Although he is conspicuously absent from VOH’s Hall of Visionaries, Park Chan-Wook is one of the most acclaimed and respected filmmakers in the world. And with his upcoming film Stoker, Park will make his English language directorial debut. Not much is currently known about the film, which will star Matthew Goode (Watchmen), Mia Wasikowska and Nicole Kidman. However, it should be noted that the track record of international filmmakers that have made the transition to Hollywood film is mixed at best, especially for the filmmakers who were not native English speakers.
Visionaries such as Fernando Meirelles (City of God, The Constant Gardener), Guillermo de Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Amores Perros, Babel), Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita, The Professional) and Bernardo Bertolucci (The Conformist, The Last Emperor) have all successfully made the transition. However, there are countless others, such as Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire, Paris, Texas), Wong Kar-Wai (Chungking Express, My Blueberry Nights) Ringo Lam (Maximum Risk)and George Sluizer (The Vanishing), whose skills did not completely survive the translation.
Does Park Chan-Wook have what it takes to make the leap to directing English language films? There is no way to know for certain until at least Stoker comes out, but at this point we can still make determinations regarding whether or not Park is a visionary filmmaker, as we can place much more confidence in an international visionary’s skills surviving a transition to Hollywood, based upon the successes of people like del Toro, Meirelles and Bertolucci. Furthermore, if Park is not a visionary, we should not even care whether or not his skills will get lost in translation, since Hollywood is already filled with fungible, replacement-level directors.