Partially a thriller, partially a comedy – Save the Green Planet is another sterling example of what I have enjoyed so much about South Korean cinema. The more famous, or popular, films from South Korea often take ideas or themes from Hollywood productions and twist them in such a way that not only do they reflect a socially valid view of contemporary Korean life, but they also twist and turn the limits of what is permitted within the confines of whatever genre they are working in. Rarely will you see a South Korean movie appear as bland or run-of-the-mill as your average Hollywood production, even amongst the most mainstream of work. This comes from a base, or maybe even a market of receptive viewers, that simply refuses to conform to cliche territory. Films like Shiri took on the Hollywood pot boiler, My Sassy Girl gave the romantic comedy a swift kick in the backside by being appealing to both sexes and Save the Green Planet takes the world of Science Fiction and mixes it in with both a comedic twist, as well as a distortion of the serial killer genre. What you’re left with is a compelling, and epically strange, piece of cinema.
I have mentioned it considerably at this point, but this isn’t a movie that can be held down into any one genre. It is a strange ride that takes you on a strange voyage through so many emotional states. The cover art for the DVD elicits the idea that you’re in for a joyous or light hearted affair, but nothing could be further from the truth. The first twenty minutes might also clue you into this fact, because it comes off as a quirky little title about a confused man who kidnaps an executive. However, confused or not, quirky or not – when driven by an idea, no matter how silly it may be, people can be monstrous. This turns out to be one of the main themes, as we watch this character who obsesses over UFO’s make the switch from being a likable protagonist who has got himself mixed up in something that seems above his head – into something that is considerably less likeable. Something almost evil, but at the same time pathetic. This is where the power of the film comes into play and this crux that it rests upon is solid enough to support these wide range of ideas that the filmmaker throws at those of us in the audience.
This character and the emotional ride that he goes along with, is reflective of what we the audience are forced to endure. Save the Green Planet is a dark film. The cinematography is dark, there’s brutal violence and it covers some very disturbing themes. However, it is engaging in every twist and turn. With a split narrative that follows the police as they hunt down our UFO tracking protagonist (who may very well be our antagonist as well), the film crafts a nearly two hour length that does fall to a few lulls in the action every now and then, but the blitzkrieg of information that abounds the audience in the final reel and the speedy opening sequence will keep your attention easily.