SciFi Japan

    THE LAST GODFATHER is coming to Korea

    Korean trailer for THE LAST GODFATHER, courtesy of Younggu Art and CJ Entertainment. © 2010 Younggu Art

    Director of DRAGON WARS Returns to His Comedic Alter-Ego for New English Language Movie Author: Kim Song-ho Source: Younggu Art and CJ Entertainment official press materials Official Movie Site: THE LAST GODFATHER

    Shim Hyung-rae, the comedian-turned-director who brought us such SFX-monster films as YONGGARY (aka REPTILIAN, 1999/2001) and DRAGON WARS (D-WAR, 2007), travels to the United States in the 1950s and becomes the son of a mob boss! This hilarious premise comes true as Shim`s new comedy, THE LAST GODFATHER (??? ???), has officially set its release date in Korea for December 30. Directed by and starring Shim himself, the film also features such American actors as Harvey Keitel (TAXI DRIVER, RESERVOIR DOGS), Michael Rispoli (THE SOPRANOS, KICK-ASS), Jocelin Donahue (THE BURROWERS), Jason Mewes (CLERKS, JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK) and Jon Polito (THE CROW, THE MAN WHO WASN`T THERE). THE LAST GODFATHER was conceived and written by Shim, and the screenplay was revised and written by the team of Joel Cohen (not to be confused with Joel Coen of the Coen Brothers fame) and Alec Sokolow, who also wrote TOY STORY (1995), MONEY TALKS (1997), CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN (2003), GARFIELD (2004) and EVAN ALMIGHTY (2007, story credit). Just as was the case with YONGGARY and DRAGON WARS, the movie was conceived as a global project. It was shot digitally entirely in Los Angeles with English dialogue, including all of Shim`s lines.

    Harvey Keitel has worked with the best in the business. But is he ready for Young-gu? Photo courtesy of Younggu Art and CJ Entertainment. © 2010 Younggu Art

    The story goes like this: in 1951 New York, the mob boss Don Carini (played by Harvey Keitel) announces his retirement. But he has this little secret... Young-gu (Shim Hyung-rae), a dim-witted Korean son who is completely unknown to Carini`s fellow mobsters until this announcement, will be the new godfather. Following the Don`s orders, his henchmen try to educate Young-gu on how to `fight like a man` and become a true gangster. A series of unexpected comedic incidents ensue. Shim`s alter-ego Young-gu was one of the most famous comedic characters in Korea during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Originally, Young-gu was a character (played by Jang Wook-je) from a 1972 Korean soap opera called YEORO, which was phenomenally successful at that time. This Young-gu was a mentally handicapped person who made the Korean masses shed a lot of tears during the melodramatic plots of the series. Later, Shim borrowed some of the characteristics and look of the original and made his own Young-gu for a Korean comedy show. Shim`s Young-gu was such a radical idiot, but one could not hate him because his actions were purely innocent. This new Young-gu was a great success, and became Shim`s signature character as well as one of the most popular icons in Korea. Because of the character`s popularity, many theatrical and direct-to-video movies featuring Young-gu were made, most notably YOUNG-GU AND DAENGCHILI (Young-guwa daengchili) which reportedly attracted more than 2 million admissions when it was first released in 1989. Shim also used the character`s name for his own company, Younggu Art Entertainment Co., Ltd., which he launched in 1993.

    Young-gu hits it off with Mafia princess Nancy Bonfante. Photo courtesy of Younggu Art and CJ Entertainment. © 2010 Younggu Art

    However, after announcing production of his monster film YONGGARY in 1997, Shim Hyung-rae has rarely played Young-gu. He refrained from appearing in his own films, and his TV appearances became a rarity. This was for several reasons; Shim was quite busy directing films and setting up his company to produce FX-heavy movies like DRAGON WARS. He also wanted to change the public`s perception because when people heard that a popular comedian like Shim was making more dramatic types of films, they tended to laugh at the idea and did not take it seriously. By cutting back on the public hi-jinks, Shim tried to make the masses see that he was very serious about what he was doing.

    Young-gu toughens up so he can be a better gangster. Photo courtesy of Younggu Art and CJ Entertainment. © 2010 Younggu Art

    So THE LAST GODFATHER is a rather surprising move on Shim`s part. It marks his first starring role in a film since DRAGON TUKA in 1996, which was also his last onscreen performance as Young-gu. After the trailer for THE LAST GODFATHER hit the web on November 28 in Korea, many moviegoers— including this writer— felt a strong sense of nostalgia fill their hearts. This was especially true for those in their late 20s to 30s who spent their childhood in the heyday of Young-gu character. Most of the slapstick elements in the trailer, such as the bits with a baseball bat, are from Shim`s signature repertoire and are still joyfully remembered by many Korean fans. The slapstick/nostalgic factor of the film may have a strong appeal for Korean moviegoers. Whether this could be the same for the international markets, as Shim himself expects, still remains to be seen. Originally, as SciFi Japan reported back in September 2007, Shim tried to revive the likeness of the late Marlon Brando as the Don via computer graphic imagery. But as it turned out, this was scrapped for obvious legal, technical, and financial reasons, and Harvey Keitel was cast as the Don instead. Shim said that he chose Harvey Keitel for the part because Keitel was his favorite actor and thought he could play the mafia boss perfectly. He added that he was deeply moved by Keitel`s performance in the Oscar-winning THE PIANO (1993). THE LAST GODFATHER was produced by Shim`s company Younggu Art. CJ Entertainment will distribute the film in Korea. Whether the film will be released in the United States and other countries is currently not known, but no deal has been made yet with U.S distributors.


    Young-gu comes to New York to see his father, the mob boss Don Carini. He is unexpectedly chosen to be the next godfather and is forced to learn to live like a mobster. Tony V, the No. 2 guy in the family who expected to be Carini`s successor, is placed in charge of educating Young-gu. Tony becomes increasingly frustrated both that his dream was crushed and also with a seemingly never-ending series of accidents caused by the bumbling Young-gu. One day, Young-gu happens to save the life of Nancy, daughter of Don Bonfante who rules the chief rival family of Don Carini. Young-gu and Nancy become friends, and Young-gu`s clumsy actions surprisingly make him a hero in town. Vinnie, second in command in the Bonfante family, is not happy with this. So he kidnaps Nancy and claims that Young-gu is the culprit. This causes a war between the Carini and the Bonfante families. Can Young-gu solve this crisis of a lifetime and save the day?

    Advance artwork used to announce production of THE LAST GODFATHER. © 2010 Younggu Art

    CAST Shim Hyung-rae as Young-gu Harvey Keitel as Don Carini Michael Rispoli as Tony V Jocelin Donahue as Nancy Bonfante Jon Polito as Don Bonfante Jason Mewes as Vinnie John Pinette as Macho STAFF Director: Shim Hyung-rae Producer: Choi Doo-ho Line Producer: Lorenzo O`Brien Screenplay: Joel Cohen, Alec Sokolow, Shim Hyung-rae Cinematographer: Mark Irwin Editor: Jeff Freeman Production Designer: Cecilia Montiel Set Decoration: Kathy Orlando Costume Designer: Graciela Mazon Original Music: John Lissauer Production Year: 2010 Country of Production: Korea, United States Language: English Color: Color Production Budget: $13.40 million US (estimated) Running time: 100 minutes Release Date: December 30, 2010 (Korea) / No U.S or international date announced

    Macho (John Pinette) shows Young-gu the tricks of the trade. Photo courtesy of Younggu Art and CJ Entertainment. © 2010 Younggu Art

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