fine work here as well, but it’s really Yun-seok’s show and he clearly makes the most of the opportunity to play such an interesting and well thought out character.

    Production values are strong across the board. While a lot of CGI was used in the last half of the film, it’s done well. There are times where you can tell the effects are digital rather than practical but never to the point where it’s particularly distracting. The boat itself is an interesting main location, and the crew has done a fine job creating something that looks ‘right’ in the context of the story that Shim Sung-bom and company are telling with Sea Fog. The film is dark, both in tone and in appearance, but the cinematography and lighting are really nicely done. As such, the picture is a pretty atmospheric one, and there are some very striking and memorable shot compositions here that effectively put a very fine point on some of the film’s more poignant moments.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Sea Fog looks great on Blu-ray in this AVC encoded 2.40.1 widescreen 1080p high definition transfer from 88 Films. Depth is impressive here as is the color reproduction, though much of the film does take place inside some rather dark locations. There are no problems with compression artifacts and detail is generally strong throughout. Skin tones look lifelike, black levels are strong and there are no noticeable problems with compression artifacts. Texture is great and all in all, the movie looks very good in high definition on this release.

    The primary audio option on this disc is a Korean language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track. An LPCM 2.0 Stereo tracks is also provided in Korean. Subtitles are provided in English only. Getting back to that Korean language surround track, it sounds really good. The film makes great use of the surround channels, especially during the more action intensive moments (particularly when things really hit the fan), so expect a good amount of sound effects to really pull you into the story the way that the best surround mixes can. Dialogue stays clean and clear and the levels are properly balanced throughout. No issues here.

    Extras are a bit on the thin side, starting with a two-minute visual effects reel that shows us some before and after footage wherein we see what a difference the digital effects employed in post-production made to the look of the picture. Additionally, the disc includes an eleven-minute featurette called All About Bong where film critic Jean Noh discusses Bong Joon-ho's involvement in an interview with Calum Waddell and how Bong’s involvement was key in getting the film made. Menus and chapter selection are also included on the disc. Orders placed on the 88 Films website will come with a limited edition slipcover.

    The Final Word:

    Sea Fog is tense and exciting stuff, very well done – full marks to both the cast and the crew for knocking this one out of the park. The Blu-ray release from 88 Films is light on extras but it looks and sounds very good, making this well worth tracking down.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!