Review Date: 7/7/12
Cast: Ha Ji-Won
South Korea's first big budget 3D blockbuster is a bit of a dud, suffering from an over-reliance on CGI technology and strapped with a tiresome and formulaic script that features no likable characters. Similar to "DeepStar Six" (1989), "Leviathan" (1989), "The Abyss" (1989), and "The Alien Within" (1995), it's a by-the-numbers monster movie that takes place on a deep sea oil drilling rig. An early exploration of the Sector 7 oil field uncovers a curious new life form that unfortunately mutates and breaks loose, killing everyone in its way. This conveniently happens during a fierce storm, which cuts the drilling platform off from any form of assistance or escape.
Unfortunately, the film is a complete mess. It fails to engage the audience emotionally or viscerally, and it doesn't even make much sense. The computer generated virtual sets look decent enough on their own, but not when the chroma-keyed actors are superimposed into them. The very worst compositions are the motorcycle scenes that Hae-jun (Ha Ji-Won) and her boyfriend have on the deck of the rig, which look absolutely awful. Wait, why are there motorcycles on a drilling platform? Additionally, why is there an armory stocked with shotguns and spear guns, and why does the rig have a self destruct system? Are these standard issue features for drilling platforms? I honestly don't know, but it seemed ridiculous to me. And while I don't understand the details of how these drilling operations work, no attempt is made to educate the audience, as the director chooses melodrama over informative exposition and treats the crew as a group of incompetent idiots.
Apart from the standard "monster on the loose" plot, you don't really care when the crew gets killed off because none of the characters are remotely interesting or likable. Cute and spunky Hae-jun is the least annoying of the bunch, as long as she's not talking. Ha Ji-Won ("Duelist" (2005) ) is a great actress who is super sexy and tough as nails, but her ranting dialog makes her come across as a whiny neurotic bitch, which completely invalidates her character. Otherwise, she's an awesome action heroine and Ha Ji-Won's performance is excellent. With better (or less) dialog and a less psychotic personality, I could almost justify giving this three stars just because she is so fun to watch. The other characters are simply annoying caricatures and goofy stereotypes, which the monster finds extremely tasty. Or does it? We never actually see the monster eat anyone, so it's unclear what its motivations are and why it's on a relentless hunting and killing rampage. I guess it's easier to morally justify destroying a mindless killing machine than it is to kill an innocent living organism. Ultimately, the nonsensical plot and unconvincing digital compositions ruin all suspension of disbelief and leave a bad aftertaste. While the filmmakers believe this to be a huge milestone in Korean cinema, they've lost sight of the ultimate goal, which is to make something that people actually want to see.