Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Doomsday Book - Where Is Your Sci-Fi, Korea?

Doomsday Book Poster

If you only want info, pictures and a teaser for the movie and don't care for the second part of the title up there, click here.

I actually discovered this movie called "Doomsday Book" by accident, as we all usually discover most of the things we might like or not. I was browsing through the M-Line Distribution website, looking for an update on the release of Camellia and I saw this title. When I clicked on it, I saw the poster and immediately, two thoughts popped into in my head. "I, Robot" and "Documentary".

The first is pretty self-explanatory, if you look at the poster. Upon closer inspection, the design is different in some ways, but that was probably the first thought of anyone who has watched that movie.

Doomsday Book 1
I do prefer Sonny, but he's voiced by Alan Tudyk, so I can't help it

As for the second, I thought if would be some documentary on technology. Why? Because Korea does not do much sci-fi and if it did, I would expect it to be quite a big deal. See, I hadn't heard a peep about this. It wasn't in Hancinema (they later added this as "Doomsday Book"), I hadn't seen any promotion for it and I started to wonder why.

My confusion only became greater when I saw the cast and the directors involved. We are talking about some very known faces and very known people behind the wheel. A sci-fi Korean movie, with big people involved and a very interesting premise. So, why the hell has this not been marketed more? I'm sure Korea has nerds who'd love it and people who are intrigued by the theme of "humanity".

Why is it that one can't go two clicks without seeing "You're My Fleabag" and Asia Prince mentally screwing the lens for the promotional material and a movie like "Doomsday Book" gets absolutely no publicity?

Or is this fugly picture of a crap movie so much better to look at?

To get to the title here a bit (before I give you the plot, images and trailer for this), it's true. Korea does not do much sci-fi. Whether it is the potentially high production value that puts them off or lack of interest, I do not know. But being a very passionate people, full of imagination and creativity, I really thought they would explore this genre more.

See, I find sci-fi works very interesting. Especially dystopian or post-apocalyptic ones. I talked a bit about why I like those in my review of the videogame Fallout 3. I would think that Koreans would be very interested in and very good at making films that explore humanity and its behavior and emotions under such extreme and foreign circumstances. Sci-fi is also a good genre for criticism of humanity's problems and even exploring its potential , by offering a glimpse at "what might be".

It's a genre I hope to see more of from Korea and one I hope will be promoted better and also have better works in it. We've had some examples of sci-fi and sort-of-sci-fi. "Natural City" would be one, but if I remember my unimpressed sighs well, it's confusing, quite boring and feels more like a knock off of "Blade Runner" than a real promising step into sci-fi territory for Korea.

Natural City
Yoo Ji Tae's hotness was not enough to keep me entertained, although it was appreciated

"Wonderful Days" is an animated feature (also featuring Yoo Ji Tae, funnily enough), and although it was quite an interesting experience and quite stunning visually, with good music and all that jazz, it was quite lacking in characters, plot and generally bringing the viewer close to the story and emotions of these characters. It felt a bit too detached.

I also see "Haunters", "Haeundae", "The Host" and "Sector 7" categorized as sci-fi, but they're not really pure sci-fi or not sci-fi at all. "Haunters" is about superpowers, but is feels very "of this world" to be called that. "Haeundae" is a disaster film, also set in "this" world and time. "The Host" and "Sector 7" don't qualify because they are monster movies and frankly, they don't explore shit. Well, sea-monster shit, maybe.

"Save the Green Planet" is a feature I'd like to check out, which is by the director who made the "Love for Sale" "Camellia" segment. "Love for Sale" is sci-fi too, by the way, but it's only a segment in another omnibus film which is getting no promotion whatsoever, within the country.

Y U No Do It?
"Y u no promote my movie?"

So, here's to more and better sci-fi movies from Korea. I'll be watching and waiting. But let's get to "Doomsday Book" now.

Now, I did mention that one of the reasons why we don't get many Korean sci-fi movies might be the budget and lack of interest, which does cause lack of budget. Whatever the case here, it was budget which has kept "Doomsday Book" so hidden.

The film is an omnibus one, composed of 3 segments. An original third segment was supposed to be made, but due to the monetary issues, it was cancelled and the new one took its place. This stared filming in May 2006. And it still hasn't been released. Need I say more?

I will say more and you're going to like this. The two directors working on these 3 segments are Kim Jee Woon and Lim Pil Seong. The first gentleman brought you "A Tale of Two Sisters" and "The Good, The Bad, The Weird", among others and the second one made "Hansel and Gretel". You can have a nerdgasm now.

These guys are good. And they're especially good with atmosphere. I feel sci-fi movies without a special atmosphere lose a lot of their magic. So, very excited to know these two have made this.

The segments also have some pretty big names attached, including Ryu Seung Beom, Bae Doo Na and Song Sae Byeok. Also, the lovely miss Jin Ji Hee. There is a slight chance Bae Doo Na was in the segment that got cut before it finished, as I only found one picture of hers in M-Line Distribution's page and have not seen her name around this much.

Plot (as found on Asianmediawiki):

Creation of Heaven ("Chunsangui Pijomul") - A robot, which works at a temple, finds enlightenment. A robot repair man named Park Do-Won (Kim Kang-Woo) and a Bodhisattva Hye-Joo (Kim Gyu-Ri) then try to protect the robot from the robot company.

Wonderful New World ("Mutjin Sinsegye") - A pure young man (Ryoo Seung-Bum) turns into a zombie.

Happy Birthday - A smart man (Song Sae-Byeok), who graduated from KAIST, begins to live with a robot.

M-Line Distribution has taken this off its page (it is now back up as "Doomsday Book" and will be released on April 5th, if all goes well). People worked for this and deserve to get it out there. I'll keep the buzz alive and post anything new on it, myself.

For now, here is a very nice teaser and some promotional stills.

P.S: If anyone starts bitching about how they are ripping off Hollywood, I am very prepared to remind you that Hollywood has been using, time and time again, stories that are much older than the script some guy/chick wrote.

Doomsday Book 2 Doomsday Book 3

Doomsday Book 4 Doomsday Book 5

Doomsday Book 6 Doomsday Book

Some links

Naver Page

Beyond Hollywood piece

Affeinheim Theater posts

Pictures taken from Asianmediawiki and through Google Image Search.

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