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Quiet Family, The

Tai Seng // Unrated // March 28, 2006
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ian Jane | posted April 8, 2006 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

If you've seen Takashi Miike's better known remake of this film, The Happiness Of The Katakuris, then you more or less know the plot of this before you even hit the play button. There are some obvious differences between the two films and Miike's is more 'out there' than its Korean predecessor, but story wise, they're on very, very similar ground.

The Kang family, headed up by Kang Tae-gu (Park In-hwan), the father, are excited to be the proud new owner's of a hotel in a lovely section of the South Korean countryside. Business is slow at first but they have very high hopes for their investment as the county is planning on putting a major road nearby their land which is sure to generate plenty of traffic and, therefore, plenty of business. Things look like they're starting to happen when their first guest arrives before the road is even built. They tend to him like any good business minded family would, ensuring he's comfortable and not in need of anything, and when they don't hear from him after he's retired to his room they are shocked to find that he used their hotel not for rest and relaxation but as a quiet place to commit suicide.

Panic stricken and not wanting to become the subject of the obvious negative publicity that would definitely fall upon them should word of this tragedy be made public, they opt to bury the dead man in the woods near the edge of their property. It's quiet out there, and no one ever looks around, so it should be the perfect spot to dispose of the unwanted corpse. Once that ordeal is over with, a couple shows up wanting a room. Hoping for the best, the family jumps at the chance to take care of them but once again are shocked to find that these two young lovebirds have made a suicide pact with each other. To complicate matters even more, when they find them, one of them is only half dead. The solve this new problem the same way that they solved the last one, buy burying the bodies in the woods. Just when it seems like things can't get any worse for the Kang's, soon the plans for the new road are made official, and it looks like it's going to be built right through the woods at the edge of their lot…

Played much straighter than the Japanese take on the story, The Quiet Family is a hilarious and morbid black comedy that has just enough edge to work on a somewhat subversive level without going too far into the realm of bad taste. The humor is definitely on the dark side but it never feels mean spirited or crass, instead it's quite clever and always engaging. In large part, the success of the film owes much to the cast. Not only is Park In-Hwan great as the patriarch but the rest of the family members are quite good in their parts as well, particularly Choi Min-sik, now famous for his fantastic performance in Oldboy and, to a lesser extent, The Crying Fist.

While Kim Ji-woon's direction doesn't show nearly as much artistic flair as it did in his better known ghost story A Tale Of Two Sisters, it's still a fine example of workman like filmmaking and while things aren't overly flashy here, they don't need to be either. The Quiet Family calls for quiet cinematography and art direction, and that's what we get. That's not to say that the movie looks bad, in fact it looks quite good – it's just that the story doesn't call for anything too over the top. The look of the movie suits the tone of the storyline very well.

Some of the side plots, like the one involving a police officer, could have been developed better and at times the movie feels like it wants to be a more horrific effort than it is despite the subject matter, The Quiet Family is funny stuff for those with a taste for morbid humor.



Tai Seng's 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is quite nice. There aren't any problems with compression artifacts, the image is strong and clean from start to finish, and print damage is not an issue either. Some mild edge enhancement is noticeable as is some line shimmering along the edges of the buildings in the movie from time to time but other than that, this is quite a solid presentation. Skin tones look lifelike and natural, color reproduction is very good, black levels are strong and stable. There's a pretty strong level of both foreground and background detail in the picture and generally, aside from a little bit of grain, the image is very clean and quite crisp.


Tai Seng has provided two audio tracks for this release – a Korean Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix and an English dub Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix with optional subtitles available in English and in Chinese. The Korean track is far superior to the English dub but both tracks sound pretty good. There are some nice instances where the channel separation kicks in and spices things up a bit and bass response is both tight and lively. No problems with hiss or distortion, and the levels seem to be properly balanced.


Pleasantly surprising is the fact that Tai Seng has subtitled in English the director's commentary track, presumably carried over from the Korean DVD release. This is a pretty interesting discussion in which Kim Ji-woon tells us about where some of the ideas for the movie came from, the casting process, location shooting and some of the stranger moments in the film. He's fairly animated throughout the talk and covers quite a bit of ground here, which makes this a worthwhile listen for fans of the movie. Actor Song Kang-ho joins in on the discussion in a few spots, and the two are obviously having fun with the movie, though it might have been a better track if they'd gone into more technical details – as such, we get a track with a lot of anecdotes and not much more. It's fun, and worth checking out, but not necessarily essential.

Also included is a making of documentary that looks at the production and set design for roughly six minutes in length. It's an interesting featurette but it's a little too brief, though we do get some keen behind the scenes footage in here. Interviews are also supplied with the principal cast members, though Kim Ji-woon and Song Kang-ho do the interviewing, so things are a bit biased. That being said, Choi Min-sik proves to be a pretty interesting guy even when he's not wailing on bad guys with a hammer or eating live squid, it's cool to see him show up here and give his take on the film.

Rounding out the extra features are a pair of music videos, a trailer, a storyboard to film comparison feature, and a brief look at the making of the film's soundtrack which clocks in at just over five minutes in length. Animated menus and chapter selections are also included.

Final Thoughts:

A fantastic quirky dark comedy, The Quiet Family works really well thanks to some great performances and very solid direction. Tai Seng's DVD looks and sounds quite good and benefits from a few decent extra features as well. Recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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