Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Review - The King of Pigs (2011 - Dir. Sang-ho Yeon)

As we walked to the cinematic picture house Doccortex asked me a pertinent question: "So, is Korean animation any good?" Based on this showing. No.

Beavis and Butthead boasted higher production values (albeit similarly grotesque teeth). The walking animation makes Bod look like John Travolta at his silkiest. The King of Pigs bears the hallmark of low budget animation: still screens where only slight portions move. And whereas Paprika, and more recently Redlinedelighted in distorting faces, this does the same. But it doesn't necessarily look intentional.

You may think that as a lover of gorgeous animation, such as Nausicaa and Laputa, this would all be the kiss of death for The King of Pigs. Not so. It actually makes it quite endearing. They've made a film regardless of the lack of budget. And while it still has its problems, it also has its moments.

Jong-suk and Kyung-min were childhood friends and meet up years later. The conversation drifts to their life at school and the bullying that they put up with until Chul, a mysterious lad in their class, entered the fray. The film flits between their conversation and flashbacks. Now, I'm not normally a fan of flashbacks, but in this, they make up the main bulk of the story so I'll let them off.

The bullying action is all pretty familiar to someone who went to a relatively rough high school in South Yorkshire. But whereas, the cock of our school was invariably the most violent sociopath, here the school is ruled by the posh clever kids with rich parents who are able to bribe the teachers with cash and other services. (One of the bits of teacher bribery is a pearler and should become common practice in the UK.) 

The Dogs (as they're called) are generally unpleasant characters. One of them has a penchant for fiddling with other boys privities and then questioning their sexuality if they start to enjoy it. They don't take kindly to show offs either. A lad joins from another school who can write and work out hard maths questions. He doesn't last long, filthy little show off. Easily the best bully is a lad in an orange jumper. He's a right sneaky little grass who hides behind the bigger lads and eggs them on.

A large problem is that all of this bullying happens quite slowly. A little bit of a pace injection wouldn't have harmed things. Add to this an ending where there are some startling changes of heart by the characters and it gets increasingly difficult to see why I liked it. But as soon as I see the screen shots I feel a warm sensation in my chest (although that could just be the dodgy pickled eggs I had for brekkie).

If you decide to watch The King of Pigs you are in a select little gang. There was only one other person in the cinema screen with us, and he spent most of his time looking at his phone. We quite liked it though. It's got some of the greatest manic laugh animations to hit the screen in a fair while. And at least this time we didn't get eggs thrown at us on the way home. Bonus.

If you like this you could also try:
Tekkonkinkreet, Bod.


  1. I agree. Technically challenged but high on entertainment value and originality. Not sure who the audience is for this - probably just us two and that geeky guy in the cinema. Maybe he likes Amy Macdonald too?

    1. Does anyone else like Amy Macdonald?

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