ContactSales: M-Line Distribution, Seoul ([email protected])
Theatrical release: South Korea, 11 Apr 2012.
Presented by TimeStory Group (SK), Santa Claus (SK). Produced by Zio Entertainment (SK). Executive producers: Kim Myeong-eun, Oh Yeong-hun. Producer: Choi Hyeon-muk.
Script: Yim Pil-sung (I, III), Lee Hwan-hui (I), Kim Jee-woon (II), Jang Jong-a (III). Original stories: Park Seong-hwan (II), Park Su-min (III). Photography: Jo Sang-yun (I), Kim Ji-yong (II), Ha Seong-min (III). Editing: Im Seon-gyeong (I), Mun Se-gyeong (II), Nam Na-yeong (III). Special effects: Hwang Hyo-gyun.
Cast: I: Ryu Seung-beom (Yun Seok-u), Go Jun-hui (Kim Yu-min), Don Lee (man), Oh Su-hyeon (zombie), Jeong Wu (Jung Dong), Hwang Hyo-eun. II: Park Hae-il (voice of RU4), Kim Gang-u (Park Do-won), Song Yeong-chang (Gang Seong-cheol, UR chairman), Kim Gyu-ri (Hye-ju, the Buddhist nun), Park Gwi-sun (liaison monk), Kim Seo-hyeong (Min Yu-na, UR executive), Kim Su-nam (monk). III: Song Sae-byeok (Min-seo's uncle), Jin Ji-hui (young Park Min-seo), Bae Du-na (adult Park Min-seo), Lee Seung-jun (Min-seo's father), Yun Se-a (Min-seo's mother).
Doomsday Book 인류멸망보고서
2012, colour, 2.35:1, 112 mins
Directed by Yim Pil-sung (임필성 | 任弼星) (I, III), Kim Jee-woon (김지운 | 金知雲) (II)
By Derek Elley
Wed, 24 October 2012, 20:30 PM (HKT)
Triptych of futuristic tales is given weight by a more thoughtful centrepiece. Largely Asian events.
South Korea, the near future. I: Brave New World (멋진 신세계). Left alone after his parents go abroad on a holiday with his sister, geeky research scientist Yun Seok-u (Ryu Seung-beom) disposes of the accumulated rubbish in the family flat, which includes a rotten apple. Via the waste disposal system, the apple enters the food chain via recycled feed for cows. Seok-u and his date, Kim Yu-min (Go Jun-hui), end up eating the toxic beef during a barbecue one evening, and soon they and the rest of the population become flesh-eating zombies. II: Heavenly Creature (천상의 피조물). Park Do-won (Kim Gang-u), a young technician employed by robotics corporation UR, is called out to check an RU4 robot (voiced by Park Hae-il) employed at a Buddhist monastery. The monks say RU4 has become a Buddhist and want to know whether he really is one or is just a robot with a technical fault. Do-won gives RU4 a clean bill of technical health but says he is unqualified to do any more. Later, UR chairman Gang Seong-cheol (Song Yeong-chang), and his team led by research executive Min Yu-na (Kim Seo-hyeong), arrive at the monastery to decommission RU4, on the grounds that he is an old series. III: Happy Birthday. Young Park Min-seo (Jin Ji-hui) secretly orders a replacement 8 Ball from a strange website so her pool-obsessed father (Lee Seung-jun) and uncle (Song Sae-byeok) won't noticed she's damaged it. She throws the original ball out of the window and it drops down a hole in the street. Two years later, South Korea is threatened by an asteroid that looks exactly like a giant version of the 8 Ball. In their underground shelter, the family tries to cancel the order via the extra-terrestrial website. Ten years later, the adult Min-seo (Bae Du-na) and her family emerge from their shelter.
Three stories whose only common factor is their futuristic settings, the rather misnomered Doomsday Book 인류멸망보고서 (2012) is an entertaining, well-made ride whose lighter outer layers are given extra weight by the more thoughtful middle story, a clever, almost ascetic rumination on "Can robots get religion?" by writer-director KIM Jee-woon 김지운 | 金知雲, better known for splashier fare like The Quiet Family 조용한 가족 (1998), A Bittersweet Life 달콤한 인생 (2005) and The Good The Bad The Weird 좋은 놈, 나쁜 놈, 이상한 놈 (2008).
The framing stories by director YIM Pil-sung 임필성 | 任弼星, Brave New World and Happy Birthday (each just over half-an-hour long), are playful black comedies which send up South Korea's media in between positing the downfall of the country via its national pastime of eating barbecued beef and obsession with the internet. In World a toxic apple enters the food chain and turns everyone into violent, rapist, flesh-eating zombies, and in Birthday a young girl's attempt to escape family blame by ordering a replacement pool ball from a dodgy website causes the destruction of the whole country. Kitted out with some elaborate visual effects, and played with a straight face (especially by comic RYU Seung-beom 류승범 | 柳昇範 in World), they just about go the distance, and are a big improvement on Yim's prior features, the overblown and empty Antarctic Journal 남극일기 (2005) and iffy horror movie Hansel & Gretel 헨젤과 그레텔 (2007).
Kim's centrepiece, the 41-minute Heavenly Creature, is almost a mini-feature on its own, as a robot employed as a menial at a monastery claims to have "got" Buddhism, to the awe of the human inmates and the horror of its maker, the giant UR (= You Are) corporation. Basically a talky discussion on artificial intelligence, it's a beautifully shot and terrifically acted idea that climaxes in a furious argument between the UR suits who have come to decommission the robot and those who claim that Buddhism is open to any type of creature.
Voiced by actor PARK Hae-il 박해일 | 朴海日 (the anti-hero in Moss 이끼 (2010) and archer in War of the Arrows 최종병기 활 (2011)), and coolly designed and manipulated, the robot emerges as a sad, martyr-like figure who is initially testy but finally touching. Performances by the human cast are all excellent, from veteran SONG Yeong-chang 송영창 | 宋永彰's bullying company president, through KIM Gang-u 김강우 | 金康宇's finicky technician, to the passionate nun of KIM Gyu-ri 김규리 | 金奎吏 (Poongsan 풍산개 (2011)), for once well cast. Only a midway scene between the young technician and a punky girl with a robot dog seems to be an unnecessary diversion, and iconic actress BAE Du-na 배두나 | 裵斗娜 is wasted in a tiny role at the end of the movie.
The first two episodes were shot some five years ago but the project was then shelved when the third segment, to be directed by HAN Jae-rim 한재림 | 韓在林, proved unworkable. The film was finally finished when new investment became available in 2010.