Save the Green Planet Jang Jun-Hwan
Published Jul 01, 2005Though reports of the wild eccentricity of this South Korean import are greatly exaggerated, it's sufficiently freaked-out to make it preferable to 99 percent of the movies that come off the Hollywood assembly line.
Delusional beekeeper Lee Byeong-Gu (Shin Ha-Gyun) is convinced that his wasted life is the result of aliens from Andromeda messing with his mojo. Fortunately, he's managed to determine that the alien leader is conveniently posing as Lee's ex-employer, Kang Man-Shik, meaning all he has to do is kidnap the culprit and torture him into confessing his invasion plan. Thus he sets out with his slightly dim acrobat girlfriend to discover the truth about why he's such a complete loser, with unexpectedly explosive results.
The less you know about what comes next the better, so as to keep the surprises genuinely surprising and giving the nuttiness a chance to get to you - revealing details to this movie is like telling the punch line before the beginning of a joke. The film can get a tad maudlin in its pro-loser sentiment, watering down the spirited meanness of its torture scenes, and the alien cosmology is disappointingly banal for a film that clearly aspires to grand guignol lunacy. But these are minor quibbles when you consider the film's incident-packed and completely uninhibited rendering of the utter insanity of his lead and the slaphappy pathos of his victim.
Takashi Miike diehards will experience a slight case of déjà vu (as well as annoyance at director Jang Jun-Hwan's pretending to the throne), but casual filmgoers will find plenty to laugh and squirm about for its near-two-hours running time, as well as finding new and unpleasant ways to think about menthol rub. (Ultra 8)