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Nryu myeongmang bogoseo | KIm Ji-Woon, Yim Pil-Sung, 2012
South Korea | 115 minutes
Centerpiece presentation! North American Premiere!
Kim Ji-Woon is one of Korea’s most fascinating directors, and a new movie from him is always an event. Whether it’s the stylized horror of A Tale of Two Sisters, the intense action of A Bittersweet Life, the wild spaghetti western madhouse of The Good, the Bad, and the Weird, or even the dark chase thriller I Saw the Devil, he has consistently delivered some of the most challenging, gorgeously-shot, innovative genre movies to come out of Korea. Now he turns to science fiction with the three-part omnibus film, Doomsday Book, which has been in the making for six years.
Originally planned to be a three-parter directed by Kim Ji-Woon, Yim Pil-Sung (director of Hansel & Gretel and Antarctic Journal), and Han Jae-Rim (The Show Must Go On), production started in 2006, and then fell apart when Han’s film (a retelling of an O. Henry short story) proved to be unworkable. With only two-thirds of the movie completed, it was shelved. Then, after a new infusion of cash in 2010, Kim and Yim collaborated on the movie’s third segment, and now their three-parter about the end of the world is ready for the big screen.
Outlining three ways in which the world might end, Doomsday Book starts with Yim Pil-Sung’s “A Brave New World,” a rollicking, hilarious short film about rampant pollution that leads to an outbreak of zombie-ism that robs man of even his ability to choose to die. The second short, Kim Ji-Woon’s “The Heavenly Creature” is about a future where robots have become our main source of manual labor. One robot, which resides at a Buddhist temple, achieves enlightenment, and the company that produces robot workers realizes that it’s got a crisis on its hands. The movie wraps up with the two directors collaborating on “Happy Birthday,” about a young girl whose wish results in a giant meteor (or is it?) heading straight for planet Earth. Injecting welcome doses of comedy into three hard science-fiction scenarios, this two-fisted dose of apocalypse is the smartest sci fi flick to hit movie screens all summer.