Modern reinterpretation of the story of Xu Fu (pronounced Seo Bok in Korean) from the Qin Dynasty who was twice sent by Qin Shi Huang to find the elixir of life, Seo Bok is a 2021 South Korean sci-fi action film directed by Lee Yong-ju and starring Gong Yoo, Park Bo Gum and Jang Young-nam. The film revolves around a former intelligence agent Gi-heon (Gong Yoo), who gets involved with the first human clone, Seo Bok (Park Bo-gum).
Former intelligence agent Ki Heon encounters the first-ever genetically mutated human clone, Seo Bok, who holds the secret to eternal life. For his final mission, Ki Heon is responsible for Seo Bok’s safe journey. They become embroiled in dangerous situations, as several forces desire the clone to suit their own agendas.
III. Development & Release
The project was conceived in January 2017. Director Lee Yong-ju wrote the screenplay. The film was announced with Park Bo-gum in role of Seo Bok, which was confirmed in March 2019. In October 2018, Gong Yoo was confirmed to appear in the role of an intelligence agency agent. In April 2019, Jang Young-nam, Jo Woo-jin and Park Byung-eun were cast in supporting roles. Art director Lee Ha-jun joined the group in June 2019. Principal photography began in May 2019, the filming took place mainly at the Jeonju film studio located in Jeonju. Location filming took place from mid-June to early August 2019 in Tongyeong. Film was wrapped up in October 2019 after nearly six months of filming.The net production cost was about 16 billion won.
On October 21, 2020, distributor CJ Entertainment announced the film will be released in December, 2020. A first look at the film was released on October 23, 2020. New poster of the film was released on November 9, 2020. The film was released theatrically and via streaming media TVING on April 15, 2021. According to the Korean film industry it is the first time that a Korean big budget film will be released at the same time in the theaters and Over-the-top media service. The film was also selected for premiere at Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival 2021 held on April 6 to April 18, 2021. Seo Bok was invited at Fantasia International Film Festival to screen the film. The three-week festivals was held from August 5 to 25, 2021 in Montreal. The film was screened in Canadian Premiere section on demand. Finally the film was released simultaneously in theatres and via streaming media TVING on April 15, 2021. In Vietnam, this film was premiered exclusively on iQiyi on April 22, 2021.
|Gong Yoo||Min Gi-heon
A former intelligence agent who is tasked with ensuring the safe transportation of Seo Bok.
|Park Bo Gum||Seo Bok
The first human clone
The film was released on April 15, 2021 on 1382 screens. It was at the number 1 place at the Korean box office, on the opening day of its release, collecting 45,155 audience. It remained at the number 1 place at the Korean box office, on the second day of its release, as 36,183 audience viewed the film. It also took the total commutative audience to 82,895 persons. The decrease in number of audience from 1st day was attributed to simultaneous release on streaming media TVING. The film maintained its number 1 rank on Korean box office after 3rd day of its release. It was number 1 at the end of the opening weekend on South Korean box office with 210,210 cumulative admissions. According to Korean Film Council data, it is at 10th place among all the Korean films released in the year 2021, with gross of US$3.28 million and 385,509 admissions, as of September 25, 2021.
Going by Korean review aggregator Naver Movie Database, the film holds an approval rating of 8.42 from the audience. As well as 6.1 on IMDB, 8.1 on Mydramalist &, 9.3 on iQiyi.
Kim Seong-Hyun reviewing the film for YTN wrote that the predominant question asked by the characters in the film was about life and death. Seong-Hyun felt that action in the film was unsatisfactory, but that didn't reflect on the performance of the star cast. Concluding the review Seong-Hyun said, - It is difficult to erase the thought that the actors' performance is somewhat regrettable to contain a long and repetitive message.
VIIII. South China Morning Post
James Marsh writing for South China Morning Post rated the film with two out of five stars and called it a - a quasi-philosophical melodrama masquerading as a futuristic action thriller. He opined that director Lee Yong-ju in spite of putting all hi-tech thrills and setting a stage for good brainy cinema, couldn't make it happen. He found the film slow and lengthy and felt that violent, effects-heavy climax was tardy to be enjoyable. Concluding the review Marsh wrote, - Inevitably it is the all-too-familiar themes of mortality, family and corporate malfeasance that permeate to the surface as Lee defiantly steers his film headlong into a quagmire of ponderous, poorly articulated existential nonsense.
VIIIII. Yahoo! News
Bryan Tan writing for Yahoo! News rated the film with two and half stars out of five. Praising the performance of Park Bo-gum, he wrote, - Seeing Park Bo Gum's compelling acting on the silver screen again really warmed the cockles of my heart. Tan concluded the review, - The over-the-top psychic CGI displays really got in the way of the bigger questions of how the first ever human clone should find his place in the world, without everyone trying to siphon his DNA for everlasting life.
VIIIV. The New Paper
Jeanmarie Tan writing for The New Paper rated the film with three stars out of five. She opined that the film touched the question of philosophical and ethical about immortality superficially. Praising the performances of Park Bo-gum and Gong Yoo, she wrote that Park was effortless in switching countenance from childlike innocence to bestial rage. Concluding her write up Tan penned, - Watching Seobok, a superbeing with powers of telekinesis, go all Dark Phoenix on his enemies is right up there with any X-Men movie.