|Lim Won-hee in a scene from the film "Collectors" / Courtesy of CJ Entertainment|
By Kwak Yeon-soo
"Collectors" is a fun-filled crime comedy film that can make audiences laugh cathartically amid the pandemic gloom. Apart from the story itself, the acting in the film is performed remarkably by four actors whose performances capture the light-hearted atmosphere of the film.
The film opens with antiquities thief Kang Dong-goo (Lee Je-hoon) stealing a golden sitting Buddha statue from Hwangnyong Temple in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province.
The daring thief is given a mission to rob the ancient tombs from the Goguryeo period (37 B.C. to A.D. 668) located in China, so Kang joins hands with Dr. Jones (Jo Woo-jin), an ancient tomb mural expert.
Kang then prepares an elaborate plan to find a priceless sword hidden inside Seolleung, a royal tomb from the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910) located in Seoul's Gangnam District. Confronted with a challenging mission, Kang recruits a team of cohorts, including Dr. Jones and tunnel digger (Lim Won-hee).
The fun starts here, as looters with different intentions play tricks on one another in order to intercept the antiquities.
Lee said he was pleased to take on a witty and humorous character.
"Recently, I've come to realize that most of my previous films were genre-based or carried big themes. And then I asked myself 'when was the last time I made the audience laugh?' Then I suddenly wanted to star in a film where audiences can leave the theater feeling somewhat airy," Lee said during a press conference held in Seoul, Wednesday.
"Instead of analyzing the character by searching for references, I just lived in the character. As a result, I've become a brighter guy and found a new side of me through my role."
Jo said it's hard to portray a quirky and upbeat character who makes exaggerated jokes.
"I think comedy is the toughest genre. It was difficult to express a consistently warm, silly and lovable character without exaggeration," he said. "However, I shot off many ad-libs in the film and worked hard to brighten up the mood on set."
Lim said he actually outperformed Lee and Jo in tunneling, living up to his nickname, "the shoveling master."
"There were a lot of scenes where we had to use electric drills to make a tunnel to the target. Although I suffered minor cuts on my thumb, I tried my best to look skillful," he said.
|Lee Je-hoon, left, and Jo Woo-jin in a scene from the film "Collectors" / Courtesy of CJ Entertainment|
Shin Hae-sun, who stars as elite curator and expert on ancient artifacts, said she focused on making her character expressionless.
"I tried to look emotionless and cold-hearted so that others cannot read me. I also studied Chinese and Japanese because my character is an elite curator who also deals with international clients," she said.
Director Park Jung-bae, who is making his debut feature after working as an assistant director on "Miss Granny" and "Silenced," said he paid a lot of attention to the art, props and set.
"The art team created a location set of Seolleung, including the tunnels and sewage system, to make it look as real as it can be. They also designed artifacts, like the mural painting, Buddha statue and the portrait of King Sejong, to add a level of realism to the film," he said.
Park also thanked the cast, recalling the moments when he was pleasantly surprised by each actor's acting.
"From the moment I met Je-hoon, he displayed strong passion that encouraged me to stay focused the whole time filming. Woo-jin added some unexpected humor to his character and took good care of filming staff on set" he said.
"Hae-sun was perfect for her role and Won-hee has incredible screen presence."
"Collectors" will hit local theaters, Nov. 4.