2013 is evidently the year for South Korean genre masters to spread their wings. Earlier this year, Park Chan-wook (“Oldboy,” “Thirst”) made his English-language debut with the wild Southern Gothic noir “Stoker,” still one of my favorites of the year; somewhat less successfully, we also had Kim Jee-woon (“I Saw the Devil,” “The Good, the Bad, the Weird”) directing Arnold Schwarzenegger in “The Last Stand.” Now their compatriot and colleague Bong Joon-ho — who last hit our screens in 2009 with the acclaimed thriller “Mother” — is making the switch as well, with his post-apocalyptic action film “Snowpiercer.”
Chris Evans headlines the Weinstein Company release, which boasts Park Chan-wook as a producer and is written, promisingly, by playwright Kelly Masterson — who hasn’t done any film work since his auspicious first screenplay, “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead,” in 2007. Based in a French graphic novel, the film is set in 2031, shortly after Earth has been plunged into a new ice age; the few human survivors inhabit the Snowpiercer, a vast train that circles the planet and is oppressively segregated, with the poor subjected to dire conditions in the back carriages. Evans plays one of the lower-class passengers who leads a revolution against the elite classes, led by Tilda Swinton — seemingly offering her own take on Maggie Thatcher. The impressive ensemble also includes Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, Ed Harris, John Hurt and Alison Pill.
The film was originally expected by many to show up at the Cannes Film Festival, though this international trailer suggests it’s being positioned more as a commercial prospect than a prestige item. That’s not meant as a slight, however, and Bong’s distinctive atmospheric stamp is all over this. No US release date has been set yet, so this could feasibly still show up in Venice and/or Toronto. Check out the rousing trailer below, and tell us what you think.