Addicted (2002, aka. The Poisoning) is a Korean drama with elements of mystery, the supernatural, and romance. The film had some success at the Korean box office, though most viewers will find it is a decidedly middle of the road, commercial affair.
Ho-jin (Eol Lee- Samaria), a woodwork artist, is happily married to Eun-soo (Mi-yeon Lee). They are in the early years of their union, they get along amiably, and their romance is very much alive. The two share their house with Ho-jin's brother, Dae-jin (Byung-hun Lee- A Bittersweet Life, Three... Extremes), a perpetual bachelor whose only passion in life is race car driving.
Life is good until co-incidentally, on the same day, Ho-jin is in an accident while taking a cab and Dae-jin has a smash-up on the race track, and the two brothers are each left in comas. Dae-jin wakes up and spends a few weeks walking around like a victim of shell shock. He soon begins to show strange behavior patterns, doing things that his brother would do, like watering the garden, cooking supper, working in his brother's woodshop, and other general behaviors that were part of Ho-jin's routine, like leaving Eun-soo's toothbrush out for her.
Dae–jin soon insists that he is Ho-jin, steadfastly maintaining that he is possessed and being taken over by his brothers spirit. They try hypnotherapy, brain scans, drugs, even a little old fashioned "have him sweat it out with manual labor", but his transformation into his brother seems to continue. Even more disturbing for Eun-soo, is that he seems to know things only Ho-jin would know. The widow soon finds herself being slowly convinced that her husband may actually live on in the physical body of his brother.
Take a little bit of Ghost, Purple Noon, and Birth and you've got Addicted. Curious, I checked around to see how much of the mystery other reviewers of the film felt the need to divulge. Some flat-out spelled every third act twist and turn, others played coy, which is the path I'd already decided to take. Part of the fun of a film like this is the is he? or isn't he? aspect, playing with notions that Dae-jin could be mentally damaged, playing a con, or truly spiritually possessed. Unfortunately, while the film is fairly involving and entertaining enough, it is also kind of tepid. Sequences play too long, the script is a little thin, the direction is flat, the performances are underwhelming, and Addicted ends up being a b-level affair that doesn't exactly have the meat to make it as suspenseful or as emotional involving as it needs to be.
The DVD: Tai Seng.
Picture: Anamorphic Widescreen. This disc looks pretty terrible. Everything about the image is affected by a bad transfer, and I mean technically, not in terms of print quality. Weak color. Soft image. Poor contrast details. Overall lacking in definition. Further transfer issues include bad edge enhancement, aliasing, noise, and some minor ghosting. One wonders why even bother making it anamorphic when its going to look doubly terrible on any high end system?
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Korean and Cantonese or Mandarin 2.0 Stereo language tracks. Optional Chinese or English subtitles. Good sound. I wouldn't go so far as to say the sound mix is outstanding or extraordinary, more along the lines of typical, serviceable, A-okay. The films main "love theme" sounds like it borrowed its melody from The Princess Bride.
Extras: Photo Gallery— Trailer— Music Video— Interview (4:50) Actors Byung-hun Lee and Mi-yeon Lee pay a little lip service to the film.— Making of Featurette: 100 Days of Poison (50:12). Really great feature. I love these documentary shorts that are typical on Korean releases. It shows a wealth of behind the scenes footage, from rehearsal to filming, and really gives a nice peek into the process without going into the usual promo piece mumbo jumbo.
Conclusion: Addicted is a decent enough, casual crowd pleaser that doesn't quite have the thrills to make it an outstanding mystery-drama. It is full of sour notes but works well enough to keep you from twitching in your seat wanting to hit the fast forward button. The DVD is not very pleasing to the eye. This one is worth a rental, good for a lazy day viewing, at best.