TKFF 2012 – Save the Green Planet! Review (Kirk Haviland)

Toronto Korean Film Festival 2012

Save the Green Planet!

Starring Shin Ha-kyun, Baek Yun-shik, Hwang Jeong-min and Lee Jae-yong

Written and Directed by Jang Joon-hwan

TIFF Midnight Madness veteran Save the Green Planet closes out Sci-Fi night at the inaugural TKFF. Jang Joon-hwan’s bizarre and surreal abduction black comedy has been garnering accolades for years on the festival circuit and seems to be the perfect companion for the opening film on Sci-Fi night, Invasion of Alien Bikini. Green planet also brings mental illness and possible delusion into the mix to further muddle the issue.

Lee Byeong-gu (Ha-kyun) is a troubled man who is convinced aliens live amongst us and that he is the only one who can protect us from the oncoming onslaught. After recruiting his spouse/girlfriend Su-ni (Jeong-min) into helping him, he drugs and kidnaps prominent businessman Kang Man-shik (Yun-shik), convinced he is really alien in disguise. Byeong-gu hypothesizes that Man-shik’s status must allow him access to the more protected of alien information and he must derive from him the information as to when the alien prince will land on earth and decide earth’s ultimate fate. Meanwhile, disgraced Inspector Choo (Jae-yong) starts to put the pieces together with other missing person’s cases and sees a pattern. Determined to get all the information out of Man-shik, Byeong-gu embarks on a torture campaign to extract the information, while downing anti-depressants like candy. Eventually Su-ni leaves as she no longer can trust blindly what Byeong-gu is doing. And as the police close in is Byeong-gu’s delusion manifesting as he has forced his beliefs on an innocent man. But wait, did Man-shik just confess he actually IS an alien?

A bizarrely goofy film from beginning to end, Save the Green Planet! is a scattershot jumble of comedy and torture that plays out like you’d imagine it does in Byeong-gu’s head, but it works. Lots of laugh out loud moments surrounded by strong performances and a fascinatingly original premise help makes Save the Green Planet! a fun watch from beginning to end. From its re-imagining of human history and brilliant 2001 homage to the drug addled ramblings of its lead, Green Planet works on almost all levels. Shin Ha-kyun and Baek Yoon-shik’s performances are the driving force of the film and they both prove more than up to the task. Hwang Jeong-min’s Su-mi is adorable and the most sympathetic character of the piece and she grounds the film in places where it can go completely go over-the-top.

The film goes in place you will never expect with homages to popular North American cinema peppered throughout. Save the Green Planet! is a solid recommend as it ranks as one the most original and funny comedies to ever come out of Korea.

The Toronto Korean Film Festival continues until July 1st with screenings of the amazing Mother, Failan, and a near perfect cinematic closing night of Sympathy for Lady Vengeance and one of my favorite films of ALL-TIME in Oldboy. Tickets still available.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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