Our friend Lady G is a guest blogger today. She had the chance to watch The Flu in NY and here is her review. All I can say is, It got me excited! Thank you Lady G! 🙂
After failing to go on opening weeked, I finally saw “The Flu.” The less said about my commute (particularly coming home) the better. Let’s just say that Queens, NYC and I have a “stormy” relationship. I may have rivaled StuckonHyuk’s regular Korean blogger Gumi with my fan love. (But I doubt that’s possible. 😉 I’m just glad I didn’t really catch the ‘Flu.’
Okay, on to the review 🙂
Total FLU Chaos! I felt like I was watching an American film. But I felt something vital was missing – the time frame in which all this took place. The army rolled in, they separated the infected, and set up tent camps. In like 5 minutes. Seriously? No-three days later, no ‘Day 1′, etc.? The editing made you feel like it happened all in one day.
The movie was shorter than most American films these days (Even the one on which it’s based: “Contagion.”) Expect to see a rapid-fire pace of gross-out imagery with heroic and cowardly action by the cast. There are also scenes of random violence that might make you cringe. I did. I didn’t feel there was too much stereotypical Korean melodrama and ham over-acting you see in some disaster movies. (I’m talking to you, “Haeundae”!) But look out for dramatic slo-mo on certain scenes, stirring music, and lots of tears. It’s totally understandable.
Of course they cast the usual non-actors when it came to the Americans/Aussies/Brits, but it wasn’t too distracting. They were the prickly Government officals arguing with the Korean leaders about this unprecedented state of affairs. Yet they all stay tucked safely away while the poor souls in Bundang suffer, panic, loot, puke blood, drop dead, and get cut off from the rest of South Korea with barricades. 2,000 people infected per hour, death within 36 hours. Yikes! You’ll never look at Avian flu the same way again. Be prepared to grip the edge of your seats toward the end. I know I held my breath and got major goosebumps.
I appreciated the wisps of a love story between the leads, but the film never gave it a rest for them to develop a true romance. (Not by our starry-eyed K-drama standards anyway.) Don’t watch looking for a rom-com or the same old cliches that come with it. In fact there’s a light-hearted scene in the beginning that pokes fun at one.
Dr. Kim In-Hae came off as arrogant from the get go. Actress Soo Ae played her very well. And here’s where I hang my head, in my mad rush I missed the first 10 minutes. When I ran in the theater Soo Ae and Jang Hyuk bantered about her torn skirt as her car was about to tumble down some kind of shaft. A lot of levity in that scene…maybe too much. But considering what happens afterward you had to find someplace to stick it in.
Jang Hyuk played Kang Ji-goo as a cocky fellow, but with a kind and compassionate heart. He has no sad backstory or “Lee Daegil” emotional baggage. It’s like a breath of fresh air for a Jang Hyuk role. He’s just a good-guy bachelor making a living as a Rescue worker because he truly cares to help. Oh, and he wore some hot denim clothes. 🙂
I particularly liked when Ji-goo put In-Hye in her place and reminded her that she was still a doctor and had a responsibility to all the people, not just herself and daughter. You quickly realize that she will not win any mother-of-the-year awards…until near the end of course. I think the real love story was between Ji-goo and In-hae’s sweet daughter Mir-Reu. He protected her better than some fathers would their own children. Way to win the yoja’s heart, Ji-goo. Be nice to the kid. 😉 Little Park Min-ha really stole the show from everyone. Keep your eye on her in the future.
“The Flu’ contained scenes and themes throughout that smacked of “I am legend,” the original book and the fifties movie with Vincent Price. (There is also a so-so recent version with Will Smith.) I’m talking about certain ‘disposal’ methods used by the desperate army and the ‘cure’ eventually discovered to stop the spread. That was one of the greatest books about a deadly virus ever written, imo.
Familiar drama faces abound! With two I instantly thought…Robbers! Queen of the office! And they were perfectly cast too.
All in all, it was an exciting movie. It’s not quite Oscar caliber, but it’s not meant to be. It’s a Summer blockbuster popcorn movie. But more importantly, Jang Hyuk was his usual captivating self. Please Hollywood, give him a break! At least offer him more leading roles in Korean films. He’s proven himself time and again that he can carry entire dramas worth 25 Oscar winning movies. He is one of the greatest actors of his generation in Korea, and I think even in the world.
I can actually imagine this movie as a full-length Television drama starring Jang Hyuk, with a lot of survival stories intertwining. With a star-studded cast Something epic like Stephen King’s “The Stand,” only without the horror or hunky Rob Lowe.
Because Gumi said so, I stayed past the credits and…Win! Everyone else left the theater. (I was at a matinee, there were only about 10-12 other people.) The instant the credits rolled, the lights went on. Let’s just say I was grinning ear to ear because we didn’t have to deal with endings Korean movies are known for. 🙂
I know this review is a bit vague, but I want to be respectful to those who haven’t seen it. If the movie was not released overseas I wouldn’t have seen it either. But definitely put “The Flu” high on your “Korean movies to watch” list!