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Critics reviews


Julie Ha, Eugene Yi United States, 2022
In its clear-eyed empathy for the totality of life, “Free Chol Soo Lee” is only deepened by not ignoring what happens when the spotlight fades on a righted wrong, and what’s left are demons, trauma, guilt and that thing both sought after and scary: being free.
August 25, 2022
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[F]irst-time doc directors Julie Ha and Eugene Yi use archival materials in an attempt to present their tragic hero in all three dimensions. Despite their efforts, Soo Lee feels just out of reach, but the story of his life remains as important as it is horrifying.
August 25, 2022
There’s an entire history of political representation to confront here... and even when Free Chol Soo Lee doesn’t seem to be taking this problem on in a direct way, the movie’s self-aware deviations from the norm are pronounced.
August 22, 2022
It was a notorious miscarriage of justice... But, as this impressive and wrenchingly sad documentary explains, that was not the end of the story.
August 21, 2022
Thanks to co-directors Julie Ha and Eugene Yi, this lesson from history gets a timely if conventional retelling. Archive footage and talking heads help depict a complex and weirdly obscure saga that leaves a bitter aftertaste.
August 21, 2022
Free Chol Soo Lee is among those documentaries that earns the backhanded compliment of feeling shorter than the subject deserves. The directors do good work in conjuring up a remote era and teasing out still extant racial tensions.
August 19, 2022
Free Chol Soo Lee is ultimately a portrait in absentia of a man who seemed to die long before his obituary was printed. It’s a pointed reminder of the impossibility of a happy ending in a story of wrongful imprisonment, and how America’s penal system is explicitly designed to break a person so completely that even when freed, they are set on a path right back behind bars.
August 17, 2022
This story of a miscarriage of justice is told with enormous sensitivity, intelligence and insight by documentary-makers Julie Ha and Eugene Yi.
August 16, 2022
Free Chol Soo Lee shines when spotlighting Lee’s personal story.
August 12, 2022
The New York Times
Archival material involving K.W. Lee... is especially poignant. But “Free Chol Soo Lee” is somewhat dry and, as criminal-justice documentaries go, sadly familiar when it strays from Lee’s unique and grim perspective...
August 11, 2022
“Respectful and compelling” accurately describe the entire documentary, which follows Lee’s tragic life through many iterations.
August 10, 2022
Free Chol Soo Lee is only partially the story of an injustice overturned. It's also the story of a movement, as Korean American communities rallied around his cause. But that's where first-time documentarians Julie Ha and Eugene Yi pull back the camera for a broader perspective, not just on Lee's story, but on the marginalization of the Asian community at every level.
June 28, 2022