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The Housemaid (2010) (DVD) (US Version) DVD Region 1

Jeon Do Yeon (Actor) | Lee Jung Jae (Actor) | Im Sang Soo (Director) | Seo Woo (Actor)
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The Housemaid (2010) (DVD) (US Version)
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YesAsia Editorial Description

Kim Ki Young's 1960 classic The Housemaid is widely regarded as one of the best Korean films ever made. Fifty years later, acclaimed filmmaker Im Sang Soo brings the thriller to screen again with a highly anticipated remake that has garnered both critical acclaim and huge box office. Invited to the Cannes and Berlin Film Festivals, the 2010 retelling of The Housemaid magnifies the lust, manipulation, and domestic power struggle of the original into a full-blown erotic psycho-thriller. While Kim Ki Young's Housemaid saw the unraveling of a middle-class family in the hands of a femme fatale maid, Im reverses and subverts the story by sending an innocent housemaid into the lion's lair and witnessing her abuse and transformation amid the cold and cavernous beauty of the palatial mansion.

Award-winning actress Jeon Do Yeon stars as poor divorcee Eun Yi, who gladly signs on to work as a nanny and housemaid for a wealthy, upper-crust family. In her naive eyes, the rich and handsome Hoon (Lee Jung Jae, Typhoon), his pregnant wife Hae Ra (Seo Woo, Paju), and adorable daughter (Ahn Seo Hyun) make the picture-perfect family. But that myth is soon shattered when the domineering Hoon finds his way to her bed. Their torrid affair upsets the balance of the household, unleashing a cruel power struggle as Hae Ra, her mother (Park Ji Young), and the head housekeeper (Yoon Yeo Jung) all answer with their own calculated measures.

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Technical Information

Product Title: The Housemaid (2010) (DVD) (US Version) 下女 (2010) (DVD) (美國版) 下女 (2010) (DVD) (美国版) 下女 (2010) (DVD) (US版) 하녀
Artist Name(s): Jeon Do Yeon (Actor) | Lee Jung Jae (Actor) | Seo Woo (Actor) | Youn Yuh Jung (Actor) | Hwang Jeong Min (Actor) 全 度妍 (Actor) | 李政宰 (Actor) | 徐雨 (Actor) | 尹汝貞 (Actor) | 黃貞敏 (Actor) 全 度妍 (Actor) | 李政宰 (Actor) | 徐雨 (Actor) | 尹汝贞 (Actor) | 黄贞敏 (Actor) チョン・ドヨン (Actor) | イ・ジョンジェ (Actor) | ソウ (Actor) | ユン・ヨジョン (Actor) | Hwang Jeong Min (Actor) 전 도연 (Actor) | 이정재 (Actor) | 서우 (Actor) | 윤여정 (Actor) | 황정민 (Actor)
Director: Im Sang Soo 林常樹 林常树 イム・サンス 임상수
Release Date: 2011-06-07
UPC Code: 030306978390
Language: Korean
Subtitles: English
Place of Origin: United States, South Korea
Disc Format(s): DVD
Region Code: 1 - USA, Canada, U.S. Territories What is it?
Package Weight: 81 (g)
Shipment Unit: 1 What is it?
YesAsia Catalog No.: 1024222462

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YumCha! Asian Entertainment Reviews and Features

Professional Review of "The Housemaid (2010) (DVD) (US Version)"

December 6, 2010

This professional review refers to The Housemaid (2010) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version)
With Kim Ki Young's 1960 social commentary suspense thriller The Housemaid long having been considered one of the all time greats of Korean cinema, the announcement that it was to be remade was always going to raise a few eyebrows. The prospect became even more interesting when noted director Im Sang Soo took the helm, having previously been responsible for a number of controversial and thought provoking productions, including A Good Lawyer's Wife, The President's Last Bang and most recently Old Garden. In bringing the story back to the screen and updating its themes, changes were inevitable, with it emerging as far more of an erotic psycho-drama - not that this should dampen its appeal, especially given the presence of award winning actress Jeon Do Yeon (Secret Sunshine) in the lead. As well as being invited to screen at the Cannes and Berlin Film Festivals, the film was a massive hit at home with critics and audiences alike.

Jeon Do Yeon takes the titular role as Eun Yi, a down on her luck young divorcee, who accepts a job as housemaid and child minder for a rich upper class family. The poor girl is immediately enchanted by their luxurious lives, charmed by the handsome and suave Hoon (Lee Jung Jae, Typhoon), his pregnant wife Hae Ra (Seo Woo, Paju), and their surprisingly well mannered young daughter (Ahn Seo Hyun). Unfortunately, she soon discovers the rot beneath the surface, as Hoon seduces her, and a taught battle for control of the household begins. Things get even more vicious when Hae Ra's cold and calculating mother (Park Ji Young) joins the fray, pushing her daughter to pull out all the stops in removing her rival for Hoon's affections.

Although they share the same basic premise and might seem to suggest similar themes, Im Sang Soo's take on The Housemaid shows a marked contrast with that of Kim Ki Young, and like the 1960 original his film is very much a product of its time. As such, it takes place within a very different society, shifting its focus from the emerging middle class, to the newly rich pseudo aristocracy. This changes the film down to its very core, with its protagonist no longer being a cruel and manipulative femme fatale, but an unfortunate, somewhat ignorant young girl who suffers greatly at the hands of her employers, and whose later attempts at taking them on have tragic rather than cathartic results. Eun Yi is a complex and morally ambiguous figure, who may well divide audience sympathies, though whether her actions are seen as being due to naivety or malevolence, she certainly makes for a compelling protagonist. Jeon Do Yeon is excellent in the role, keeping her housemaid believable, and never overdoing either the wide eyed innocence or the seductive destructiveness.

With many of her acts being distinctly amoral, film does have a cold feel to it, not least since she is the only character that the audience is really invited to identify with. Indeed, the upper class family are collectively monstrous, both in their treatment of her and in their near obsessive vanity, greed and psychotic selfishness. Although Hae Ra comes closest to showing a few glimmers of humanity as the wronged wife, even she proves more than capable of horrendous deeds to further her own position. As such, whilst Eun Yi's scheming is understandable, the film does make for uncomfortable viewing at times, quite deliberately so. The plot itself does have quite a few new twists, and though it is quite clearly hurting towards an unpleasant ending from the very start, it manages to drum up a fair amount of suspense, mainly as to the question of just how bad things will get.

One of the film's main assets is its gorgeous set design, with the family home being a truly magnificent and ornate affair, with every room decked out in opulence and luxury. The film's production values are impeccable, giving it a decadent, though vaguely sinister feel that fits very well with its themes. Dark, rich colours dominate almost every frame, and this also helps to heighten the tension and to accentuate the less pleasant aspects of its characters' psychology. Im's direction is a mixture of the stately and the lurid, managing to both keep its distance from the amoral goings on, whilst at the same time employing enough prowling camera shots to give the film a distinctly voyeuristic feel. The film is well paced, with plenty going on, including a good few shock scenes, and some very graphic and sweaty sex, marking it as a mature and adult production. Things only really get out of control right at the end, with a sudden and rather random ending, which though fitting enough in a nasty sort of way does seem to come out of nowhere rather, being at odds with the film's earlier patient character development.

Still, in its way this only serves to make The Housemaid even more memorable, and one of the most interesting and challenging Korean films of the year. Beautifully crafted and directed, though a very different beast to the original, it more than holds its own, boosted by a brave central turn from Jeon Do Yeon and assured direction from Im Sang Soo.

by James Mudge -

This original content has been created by or licensed to, and cannot be copied or republished in any medium without the express written permission of
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