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Judge Joel Pearce's Blog

Judge Joel Pearce • Location: Waterloo, ON Canada
• Member since: March 2004
• 338 full reviews
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Blog Review: Save the Green Planet
September 22nd, 2005 4:17PM

Thanks to the cover art, I walked into Save the Green Planet expecting a quirky and surreal sci-fi comedy. Sometimes you can't judge a film by its cover.

Parts of Save the Green Planet are darkly comedic, but even these moments are laced with a grim, gritty, malevolent cruelty. The majority of the film is a thriller, as pitiful, insane Byeong-gu Lee (Ha-kyun Shin, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance) kidnaps a rich executive named Man-shik Kang, believing him to be an alien from Andromeda. Kang faces cruel torture at the hands of his captor, who genuinely believes he is saving the planet. Meanwhile, several police detectives are searching desperately for the missing man.

Sometimes, you get a lot more than you bargained for in a film. Although I found Save the Green Planet disturbing and unsettling, I have to admit that it's a far more impressive film than I expected. It has one of the most powerful commentaries on human nature I have ever seen, mostly because it shows how quickly we dispense with humanity as soon as there is some greater cause. The violence at the end of this film would be cathartic in most other thrillers, but here it just feels heartbreaking: yet another unnecessary tragic death.

Save the Green Planet is also a film that shouldn't have worked. Thanks to a truly incredible cast and some razor-sharp and intense cinematography, director Jun-hwan Jeong jerks us viciously through a wide range of emotions. The film is a vicious roller coaster, eliciting wry laughs, cringes of pain and moments of thoughtful reflection. Although it's not always an enjoyable film, it had me in its clutches from the first minute.

It also looks like Koch Lorber is going to deliver a fine disc. The video transfer is flawless, a reference quality transfer to compliment Jeong's dark vision of the world. Although the screener I saw was only equipped with a stereo track, the separation in the channels suggest that the 5.1 track on the final copy will also be satisfying. The subtitles were readable as well.

Realistically, Save the Green Planet isn't for everyone. In fact, I can only really recommend it to adventurous viewers with strong stomachs who also like to think. It makes an interesting companion piece to Oldboy, though, if only for a similar outlook on human nature. This is a film that deserves to be watched and talked about, though, despite the lack of attention it has received.

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