Save the Green Planet

"Excellent"

Save the Green Planet Review


Korea strikes again. Save the Green Planet is a wildly imaginative fun ride that manages to be a comedy, a tragedy, a thriller, and a minor sci-fi epic all at the same time. It also manages to pose a pretty heavy question: is depraved mankind truly worthy of occupying this beautiful planet?

Mankind may be in more danger than it knows. Lee Byeong Gu (Shin Ha Gyun) has been driven slightly mad by a lifetime of abuse, his mother's comatose condition, and a ready supply of psychotropic drugs. After much thought, he has come to the conclusion that hostile aliens are among us and that their goal is to take our planet. His task: Stop them at all costs.

One of the aliens in disguise, Byeong Gu believes, is evil corporate titan Kan Man Shik (Baek Yun Shik), who Byeong Gu easily kidnaps with the help of his chubby girlfriend Sooni (Hwang Jun Min). As he has apparently done before with other suspected aliens, Byeong Gu takes Kan to his secret mountaintop home and begins subjecting him to increasingly severe forms of torture, up to and including crucifixion, as he attempts to elicit the truth about the aliens' plans from him. Kan, of course, is in torment.

The cops on the case of Kan's disappearance get a few promising leads and begin to track down Byeong Gu, but it's the work of one young detective, Inspector Choo (Lee Jae Yong), that ties together the Kan caper with several earlier kidnappings, most of which have ended brutally.

But Byeong Gu is one clever and tough cookie. He manages to kill one snooping detective with a swarm of bees that he keeps at his house. It ain't pretty. As Kan grows more desperate and tries to engage Byeong Gu in conversation, we learn more. It turns out that Byeong Gu's father was a humble miner killed in a mining accident. His saintly mother had trouble holding the family together. Meanwhile Byeong Gu was bullied and abused both in school and outside of it. He was a maniac waiting to happen. Crippled by loneliness and bad memories, he's looking for something, anything, to believe in, even if it's an insane theory about belligerent spacemen.

(Brief digression: The sadism of the corporal punishment administered in the Korean school system is depicted so often and so violently in Korean films that someone should write a doctoral dissertation on how Korean filmmakers were affected by their school days.)

The movie races along toward a frenetic conclusion in which every storyline is cleverly tied up in a way that will leave you simultaneously laughing, crying, and thinking. Writer/director Jang Jun Hwan has an imagination to be envied, and luckily he knows how to deploy it to full effect. Though he tosses in just about everything, including a kitchen sink, it's never too much, and everything backs up his central point: that our screwed-up world is so damaged and deranged that it might actually be improved by an alien invasion.

The DVD includes a wealth of fun extras including interesting behinds-the-scenes featurettes and an interview with Jang Jun Hwan in which he says he got the idea for the movie after reading an Internet post theorizing that Leonardo DiCaprio was an alien sent to Earth to steal our women. Hmm.

Aka Jigureul jikyeora!

Saving the green planet through better dentistry.



Save the Green Planet

Facts and Figures

Run time: 118 mins

In Theaters: Friday 4th April 2003

Budget: $3M

Distributed by: Koch Lorber Films

Production compaines: Sidus Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Fresh: 34 Rotten: 5

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Lee Byeong-gu, Hwang Jeong-Min as Su-ni, Lee Jae-yong as Inspector Choo, Baek Yun-Shik as Kang Man-shik

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