With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Catch FLU on DVD today!

CJ Entertainment
Flu / Gamgi
Directed by KIM Sung-soo
South Korea, 2013, 122 minutes

The South Korean epidemic thriller Flu arrives in North America today in a single disc DVD edition from CJ Entertainment.

Kang Jigu (Jang Hyuk of The Client) is a member of a two-man Emergency Response Team in Bundang, a city with a population of just under a half a million people that is located near Seoul. He does most of the real rescuing while his partner tries to gab up any comely female who's nearby. One day Jigu rescues the driver of a car that, to avoid another vehicle, has fallen into a deep shaft where it is caught precariously on some wires. She is Kim In-hye (Su Ae, Sunny) who just happens to be an epidemic specialist at Bundang Hospital. In-hye is a single mother with a young daughter named Mirre who is played by Park Min-ha. Mirre is clever, brave, absolutely adorable and very funny, and I must say that Min-ha pretty much steals every scene she's in, she's that good.

A group of illegal immigrants from Hong Kong arrive in Bundang in a cargo container. Problem is that all but one of them are dead from a virulent form of flu! One of two brothers who come to pick up the "cargo" becomes infected and quickly spreads the disease. Meanwhile the sole survivor, a young man named Monssai, runs away.

As the disease quickly spreads, government officials employ the military to sealed off Bundang and to screen all its citizens for symptoms. Those who are not found to be infected are interned in the Tancheon Non-infected Quarantine Camp, which is set up by a river bank. Those with symptoms are totally segregated and subject to draconian measures. Jigu, In-hye and Mirre all find themselves in Tancheon, and although not infected they remain at great risk of contracting the disease.

Both within the camp and at Bundang hospital the search goes on to locate a cure for the epidemic, with efforts primarily focused on locating Monssai, whose blood, it is hoped, has anti-bodies that can be used to produce a vaccine. Pressure rises and tempers flare as officials debate releasing the non-infected -- and thereby risk possibly spreading the deadly disease -- or keeping them interned until a vaccine is developed, whenever that may be, if ever. As the non-infected become more restive in response to their prolonged confinement, an American "adviser" is prepared to resort to a most extreme measure to ensure containing the epidemic.

Flu, it should be apparent, shares much with other recent entries in the epidemic sub-genre of disaster films, namely Contagion (2011) and World War Z (2013). And it holds up well, especially considering it most certainly was made for much less than the estimated budgets of $60 million for Contagion and $190 million for WWZ.

Admittedly there are perhaps a bit too many coincidences in Flu. Also, some developments are rather far-fetched; here I'm thinking especially of one character managing to locate another in a huge pit filled with bodies (In the extras we learn that 1,000 dummies were used.) And things do get a bit overly melodramatic, particularly near the film's end.

But overall I found the film to be quite engrossing. I was concerned about the fate of the three main characters and found the variety of reactions of those both inside and outside the quarantine camp to be convincing for the most part.

Audio Options include four soundtrack choices:
- Korean 5.1 or 2.0 soundtracks with English Subtitles
- English 5.1 or 2.0 dubbed soundtracks

Bonus Features Include:
- “The Making of Flu” Featurette (20:45)
- Concept Art (11:06)
- Deleted Scenes (9:33)

ACF Rating: 3 out of 4 stars; a good movie, solidly recommended. CJ Entertainment also gets extra credit for the particularly fine DVD bonus features.