Old Partner
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Old Partner (DVD) (US Version) DVD Region 1

Choi Won Kyun (Actor) | Lee Sam Soon (Actor) | Lee Chung Ryul (Director)
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Old Partner (DVD) (US Version)
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All Editions Rating: Customer Review Rated Bad 8 - 8 out of 10 (1)

YesAsia Editorial Description

Drawing three million admissions at the box office, indie documentary Old Partner defied expectations to become Korea's highest-grossing independent film of all time. Helmed by Lee Chung Ryul, who won Best New Director at the 45th Baeksang Arts Award, Old Partner turned into a surprise hit thanks to good word of mouth. Winner of the Pusan International Film Festival Mecenat Award for Best Documentary and the first Korean documentary to compete at the Sundance Film Festival, Old Partner explores the deep friendship between an elderly farming couple and their ox. After over 30 years of work and companionship, the ox has been diagnosed with cancer, and the bickering elderly couple now have only one year left with their Old Partner.

This edition comes with English-subtitled special features including director interview, deleted scenes, and trailer.

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Technical Information

Product Title: Old Partner (DVD) (US Version) Old Partner (DVD) (US Version) Old Partner (DVD) (US Version) 牛の鈴音 (US版) 워낭소리 (DVD) (미국판)
Also known as: 牛鈴之聲 / 牛的聲音 / 阿牛 牛铃之声 / 牛的声音 / 阿牛 ウォナンソリ, 牛の鈴の音
Artist Name(s): Choi Won Kyun (Actor) | Lee Sam Soon (Actor) 崔元均 (Actor) | 李三順 (Actor) 崔元均 (Actor) | 李三顺 (Actor) Choi Won Kyun (Actor) | Lee Sam Soon (Actor) 최원균 (Actor) | 이삼순 (Actor)
Director: Lee Chung Ryul 李忠烈 李忠烈 Lee Chung Ryul 이충렬
Release Date: 2010-04-20
Language: Korean
Subtitles: English
Country of Origin: South Korea
Picture Format: NTSC What is it?
Disc Format(s): DVD
Region Code: 1 - USA, Canada, U.S. Territories What is it?
Publisher: YA Entertainment
Package Weight: 110 (g)
Shipment Unit: 1 What is it?
YesAsia Catalog No.: 1022280516

Product Information

Old Partner (DVD) (US Version)

*Screen FOrmat: 1.78:1
*Sound Mix: Dolby 2.0
*Extras:
-Director Interview
-Deleted Scenes
-Trailer
-Photo Gallery

*Director: Lee Chung Ryul
From first-time filmmaker Lee Chung-Ryoul comes an award-winning feature documentary, Old Partner, which broke box office records in Korea as the highest grossing independent film in Korean history.

Old Partner is an eloquent, touching, yet gut-wrenching peek into the reality of Mr. Choi Won-Kyun and his relationship with his 40-year-old ox. In the backdrop of what seems to be a dying way of life for many farmers in modern-day South Korea, the old couple perseveres while his wife, Lee Sam-Soon, bickers and complains about her own unlucky fate. There is no denying that this particular ox is a beast of burden, but it is also cherished and loved as the old man’s constant and dependable companion. The original Korean title of the film, Wonangsori, literally translates to “sound of a cowbell” which dominates the audio track throughout the 78-minute documentary as a constant reminder of the absence of any other sound in the rural landscape of their small town. The old man and his ox trudge along slowly, crippled, and with a quiet defiance throughout the film proving a love and loyalty that can only be shared by a man and his animal.
Additional Information may be provided by the manufacturer, supplier, or a third party, and may be in its original language

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YumCha! Asian Entertainment Reviews and Features

Professional Review of "Old Partner (DVD) (US Version)"

View Professional Review:
June 7, 2010

This professional review refers to Old Partner (DVD) (Limited Edition) (Korea Version)
The independent Korean documentary Old Partner has been something of a phenomenon, pulling in a mightily impressive three million tickets at the domestic box office, as well as winning Best Documentary at the Pusan International Film Festival and Best Director for helmer Lee Chung Ryul at the 45th Baeksang Arts Awards. The fact that the film was the first ever Korean documentary to screen in competition and to be nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in the US further underlines the universal appeal and craftsmanship which have seen it succeed where countless big budget and star studded productions have failed.

Such achievements are perhaps all the more amazing given the absolute simplicity of the documentary's concept. The film follows an elderly, 79 year old farmer called Choi in rural Korea, and begins as he finds out that his beloved ox, with whom he was worked the land for 40 years, has cancer and will be dead within a year. Though Choi is devastated, and refuses to believe that the beast will soon no longer be with him, his wife Yi is more realistic, partly because she feels a deep seated resentment due to the fact that he treats it with more care than her. As the weeks and months pass, and the ox becomes sicker, Choi keeps forcing it into the fields, while his own health starts to deteriorate.

As a documentary, Old Partner is wholly compelling, being intimate rather than intrusive or exploitative, and offering a fascinating, plainly presented portrait of rural life, following Choi, Yi and the ox through their daily routines and work. The film essentially revolves around the farmer's relationship with his ox, and the question as to whether or not he is right to keep working it. As such, though he clearly treats it with great affection, taking care of it better than his wife, tottering across the fields with huge piles of fodder on his back for it to eat and even saying that he will die when it dies, the film does become quite hard to watch in places, with the creature clearly in pain. At the same time however, Choi himself is going through similar tortures of his own, and his drive gives their bond an almost symbiotic feel, much to his wife's increasing and unending frustration. The fact that the viewer is only too aware that both of them are on the road to ruin gives the film a certain tension and it makes for gripping viewing despite its naturalistic, meandering approach. Though unhurried, the film is short, and never wastes any of its running time. Lee manages to successfully walk the fine line between objectivity and manipulation, and the film is powerful and affecting without being so in a contrived manner and without ever overstepping the boundaries of the documentary form.

Its central relationships aside, the film also touches on a number of intriguing issues. Given the subject matter, the debate over traditional farming methods versus the use of machinery and pesticides is frequently raised. This is particularly important, as Choi's refusal to shift from his basic plough to something more modern in many ways defines his character, his determination and stubbornness, and indeed his relationship with the ox. Another theme which comes up is the Korean government's dealings with the US and the importing of beef. This makes for a few poignant moments during a trip to the city, as Choi and Yi pause with the ox in front of a crowd of protestors, and quite tragically during scenes where the farm's finances worsen due to falling cattle prices. Such concerns enrich the film, though without ever being allowed to distract from its more human aspects and no trite conclusions are drawn.

Lee shows a great eye for detail, and for picking up on the little things to the viewer give a real sense of experience, an all important factor which makes the film even more immersive. Wisely, he neither romanticises nor overplays the harshness of their lives, and while he includes plenty of shots of the beautiful rural scenery and the local wildlife, these function subtly as a backdrop rather than as eye candy.

This sense of restraint and honesty is felt throughout Old Partner a work of quiet though considerable power. Almost hypnotically watchable and both intellectually and emotionally impressive, it more than deserves its success, and should be enjoyed by viewers not usually fond of documentaries, and even those without an interest in farming or livestock.

by James Mudge - BeyondHollywood.com

June 5, 2010

The independent Korean documentary Old Partner has been something of a phenomenon, pulling in a mightily impressive three million tickets at the domestic box office, as well as winning Best Documentary at the Pusan International Film Festival and Best Director for helmer Lee Chung Ryul at the 45th Baeksang Arts Awards. The fact that the film was the first ever Korean documentary to screen in competition and to be nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in the US further underlines the universal appeal and craftsmanship which have seen it succeed where countless big budget and star studded productions have failed.

Such achievements are perhaps all the more amazing given the absolute simplicity of the documentary's concept. The film follows an elderly, 79 year old farmer called Choi in rural Korea, and begins as he finds out that his beloved ox, with whom he was worked the land for 40 years, has cancer and will be dead within a year. Though Choi is devastated, and refuses to believe that the beast will soon no longer be with him, his wife Yi is more realistic, partly because she feels a deep seated resentment due to the fact that he treats it with more care than her. As the weeks and months pass, and the ox becomes sicker, Choi keeps forcing it into the fields, while his own health starts to deteriorate.

As a documentary, Old Partner is wholly compelling, being intimate rather than intrusive or exploitative, and offering a fascinating, plainly presented portrait of rural life, following Choi, Yi and the ox through their daily routines and work. The film essentially revolves around the farmer's relationship with his ox, and the question as to whether or not he is right to keep working it. As such, though he clearly treats it with great affection, taking care of it better than his wife, tottering across the fields with huge piles of fodder on his back for it to eat and even saying that he will die when it dies, the film does become quite hard to watch in places, with the creature clearly in pain. At the same time however, Choi himself is going through similar tortures of his own, and his drive gives their bond an almost symbiotic feel, much to his wife's increasing and unending frustration. The fact that the viewer is only too aware that both of them are on the road to ruin gives the film a certain tension and it makes for gripping viewing despite its naturalistic, meandering approach. Though unhurried, the film is short, and never wastes any of its running time. Lee manages to successfully walk the fine line between objectivity and manipulation, and the film is powerful and affecting without being so in a contrived manner and without ever overstepping the boundaries of the documentary form.

Its central relationships aside, the film also touches on a number of intriguing issues. Given the subject matter, the debate over traditional farming methods versus the use of machinery and pesticides is frequently raised. This is particularly important, as Choi's refusal to shift from his basic plough to something more modern in many ways defines his character, his determination and stubbornness, and indeed his relationship with the ox. Another theme which comes up is the Korean government's dealings with the US and the importing of beef. This makes for a few poignant moments during a trip to the city, as Choi and Yi pause with the ox in front of a crowd of protestors, and quite tragically during scenes where the farm's finances worsen due to falling cattle prices. Such concerns enrich the film, though without ever being allowed to distract from its more human aspects and no trite conclusions are drawn.

Lee shows a great eye for detail, and for picking up on the little things to the viewer give a real sense of experience, an all important factor which makes the film even more immersive. Wisely, he neither romanticises nor overplays the harshness of their lives, and while he includes plenty of shots of the beautiful rural scenery and the local wildlife, these function subtly as a backdrop rather than as eye candy.

This sense of restraint and honesty is felt throughout Old Partner a work of quiet though considerable power. Almost hypnotically watchable and both intellectually and emotionally impressive, it more than deserves its success, and should be enjoyed by viewers not usually fond of documentaries, and even those without an interest in farming or livestock.

by James Mudge - BeyondHollywood.com

Editor's Pick of "Old Partner (DVD) (US Version)"

Picked By Sanwei
See all this editor's picks


March 15, 2010

The Old Man and the Cow
This indie documentary about two elderly farmers and a dying ox is as far from the blockbuster formula as one can possibly get, and yet Old Partner completely and confoundingly defied the odds to become a massive mainstream hit in Korea. It also had an impressive festival run, and even managed to get theatrical releases around Asia. And now it's getting its first English-subtitled DVD release. Never underestimate the power of old people and cows.

Lee Chung Ryul's charming documentary quite simply follows one normal yet fateful year in the lives of 79-year-old farmer Choi, his 74-year-old wife, and their old and trusty bovine, which we are told at the film's start has only about a year left to live. Life goes on as usual, the days marked by the sowing of the seeds and the tending of fields. Time seems to move slowly in this humble, rustic corner of the universe, especially when the weary ox is walking more slowly than its hunched-over master, but still the seasons push forward from one harvest to another.

Lee's zoom camera lingers very close to its subjects, alternating between unobtrusive observations and deliberate still shots - picturesque close-ups of the farmer's shoes, weathered hands, dandelions, husks of grain, the cowbell, and particularly the ox's tired eyes. The film is as its most beautiful when all is silent, presenting a candid look into rural life and pastoral pastimes that are eons away from the typical vision of present-day South Korea (so there are still Korean households without broadband...). The sight of stubborn gramps quietly watching his old partner is downright touching.

That isn't to say nothing happens in the film, as the passing of time is marked by small significances like the raising of a new calf, grandpa Choi hurting his foot, and feisty granny Lee's daily nagging in thick dialect about how her husband loves his ox more than her. One of the documentary's most poignant moments is near the end when gramps finally relents and brings his ox to the market, but gets laughed at for asking too high of a price. The look on his face as cattle buyers barter back with lower prices is pretty well close to heartbreaking.

Old Partner has no bells or whistles save for the one tied around the ox's neck, and that's already more than enough. Rarely do we see a film as simple and genuine as this, and that it has managed to reach so many people is the icing on the cake. You get exactly what you sign up for: a quiet and affecting documentary about two elderly farmers and a dying ox.
This original content has been created by or licensed to YesAsia.com, and cannot be copied or republished in any medium without the express written permission of YesAsia.com.

Customer Review of "Old Partner (DVD) (US Version)"

Average Customer Rating for All Editions of this Product: Customer Review Rated Bad 8 - 8 out of 10 (1)

cuddley bear
See all my reviews


August 31, 2011

This customer review refers to Old Partner (DVD) (Limited Edition) (Korea Version)
1 people found this review helpful

touching Customer Review Rated Bad 8 - 8 out of 10
The poor old ox worked for 40 years before it dies, but was well loved and well taken care of by its aged master. Relationship between the 80 year old man and the cow is extremely touching. The old couple just went on with their daily life without much script and produced this sentimental film.
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