2005 102 mins
Subtitles : English
“A virtuoso slice of sustained black humor” – Derek Elley, VARIETY
1979 was a year of tremendous upheaval in South Korea, when two decades of what was effectively a right-wing dictatorship culminated in massive pro-democracy demonstrations. The social unrest was only exacerbated by the brutal repression inflicted by the country’s military apparatus. As the saying goes, something that can’t continue sooner or later simply doesn’t, and South Korea’s internal conflict reached its inflection point with a single bullet, a single loud bang. The assassination of President Park Chunghee on October 26, 1979, by no less than South Korea’s intelligence chief, concluded 18 years of military dictatorship, but the reverberations of this dramatic incident would still be felt for many years.
Dark times, indeed — and what better tonic for the darkest of times than equally pitch-black humour. Award-winning director Im Sanghoo, renowned for such films as 2003’s A GOOD LAWYER'S WIFE
and his 2010 remake of Kim Ki-young’s iconic classic THE HOUSEMAID
, has repeatedly demonstrated a propensity for poking around the more sordid corners of human nature, and he hardly holds back in his recreation of Park’s killing and its aftermath. There are no heroes or happy endings within this inner circle of power, where advocacy of casual brutality is matched by severe drinking and womanizing. There are, however, bleakly hilarious personalities and disgracefully absurd circumstances, which Im gleefully drags into the light. His efforts earned him governmental opprobrium and even a lawsuit, sure, but it also bagged the director a number of awards — and a permanent place for THE PRESIDENT’S LAST BANG
in the canon of outstanding South Korean cinema. – Rupert Bottenberg