'Dragon Wars' Director Returns to Comedy

      January 03, 2011 07:28

      Shim Hyung-rae

      Shim Hyung-rae has returned to comedy after a detour into fantasy with "Dragon Wars" in 2007. The 52-year-old director's new film is called "The Last Godfather" starring Harvey Keitel.  

      "In fact, I'm a comedian to the bone. I'm proud of myself for that," he says. "You can watch 'Mr. Bean' on almost all airplanes around the world. So why not Korean comedies?"

      Shim, who entered the show business in 1982, has appeared in or directed some 88 films besides his works as a comedian.

      Although "Dragons Wars" set a record for a Korean film of being released in 2,277 theaters in the U.S., rumor has it that it failed to make a profit. "Although I can't reveal the exact figures, it left me with a certain degree of disappointment," he says. "But thanks to the reputation I gained with 'Dragons Wars,' I was able to make this new film 'The Last Godfather.' Without the trust built by 'Dragons Wars,' do you think I could have cast a famous Oscar-nominated actor like Harvey Keitel?"

      "Dragons Wars" lured some 8.4 million viewers to the cinema but was universally panned by the critics. What lessons did "Dragons Wars" teach him? "Some critics and film magazines used extreme words, like 'rubbish,'" he says. "But now I'm grateful. I became conscious of the importance of a good screenplay, so I asked a professional martial arts writer to write the script for 'Dragon Wars II.' We are currently negotiating with distributor Sony, which has the DVD license for 'Dragons Wars' in the U.S., to produce the sequel."

      As for his current release, Shim says slapstick is a type of comedy that can be enjoyed by everyone. Regardless of the reception, he won't give up. "Do you remember the story of the Wright Brothers, who built the first airplanes? They failed at first, but if they hadn't tried again, there would be no airplanes." 

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