Save the Green Planet | Varied Celluloid

Save the Green Planet

Posted by Josh Samford On March - 11 - 2010
The Plot: Byeong-gu (Shin Ha-kyun) is an expert on extra-terrestrials, but his convictions far out-do those of your average internet conspiracy buff. He believes aliens are walking amongst us and have taken our form, but he alone has been able to spot those who come from Andromeda. His simple and slightly dumpy wife has recently been brought on board for his conspiracies, and believes anything that her honey tells her. Byeong sets his sight on a corporate CEO who seems to fit all the right aesthetics of being one of these Andromeda beings, and without too much trouble manages to kidnap the man and lock him up inside of his basement. When the man awakens, he is angered and has no idea what Byeong-gu is talking about, but that doesn’t stop the subsequent testing that appears more like torture. Byeong can not be bartered with and simply refuses to believe anything other than what he perceives as the truth. Outside of the basement, a pair of police officers who are generally laughed at within the station are actually making some progress in the hunt for this kidnapping foe. Will they be able to make it in time to save the man or will Byeong-gu do something that might get him into even worse trouble?






The Review
South Korean cinema really exploded into world wide fan consciousness in the late nineties and has been on a rampage ever since, with the genre-film market being fully covered. There have been art house flicks (The Isle), romantic comedies (My Sassy Girl) and of course there have been horror pictures (A Tale of Two Sisters). So, with all of the bases loaded, there would have to be a Science Fiction film mixed in the bunch! Yet, in much the same way that every genre has been turned on its head within the South Korean film market; Save the Green Planet is about as far from a conventional Science Fiction flick as you are going to find. Truthfully, it’s arguably not EVEN a work of Science Fiction. So, just what does that make Save the Green Planet? Since finishing the movie thirty minutes ago, I’ve been trying to piece that together in my head as well. Although not a surrealist piece of arthouse cinema, the complexities and strange ingredients that make up the film are enough to confound any viewer.

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.

The Conclusion
I can’t say that this is a film for anyone but a very select audience, but for those who are open minded enough and can recognize honest and interesting cinema; this is absolutely worth searching out. I feel ashamed that I have had it sitting around for years now without having watched it. I give it a solid four out of five, and hope that you’ll take this bizarre South Korean trip… somewhere, over the rainbow!



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  • You know what you are, don’t you? You’re an enabler. You’re feeding my addiction to South Korean films. Hope you’re proud of yourself 😛
  • I am very proud of myself 😀 Thanks go to Heavenztrash for finally talking me into this one. Definitely check it out sometime Rach, you’ll dig it for sure!

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Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

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