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Jigureul jikyeora! (2004)

Save the Green Planet!

Perhaps you, are an alien?

Directed by:

Jang Jun-hwan

Rating: 9/10

Running Time: 117 minutes

UK Certificate: 18

Country: Korea (South)

Arrogant, adulterous and corrupt, Kang Man-shik (Baek Yoon-shik), the chief executive of a chemical company, while hardly a likeable man, is very rich – so when he is kidnapped, the police assume that either greed or a grudge is the motive. Yet the perpetrator withdraws only $4000 from Man-shik's account, leading the detectives on the case to wonder whether they are dealing with “a genius or an idiot”.

In fact the kidnapper is Byung-gu (Shin Ha-hyun), a downtrodden and mixed-up young man who has convinced both himself and his equally deranged trapeze-artist girlfriend Su-ni (Hwang Jeong-min) that the businessman is in fact an alien from Andromeda. Byung-gu will do anything to prevent Andromedans from invading and destroying Earth at the fast approaching lunar eclipse, even if that means torturing his bewildered captive – but Man-shik did not get where he is today without determination, ruthlessness and cunning, and he is not going to give in to Byung-gu's insane crusade without a fight. After all, the fate of all humanity is in the balance.

In this twisty, manipulative rollercoaster of a film, as the viewer's sympathies are wrenched this way and that, it is difficult to work out who the real hero, or villain for that matter, might be. Byung-gu certainly fantasises about being a hero – indeed he wants to be no less than the saviour of the planet – yet with all his crazed obsessions (and his protective suit improvised from garbage bags), he is presented as a figure of comic fun, as well as being a viciously inventive tormentor straight out of horror, and a pitiable victim of circumstance in the mould of tragedy. Man-shik is unpleasant from the start, but the extent and excess of his sufferings at Byung-gu's hands (not to mention Byung-gu's antihistamine lotion, clothes iron, steam-emitting dildo, nails, axe, etc.) make it easy to identify with his various attempts to escape his captor's brutal clutches. Su-ni remains inscrutable and otherworldly till the end, but her unquestioning devotion to Byung-gu is touching.

'Save the Green Planet!' proves that the biggest threat facing Earth comes from the earthlings themselves. It is a totally original, genre-defying trip into madness, suffering, environmentalism and alien invasion, that somehow manages to be hilariously bizarre, wincingly horrific, rivetingly tense and deeply moving all at once. It is the film I would like to be watching at the end of the world.

It's Got: A ruthless businessman, a trapeze artist, a lunatic guzzling amphetamines like candy, and a threat to the whole planet that is as old as humanity.

It Needs: A tolerance for torture scenes.

Alternatives:

2001: A Space Odyssey, Misery

Summary

A totally original, genre-defying trip into madness, suffering, environmentalism and alien invasion.

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