A medical disaster film depicting how a South Korean city becomes a zero point for the H5N1 epidemic, “Flu” provides a transfusion of terrible realism. Fully conveying the sudden and unpreventable nature of modern pandemic such as SARS, Kim Sung-so builds mass panic tension.
Given the subject, the comparison with the “transmission” year 2011 naturally emerged, but unlike Soderbergh, Kim was not interested in the procedural aspects of how the disease spread. The closer parallel is “Deranged” (released a month earlier), with no elements of sci-fi thriller and Twir noirish plot. Kim’s goal is simple: to turn mass hysteria and mass violence into spectacle. This was accomplished with solid production support, with the blockbuster-style of the giant CJ Entertainment industry, although large setpieces that exerted extra hordes had a generic view that slapped other CJ disaster films, including “Haeundae,” “The Tower” and “18 May.”
The Film follows a plot originating in Hong Kong, where goods from southeast Asia are smuggled to South Korea. When cargo arrives in the housing district of Bundang, Seongnam town, Byung-ki (Kim Ki-hyeon) and Byung-Woo’s brother (Lee Sang-yeob) Open the door to find a more terrifying view. A survivor, Monssai, fled to town, but Byung-woo became very sick in a few hours.
On the same day, emergency rescue Team officer Ji-gu (Jang Hyuk) meets In-hye Virolog. He then befriended Mirre (Smart Min-ha) who was his companion all the time and did not realize that he had been in contact with Monssai and contracted a deadly avian influenza virus within 36 hours.
When the victims fell like flies and the city came into mass quarantine, the expressions of blind fear worked at a basic level, while the patient’s gross symptoms reached a surreal horror level. A considerable appreciation was given to Nam Na-Young for outstanding editing, which brought together different crowd scenes from different locations while still encouraging audience engagement with private dramas, most of which revolved around Ji-gu and In-hye.
As expected from Korean production, the effects and credits of other technologies have high standards, but not striking. The only outstanding feature is the unsettling mix of sounds, but never extraordinary.
Reviewed at Grand Cinema, Kowloon, 20 Sep, 2013. Running time: 121 MIN. Original title: “Gam gi”
(South Korea) A CJ Entertainment Release, presentation of an iLoveCinema, iFilm production. (International Sales: CJ Entertainment, Seoul) Produced by Teddy Jung, Kim Seong-jin. Executive producer, Jeong Tae-Sung.
Directed by Kim Sung-so. Screenplay, Lee Young-Jong, Kim, based on the story by Jung Jae-ho. Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Lee Mo-Gae; Editor, Nam Na-Young; Music, Kim Tae-sung; Production designer, Park Il-hyeon; Costume designer, Kim Kyeong-mi; Sound (Dolby Digital), Choi Tae-Young; Re-recording mixer, Lee Byung-ha; special effects, Demolition; Visual effects supervisor, Ryu Jae-hwan; Visual effects, 4th Creative Party, Digital Idea, Rudos, CJ Powercast; Associate Producer, Bang Ok-Kyun.
Jang Hyuk, Su Ae, Park Min-ha, Yoo Hae-jin, Ma Dong-suk, Cha In-pyo, Kim Ki-hyeon, Lee Hui-Joon, Lee Sang-yeob, Boris Snout. (Korean, English, English dialogue)