• Hansel And Gretel (88 Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: 88 Films
    Released on: July 23rd, 2018
    Director: Pil-Sung Yim
    Cast: CHUN Jeong-myeong, EUN Won-jae, SHIM Eun-kyung, JIN Ji-hee
    Year: 2007
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    Hansel And Gretel - Movie Review:

    Once upon a time there was a young man named Eun-soo who, after a questionable car accident, finds himself wandering the forest looking for help. As night falls he is found by a young girl carrying a lantern who invites him to come to her nearby house.

    When he gets there he is mesmerized by the gorgeous house and even more fantastic interiors. The three children, who seem to be in charge of the household - Man-bok, Jung Soon and Young Hee, the girl who found him in the forest - are colorfully dressed, rosy cheeked and full of smiles and compliments. The parents, on the other hand, although picturesque on the outside seem to be overly nervous and harboring some sort of secret despair. Everyone quickly starts referring to Eun-soo as “uncle,” which is a traditional term of endearment in Asian culture for a male figure close to the family. Still… he seems uncomfortable with this. Jung Soon and Young Hee seem to be genuinely loving towards Eun-soo while Man-bok seems to be the family member that seems to final the say on things. He also seems to look at Eun-soo not so much with caring, but instead as serving some sort of purpose for the three children. The parents disappear to “tend to business,” according to Man-bok (though later the girls say that Mom was sick and had to be brought to the hospital), and Eun-soo is torn about what to do, not wanting to just abandon three children, especially the girls who are very kind to him.

    Eun-soo keeps trying to find a way into town, but his car is out of commission and the children keep telling him that they’re really too deep in the woods to try to get there. He feels that the family is trying to keep him there and that does seem to be the case, though why isn’t quite evident at this point. Although Man-bok seems the least amiable of the children, he eventually agrees to draw up a map to help Eun-soo navigate his way through the woods, but, as he soon finds out, even that isn’t as helpful as he thought and ends up back at the house. Shortly after, another couple, with car troubles similar to Eun-soo’s, shows up and the dynamic between the children and the grown-ups becomes even more bizarre leaving Eun-soo even more determined to find a way out.

    The intended visual style of this film is hard to gauge at times. It’s obvious it’s going for very highly contrasted colors and expressive lighting techniques. At times this works really well, but at times the brightness can seem a bit overdone especially against some of the darker aspects of the picture. For example, most of the characters have very black hair, which seems to sparkle next to the overly saturated colors and bright lights. There is a very intentional filter over the film throughout and while it does add an element of “wonder” it can be almost distracting at times. I found myself trying to identify a reason for more or less filtering (time period, character’s perception, etc.) but since it was present during most of the movie, it seems possible there may have been potentially unintentional variables at play (natural lighting, shadow, etc.). That said, the overall result of these effects still work in the context of a film based on a fairy tale.

    Hansel And Gretel – Blu-ray Review:

    Hansel and Gretel is presented in high definition AVC encoded 1080p 1.85:1 format on 50GB disc. Colors were brilliant throughout and black levels were consistent. Video quality was exceptional with no apparent compression issues. A thin line is visible on the top and bottom of the film in some scenes which is not a TV or player issue as it is visible in computer screen shots (see below).

    This 88 Films Blu-ray release of Hansel and Gretel offers a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio Surround Sound Korean language track with optional English subtitles. Two of the three audio tracks (Jung-seong-jin and Ryu Seung-hie) on the interviews in the extras are in Korean with forced English language subtitles. The remaining interview (Kim Ji-yong) is in English with no subtitle options. Introduction by Pil-Sung Yim is also in English with no subtitles. Audio quality throughout the film is clear and consistent with no noticeable flaws.

    Extras include two trailers, three interviews, and an introduction and audio commentary by Director, Pil-Sung Yim. Each interview runs approximately eight to twelve minutes and offers some insight into the making of the film. Not being a huge fan of the horror genre, Cinematographer Kim Ji-yong, discusses the influence The Twilight Zone and Night of the Hunter had on the visual direction he chose to take Hansel and Gretel, as well as some of the challenges he faced filming in an outdoor setting. VFX Director, Jung-seong-jin, talks briefly about the use of CGI and times he felt it worked and how some scenes, in his opinion, might have benefitted from a bit more. The third and most passionate interview was with Production Designer, Ryu Seung-hie. She goes into great detail about the look of the film and how they made it work even with the restraints of a limited budget and only seven designers, but how, she believes, resourcefulness often results in more depth and character overall. One can easily sense the amount of love she feels for this film and the detail and emotion she and her team put into creating these colorful, child-like settings that draw the viewer in and make the fantastic seem more conceivable. In that, the designers truly accomplished one of the goals the film’s storyline seeks to achieve: making the imaginary a reality

    The audio commentary included on this disc- a joint effort from Director, Pil-Sung Yim and 88 Films’ Calum Waddell- offers pleasant banter on the director’s intentions with the film and the obstacles involved in creating such an atypical Korean picture. The two commentators seem jovial and comfortable with each other and rarely need to rely on only discussing what’s happening on screen. The pride Yim feels for his adaptation of Hansel and Gretel, contrasted by the apparent humor he sees in its lack of popularity, give him a very down-to-earth quality that really makes him very enjoyable to listen to. Being his first English language commentary, he puts listeners at ease by recognizing that his accent may be a challenge for some, but the exchange between him and Waddell really leaves you with a satisfying sense of everything that’s being communicated. It’s easy to see he has a real appreciation for everything that went into the making of Hansel and Gretel and an even greater appreciation for everyone involved.

    A reversible cover and a slipcover (limited to the first pressing) are included.

    Hansel And Gretel - The Final Word:

    This adaptation of Hansel and Gretel certainly portrays the traditional fairytale. That said, while there are elements of the original story present, it often does its own thing giving viewers a unique variation on the conventional storyline. Expecting a straight up retelling in the case of this film may leave some disappointed but I think anyone choosing to watch this, knowing it is intended as a horror film, will not be expecting the same old story. What really makes this film magical – and being a fairytale, it should be magical – is the production design. The sets, the props, the costumes, they all pull you into the story and succeed in giving viewers an enchanting visual experience. It’s a beautiful film that truly makes you feel a part of its sincerity and is heartwarming in its appreciation of simple childhood. It is a horror film, of course, so viewers should be sure to be able to find enjoyment in those aspects of it.

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

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. C.D. Workman's Avatar
      C.D. Workman -
      Nice review, Alison!
    1. agent999's Avatar
      agent999 -
      Sounds like a good double bill with Freeway 2.