I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself and for my fellow Korean film fans, here in Montreal (and in other cities, too). A new Korean film called The Priests (검은 사제들 Geomeun Sajedeul) was released in Los Angeles and Dallas on Thursday, Nov. 26 (U.S. Thanksgiving). It will open on Friday, Dec. 4, 2015 in several more U.S. cities and in Toronto and Vancouver, too. But it won’t be coming to Montreal. . . sigh.
The stars of The Priests are Kang Dong Wong (강동원) and Kim Yun Seok (김윤석), two actors I admire very much; I’d watch them in pretty much anything. They last worked together in the film Woochi, which was shown at Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival in 2010. (Read my review of Woochi in the Montreal Gazette here.) The film is written and directed by Jang Jae-hyeon (장재현) and based on his prize-winning short film 12th Assistant Deacon. The Priests involves a possible case of demonic possession, which naturally brings The Exorcist (1973) to mind. Of course, the special effects are likely to be more sophisticated these days.
Kim Yun Seok plays Father Kim, who is trying free one of his young parishioners from an evil spirit. Kang Dong Wong plays Deacon Choi, the far-from perfect seminarian selected to assist Father Kim. (In the trailer we see him cheating on an exam, climbing out the window of his residence to buy alcohol, and then drinking it with his buddies.) Both actors researched Catholicism for their parts; Kang Dong Won spent a week observing a priest and also learned to deliver convincing dialogue in Chinese, German, Italian and Latin.
In an interview on Korean TV, Kim Yun Seok said that once he put on a cassock he felt compelled to behave in a serious and dignified manner. He said that he became more reverent and talked less. When the TV host asked Kang Dong Won about his experience with the garment, he laughed and said “Honestly, I didn’t know the ladies like the cassock so much.”
While it might sound like a horror film, what with the demons and all, Kim Yun Seok describes The Priests as a mystery thriller and points out that it has car chases and lots of action, too. If you look at the trailer, below, you’ll see that it also has a pig on a leash. Curious!
The Priests was released in Korea on Nov. 5, 2015 and has been doing very well at the box office, considering that November is a slow month for film going in Korea. During its second week, it outsold Spectre, the latest James Bond film, and The Martian. According to Yonhap News, About 4.82 million people had seen The Priests, as of Saturday, Nov. 28.
I hope that I can see The Priests one of these days. What about you?