Classic Intel: Save The Green Planet - DVD Review
Describing Save The Green Planet as 'a little odd' is to describe Boris Johnson as the same thing. Yes, it's accurate, but it doesn't really get to the slightly nefarious heart of the matter. This is an 'odd' film, in a long tradition of genre hopping South Korean offerings that are far from the norm, but that doesn't tell of all that is going on.
Most interestingly, director Joon-Hwan Jang plays fast and loose with our sympathies and the film's morals. 'Hero' Byeong-gu (Ha-kyun Shin) is presented to us initially as a slightly deranged crusader against capitalism, whom we can all root for. He kidnaps corporation head Man-shik (Ha-kyun Shin) with apparent love interest Su-ni (Jeong-min Hwang) providing significant assistance and the film apparently sets out on a tale of an outsider underdog, succeeding against the state - and spotting an alien invasion - before they do.
But as the narrative develops and Byeong-gu's treatment of Man-shik becomes fewer parts cruel, more parts viciously violent, the film pivots. You're left (intentionally) wondering if Byeong-gu is actually genuinely the mentally unstable murderer some within the film believe, rather than potential saviour of humanity as genre convention and his initial presentation here would dictate. The dichotomy between those two potential outcomes leaves some level of problem. Where genre-crossing within South Korean cinema is normally one of its joys, here it threatens to confuse. During the humorous bits, should we be laughing with Byeong-gu or grimacing? Once the police get involved, are we rooting for Byeong-gu to get away or the police to catch him?
What evolves is something strangely to similar to 2010's I Saw The Devil, as various characters come to muse on lost opportunities to stop the goings on in the plot, whilst simultaneously making singularly bad contributions to stop said goings on. Where that film had a clinically simple conflict at its heart however, this film has a myriad of facets to contend with; from said aliens, to the dubious tonal morals, to the relationship between Byeong-gu and Su-ni. It's often a mess. One of the police characters is initially setup as a master detective, potentially the real hero of the story, before he is undercut by becoming a Clouseau-like gag magnet.
Equally problematic is that the Horror elements of the tale are never that scary and the Comedy elements never that funny. A good gag about Byeong-gu's dog is set up and delivered as though it is the film's sole good gag. In all it's disappointingly underwhelming, especially given the effort to concoct a plot that adds alien invasion to the usually diverse elements of South Korean genre offerings.