Save the Green Planet! Review
Lee Byung-Goo must save the planet. Indeed in his tortured, deluded mind he is the ONLY person who can save the planet. From what? Well from aliens of course. Aliens from the planet Andromeda who intend to destroy the planet by the next lunar eclipse in seven days time. The key to saving the planet is to kidnap and torture the CEO of a wealthy chemical conglomerate who Byung-Goo believes is an alien spy. He is convinced if he is able to learn the genetic code of the Royal Alien Prince he will be able to defeat the alien onslaught and save the planet. He has done this before of course, with other aliens masquerading as humans, but they always died under torture before the secret genetic code was revealed. But this time Byung-Goo is convinced Kang has all the answers, it just requires a bit of ingenuity in the old torture chamber he keeps hidden in the cellar of his remote and isolated house, and the help of his loving, but slightly dim-witted girlfriend, Sunni, and then he will be hailed as a true hero. Byung-Goo, the everyman... the nobody... the nameless, faceless, worthless soul who's fragile mind has finally snapped under the tragedy that is his life.
First time feature director/writer Jang Jun-Hwan has produced a remarkable and mature piece of work. An eye opening, mind-blowing movie that will entertain, amuse, and disturb all in one moment. It is genre busting, being totally impossible to define. The title suggests it is some kind of eco-comedy, and indeed this is how it starts, with the hilarious bungling attempt of Byung-Goo and Sunni to kidnap Kang, followed by an explanation by the frustrated Byung-Goo to an incredulous Sunni, of Kang's powers and his weaknesses and what must be done in order to ”weaken him”. All I will say is it involves bottles of menthol liniment, eyes, and genitals. In the first half hour you will be wiping your eyes as tears of laughter trickle down your cheek.
The second act takes a completely different turn. While the bungling police try to locate Kang, who is not only a wealthy industrialist, but also the son-in-law of the Chief of Police, Byung-Goo's personality takes a dark turn. Basically the torture begins. A battle of wits rages between the increasingly insane Byung-Goo, and the resilient Kang. The torture scenes are horrific; frequently requiring you turn your head away or hide your eyes. Byung-Goo's warped but inventive mind uses all manner of appalling techniques, first to get Kang to admit he is an alien, and secondly to provide the information he wants. All the while we learn a little more about Byung-Goo and Kang, and what brought them both to this point in their lives. Byung-Goo's forlorn past unfolds and the viewer develops an understanding and empathy that you felt you could never have for a man who could perform such hateful acts. The movie has a splendid and unexpected finale that is as funny, gruesome and tragic as the rest of the movie.
Apparently this movie bombed in it's native Korean market, I have no idea why. It is one of the most inventive, delicious movie watching experiences of my year. I laughed, I cried, and I sat in stunned silence. This superb movie defies description. See it for yourself and I am sure you will agree.