Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Jang Keun Suk's Human Time Actor Ryu Seung Bum - 2017-06-06

The fourth in our series on Human Time takes a look at Ryu Seung Bum. [Ryu is often spelled Ryoo as well.] This movie will be the second time Ryu has worked with Director Kim Ki Duk, but the first time he will have worked with Jang Keun Suk. Given the personalities and common interests of JKS, Ryu and Odagiri, their chemistry might be quite startling and charismatic.

Ryu Seung Bum Filmography

Often considered Korea’s Jim Carrey for his wide range facial and physical mannerisms, he say he’s actually “the shy one, and I rarely talk on set and stay at home when I don′t have to work. I′m a punk. I want to be the kind of punk that people want to be around. I′m not really a bully though. I want to be a person people think they′ll have a good time with." "It′s because I′m honest. I think people just pass everything by since I just show it as it is. I have no more new things to show. I′ve shown it all. I don′t go well with mysterious images." "I like actors like Sean Penn and Benicio del Toro. They just live their lives according to their own values. I think that′s why I have so many male fans.”

He made a name for himself in his older brother director Ryu Seung-wan's eclectic films, notably Die Bad (his acting debut in 2000), Arahan (2004), Crying Fist (2005), The Unjust (2010), and The Berlin File (2013). Known for his manic energy, casual demeanor and subtle ability to command a scene, over the years Ryu Seung-bum has cemented his status as one of Korea's top actors. One filmmaker once chose Ryu Seung Bum as "the actor that can put on the best mocking act in Korea."

He dropped out of Daedong Technical High School, before graduating. Ryu later said he had a hard time finding the motivation to study. “When I was 19, my brother was offering to make a film together, so I said, ‘Why not? Just try it.’  After that, I’m an actor.” He shortly after began working as an actor in his brothers early low budget films. In strikingly diverse styles but with a common narrative, these shorts were re-edited, combined and released in 2000 as Ryu Seung-wan's feature directorial debut Die Bad. Critically acclaimed as powerfully visceral, gut-wrenching, and searingly angry, the film became an instant cult hit, earning attention for the Ryu brothers. One review described Ryu Seung-bum's acting debut as "a startling, naturalistic turn," and he won Best New Actor at the Grand Bell Awards. Following up on that success, he next took on the lead role in Dachimawa Lee, a 35-minute short parodying Korean actions films of the 60s and 70s, Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan films. The short, streamed on the now-defunct Cine4M website, was enormously popular online.

After playing a supporting role in Yim Soon-rye’s Waikiki Brothers, he ventured into television, as part of the main cast of 50-episode family drama Wonderful Days for which he won Best Actor for TV from the Baeksang Art Awards. In 2002, he appeared in a number of films and had begun making a name for himself apart from doing his brother’s films. Conduct Zero capped Ryu's year, in his first big screen leading role as the tough, fists-over-brains "king" of his high school who unexpectedly and awkwardly falls for a nerdy girl (played by Lim Eun-kyung). The 1980s-set comedy was a minor hit, selling nearly 1.7 million tickets and solidifying Ryu's star status.

The next year, Ryu made his theater debut in Lee Sang-woo’s stage play Bieonso, as well as performing in both a TV drama and another short film. His next relatively big film was Arahan, in which he played an inept police man who receives martial art training from Ahn Sung Ki and Yoon So-yi. The film, written and directed by his brother, is part superhero and part comedy. But it established Ryu’s star charisma and his natural affinity for comedy.

But though Ryu had been steadily impressing critics and audiences since his debut, it was Crying Fist in 2005 that would change his career. His performance in this film, in which he executed all his action scenes himself, cemented Ryu's reputation as one of the top actors of his generation, and one of the country's leading acting figures.

In 2006, he then returned to film noir with Bloody Tie opposite Hwang Jung-min (they had previously worked together in Waikiki Brothers). Set amidst the meth drug trade in Busan after the IMF crisis, the film drew unanimously positive reviews. Critics praised Ryu's portrayal of a small-time drug dealer, and he won Best Actor at the Golden Cinematography Awards and the Baeksang Arts Awards. In 2007, Ryu had a small role in Im Chang-jung's comedy Underground Rendezvous. He played a teacher assigned to a mountainous village, but who gets trapped in the middle of nowhere for three months, unable to move his right foot after stepping on a land mine; reviews called his cameo appearance "hilarious."

His next significant film was Unjust, released in 2010. The three main characters - a shady real estate tycoon, a prosecutor, and a homicide detective - become embroiled in a three-way power struggle. The crime thriller was a hard-hitting indictment of corruption at every level of Korea's justice infrastructure in 2010. This was his fifth collaboration with his borhter, Ryu Seung-wan, who said, "My decision to cast him isn't just because he's my younger brother. It has mostly to do with the fact he’s a great actor and it's comfortable for me to work with him." For Ryu's stunningly accurate portrayal of the arrogance, rudeness and weariness of stereotypical Korean middle-aged men in positions of power, he won Best Actor at the Buil Film Awards and the Fantasia Festival in Canada.

In 2011, he played the lead role in Suicide Forecast, a quirky comedy with a social message. Although Ryu’s performance received criticism, he later called human comedy "an extremely cruel genre" to "people who are actually living that reality by making people laugh and cry over someone's pain." But he said he liked the film for trying "to draw a hopeful message from out of it and offer cheerful consolation rather than handle it in a depressing way."

In 2012, Ryu stole the scenes in the comedy, Over My Dead Body, about three thieves who are all after the same corpse, presumably because the dead guy kept a lot of expensive secrets, or perhaps a treasure map on his person at all times. Ryu Seung-beom plays a con man whose penchant for lying and cheating is innate. He then went on to star in Perfect Number in which he plays a shy math professor who plans the perfect alibi for the woman he secretly loves when she accidentally kills her abusive ex-husband. He said it was his first time to portray self-sacrificing love, and director Bang Eun-jin commended the maturity in his acting when she instructed him "to cry with your heart, not with the face."

Cast in a supporting role in his brother’s Bourn-esque 2013 film, The Berlin File, Ryu plays a high ranking North Korean official. His role required him to speak German, English, and the No. Korean dialect. The New York Times praised his portrayal for its "electrifying viciousness," and The Korea Times called him "brilliant." The Berlin File sold more than 7 million tickets, making it Korea's top all-time action movie up to that point and swept the year’s biggest awards.

Following The Berlin File, Ryu went on a nearly two year hiatus from show business because he said he no longer wanted to be an "overly commercialized product." Returning to Korea after touring Europe and modeling in Paris, he accepted a leading role in 2015 thriller, Intimate Enemies, which tells the story of an unassuming man named Jinu (Ryu Seung Bum) who accidentally picks up a bag full of money, and decides to become a real bad man. “I was really nervous before the filming of the intimate scene. But the style was changed during the filming, and it was refreshing yet unique. It made me enjoy the filming really much.”

“For acting, I don’t want to show off for somebody - for actor, for acting.  Acting is acting.  To play some romantic guy, some actor is thinking, ‘Ah, some girls will like me. I am really great. I’m a really good woman’s guy, you know?’  But it is not my thought.  If I want to do that, if I wanted to act in a romantic script, I have do that, but to show off; I don’t care.  It is not my style.  It’s not my business.”

Ryu Seung-Bum marked his first collaboration with Kim Ki-Duk in The Net in 2016. “Though the role of Nam Chool-Woo differs from the ones he is accustomed to, his performance is amazing. The character of the fisherman he created is quite lovable and will make you feel sorry for him when he’s being beaten up and ill-treated, but also puts a smile on our face once he finally delivers justice as promised,” wrote reviewer Matija Makotoichi Tomic.

“I like playing outsider characters.  In my own life, I’m curious about people like that.  Yes, good characters are good, but they don’t work as well for me.  So, when I’m reading some scripts, I’m more curious about the outsider, the bad guy, the loser.  That’s why I choose the outsiders and the bad guys.”

In addition to his acting Ryu has been an in-demand club DJ under the name "DJ Ryoo” since 2007. Ryu is also friends with Gary and Gil, who comprise the hip hop duo Leessang. He has appeared in several music videos for their songs, including Ballerino (2007) and The Girl Who Can't Break Up, The Boy Who Can't Leave (2009), which were both directed by his brother Ryu Seung-wan. Ryu won the Music Video Acting award at the Mnet KM Music Festival (now called the Mnet Asian Music Awards) for Leessang's I'm Not Laughing (2005). They also collaborated on the Bloody Tie track Who Are You Living For? (2006), with Hwang Jung-min on vocals, and Leessang and Ryu as rappers. Ryu Seung-Bum and Leessang toured together to Sydney, Australia for the first time in 2009 with show producer, Leonard Dela Torre.

"My hobby actually isn′t in film though. It′s in music. There are people who would give their lives for music; I don′t think it would be good for me to release an album when I just listen to it as a hobby. Music is holy to me. There′s so much music to listen to out there; there′s no need for me to start making music. These days I′m into North European music."

He is also known in the entertainment industry as an eccentric dresser, simultaneously landing him in worst-dressed lists, while others label him an experimental "fashionista." Ryu said he believes fashion is a form of communication, and he aims for wit in his personal style. In an interview, celebrity photographer Zo Sunhi called Ryu her favorite subject, saying, "He's someone who has shown his soul in front of the camera. He's the one person who wasn't inhibited or concerned with how amazing he should look, nor did he try to hide anything in front of the lens. There was no false pretenses or superficiality to him. He was an open book. Truly a free spirit. And because he didn't care how he looked, there was truth in his photographs." Often mistaken for a valet, Ryu said, “Sometimes when I stand with my back turned, people come to me with their car keys. I believe I give people hope somehow, since I show that people like me can be actors too. I started the Renaissance of hope and dreams. (Laugh)"

“I don′t think anything would make me happier than being able to remain on film as I grow old."


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