Title: Jigureul jikyeora! (Save The Green Planet)
Director: Jun-hwan Jeong
Country: South Korea
Runtime: 118 minutes
Genre: Pick one
For the past month I have watched one feature full-length film a night. My original mission statement for the year of two-thousand-five was to create a review a day for all the films I would be consuming, but unfortunately idle hands have gripped me, producing no literary movement. That is, until now.
Through all the movies I have watched, possibly none have affected me as much as tonight’s, Save The Green Planet. What originally drew me to this film was the DVD box art, depicting a cheerful looking, twenty-something man decked out in pseudo-miner, futuristic head garb, and black face paint. The brief synopsis spoke of a man set out to save the Earth from an alien invasion, and seemingly hilarious high jinks would ensure. How misleading.
Save The Green Planet is a tour-de-force of genre melting cinema, at once true to the box, hilarious and clever, and at once out of the mold, terrifying and saddening. Progressing through the movie one has no idea weather they are supposed to be laughing this minute, and crying the next; routing for our hero Lee Byeong-gu, or despising him.
At the root of the plot is what the box says it is: a tale of invasion from an intergalactic nemesis who desires to destroy our planet. The only one equipped to save us is Lee Byeong-gu, an outcast youth who lives in a large house on a mountain. In the opening scene, Lee is giving a slideshow presentation to his girlfriend, giving the five W’s of the invasion, which concludes with a plot to kidnap a CEO of a chemical plant who Lee believes is one of the aliens bringing about the invasion. Needless to say, Lee and his girlfriend kidnap the CEO, and bring him to the house on the mountain.
From here, Save The Green Planet goes on a "wild roller-coaster ride", twisting and turning through as many genre’s as you can imagine, hitting on comedy, drama, action, sci-fi, mystery, musical, horror, and anything else you can think of. The change in tempo is not distracting, however, as one may think it would be to create a cinema mash-up. With each change more dimensions of the story are shown, and more involvement is required to keep track of everything, creating an atmosphere that is tense, yet relaxed as we are taken on a true exploration of storytelling and feelings.
Through out the film a key aspect to the story, whether or not there actually are aliens, and specifically whether the CEO is one or not, will keep your guessing and guessing until the film moments of the film. When things begin to feel as simple as they can be they will becoming confusing again, and the guessing will also keep you actively entertained. Not to say that the information given in the story is misleading, as no cheap shots are taken to twist around the plot, but rather to say such complexity to the story is totally necessary and meaningful.
All in all, Save The Green Planet is an sleeper hit that should have been seen by a wider audience. All though it did enjoy a short festival tour, it did not catch on like other recent Korean hits did, like Old Boy and A Tale Of Two Sisters, or even Taegukgi, which are all slated for United States theater release. Those interested in seeing the film will have to hunt for it, but the reward for doing so will be greater than the cash and time spent.