"I wouldn't call it a bad film; it's just that it's not the type of film I really enjoy."

- Equinox21

Chihwaseon (2002)

AKA: Chi Hwa Seon, Painted Fire, Strokes of Fire, Ivre de femmes et de peinture

Director: Im Gweon-Taek

Producer: Lee Tae-Won

Writer: Im Gweon-Taek, Kim Yong-Ok

Cast: Choi Min-Sik, Yu Ho-Jeong, Son Ye-Jin, Ahn Seong-Gi, Kim Yeo-Jin, Jeong Tae-Wu, Han Myeong-Gu, Choi Jong-Seong, Gi Jeong-Su, Park Ji, Park Beom-Gyu, Hwang Chun-Ha, Ahn Byeong-Gyeong, Bae Tae, Lee Geum-Ju, Lee Jeong-Heon, Choi Jae-Jin, Lee Chan-Wu, Gweon Tae-Won, Min Gyeong-Jin, Jang Nam-Yeol, Park Seong-Ho, Hong Gyeong-Yeon

Running Time: 117 min.

Plot: See review below.

Availability: This title is available at


EQUINOX21'S REVIEW: Sometimes, a film can be overly dramatic about a subject and a bit too artsy. This is my opinion of Chihwaseon. I wouldn't call it a bad film; it's just that it's not the type of film I really enjoy.

Chihwaseon is a period piece about lauded Korean painter Ohwon (portrayed by the brilliant Choi Min-sik), directed by the legendary Im Kwon-taek. Set in the 19th century, the story follows the life and painting career of Ohwan, through all his trials and tribulations. The Film shows us what made him a great man through his incredible skills as a painter, and what made him a troubled man through his incredible overindulgence of women and drink. All this is set in a stunning Korean world newly occupied by Japan, displayed through beautiful cinematography.

As great as the film looked, and as intriguing as the artwork was, this film just didn't grasp me the way it has many others. It just isn't the type of film that holds my interest enough for me to be thoroughly enthralled by it. It was a good film to watch once (which I did for free, at a Korean Film Festival), but not a film I'd care to watch again. It was simply too dramatic about a subject that simply doesn't interest me very much, that of painting and the culture of painters of the time. It is also one of those of films that are more of a "biopic" than a film with an explicit plot. I don't generally care for these "biopics", so I wasn't tremendously excited about it. Though, it was interesting to see that director Im Kwon-taek took creative liberties with the ending, and admitted as much in the postscript paragraph.

I wouldn't discourage anyone from seeing this one, as many people have raved about it. I would, however, warn people to understand what type of film this is before deciding to see it. The acting and directing were both very good, and the cinematography was really nice, however it simply wasn't a subject that interested me enough to be able to give this a higher score. Don't get me wrong, my score does not reflect on the quality of the film, simply on how enjoyable it was to me.