From Korea, a horror-sci fi-comedy thatís gross, funny and
outrageous. Itís not entirely successful, though.
SAVE THE GREEN PLANET! (JIGUREUL JIKYEORA!; 2003) was
the feature debut of writer/director Joon-Hwan Jang, who claims he was
inspired to write the film, about a wealthy CEO kidnapped by an
apparently psychotic former employee, after viewing MISERY (1990).
Jangís film was not a success, although it has attained a cult following
in the years since its initial release.
Joon-Hwan Jang also co-scripted the 1999 submarine
drama YURYEONG/PHANTOM, but as of mid-2009 has yet to attain any
Kang is the asshole CEO of a major pharmaceutical
company. Heís kidnapped one night by two loons, Byeong-gu (an
ex-employee) and his overweight female companion Su-ni, both of whom who
wear wacky costumes and goofy headgear. They believe Kan is an alien
from the planet Andromeda and decide the only way to stop his eminent
takeover of the Earth is to torture him. Byeong-gu has other, more
personal reasons for his actions: he blames the Andromedians for killing
In short order, Byeong-gu and Su-ni strip Kang down to
his underwear, shave his head and strap him to a chair inside their dank
hillside shack. There they subject him to scalding, beating,
electrocution and worse.
As a pack of eccentric investigators plumb Kangís
kidnapping, Kang manages to talk Su-ni into leaving. No matter:
Byeong-gu refuses to be deterred, even when his captive nearly escapes
and a detective investigating Kangís disappearance turns up. The latter
becomes suspicious but is handily dispatched by a swarm of bees.
By this point Kang has had enough of the torment, and
admits heís as an alien. He claims his kind are responsible for
humankindís presence on the Earth and are now ready to get rid of us.
But is he telling the truth?
Writer-director Joon-Hwan Jang shows real filmmaking
talent, creating an atmosphere at once gritty and cartoonishly
over-the-top. Tonally the film falls somewhere between the gross-out
cinema of John Waters and THE MATRIX. Like most modern South Korean
films, itís also unerringly slick and well made.
I understand not everyone will appreciate Jangís
penchant for extreme brutality, nor the fact that that the nastiness is
played for laughs. This is a crazy movie, and comes complete with
deliriously oft-kilter camerawork (much of the opening credits sequence
is lensed upside-down) and a rocking grunge rendition of ďSomewhere Over
Unfortunately Jang isnít nearly as proficient telling a
story. Despite its simplicity, the narrative is related in extremely
convoluted fashion, confusingly alternating Byeong-guís torture of Kang
and the authoritiesí efforts to track the latter down with flashbacks of
Byeong-guís disturbed past. The extremely ambitious finale, which tries
to accomplish too many things at once, also falls flat.
SAVE THE GREEN PLANET! (JIGUREUL JIKYEORA!)
Director: Joon-Hwan Jang
Producer: Seoung-Jae Choi, Sun-ah Kim
Screenplay: Joon-Hwan Jang
Cinematography: Kyung-Pyo Hong
Editing: Gok-ji Park
Cast: Ha-kyun Shin, Yun-shik Baek, Jeong-min Hwang, Jae-yong Lee,
Ju-hyeon Lee, Ju-bong Gi, Roe-ha Kim, Mu-hyeon Lee