Save the Green Planet (2003)
Save the Green Planet is a truly bizarre film from Korea. It could equally well be classified as a black comedy, an SF movie or an exploitation horror.
The story concerns a young man, Lee Byeong-gu, who has discovered that aliens from Andromeda have infiltrated the Earth in human form. At the next lunar eclipse they intend to invade and take over the planet. To save the Earth Lee dons his ridiculous anti-telepathy helmet and proceeds to kidnap and interrogate the alien leader. Since this alien is - in human form - head of a large corporation and son-in-law of the local police chief there are a lot of people trying to find him. These include an unorthodox ex-cop detective Chu, played wonderfully by Jae-yong Lee.
Lee's "interrogation" methods take advantage of what he's learned of alien physiology and weaknesses in various unpleasant ways. Meanwhile his gentle wife plays with her dolls in the same room. The weirdness is intensified further by the use of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" as a theme tune.
The question, of course, is whether Lee really has discovered an alien plot or whether he's simply a nutter. It soon becomes clear that he is very much a nutter, a junkie with a tragic past and a talent for torturing people.
One of the problems with many torture based exploitation movies is the lack of any significant plot to justify the action - a bit like those old seventies porn movies (or so I'm told). Save the Green Planet avoids that with a really good story that's interesting in terms of both plot and character. The torture elements are essential to the narrative but not the centre of it - if you're looking for a Korean version of Hostel (2005) you won’t find it here. Like much K-horror this is a nasty film - a very nasty film - but the violence is appropriate in context and relatively little blood is actually shown on screen.
What we get is a huge amount of suspense, especially the cat and mouse games between Lee and Chu. These are often punctuated by really funny moments. Joon-Hwan Jang's direction is excellent at capturing all the different moods, often one right after the other.
The plot constantly twists and turns, veering in different directions as the story progresses. Unfortunately the ending is a slight disappointment as one twist too many ends up detracting from rather than adding to the overall effect.
For all the humour this is ultimately a dark and depressing film about how life can go so badly wrong. The end credits sequence is especially bleak.
Save The Green Planet is a great film that will give you surprises, shudders and plenty of giggles along the way. It won't be to everyone's tastes but if you're prepared to experiment with the unconventional then give it a swing.
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