Friday, 15 June 2012

Review - Tidal Wave (2009 - Dir. Je-gyun Yun)

Look at the cover. Read the title. Imagine the low quality CGI wave effects. Mmmm... If ever a film screamed Channel Five at the top of its little lungs, this would be it. 

I imagined that the first half would be fairly dull setting up the titular wave and then the second half would have an excitement injection with some 'squint and it looks okay' action. It's actually the other way round.

The story centres on Man-Sik and Yeon-Hee, who may or may not become romantically entangled. There is the small matter of Man-Sik causing the death of Yeon-Hee's dad which is always going to be a sticking point. Numerous little sub-plots abound in the initial part of the film, the funniest being the relationship between Hyoung-Sik and a lovely lady who he has rescued. In one scene she pretends to be his distraught girlfriend, becoming near hysterical, to show her acting credentials. He looks so embarrassed and shocked by all of this malarkey that I had a little chortle to myself.

It's all on the soap opera side of things and it does get melodramatic at various points; it still didn't stop me being quite touched when Man-Sik and Yeon-Hee are talking to her dead father at his grave. I got suspiciously caught up in all of this relationship drama and was slightly disappointed when the tidal wave finally arrives. And sadly, the tidal wave is disappointing too.

My pre-emptive strike on the CGI was fairly accurate but with this type of film, overblown excessive effects are expected; not a three foot high wave that wouldn't trouble a knotted hankie wearing pensioner on Skeggie beach then. Okay, a minor exaggeration, although the wave quickly seems to lose momentum and dissipates into a trickle. For most of the time the characters seem more in danger of slipping and spraining their ankles than being swept away. 

Made in South Korea and surprisingly the budget was larger than that of The Host ($16 million compared to $11 million). Yes, The Host is the better film - though still far from perfect - but Tidal Wave, with its gentle humour, slapstick and likeable characters, is possibly better than a lot of films that have much bigger budgets. 

If you like this you could also try:
The Host, Earthquake, An Empress and the Warriors.

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