A Fine, Windy Day [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - South Korea - Korean Film Archive/Blue Kino
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (17th February 2019).
The Film

"A Fine, Windy Day" <바람 불어 좋은 날> (1980)

In the developing suburb of Gangnam, three young men from different places come to find work and a better life. Deokbae (played by Ahn Sung-ki) works at a Chinese restaurant as a delivery boy. Due to his stutter while speaking, he often shies away from confrontation. Chunsik (played by Lee Young-ho)) is an assistant at a barbershop, but not great at his job. Gilnam (played by Kim Seong-chan) works at a small motel where business is the same old same old. The three barely make a decent living, with their tattered clothes and directionless paths taking them nowhere in particular. As for their lives in love, they are fairly optimistic. Deokbae catches the eye of Myunghee (played by Yu Ji-in), a rich socialite, Chunsik falls for Miss Yu (played by Kim Bo-yeon) who works at the barbershop, while Gilnam is in love with Jinok (played by Cho Ju-mi) who also works at the barbershop. But with land developers in the area clearing out the poorer slums for development, their futures are also at stake.

Director Lee Jang-ho was at the forefront of the new wave of young South Korean filmmakers in the mid-1970s, debuting as a director with "Heavenly Homecoming to Stars" in 1974 gaining critical acclaim and box office success. Trained under the guidance of Shin Sang-ok, he along with other directors such as Ha Kil-jong and Kim Ho-sun, their films made during the strict military dictatorship under President Park Chung-hee were youth spirited and against the old fashioned while slipping through the censorship cracks in the difficult time. While Lee's films were successful, they were always subject to criticism from the government. In 1976, he was arrested for marijuana usage and effectively suspended from filmmaking by the Ministry of Culture and Publicity, though that would eventually be overturned in the following months after the assassination of President Park Chung-hee on October 26, 1979. With his right to work again in filmmaking, his first project would be another collaboration with the writer of "Heavenly Homecoming to Stars", Choi Il-nam, and based on the novel "Our Vines", about a group of lower class people living in Gangnam.

"A Fine, Windy Day" was not a story with a straightforward narrative but instead was story with multiple plots following multiple characters with few instances of intersections. Granted the three main characters are friends and work near each other sharing drinks and dinner on multiple occasions, their stories don't have much in terms of consequence and effect to each other. In addition to the three main leads there are multiple sub characters that also go through various happenings. Im Ye-jin plays Chunsun, Chunsik's younger sister who follows him from the countryside to also find work and a better life. Kim Hee-ra plays Mr. Cho who has a secret life as a bachelor and a married man. Kim In-mun and Kim Young-ae play the tent restaurant couple Mr. and Mrs. Lee whose struggles are not much seen on screen but seen in the aftermaths. Lee Hyang plays the elderly man who tries to protest against the businesses trying to take over his farmland. Each and every character has some backstory that could be fully fleshed out, but instead the focus remains on the bumbling three young men - all looking for a better life in love and in general, but most likely not in the right directions. If the film followed all the sub characters lives it could have made an equally interesting production, but the full story may have been double what finished film was.

The film plays out like a series of vignettes rather than a full fledged film and in some ways that is good and some ways it doesn't help. In effect the female characters are the ones that get the short end of the runtime and their characters not fully explored. Miss Yu becoming a mistress unwantedly, Jinok's true intentions with money, why Myunghee continues to play with Deokbae from time to time, how Chunsun is coping with the new environment, all of these aspects are scrapped and in effect make their characters less rounded. Essentially the film's viewpoint becomes a masculine point of view - and a mostly inadequate one due to the inadequate male characters seen throughout the film. What is fascinating to see is how much South Korea, especially Gangnam has changed since 1980. The Seoul district was one of the least developed areas in the city, but from the 1980s saw a huge development of the area, and is now seen as one of the richest areas of the city, and of course made even more internationally known with the song "Gangnam Style" in 2012. Seeing unpaved roads, decrepit buildings and scaffoldings foreshadowing the rebuilding of the area, the film encapsulated a time and place that has disappeared from Seoul almost entirely. It's also fascinating to see many stars appear in the film in their early roles, and how far they have come in the following years. Ahn Sung-ki is one of the most recognizable film stars to this day and also featured in many Blu-ray releases from the Korean Film Archive including "Gagman" and "Chilsu and Mansu". Though he started his career as a child actor, this was his comeback feature and first as an adult, making a great impression leading to many other memorable roles. Im Ye-jin was already a superstar as a teen idol in South Korean cinema, and her role in "A Fine, Windy Day" and in "Love Song in a Peanut Shell" were to be her breakout roles as an adult. But unfortunately she didn't have too many scenes in "A Fine, Windy Day" to showcase her skills fully and "Love Song in a Peanut Shell" was not well received. Though on the positive side she continued in entertainment in television and radio where to this day she is still active. Kim Bo-yeon was also a successful teen idol in the 1970s in television, film, and also as a recording star. In 1982 her performance in "People in the Slum" earned her Best Actress at the Grand Bell Awards, and having a healthy continuing career in entertainment to this day.

"A Fine, Windy Day" was touted as a brave comeback film for the director, and while not a massive commercial success like "Heavenly Homecoming to Stars", it was still a great success, premiering on November 27, 1980 in cinemas and having more than 100,000 attendees. At the Daejong Film Awards, the film two awards, Lee receiving Best Director and Ahn for Best Actor. At the Baeksang Arts Awards, the film was awarded the Grand Prize, Best Film, and Best New Actor for Kim Seong-chan.

Video

The Korean Film Archive/Blue Kino presents the film in the original theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratio in 1080p AVC MPEG-4. This newly remastered version is a sight to behold as one of the strongest looking transfers from the KOFA library. Colors are bright and bold, damage is almost entirely eliminated, and film grain is left intact in the process keeping a truly film like image. It might be hard to push a nearly 40 year old South Korean film as a reference disc, but for a reference of how to remaster a film from 40 years ago, this could be one. An absolutely stellar job in the restoration by KOFA.

The film's runtime is 117:34.

Audio

Korean LPCM 1.0
The original mono audio is given a standard uncompressed track. Like the image the audio has been restored to remove hiss and pops and other damage, though being a monaural track from nearly 40 years ago, it does have its limitations. The funky opening music to the unlicensed use of "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" sound fairly good and well balanced with the rest of the dialogue. As with almost all South Korean film productions of the period, voices are post synchronized, so there are some moments when the mouths do not match the dialogue entirely.

There are optional English, Japanese, Korean subtitles in a white font for the main feature. They are well timed, easy to read, and for the English and Japanese subtitles, free of spelling or grammar errors.

Extras

Audio commentary by director Lee Jang-ho and filmmaker Kim Hong-joon
In this newly recorded commentary, filmmaker Kim Hong-joon moderates a retrospective look with Lee at the making of the film. Discussed are how the film was a comeback for Lee after the change in the South Korean regime and his release from the blacklist, the large divide between urban and rural life at the time, how Gangnam has changed since then, the original source material, the carefully planned shooting, the cast and crew, and much more. There are a few minor spelling errors such as "Blu-ray" being spelled "Blue-ray" and "Villain" spelled "Villan".
in Korean Dolby Digital 2.0 with optional English and Korean subtitles

"My Love, My Films" documentary (79:33)
In this documentary produced by the Korean Film Archive, a series of interview clips with various South Korean filmmakers along with clips from films such as "A Day Off", "The March of Fools", "People in the Slum", "Gagman", and many more are presented. Unfortunately for international audiences this extra lacks subtitles.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1. In Korean Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

"Digital Restoration Before & After" featurette (0:55)
In this standard yet too short featurette, some restoration examples are presented side by side, removing scratches and other damage and improving stability.
in 1080p AVE MPEG-4, with English and Korean text

Image Gallery
A series of 10 black and white behind the scenes stills plus the theatrical poster are presented in a manual slideshow.

Bonus Trailers
- "Children of Darkness" (1981) (3:33)
- "Widow Dance" (1984) (3:14)

Two original trailers of other films directed by Lee Jang-ho are presented. Both are in fairly good condition with some expected specs and splice marks with a bit of hiss in the audio.
in 720p AVC MPEG-4, in 2.35:1, in Korean Dolby Digital 2.0 with Korean text

Booklet
A 48 page booklet is included with the set, with text in Korean and English. First is a cast and crew list and awards list followed by a synopsis. There are some printed quotes from the director regarding the film, followed by a biography and filmography. Next are the essays "Lee Jang-ho - A Cornerstone of the Korean New Wave" and "A Fine, Windy Day - The Conventions and Inside of the Times Encapsulated by Lee Jang-ho" written by Yi Hyo-in, professor of film and theater at Kyung-hee University and former director of KOFA.

Packaging

The Blu-ray is housed in a standard clear keepcase, which also holds 3 postcards with stills from the film. The keep case and the bookare housed in a slip box. The box is labeled #013 as this is the thirteenth Blu-ray release by the Korean Film Archive.

Overall

"A Fine, Windy Day" has many moments throughout that are memorable, but as a whole the flow of multiple storylines and lack of time allotted to the female characters make the production feel slightly incomplete. The Korean Film Archive Blu-ray sports an excellent image transfer and good audio, plus an informative commentary track and other extras.

Note the film is also available on the Korean Film Archive YouTube Channel in full, with optional English subtitles in very good quality, though the remaster is not the same as the Blu-ray edition which goes further in the restoration process.

The Film: B- Video: A+ Audio: A- Extras: B Overall: B+

 


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