The Fox Family, dir. Hyung-gon Lee

If you want to explore a foreign culture in film, perhaps you should go for their comedies – it’s something in my experience that comes out far more inexplicably weird. The Fox Family is a pretty obscure film from what I can see – the page on imdb is devoid of all but the most basic information. There’s no plot summary even – so let’s try one:

A group of shape-shifting foxes have taken on human form and come down from the mountains to the city, where if they are able to eat the liver of a recently killed human-being within a certain time-span of thirty minutes, they will become human forever. They employ their selected victims in a circus they are operating. There are also a series of murders taking place in the city, and a detective who becomes suspicious that the foxes are responsible.

The film is highly absurd; it is also a musical.

I must admit, the reason I chose it is because it was about fox-spirits – and I like Chinese stories about fox-spirits, a genre of which we in the West are largely ignorant. For the last year or so I’ve been secretly reading Pu Songling’s magnum opus, Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio (or, at least, the bits of it in English translation), which often seems like an anthology of fox-spirit stories. The basic plot of these stories is this:

  • Man encounters strange and incredibly beautiful woman
  • They make love and start a relationship
  • Man discovers woman is actually fox

The variable is what happens after stage 3.

This idea exists in the core of The Fox Family too. In this case, the man agrees to join in their plot and recruit victims for their liverfest.


I watched this film on mubi, which I’ve mentioned before but had never signed up to. Anyhow, I’ve signed up now (since I reckon I can manage £6.29/month) and shall be watching a whole lot more obscure foreign films as a result. It has some less obscure films too: there’s a few Chaplins, Murnau and DW Griffithses, some Eisensteins and Rays, a Buñuel I noticed.

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2 thoughts on “The Fox Family, dir. Hyung-gon Lee

  1. Interesting. I like those tales as well. They must have originated in China and then spread from there. I thought I’ve herad of Japanese versions too. I read Sjon’s The Blue Fox a while back that had some of these elements as well.
    Korean movies are often very graphic. How about this one?
    Humour is very culture bound. I’ve seen Asian movies said to be hilarious and didn’t really find them very funny.

  2. Yes, they are originally Chinese. I might have read the original literary version that other week – The Fox Fairy, written by Shen Chi-Chi in c.800AD.

    There was comic violence in it, I suppose. I’m not very good at noticing sex and violence in films really, I’ve become so inured to it over the years.

    It wasn’t that amusing. I watched another Korean film after called Dasepo Naughty Girls, which was far weirder and funnier. Perhaps I should have reviewed that instead, but it’s too late now – I’ve had my one Korean film.

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