Thursday, 26 July 2012

Review - R-Point (2004 - Dir. Su-chang Kong)

A mysterious radio message is received by a South Korean base in Vietnam 1972. Problem is, the message is from a unit long assumed to be dead. Lieutenant Choi Tae-in (Woo-seong Kam) is sent to investigate accompanied by a group of eight other soldiers...

Early on, a gravestone acts as the film's 'Crazy Ralph', warning quite cheerily, that everyone is going to die. Good news for Co-op Funeralcare then. But is the threat psychological or supernatural? Have the horrors of war affected the soldiers so entirely that their paranoia and mental trauma cause them to start offing each other (sounds dodgy) or is it a ghostly presence hell-bent on vengeance?

My main concern about R-Point is the virtual complete lack of characterisation. Apart from the Lieutenant and Sergeant Jin (Byung-ho Son), who are barely sketched, the other characters are so ill-defined that you lose track of who is who and why you should care about them. From watching the Special Features it is clear that the actors knew their characters but it doesn't come across in the final edit of the film. The script seems to revolve around the soldiers calling each other 'assholes'. I counted at least 15,000 uses of the word. In one minute. 

Given that, there are some genuinely creepy moments: the first shot of an abandoned mansion wreathed in mist is absolutely gorgeous and the sight of a silent unit moving steathily (and ghostily) through long grass before disappearing into the ground hints at some spookiness to come. It never really delivers on this promise though, with the final third descending into a blood-bath, with not too much blood: it is only rated 15 after all (I know, the cover at the top states 18, but my version is definitely 15 and it doesn't warrant being an 18). The ending doesn't answer all the questions I had and actually seems to confuse the issue. The Director wished that he had included an epilogue to answer some of these questions. Me too.

R-Point has potential but ultimately fails due to its lack of characterisation and scares. It's not all doom and gloom though: there is a scene of some quality crazy dancing which goes some way towards justifying the cost of the DVD. The Special Features are fairly extensive detailing the film-making process and showing the heat that the crew and actors had to work in. As a whole package it's quite enjoyable, but the film on its own...

If you like this you could also try:
Deathwatch, Outpost, The Bunker.

No comments:

Post a Comment