May 18, based on the infamous Gwangju Uprising of 1980, took the same sort of blockbuster approach to history ushered in by Tae Guk Gi and Silmido in 2004.
The film ended up with a massive 7.3 million tickets sold.
The film itself too was widely praised, and for most Korean critics it represents sort of an obvious choice for the year's best feature.
Two blockbusters punctuated the middle part of the year.
Director Im's rebel streak -- which has given us bold sexual talk in Girls Night Out, teenage delinquency in Tears, family scandal in A Good Lawyer's Wife and political intrigue in The President's Last Bang -- manifests itself here in quieter ways: in the cat-who's-eaten-the-goldfish sparkle of Hyun-woo's eyes, or in the way the director toys with viewer expectations and sets up striking but awkward contrasts in mood.
The first half of the year was particularly tough, with hardly any Korean films stirring up any excitement among viewers.Its refusal to provide cathartic release is also admirable, given that the film bills itself as a melodrama.But there is a magic in the first half -- a sense of everything clicking together in harmony -- that evaporates in the latter reels, and I don't think this was the filmmaker's intention.It's as if at times it steps back to admire itself.From a logical or analytical standpoint, this admittedly makes for a more complex and interesting work.The film as a whole has been warmly received by local critics, but it has generated some negative reviews abroad, and its festival career has not matched that of its predecessor The President's Last Bang.