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Hoooo-boy. Lionsgate is going all in on this one. Here we are in the middle of the biggest gun-control debate this country has seen in ages, and what do they give us this weekend? The Last Stand, a film in which a private arsenal plays a crucial role. Suddenly, the Zero Dark Thirty torture debate feels a bit musty and historical.

But that's not what this post is about. This post is about South Korean director Kim Ji-woon, here making his Hollywood debut. The Big Screen was fortunate enough to have a few words with him. (We spoke through a translator, hence the third person references.)


Matthew Lickona: I see that Kim Ji-woon usually writes and directs his films. How did he decide to take on this particular project, which he didn't write?

Translator: After his film, A Tale of Two Sisters (2003), he received a lot of offers from Hollywood. But most of those were for projects that were already packaged and complete - he was just offered the position of director. He was not very happy with this. But for The Last Stand, he had the opportunity to participate from the early stages, to put more of his emotions and colors into the film.

ML: Such as?

T: He thought that, other than Schwarzenegger's character, Owens, the other characters in the film were very linear. He was able to strengthen them, give them their own colors. He also says that humor plays a big role in this film. Not just laugh-out-loud moments, but rather organic aspects of the film. He was able to fuse humor into the individual characters. So he feels that The Last Stand is more his own film than anything else he was offered.

ML: The Last Stand is a freewheeling Western sort of film - lots of wide-open spaces and big, dramatic action. That's a departure from the very personal sort of stories he told in A Tale of Two Sisters and I Saw the Devil. How did the shift in style affect his direction?

T: He says that if you look at his filmography, he's worked in a very wide range of genres. The Last Stand is close to what he showed in The Good, the Bad, the Weird or The Foul King - lots of spectacle, a more external sort of story. He wants to point out that he didn't make a conscious shift in style, but rather, he likes to adapt to the story he's working with, and that results in a change of style. The Good, the Bad, the Weird takes place in a wide-open desert, and it's about characters trying to fulfill their desires, so there wasn't a difficulty in adapting. He loves shooting in these endless fields. As you know, Korea is not a big country, and the only endless horizon we get to see is the ocean. So when he had the opportunity to shoot in these sorts of locations in America, he was really able to appreciate that.

ML: This film is sort of a comeback effort for Arnold Schwarzenegger. How did he deal with working with such a known quantity in terms of persona?

T: He himself was a big fan of Arnold; he loved Terminator, Terminator 2, and True Lies. For Arnold, there are certain things that his fans expect. We will see what we expect of Arnold in The Last Stand, but we'll also see something from him that we've never seen before.

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