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Heartfelt period film A Taxi Driver surges to the top of the box office

The Song Joong-ki, So Ji-sub, and Hwang Jung-min film Battleship Island was the main Korean blockbuster I was looking forward to watching this summer, but news just came out that Song Kang-ho’s (Age of Shadows) A Taxi Driver has leapt ahead of its formidable competitor to become No. 1 at the box office.

Song Kang-ho plays the titular taxi driver, Kim Man-sub, who is given 100,000 KRW (approximately $88, which was a large sum of money in those days) to drive a German reporter all the way from Seoul to Gwangju in the May of 1980, when the democratic uprising against the militaristic authoritarian regime was taking place.

Thomas Kretschmann (Avengers: Age of Ultron) plays the German reporter, Jurgen Hinzpeter, and Ryu Joon-yeol (Lucky Romance) and Yoo Hae-jin (Luck-Key) play the student and a different taxi driver he meets in Gwangju, respectively. The story is based on a true story, and Hinzpeter was one of few reporters whose coverage of the Gwangju uprising got out of Korea past strict monitoring, which was seen internationally and exposed the government’s armed attacks on civilian protesters.

The trailer begins with our ordinary ajusshi taxi driver from Seoul, Song Kang-ho. He grumbles at the traffic jam when the road is blocked by college protests, and ends up speeding through narrow alleyways. His car gets damaged, but being the miser he is, when the repairman asks for a discounted price of 5,000 KRW, Song Kang-ho only gives him 3,000 KRW.

Then he suddenly gets a request to drive a foreigner for a day for 100,000 KRW, and he thinks he’s hit the jackpot, because he has overdue rent to pay at home. So, using garbled English, he gestures for Hinzpeter to follow him. Their way to Gwangju is merry, and they run into Ryu Joon-yeol’s character, who was initially a part of a group of student demonstrators but ends up tagging along with Hinzpeter to Gwangju because he can speak bits of English.

They end up having dinner in Gwangju taxi driver Yoo Hae-jin’s house, when they suddenly hear gunshots firing. Suddenly, the music turns from bright to ominous, and the characters all quickly duck down. When they peer outside, they see fires and bombs being dropped near the Gwangju broadcasting station. Men who look like high-ranking government officials deliberate in a darkened room about the German reporter who was last known to be heading for Gwangju, because if he gets hurt, international relations could become complicated.

The copy that flashes onscreen between scenes says: “May 1980 in Gwangju, a taxi driver and a German reporter.” Then Yoo Hae-jin tells Song Kang-ho that he’s heard that Seoul taxis are being targeted from the air by bombers, and that instills panic. Song Kang-ho tries to rush Hinzpeter into leaving Gwangju. In the backseat, Ryu Joon-yeol asks the reporter, “Promise me…” and Hinzpeter reassures him that he’s not alone.

As Song Kang-ho is leaving, Yoo Hae-jin yells from his taxi, “Don’t worry about this place.” In the last scene, a tear-stricken Song Kang-ho says to camera, as if talking to his daughter at home, “Daddy left his passenger…”

On August 6 alone, 1,094,127 people came to watch the film, bringing up the cumulative ticket sales to 4,362,305 for its first weekend. Just to give a sense of perspective, Battleship Island recorded 4,065,535, and the current top record-holder, Roaring Currents, had 4,767,617 sales its first weekend.

A Taxi Driver will premiere in the U.S. on August 11 in select theaters.

Via News1

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Wahoo! I'm looking forward to watching this in theaters. It's open for select release in America soon :)

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Only if Battleship island was not enrolled in many controversy. Movie would have been ended up crossing 10 million admission. Taxi driver is getting rave reviews in Korea on the other side battle ship is getting good reviews from international viewers. I am looking forward to both the movie.

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Koreans are very sensitive to everything to do with War with Japan. So when Battleship Island went fiction instead of historical they automatically went to the defensive and called the movie bad.
Another issue was that the movie portrayed inner war of koreans instead of portraying Japan as the bad guy

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I think there is also controversy surrounding the cinema monopoly that favour Battleship Island.

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it said that CJ, the company that distribute BI monopoly screen since the first day which is the reason why this movie has huge attendance.
while Showbox, the company that distribute Taxi Driver enlarged the screen after 3rd day of the release because of demand.
for sure some of the BI bias actors disagree with above...but thats what i read.

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No surprise there when it comes to CJ's film division.
Battleship had a 21 million budget so I'm guessing that they wanted to recover the production budget before the competition (Taxi Driver) hits the theatre.

I read about the controversies in an interview with Ryoo (the director).
http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/art/2017/08/689_234284.html

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Controversies aside, I just thought Battleship Island didn't matchup to Taxi Driver in terms of plot and character development. Too many protagonists hurt the structure plot. And, going to watch as a huge SJK fan, I felt disappointed that his character lacked depth and was merely a continuation of his DOTS personality. Nowhere as satisfied as I was watching Penny Pinchers or Werewolf boy. Jisub's character also didn't do him justice. The focus was more on the father-daughter pair who did great and made the movie enjoyable for me. I just felt the movie tried so hard to gain sympathy for the captive Koreans that by the end of the movie I became emotionally numb.

Taxi Driver had a clear protagonist, a well-written screenplay and a much down-to-earth tone. The whole theater (in NYC) applauded at the end of the movie.

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I read that battleship island had gone more fiction than real story. And that koreans were very mad at seeing a movie that promised to be historical be more fiction, and that's why the public has started to not go watch it.
Whili Taxi Driver had very little promotion, but everyone that saw it described it as a very good movie and that made people go and see it.
It's nice to know that promotions are not everything when it comes to movies :)

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This looks fantastic. I hope I can see it soon.

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I want to see this. Waiting patiently.

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I am beyond dying to see this, mostly for RJY.

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Can't wait for it to be available in my country so I can watch it too!

I for one am most happy with the exposure Ryu Jun Jeol is getting and how he seems to be steadily building a career in Chungmuro, though I do miss him in dramaland. He is proving to be really talented and versatile. I was crossing my fingers that the acting he showed in Reply88 wasn't just because of the drama and PD alone but because of his own hard work and ability too. And there he goes ♥

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Ryu Jun Yeol definitely have the talent and capability

More than Jung Pal, I love him more in Lucky romance as Je Soo-ho. The drama is suck for me but he just a hoot there. So much detail in his acting with a really, really cute smile

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He was so great and makes me have very fond memories of Lucky Romance even though the drama really was a hot mess ?

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Ryu Jun yeol singlehandedly saved that mess Lucky Romance. What an awful drama ?.

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Oh yes, I gritted my teeth through that drama because of Ryu Jun Yeol. lol

He was the only positive thing I can say about it.

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I'm rooting for Ryu Jun Yeol as well. He's a very talented actor and an extremely charming person. Hopefully one day he can become a Chungmuro giant like Song Kang Ho.

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I have a soft spot in my heart for movies that tell the story of freedom fighters or ordinary people fighting/ surviving together in hard times. I can already tell this would be one of those movies that would move me to tears. Looking forward to this one.

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I've been looking forward to this film and I hope they plan to have it release in US theatres!!

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Oooh! Now there's a good one to put up in the to-watch radar. :)

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This looks like a 'must see' film! I hope it comes to Boston!

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You are lucky bacause Boston is on the list.

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Ya!! It's playing this weekend (8/11-15) in Boston at the AMC Boston Common Theater! Hooray!

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It's so rare for a Korean Movie to go to the theaters in my country. Look, I live in the biggest metropolis in Latin America. There's few exceptions, but I will be pessimistic that this movie will debut in theaters.

It seems like a great movie.

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Sorry, I'll be optimistic.

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Either way I'm excited to watch both!

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This looks so good. It's always satisfying to see a lowkey movie without much promotion do well. Ryu Joon-yeol is building a really good and diverse body of movie work. He and his agency are making good choices for him in Chungmuro.

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I don't think "A Taxi Driver" was low key at all. It may not have been as heavily promoted like "Battleship" but it was out there.
It had a huge box office opening despite having fewer screens than "Battleship." Big names like Song Kang-ho in a film doesn't debut quietly.

This is not a film site so it's hardly the talk of the town here but if you hang out where the movie geeks are at, you'll definitely hear about it just as much as "Battleship."

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I like it. I cant wait to watch this one

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Bay Area Beanies! "A Taxi Driver" premieres this Thursday, 10 August at the AMC Van Ness 14 and AMC Cupertino Square 16 theatres. Maybe I'll see you at one of the showings! ?

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I've been anticipating this!! I'll watch anything with Ryu! For those in the U.S., I found the list of theaters it'll be playing in - http://wellgousa.com/theatrical/a-taxi-driver

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Thank you @coolbeans! It's playing in Portland which is only an hour and a half away. I can do that! yeah! This looks really REALLY good!

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I've been following this two films since they were in preproduction. Both historical with actors and directors that I love.
It feels like forever and I'm excited that they are finally out in the theatre.

"A Taxi Driver" was always more promising with it's source material (Gwangju Uprising will never get old) and I believe this is the first time that it's being told from a foreigner's eyes.
There are so many reasons why this is a must watch for me starting with Song Kang-ho, director Jang Hoon, Thomas Kretschmann, was great choice for Hinzpeter. A German actor playing a German character yay.
The talented and reliable supporting cast, Yoo Hae-jin and especially Ryu. Music director Jo Yeong-wook, film editor Kim Sang-bum etc etc.

I was excited for "Battleship" mostly for Hwang Jung-min and Song Joong-ki's return to Chungmuro and hopefully he'd stay there. I'm also excited to see Kim Soo-Ahn who basically won me over in "Train to Busan."
So far there has been controversies with "Battleship" and the reviews are not as good as I had hoped but I'm going to watch it anyway.

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Based on the quality of his filmography, I didn't think he was as young as he is.

Song Kang-ho and Ryoo Joon-Yeol..I'm all in.

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He does look younger and skinnier.
I'm so happy for Ryu.... "Are youuuu a reporter?"
English trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bB7z4Xn5oNA

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Oops, I meant the director, but I also thought Ryu looked young in the trailer :-)

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Ryoo is aging backward :).

He must like Hwang Jung-min a lot. They've done 3 movies so far and another next year 'Veteran 2."

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Jungpal just followed Bora's footsteps

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LoL

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I've been looking forward to watching this ever since seeing the trailer shown in the subway stations. Wonder if tickets get sold out quickly though, if it's that popular..

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Oh that hair...................

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No brainer for Taxi Driver over Battleship Island if one follows the taste of Koreans on how movies reflect their history. Also you mostly can't go wrong with Song Kang Ho, Yoo Hae Jin and Ryu Jun Jeol who may not be the most good looking oppas but really talented fine actors.

The initial excitement of BI over the star-studed cast has slowed alittle. BI is very costly to produced and probably needed 7-8 million admission just to break even which they may...

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Looks and sounds really interesting. Hope to see it someday. :)

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Where can I watch this in Jakarta?

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I dunno for Taxi Driver but Battleship Island will be showing up in our country from Aug 16. Just check your local CGV cinemas! My friends and I will watch the movie at Aug 20 in Surabaya. I hope Taxi Driver will be available too in our country since I love period movies and Song Kang Ho is jjang!

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are you from Indonesia? i definitely can't wait to watch BI mainly for song Joong Ki. but I hardly find BI on CGV.

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Just wait for it.. BI will premiere on CGV from Aug 16. Check the website for the schedules.

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thank you! I was already looking for it since early august. and growing frustate I don't find one. glad it will air on 16 august. terima kasihhhhhhh

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It's Song Kang Ho, of course it's going to hit #1

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ryu jun yeol is love ??

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Song Kangho had proven time and again how formidable and bankable film actor he is along with sterling actors YHJ, RJY and TK. The story must be compelling and well executed that i'm wishing it would be shown as well in our local cinema.

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i am only seeing the trailer however i can't help but tear up a bit during that last scene... i hope this gets picked up in my country's theater too. tho highly doubt it

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So very happy to learn about this piece of news. I'm still waiting for this movie to be available in my country T.T

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