#ALIVE. (2020) A NETFLIX KOREAN ZOMBIE MOVIE REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.

#ALIVE. (2020) BASED ON ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY, #ALONE, BY HOLLYWOOD SCREENWRITER MATT NAYLOR. DIRECTED BY CHO IL-HYUNG. STARRING YOO AH-IN AND PARK SHIN-HYE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I’ll probably be fed to the lions for saying this, given that this is a very popular film that’s currently getting good reviews, but I was bored brainless by this Netflix Korean zombie apocalypse movie, and I normally love Korean horror. It’s a bit like TRAIN TO BUSAN, but set in one guy’s apartment as he tries to withstand the aforementioned zombie apocalypse all on his lonesome.

Joon-Woo is the main character. He’s a young male with bleached blonde hair, living in an apartment in Seoul with his parents and sister. He is a video game live streamer. I looked this up. It means that he plays video games while watched online by a live audience. Surely the only thing worse than playing a video game yourself is watching someone else play one.

And I’m not entirely sure about this bit, but I think that the whole notion of people ‘subscribing’ to your ‘Youtube channel’ means that they actually pay you for the privilege of watching you play your long boring game for as long as it takes. This seems strange and alien to me. The people who do this must be nuts.

Also, do you earn enough money to live on doing this? Can you stay home in your apartment every day, making enough moolah from this live streaming malarkey to ensure that you don’t have to go to work in a shop, office or factory every day? I’m clearly in the wrong business…

Certainly, our so-called ‘hero’ Joon-Woo doesn’t look like the kind of guy who works for a living in the traditional sense, what with all the time he spends asleep on the couch, only shifting his carcass to eat, drink or go online.

Anyway, Joon-Woo wakes up one morning to find his family out, going about their usual business, and a horrible viral infection taking hold of the population of Seoul.

Marauding hordes of ‘infected’ zombies are running amok, trying to bite and eat the uninfected. He can see all this happening quite clearly from his window, and the advice from the News is to ‘stay home to stay safe.’ Remind you of anything, lol?

The film is strangely prophetic, in a way, foreshadowing the coronavirus pandemic and the Lockdown the way it does. If we’ve had one message drilled into us this year, it’s to ‘stay home to stay safe,’ and avoid the deadly virus that lurks menacingly outside our doors and is just waiting for a chance to permeate our strongholds and fortresses and make us sick.

Joon-Woo is short of food, water and Internet and phone access, the basics of life, although he does manage to post a message asking for help on social media, a message which will ultimately prove to be of the utmost importance.

With the help of Yoo-Bin, a really boring but ballsy girl his own age who lives in the apartment block opposite his and with whom he makes a connection, Joon-Woo battles the zombies which threaten his and his new friend’s existence.

I just found the zombie bits so mindlessly boring. When I was watching the infected creatures do their crazy, foaming-at-the-mouth thang, I wasn’t seeing them as real zombies (as I would have if I’d been watching George Romero or Sam Raimi) but as movie extras who’d had to sit in a chair for hours getting their scary slap trowelled on by a make-up artist.

I even found myself wondering if they had the make-up removed before they finished up for the day, or if they rode the subway home to their spouses and kids with the blood and guts still on their shirt-fronts and all around their mouths and in their teeth. I lost interest in the film completely, wondering about the daily lives of the extras, lol.

Also, the film is way too technology-heavy, a big no-no for me, and the guy’s bleached blonde buzzcut never grew out during the month or so he was in ‘Lockdown.’

And he should have been in the early stages of starvation as well, seeing as the script sees him more or less foodless at the start of the zombie outbreak, but the film shows no unpleasant realities of this kind, just the marauding mindless zombies, mindlessly marauding away all through the ninety minutes.

The most extraordinary thing for me about the film was learning that people will actually let other people pay them to watch them play a video game, and that the other people will willingly hand over the cash for this, even though no-one’s forcing them or holding a gun to their head. (That’s the only way they could get me to do this, I’m telling you that for nothing.)

My kids tell me that this is what young ‘uns do with their lives now; just stay home all day and be YouTubers or live streamers. When I was a young ‘un, streamers were something you threw around the place at a party or a parade.

The world we live in now is a strange and scary place. Some of the developments in modern technology I quite enjoy, such as being able to ‘catch up’ on a TV show I missed by using something called the ‘player,’ but that’s about as far as I’ve gone, technology-wise. Sorry to end on a massive downer, guys, but I genuinely fear for all of our futures.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.

PUBLIC ENEMY (2002) and ANOTHER PUBLIC ENEMY (2005): 2 KOREAN THRILLERS REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

public enemy 2002

PUBLIC ENEMY (2002) and ANOTHER PUBLIC ENEMY (2005). DIRECTED BY KANG WOO-SEOK. STARRING SUL KYUNG-GU.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Some people think they can get away with anything. Some people do.’

These two Korean cops-and-robbers thrillers really livened up my lockdown this past week, especially as they were accompanied by the drinking of a nice bottle of sake from the local Asian market and followed each time by the adding of noodles to boiling water. Well, staying in is the new going-out, lol.

Both films star Sul Kyung-Gu as basically the same character, a law enforcer called Kang, but ANOTHER PUBLIC ENEMY isn’t a direct follow-on; it’s more what’s called ‘a disconnected sequel,’ starring many of the same actors but in different roles.

In PUBLIC ENEMY, Detective Kang is a maverick cop. You know, the one who has his own distinctive unorthodox style, but which always yields results, nonetheless. He plays by his own rules. He’s a rogue, a renegade. He goes his own way. Here, Kang is a scruffy, bad-tempered almost-psychopath with a short fuse. He’s corrupt, he takes bribes, he ‘fixes’ evidence. But he gets results. Here, in his own words, is how he gets his results:

‘No money, I beat him. Don’t listen to me, I beat him. His face upsets me, I beat him. There’s about a whole stadium full of guys who got beaten by me.’

Yep, you got it. He hits people. There’s a lot of hitting in the film, and it’s not all done by Kang, either. Kang’s own superiors are equally accustomed to bawling out the rogue detective and walloping him upside-the-head, while underneath harbouring a deep fondness for the loose cannon of a cop whose heart, at least, is in the right place. A lot of the very genuine comedy in the film derives from the slapstick humour and casual knockabout violence.

Anyone, one dark, rainy night, Detective Kang is on a stakeout when he’s- ahem- caught short and urgently needs to do a Number Two. Having no choice but to find a quiet street corner in which to relieve himself, he afterwards encounters a tall, sinister man in an I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER-style rain slicker. They literally run into each other, and Detective Kang gets deliberately slashed across the face with the man’s knife…

Shortly after this fateful night, Kang’s department has to solve the mystery of the fatal stabbing of a rich young businessman’s parents in their home. Kang thinks back to the night of the alfresco poo in the spilling rain and the man in the rain slicker. From this point onwards, two equally matched, equally dogged adversaries, one of whom is, of course, Kang, are locked in a battle for supremacy which neither of them wants to lose. My money’s on Kang, he’s just so damn dogged…!

The way in which Kang pursues his prey in this one is so funny. Imagine the pudgy, out-of-shape Chief Wiggum from THE SIMPSONS puffing and panting alongside a much fitter, jogging criminal, struggling to keep up, yelling intermittently at him ‘Didja do it?,’ and you’ll know where I’m coming from…

In ANOTHER PUBLIC ENEMY, Kang has seemingly risen through the ranks to become a prosecutor. He wears a suit, he’s clean-shaven, he lives for his work. We know even less about his personal life here than we knew about Detective Kang’s from the first film. Kang from the first film was a single dad of two little girls who were being minded by his mum, their granny, because apparently his wife had been stabbed to death. His mum yells at him like he’s a teenager for the hours he keeps.

Kang in the second film has little or no personal life. I don’t think we even see his apartment at any point. There’s an extremely strong bond between him and the men he works with, however, the men who put their lives on the line every day for the sake of justice.

The scene where one of his colleagues is murdered in cold blood after being mistaken for Kang is heart-wrenching. There’s a lot of very strong, powerful emotion in this film, more so than in the first. The first film makes us laugh out loud; the second, cry as if we’ve just sat through the video for Johnny Cash’s HURT on a continual loop for half a day…

In the second film, Kang is hunting down yet another upper class young millionaire type, a Mr. Han Sang-Woo, only this chap is more in the multi-millionaire or even billionaire class. Coincidentally, he’s a chap with whom Kang went to school, a posh little privileged boy who always came out of every scrape smelling like guest-room soap, because that’s how the rich folks roll.

Han’s rich father and older brother have both died under suspicious circumstances, leaving Han in charge of the family Foundation, a multi-billion dollar concern. He’s been selling off various elements of the Foundation, however, and transferring the money to America in what Kang strongly suspects are illegal transfers. When Kang is asked to investigate the accident which put Han’s brother in the coma from which he never wakes up, he does it with the aggravating thoroughness with which he does everything…

This second film is a kind of a moral lesson, about the super-rich and powerful people who think they can commit crimes willy-nilly and get away with it, and the cops who try desperately to bring them to book.

Kang knows that pursuing the rich and powerful ruling class won’t endear him to the higher-ups in the force, but fortunately he’s got a boss as committed as he is to rooting out corruption and murder wherever he sees it, whether the perpetrator is a lowly scumbag drug-dealer or a trust fund baby, born with a silver spoon in his mouth and the unshakeable feeling that the world and everything in it is his own personal playground, just because he’s rich.

These two Korean films are a terrific watch. I’m not sure if there are any more of them out there, which would be fantastic, but at least watch these two Noughties gems and liven up your lockdown. I promise you they’ll do the job…! (Just googled it; there’s a PUBLIC ENEMY RETURNS from 2008!!!)

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com