Saturday, September 02, 2006

Best Bad Movie of the Year

I recently checked out Bong Man-dae's latest film, the plastic surgery horror flick CINDERELLA and was quite disappointed. It is baaaaaad. Not that I was terribly surprised -- most Korean horror films of the last few years have been illogical and distinctly non-scary. But for all its badness, CINDERELLA is a surprisingly watchable film, and one worth discussing.

Bong started out his career making straight-to-video erotic films that were surprisingly witty and well-done (for the genre, at least). Then in 2003 he tried making a "real" film, SWEET SEX AND LOVE. This was also a sex-based film... but it was made for the movie theaters, and was just an "R" release, not a pure sex film. The story was hardly revolutionary, but I was really struck by how well-done the filming itself was. Each frame seemed to be extremely well composed, with an attention to detail that usually is lacking in Korean movies.

After that, he made a six-part made-for-TV series (also about sex) called DONGSANG IMONG (or "Dreaming Different Loves", according to the KOFIC website). This was also quite interesting... kind of a meta-sex film, with the first two episodes being about the making of a sex movie, then the third and four episodes being the actual sex movie, and the fifth and sixth episodes being the aftermath of the film. Like SWEET SEX, DONGSANG IMONG did not have the best dialogue or acting, but it was carefully composited and framed, with a lot of creativity. In fact, 2004 was such a dismal year for movies in Korea, I considered DONGSANG to be the best film of the year, even though it was made for TV.

Which brings me to CINDERELLA. This is the story of a single mom who is a plastic surgeon, her daughter and her daughter's friends (girls who like beauty advice and many of whom have gotten plastic surgery themselves). But problems are afoot as the girls who have gotten plastic surgery start dying, in gruesome ways, with their faces cut.

Like a lot of Korean horror films, this story end up being quite convoluted and inconsistent. People die, and then their friends apparently forget about them and go to the pool or wherever. And very little is scary.

Most disappointing, though, was the lack of great composition, like Bong's earlier films. Sure, there are some good-looking shots and scenes, but nowhere near as many as in his previous works.

That said, the film is delightfully over-the-top, and there are some interesting-looking scenes and cinematography. CINDERELLA is definitely a bad film, but if you like schlock, it is rather amusing in its own, terrible way.

Anyhow, there is a trailer for the film here:

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