When films cross over between genres, it's often because the director
doesn't know what type of movie he wants to make, or the producers wanted
him to change the focus sometime after filming has begun. These films
often end up being a mess. Save the Green Planet is one film
that careens across several genres without giving it a second thought,
but it is one of the rare cases where the technique actually works.
The picture contains sections that could be classified as psychological
thriller, wire-fu, horror, drama, detective film, comedy, SF film, along
with several others. First time director (as well as the screenplay's author) Jang
Jun-Hwan deftly mixes these disparate genres to create a unique film experience
that has to be seen to be believed.
Byeong-gu (Shin Ha-kyun) is a bee-keeper who's not quite all there.
After giving it a lot of thought, he's decided that the CEO of a major
corporation, Kang Man-Shik, is actually an alien from Andromeda.
At the next luna eclipse, a mere week away, Byeong-gu is sure that the
Prince of Andromeda will arrive and contact Kang before destroying the
With the destruction of the planet imminent, Byeong-gu does the only
thing he can think of. He kidnaps Kang, locks him in his basement,
and tortures him to get whatever information he can.
Of course the kidnaping of a prominent businessman like Kang gets the
police's attention, especially since Kang is married to the police commissioner's
daughter. While the lead investigator does things by the book and
gets nowhere fast, a young new officer Inspector Kim (Ju-hyeon Lee) teams
up with a disgraced but very talented detective, Inspector Chu (Jae-yong
Lee) to try to find out just who kidnaped the CEO and why.
This is one of those movies that defies categorization. It starts
off as a comedy, with Byeong-gu explaining his crazy ideas about alien
invaders to his girlfriend Sooni (Jeong-min Hwang) and having her believe
every word of it. Then comes the hilarious kidnaping with Byeong
and Sooni wearing black plastic vests and outrageous head-gear to keep
themselves safe from the alien's telepathic powers. However the film
abruptly shifts gears as soon and Kang is brought to Byeong-gu's basement.
As the young man spouts gibberish to his girlfriend about alien physiology,
they start to torture Kang, and the film isn't quite so funny. Then
the film switches to a detective show, where the focus is on the police
officers trying to crack the case. Surprisingly enough director Jang
Jun-Hwan melds this all together into a film that is cohesive and holds
together very well.
The movie contains some effective torture scenes that the Asian cinema
is so deft at producing. These aren't as gruesome as some films,
but it these parts aren't for the faint-hearted. Most of the actual
torture occurs off screen, but the sounds and effects are certainly shown.
This film did poorly in Korea when it was first released in 2003 which
is too bad. It is a unique and enjoyable film that is destined to
become a cult classic. Director Jang Jun-Hwan does a magnificent
job with the film, creating some beautiful as well as shocking scenes.
One of the reasons the film succeed is that there is a strong central
character; Byeong-gu. The genres that the film passes through also
reflect the audience's perception of the man. At the beginning both
Byeong-gu and the movie are comic, but then as the film turns to a horror
flick Byeong-gu changes from being funny to terrifying. As the film
progresses and we learn more about this man's past, and he starts to become
pitiful, and the movie turns into a drama. His background story is
fully fleshed out by the end of the movie, and viewers can understand why
he committed the acts that he did.
This disc offers stereo and 5.1 audio tracks, both in Korean.
I viewed the film with the 5.1 track and it was very good. They made
excellent use of the surrounds throwing a lot of effects and music behind
the viewer, but not overdoing it. The audio was very full with good
range and also crisp and clear. There are optional English
Anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) image is very good. The colors
are vivid and bright in the exterior scenes, but in the basement torture
chamber they are muted as the director intended. There is excellent
definition and contrast, with images in the many dark scene having a good
amount of detail. Compression artifacts were negligible. A
very good looking DVD.
This disc is packed with extras. First off there are fifteen
minutes worth of deleted scenes that are introduced by Jang Jun-Hwan, the
director. There is also a five minute interview with Jang, a fifteen minute
making of featurette that is an extended interview with the director
along with clips from the film, a behind the scenes featurette, and a conversation
between the director and the actors. If that wasn't enough the DVD
also has the Korean and US trailers, and a music video of the theme song.
A comprehensive and very informative set of bonus material. The only
thing that's missing in a commentary track.
Save the Green Planet isn't going to be a film for everyone.
There are some disturbing torture scenes, but there are also some laugh-out-loud
funny parts. A film unlike any other, it has to be seen to be believed.
If you are looking from something a little off the beaten path, this would
be a good DVD to check out. Recommended.