To those familiar with both Korean and American cinema, the comparison between Ma Dong-seok and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson comes pretty naturally, just as Get Out producer Jason Blum drew the parallel during his visit to Busan in September.
“I’ve heard, and it’s a tremendous honour,” Ma said, during a press conference for upcoming action flick Unstoppable in Seoul.
From what director Kim Min-ho and other creative minds behind the action flick let on, Unstoppable looks to be a film that feels like Ma – from his massive arms and rugged looks to the surprisingly humorous side.
“It is a satisfying film with mind-blowing action,” Kim said. “Ma’s action is what I’ve focused on the most. I wanted to bring out Ma’s characteristics, his strength.
“I think he’s the only person who can pull off a ‘cartoony’ action of crumpling people like paper.”
Another point of the director’s focus was his human side. “I think it will be a film that shows the ultimate ‘pureness’ of Ma. I wanted to show how pure a man can be without being wavered by material things,” Kim said. The film, whose original Korean title literally translated as “an angry bull”, is about a man named Dong-chul who charges on to save his kidnapped wife.
Producers seem to understand that the brute strength, devotion to loved ones and unexpected “cute” side of Ma popular among Korean fans is why so many fans flock to cinemas to see him.
And flock they did, as this is the fifth film this year in which he plays the lead.
The “angry bull” is Ma, Kim explained, saying the sight of Ma sitting alone in the conference room reminded him of the beast, thus the name.
While typically typecast, Ma’s sturdy exterior meshing oddly with his humorous side makes him a popular figure among Korean moviegoers.
After falling short on two attempts at family-friendly dramas, the actor is returning to the familiar stage of kick-a** action.
Playing his wife Ji-soo is Song Ji-hyo, who said she signed on “no questions asked” when told Ma was going to be in it.
“He’s the first person who bought me a meal when I became an actor,” she said.
But Song has something to prove herself. Fifteen years into her acting career and despite her acting skills, Song’s filmography still lacks in having many successful films, critically or commercially.
Kim Sung-oh, best known for his TV roles, plays the main villain with a despicable and evil side. – The Korea Herald/Asia News Network
Unstoppable opens at GSC cinemas nationwide on Dec 13.