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After much anticipation, neither Kim Ji-woon’s The Last Stand nor Park Chan-wook’s Stoker set Western audiences on fire when they opened earlier this year. But the third English-language debut by a South Korean director this year, Bong Joon-ho‘s Snowpiercer, seems poised to blow the other two out of the water.

Following very early screenings for the highly anticipated sci-fi film, the very first reviews have begun trickling out. And the critics seem to agree on a few points: 1) that Snowpiercer is very, very dark, 2) that it’s so dark it could turn off movie ticket buyers, and 3) that it’s freakin’ fantastic. Hit the jump to read their comments.

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To coincide with its long-awaited Sundance debut, Chan-wook Park‘s Stoker has just unveiled a new international trailer. The first English-language outing from the Oldboy auteur stars Mia Wasikowska as India, a teenage girl mourning the death of her father (Dermot Mulroney). The unexpected arrival of her mysterious Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) further complicates matters, especially as he seems to have taken an unhealthy interest in both India and her chilly mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman). Watch the new video after the jump.

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Briefly: The mere fact that Stoker marks the English-language debut of Oldboy helmer Chan-wook Park would’ve been reason enough to get excited about the film. But toss in the star-studded cast (Nicole Kidman, Mia Wasikowskia, and Matthew Goode) and a Clint Mansell score, and our anticipation levels are going off the charts. Now, helpfully, we finally know exactly when the wait will pay off.

Box Office Mojo (via The Film Stage’s Twitter) has just set a release date of March 1, 2013 for the thriller, which centers around a teenager (Wasikowska) dealing with the sudden death of her father (Mulroney) and the unexpected reappearance of a mysterious uncle (Goode). Jackie Weaver, Lucas Till, and Alden Ehrenreich also star.

Next March is already shaping up to be quite the month for moviegoers — Stoker‘s new date puts it up against Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium, while Oz: The Great and PowerfulCarrie, and Jack the Giant Killer are all set to open later that same month.

Having developed a reputation as one of South Korea’s most renown directors, Chan-wook Park is currently putting the finishing touches on his first American outing, Stoker — and he’ll be looking to yet another continent for his next directorial effort The Ax. A remake of Costa-Gavras‘ 2005 French film Le couperage, which in turn was based on a novel by Donald Westlake, the story centers around a man who gets laid off and struggles to find another job. As desperation sets in, he hatches a plot to kill off the competition. Park’s been attached to the project since 2009, originally planning it as his follow-up to Thirst before he put it on hold to do Stoker.

In an interview with Korean JoongAng Daily, Park revealed that he’s starting to look into casting and financing The Ax, so we can probably expect to see it hit within the next few years. It’s unclear at this point whether Park will be staying in the U.S. for the film, or whether he plans to return to his native country. For what it’s worth, though, Park says he’d like to continue working in both nations. “Actually, it doesn’t matter to me where a film is made,” he added. “If the story is good, I’ll follow it.” [via The Film Stage]

After the jump, a man who once brought us Nazi zombies redirects his attention to futuristic bounty hunters.

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Snow Piercer may mark South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho‘s first English-language picture, but his casting choices so far suggest he’s already got damn great taste in English-speaking stars. Octavia Spencer has become the latest addition to the cast of his post-apocalyptic thriller, joining Chris Evans, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, and Song Kang-ho (The Host). The script, from Bong and Oldboy director Park Chan-wook, is an adaptation of a French graphic novel titled Le Transperceneige. More details after the jump.

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Bong Joon-ho’s ‘Snow Piercer’ Adds John Hurt

Though we first heard of Bong Joon-ho‘s Snow Piercer back in 2009, it wasn’t until just a couple of weeks ago that the project really began to pick up steam and build a top-notch cast. Chris Evans was the first star announced for the film, with Tilda Swinton and Jamie Bell boarding soon afterward. Now John Hurt has been announced as the latest addition to the post-apocalyptic film, based on a French graphic novel titled Le Transperceneige. More details after the jump.

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Throughout his career, Chris Evans has jumped back and forth between big-budget pics and indie films and tackled a wide range of roles in the process. And though he’s now a fast-rising star thanks to last year’s Captain America and this summer’s The Avengers, it seems he’s still interested in mixing things up, as he looks to join an especially promising project that falls on the indie end of the spectrum.

Evans has just entered talks to star in Snow Piercer, from The Host director Bong Joon-ho. That’d be enough to pique my interest already, but it gets even more intriguing from there: The film was co-written by Bong and Oldboy helmer Park Chan-wook, who’s also producing. Though neither filmmaker is a household name in the States just yet, that could be changing soon as Bong will be making his domestic directorial debut with Snow Piercer, and as Park’s wrapping up his first English-language film Stoker. More details after the jump.

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Way back in late 2010, we reported on the potential casting of Bradley Cooper in the lead role for David O. Russell‘s The Silver Linings Playbook. At some point, however, Mark Wahlberg emerged as the star of the film, and Cooper was no longer associated with the project. Now, it’s looking like we’re back to square one, with Wahlberg out and Cooper back in. Wahlberg has dropped out of the film due to a scheduling conflict with a different project (possibly Broken City with Allen Huges), and Cooper is currently in talks to replace him.

Also in talks for the movie is Robert De Niro, who met with Russell earlier this summer regarding an unnamed part. Jennifer Lawrence is still set to co-star as the main character’s love interest. Based on a novel by Matthew Quick, the film follows a former high school teacher (that’d be Coopers part) who’s just been released from a four-year stint at a mental institution into the care of his mother. [Deadline]

After the jump: Reese Witherspoon teams up with Disney, Alden Ehrenreich joins Stoker, and Doctor Who star Karen Gillan nabs an indie romance.

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