William Schwartz

William Schwartz
Tomatometer-approved critic
Biography:
I started reviewing South Korean movies in 2012 for HanCinema (www.hancinema.net) following a lifelong interest in film. I have also done extensive research into older South Korean film as well as North Korean films at the Korean Film Archive in Seoul.
Publications: HanCinema

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
No Score Yet Bulg-eun gajog (Red Family) (2013) Red Family has aged horribly and no aspect of it can be used to meaningfully discuss the cultural distance between North Korea and South Korea in the present day or even back when it was made. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 9, 2020
No Score Yet Jeni, Juno (2005) Jenny, Juno is, for better or worse, trapped in a cycle of its own idiot teen logic. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 9, 2020
No Score Yet The Terror Live (2013) The Terror Live expertly manages to keep scary situations getting even scarier, as even when the degree of danger hasn't changed, the personal visceral level is ratcheting up. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 21, 2019
83% The Admiral: Roaring Currents (2014) While The Admiral: Roaring Currents has the obvious trappings of a patriotic story about Korea's darkest hour, director Kim Han-min wisely decides to instead focus on fear. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 21, 2019
No Score Yet Run Off (Take Off 2) (2016) The movie is not only generic it's rather pointless, good for little more than background noise for a person engaged in a more mentally intensive task. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 21, 2019
71% Ashfall (2019) Atrocious editing and an overly long running time turn Ashfall into a disaster of a disaster movie. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 21, 2019
No Score Yet Bring Me Home (Find Me) (Na-reul cha-ja-jwo) (2019) The main moments of terror are startlingly mundane. In a screenplay that probably looks predictable out of context writer/director Kim Seung-woo-I manages to wring out some fairly powerful tension. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 2, 2019
No Score Yet Black Money (2019) I can appreciate the pedagogical aims of director Chung Ji-young trying to go over a real-life financial crime case within the trappings of a more typical crime thriller. But these elements are often distracting and detract from each other's point. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 2, 2019
No Score Yet Hit-and-Run Squad (2019) Hit-and-Run Squad spends far too much of its runtime trapped in overwrought drama with obnoxiously clichéd speeches about how you can't go evil to fight evil, or something. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 2, 2019
No Score Yet I Can Speak (Ai Kaen Seupikeu) (2017) For all her bluster, Ok-boon is a surprisingly lonely older woman, and it's to the credit of I Can Speak that we never really pity her. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 15, 2019
80% Take Point (2018) Take Point is brilliant work that, far from romanticizing the work of private military contractors normalizes it as just a very bad job. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 15, 2019
100% Masquerade (2012) Even though Ha-sun is impersonating a King, it's the small changes he makes that cause the most dramatic impact. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 15, 2019
No Score Yet The Divine Move 2: The Wrathful (2019) For an action crime film that just so happens to be centered around a board game this is surprisingly dark broad spectrum morality about the nature of human sinfulness. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 15, 2019
No Score Yet C'est Si Bon (2015) While C'est Si Bon certainly deserves some credit for being able to provide a pleasant sense of ambience, that much can only really take a film so far. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 2, 2019
57% The Fortress (2017) That gloomy sentiment, beyond the plot, is also perfectly represented via cinematography and sound design, granting The Fortress the uniquely dark aesthetic of showing us history from the side of the losers. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 2, 2019
78% Extreme Job (2019) I could pick out nearly any individual seven minute stretch of this movie and find some fairly brilliant gags. The problem is, add seven minutes to seven minutes to seven minutes and then...it all gets to be a little tiring. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 2, 2019
No Score Yet Wonderful Moment (2013) All of the songs, even the ones sung by the rivals, have a certain relevance to Il-han and Yeong-gwang's character arcs, though for the most part they're singing Broadway standards rather than original songs. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 2, 2019
36% Flu (Gamgi) (2013) Every single character, be it hero, villain, or supporting role, is selfish, obnoxious, and seems to favor violence as the immediate solution to nearly every problem. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 2, 2019
No Score Yet Our President (2017) In an era only fifteen years removed from dictatorship, Roo Moo-hyun was talking about how the President of South Korea should serve the people of South Korea. All of them. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 2, 2019
60% The Negotiation (2018) The characters aren't even incompetent in a very interesting way, we just watch them bicker over very dull minutae while Tae-goo sits in the background patiently waiting for his chance to toss them more exposition. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 2, 2019
No Score Yet Marrying the Mafia 5: Return of the Family (2012) Marrying the Mafia 5 - Return of the Family runs the gamut from disgustingly out of touch to just kind of boring. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 28, 2019
No Score Yet Gamun-ui buhwal: Gamunui yeonggwang 3 (Marrying the Mafia III) (2006) There's almost no urgency in the scripting, so the story just comes off as an extended series of very tangentially relevant gags, a large number of which were ripped off from the previous movie. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 28, 2019
No Score Yet Gamunui wigi: Gamunui yeonggwang 2 (Marrying the Mafia II) (2005) The only reason this movie exists is to deliver crude, silly jokes heavily laced with innuendo. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 28, 2019
No Score Yet The Bad Guys: Reign of Chaos (2019) Even though The Bad Guys: Reign of Chaos bills itself as a movie about hardcore violence at heart the story's a fairly straightforward investigative mystery. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 1, 2019
No Score Yet Tazza: One Eyed Jack (2019) None of the scams that Il-chool and his gang pull are really all that clever. What's worse, they work and fail in predictable patterns for no obvious reason. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 1, 2019
No Score Yet My Name Is Kim Bok-dong (2019) Kim Bok-dong's death is actually an intermediate point rather than an end one, because her death was inevitable. The real advocacy was always about taking her words to heart, and how they have been remembered. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 1, 2019
No Score Yet Detective K: Secret of the Living Dead (2018) The script reads like someone wrote a completely serious Joseon-era vampire mystery, and then some producer arbitrarily decided to throw Detective K and Seo-pil in there to lighten the mood. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 19, 2019
No Score Yet Be With You (Ji-geum Man-na-leo Gab-ni-da) (2018) The movie delves into the ways in which love is a conscious decision, even if we don't realize it. Soo-ah's presence looms largely over Woo-jin and Ji-ho even in death, because they allow her to. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 19, 2019
91% Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum (2018) Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum is unapologetically a gimmick horror film, where the only relevant character trait is narcissism prefacing a cosmic reminder of just how insignificant any individual human life really is. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 19, 2019
No Score Yet The Accidental Detective 2: In Action (2018) Sure, we want Dae-man to follow his dreams. But we're also constantly left wondering whether Dae-man is actually any good at his stated dream profession. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 19, 2019
86% The Great Battle (2018) I loved how brute force is never the answer- trying to shove soldiers into a bottleneck just gets them killed, which is why Emperor Taizong keeps having to regroup the army, to his increasing psychotic agitation. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 19, 2019
No Score Yet Dark Figure of Crime (2018) While Tae-oh would obviously like us to believe that he's some sort of psychopathic criminal mastermind, we see pretty consistently that the man is just, well, really petty and obviously starved for attention. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 19, 2019
No Score Yet Feng Shui (Myung-dang) (2018) Note how Jae-sang and Ha-eun manage to build up an entire team of highly skilled geomancers, most of whom never actually do anything. Seriously, the most I can remember about those guys is that one of them stutters a lot for exactly one scene. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 19, 2019
No Score Yet Intimate Strangers (2018) Sometimes the mockery is gentle, other times farcical, and other times it feels like the universe is playing a horrific joke that only seems funny to us because we know the situation isn't as bad as it looks. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 19, 2019
No Score Yet The Battle: Roar to Victory (2019) The Battle: Roar to Victory does not deal with patriotism in the abstract but rather more immediate reasons why a person would give up their lives to face certain death at the hands of well-equipped career soldiers. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 19, 2019
83% Ghost Walk (2018) Since writer/director Yu Eun-jeong leaves the viewer in constant flux over whether Hye-jeong can actually change past events, so too, do we feel helpless as she does. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 11, 2019
83% Exit (2019) This is a movie that really fundamentally gets how disaster movies aren't about the spectacle or the tacked on romance or the backstory, but all the delightful problem solving. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 11, 2019
91% Right Now, Wrong Then (2016) The film isn't an exercise in story as much as it is one of concept- the gimmick this time around being how the "wrong" course of conversation can lead to the "right" results, and vice-versa. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 28, 2019
No Score Yet You Call It Passion (Yeol-jeong-gat-eun-so-ri-ha-go-it-ne) (2015) The stakes in You Call It Passion are relatively low, and the eventual movement of the plot toward an exposé about a false accusation doesn't really do much to up the ante. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 28, 2019
No Score Yet Plan Man (Peulraenmaen) (2014) The titular Plan Man is not some starry-eyed movie ideal of charming wackiness. His obsessive compulsive disorder is a genuine sickness, and the movie treats it as such. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 28, 2019
78% U ri Sunhi (Our Sunhi) (2014) The various men in Our Sunhi live in panic of the idea that all the experience they've had, all the wisdom they've gained of the world, that all of this might be for naught since no one will ever actually listen to what they have to say. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 28, 2019
No Score Yet 11 A.m. (2013) 11 AM may seem to waver in parts, but by the end its general message about human nature is an unmistakable one. This is a film that mocks it audience with characters who are too smart to live. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 28, 2019
No Score Yet Nae-ga sal-in-beom-i-da (Confession of Murder) (2013) What really makes these action sequences work is the well-developed sense of staging that goes with them. They all favor a rapid sequence approach of problems and solutions. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 28, 2019
No Score Yet Kang Chul-Jung: Gonggongui Jeog 1-1 (Public Enemy Returns) (Public Enemy 3) (2008) Much like Cheol-joong, Won-sool is motivated by an obsessive desire to make people take him seriously. Neither man ever appreciates that the harder he tries to look cool, the less cool he actually is. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 28, 2019
No Score Yet Guns & Talks (Killerdeului suda) (2001) Huge portions of this movie are just writer/director Jang Jin showing off the latest in wacky camerawork and musical synchronization. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 28, 2019
No Score Yet Man On High Heels (Hai-hil) (2014) Man on High Heels kind of wants to be a silly comedy where Cha Seung-won puts on a dress, but usually it's just about the very depressing events in his transgender character's life. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 7, 2019
No Score Yet Good Morning President (Gutmoning peurejideonteu) (2009) Good Morning President is intrinsically flawed because what we really have here are three really good ideas for punchy, ninety-minute comedies compacted and stretched out into a one hundred thirty minute omnibus. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 7, 2019
No Score Yet Aneun yeoja (Someone Special) (A Girl I Know) (2004) I am reasonably sure Someone Special is intended to be ironic. But it's relevancy in this day and age is dubious. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 7, 2019
86% The Vanished (2018) By playing the movie as a whodunit rather than a dark psychological comedy, director Lee Chang-hee kills a fair amount of the impact. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 22, 2019
No Score Yet Puzzle (2018) There's a video game like roteness to the narrative structure. Do-joon finds a bad guy, and punches him until he gets a clue that leads to the next bad guy in the next mission. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 22, 2019