Thursday, September 25, 2014

3 Short Paragraphs: The Tower

2012, Ji-hoon Kim (Sector 7) -- Netflix

I love disaster movies. Yet, so few come out that I haven't reviewed a legitimate one here. By legit, I mean something I saw in the theatre. Someday, you will get a 2012 rewatch. And yes, once I see Into the Storm on downloads, you will get that. But until then, I am getting my fix from Netflix and apparently, from Korea.

If, as a genre, disaster flicks are not very good, then the enhanced melodrama of Korean cinema only enhances the not-so-good elements of these movies. I am convinced that melodrama, present in every country's movies, is a very cultural thing. What is deep, heart wrenching and touching in one country is overly cheesy and unbearable in another's. If balanced by a good story or good special effects it can work. Those are not to be expected in this genre.

This is all a way to say, yes, my latest Korean disaster movie, about a luxury tower catching fire on its "launch" night, is not a very good movie. It burns, it explodes, it even floods. The wide net of a cast including plucky firefighters, single dads, trusting Christians, hard working housekeepers and the required uncaring building owner. The effects are actually decent, a mix of heavy practical effects and CGI fire. I just couldn't get past all the longing looks and desperate cries, to attach myself to the characters, required to actually care for the dying cast. Only the quiet focus of the Captain Young-ki, the dedicated fireman who is never home because he works so hard, kept me watching. His final sacrifice, detonating explosives to collapse one tower so its twin doesn't topple over taking out downtown Seoul, is actually tragic.