A reckless youngster Eun-soo drives to his mother’s,
and has a car accident. When Eun-soo wakes up, he meets a
mysterious girl and is led to her fairytale-like house in
the middle of the forest. There, Eun-soo is trapped with the
girl and her siblings who never age. Soon he learns all the
adults who visited or stayed in the house have met mysterious
yet terrible ends. More shockingly, their cruel deaths are
drawn in details and made into a fairytale book by the children.
Scared Eun-soo tries to find the way out, but the house is
secluded in the forest with no way out. And then, Eun-soo
discovers a book which tells a brutal end of none other than
Among the entire fairy tales encountered during my childhood,
Hansel and Gretel stood out as one of the darker, more morbid
tales. Even though there’s the house of cake and all
things yummy to a kid, the ideal of cannibalism and abandonment
had left a rather unsavory dent in my memories. Fast forward
to 2007, Korean director Yim Phil Sung (Antarctic Journal)
revisited this classic and weaved it into a dark fantasy where
the kids are not longer the victims and they have became rather
some elements borrowed from Peter Pan (Spoiler
starts the magical “believe in it” power for kids
and the ageless factors Spoiler ends) and Alice in
Wonderland (Spoiler starts the crazy
turn of unexpected events and the protagonist’s desire
to leave this magical place Spoiler ends), Director
Kim had successfully created a quirky story that still bears
some sort of resemblance to the classic tale and yet brought
forth something new to the table.
one hand, it explores the naivety of the children mind and
the seedy manipulation of what the adult could think of. This
film allows the viewers to ponder which is scarier, the tainted
innocence that’s been empowered or the selfishness of
the other hand, it revisits the issue of abandonment and the
ramification that it brings to the victims. In the midst of
going through the horrific impact of promises broken, it subtly
touches on the importance of kinship that came as an unexpected
Chun Jeong-myong (Eun-soo) did a fine job as the lead actor,
guiding us through the maze of this Korean Hansel and Gretel
and engaging us to root for his quest to leave this “magical”
place, the young actors in this movie ultimately stole the
focus from him.
a doubt, much of the success of Hansel and Gretel relied on
the three young kids. They have that strong on screen presence
that seems to have charmed this reviewer endlessly. They all
brought something different to the plate.
boy in this movie (Eun Won-jae)’s was able to switch
from aloofness and anger easily. His disgruntled expression
transmitted the need for vengeance well and capably balanced
it with wounded persona.
Sham Eun-kyoung (the older girl among the trio) has that delicate
look that made the guys want to take good care of her. Although
this might sound rather pedophile-ish, but she got that attractiveness
to her that whenever she persuade Eun-soo to stay, I could
relate to why he couldn’t say no to her. Her expressive
eyes and range of emotion successfully was a convincing combo
for the unlikely romance that her character wanted so much.
The youngest girl (the adorable Jin Ji-hee) however was the
best among these three kids. Her bright expressive eyes and
cute mannerism were a delight to watch out for (much like
Puss n Boots in Shrek). But the impressive bits were when
she delivered those menacing looks that made me shudder behind
the blankets. I wanted to credit her ability to cry buckets
on cue but then again, it might not be a talent for her after
Screen presence are not as easy to attain as good looks
and I feel that if these three actors are given proper direction,
great things would come for them.
only problem for Hansel and Gretel was that it took too long
to tell its tale. While it was fun to immerse in the imagination
of the cinematography / production setup and the loveable
screen presence of the kids, it got a bit tiring following
the chain of events as the movie progresses. Particularly
when it was intriguing to see how it will turn out and it
felt that the movie made the viewers wade through a room littered
with children toys to get to the final revelation.
The minor glitch aside, this dark fantasy had left a more
pleasant and memorable mark. Basked in rich color, skilled
cinematography and inventive soundtracks, coupled with fine
acting and intriguing usage of fairy tales, Hansel and Gretel
will leave you mesmerize and bring back a couple of points
to ponder about.
This Hansel and Gretel dvd is filled with extras like a house
is filled with candies and cupcakes.
The first two extras are the Trailer and
TV spots for this movie. Then it’s followed
by the Highlights of this movie (ie a condense
version of this film (about ¾ of this film) shown in
not so good quality video). This segment comes with English
subtitles feature so if you are in a rush to sample this movie,
the highlights would be a great option.
The fourth feature of the extras segment is basically an Interviews
segment with the director and cast of Hansel and Gretel. It
was shot rather hastily and the video quality look quite bad
compared to the film quality in this Dvd. Nevertheless, catch
this for the Director’s take on the difference between
the classic tale and the new bland of dark fantasy. The rest
of the interview segments are basically fluff stuff that has
the actors giving the usual praises to the director, talking
about their roles and promoting this movie to the viewers
(which you probably have seen).
The Making Highlight used The Beatles’s
“All you need is love” as a background music to
playfully illustrate the “love” among the cast
during the filming. This short and enjoyable segment showcased
the on set camaraderie, the goofiness, the jokes and all thing
fun during this film’s production. Personally my favorite
among all the extras in this DVD.
Making of Production Design is basically
a run thru of the stunning visuals of this movie with companion
from the movie’s musical theme. Mini-Documentary
is basically B-Rolls of the making of segments where a camera
video the making off process without much explanation and
often taken in awkward angles.
Recommendation from other Directors contains
snippets of interview session with other famous Korean directors
(such Boon Joon Ho of “The Host” fame) on their
thoughts and expectation with this movie. Strangely a couple
of directors weren’t introduced with English subtitles.
Wrapping this Extra segment up would be a Photo Gallery
where viewers could see selected scenes from the movie.
The vibrant colors and intricate artistic production
set up are well presented in this 16:9 anamophic widescreen.
This Korean 2.0 Dolby Digital soundtracks is aided with English,
Chinese and Malay soundtracks to discover what this new take
on an age old tale is all about.
Review by Richard Lim Jr