Part serial-killer policier, part "Body Snatchers" science fiction, this ferociously entertaining hybrid marks the most welcome arrival of South Korean filmmaker Jang Joon-Hwan into a tired, been-there/done-that genre scene. Meek mannequin-maker Lee Byeong-Gu (Shin Ha-Gyun) has squirreled himself away in the mountain retreat he's built on the ruins of an old miner's bathhouse. Whacked out on methamphetamines, movies, elaborate UFO conspiracy theories and a lifetime of tragedy, Byeong-Gu has convinced himself that aliens from Andromeda are about to destroy planet Earth, and some of them walk among us disguised as ordinary Earthlings. In order to save our tiny green planet, Byeong-Gu begins kidnapping these incognito aliens, shaving their heads (they communicate telepathically through their hair) and torturing them in hopes of extracting information about their nefarious alien plan. Once they've died their all-too-human deaths, Byeong-Gu feeds their corpses to his dog, Earth. Time, however, is tight: With only seven days to go until the next lunar eclipse, when Byeong-Gu believes the Andromedan prince will arrive to decide Earth's fate, Byeong-Gu and his rotund, tightrope-walking girlfriend, Sunni (Hwang Jung-Min), nab the only "alien" capable of communicating with extraterrestrial royalty: Kang Man-Shik (Baek Yun-Shik), the CEO of Yuje Chemicals, where Byeong-Gu's mother (Ye Soo-Jung) once worked before an industrial accident put her in a coma. Kang is also the son-in-law of the chief of police, which makes his kidnapping a top priority for grandstanding Detective Lee (Ki Ju-Bong) and his squad. Young Detective Kim (Lee Ju-Hyeon), however, decides to join forces with his idol, disgraced former detective Chu (Lee Jae-Yong), who has a file filled with other similarly missing persons Chu suspects are the handiwork of the same kidnapper. Things at the mountain hideaway, meanwhile, are growing increasingly scary as the lunar eclipse approaches and Byeong-Gu's tortures grow even more sadistic. Aside from the sci-fi trappings, Jang's thriller unfolds much like SE7EN (1996) in reverse: We not only know the identity of the killer and his bizarre motives from the start, but we stick close by him and can't help but sympathize with his bizarre plight. Byeong-Gu, it turns out, is as much a victim as his cruelly tormented hostages, and Jang's masterstroke is to tie their victimization to the devolution of humankind. It comes as a small disappointment, then, that such a twisty, unusual film should be saddled with such a cliched climax — a grueling smackdown complete a Michael Myers-style resurrection — even if it does once again throw audiences off their guard before the mind-blowing coda.
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 2003
- Rating: NR
- Review: Part serial-killer policier, part "Body Snatchers" science fiction, this ferociously entertaining hybrid marks the most welcome arrival of South Korean filmmaker Jang Joon-Hwan into a tired, been-there/done-that genre scene. Meek mannequin-maker Lee Byeong… (more)