Political film, comedies set to compete at holiday box office

January 21, 2020

For the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday starting later this week, three homegrown movies will hit local theaters to lure film buffs and holiday shoppers.

“The Man Standing Next,” “Mr. Zoo: The Missing VIP” and “Hitman: Agent Jun” will open simultaneously on Wednesday, two days before the four-day Lunar New Year holiday begins. The first day of the new year based on the lunar calendar falls on Jan. 25.

Based on a local bestselling nonfiction book, “The Man” is a political movie that unfolds a hidden story of power struggles among second-in-command characters before the assassination of President Park Chung-hee in 1979.

Kim Gyu-pyeong, played by Lee Byung-hun, chief of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA), is considered No. 2 in Park’s 18-year-old regime, but he feels anxious about the dictator’s growing inclination to his rival. The film closely tracks how Gyu-pyeong pulls the trigger on the president during the last 40 days of the dictatorship in a descriptive rendering of the emotions of the character.

“The Man” is in the spotlight as it marks the anticipated reunion of director Woo Min-ho and actor Lee four years after the success of “Inside Men.” The 2016 crime movie sold more than 7 million tickets at the South Korean box office.

Directed by Kim Tae-yoon, “Mr. Zoo,” a comedy that stars animals, is targeting teens and families for the family-gathering holiday season.

Joo Tae-joo (Lee Sung-min) is a spy agent who meets with an accident while carrying out an assignment to guard a VIP, a Chinese panda. After the accident, he can hear and understand animals and tries to find the missing VIP with the help of a military dog.

Stars including Lee Sun-kyun and Lee Jung-eun of “Parasite” lend their voices to the movie.

The third movie is “Hitman,” starring Kwon Sang-woo, who plays Jun, a spy agent-turned-webtoon writer.

Struggling to create a hit cartoon, he posts stories that contain classified material for his former company, the National Intelligence Service (NIS). While his new web series wins popularity, he becomes a target of the NIS and a group of terrorists.

“The Man” is highly likely to be the front-runner in the holiday box office race, as its presale tickets reached 96,000 as of 10:40 a.m., accounting for 42.7 percent of all tickets reserved.

“Hitman” came next with 35,000 presold tickets, followed by “Mr. Zoo” with 21,000 tickets reserved.