2012/03/24 | 6473 views | | Permalink
Oh Young-Doo's "Invasion of Alien Bikini" made its Korean premier at the 15th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival, fitting nicely into the programs mesh of strange and bizarre films from around Asian. This over-the-top erotic comedy has been screened at a number of film festivals around the world, even being honoured with prizes at the 21st Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival in Japan as well as at the 44th Sitges Film Festival in Spain. With a working budget of $4,545, Young-doo's film did well within these constraints but was ultimately unable to find suitable glue to hold all the ridiculousness together.
The film's first few sequences involves chase scenes with the hero Yeong-geon (played by Hong Young-Guen), a virgin crime-fighting idealist whose extraordinary physical ability is match only by the ridiculous moustache he dons while attempting to save Seoul from the criminal deviants that plague its streets. The first of these chase scenes has our hero in hot pursuit of an imposing figuring of a man, only to have the audience realise that he is, in fact, an alien from another dimension. Yeong-geon seems convinced that he existence threatens not only his beloved city, but also the world itself. The second introduces our hero's real source of conflict.
Enter 'Harmonica', (Ha Eun-jeong) an attractive young woman in distress who is attempting to flee from a group of thugs through Seoul's alleys and side streets. Yeong-geon will have no of this and puts his body on the line against the odds to protect her. Protect her he does, and the two end up at his shabby dwelling as he realizes that he is hopelessly attracted to her. It comes to light that Harmonica is not just a pretty face, but a body-snatching alien desperately in need of suitable sperm. She quickly shakes off her initial reading of Yeong-geon as a weird introvert with delusions of grandeur, and soon identifies him as a prime candidate for her own insemination. Her plans to get him to impregnate her are just are quickly dash however; as out idealist of a hero turns out to be a virgin of the highest degree. Harmonica is running out of time and resorts to seduction, rape, then torture in order to milk him of his seed before the window on her fertilization closes.
It's all very entertaining and, at times, rather sharp and witty. Our hero is akin to 'Nacho Libre' as Spanish music accompanies his vigilante efforts and helps make sense of the giant caterpillar that inhabits his upper lip. But this comparison isn't the only inter-textual reference or similarity you will notice. The story, its characters, and events are all very close to a more successful Korean film by Jang Joon-hwan, entitled "Save the Green Planet", as aliens, weirdoes, torture, and the fate of the Earth are all present and make up the spine of the tale being told. This might be an unfair observation but given the proximity of the above-mentioned similarities, anyone who has seen Joon-hwan's little gem will label this film a lesser version or attempt.
Still, "Invasion of Alien Bikini" had a lot going for it. Subtle colour motifs of muted yellows, greens, and reds complimented the unusual and quirky nature of the film as a whole, as well as our out-of-touch hero and his alien captor. There are also some choice moments between Harmonica and Yeong-geon that would fly in any decent anti-reality show as awkward and drawn-out moments of tension makes you cringe and light-heartedly role you eyes with uncomfortable pleasure. The character's themselves are likeable enough, but Hong Young-Guen's outlandish performance is what drives it all. Ha Eun-joeng presence on screen fits the bill, but the 'sexy' could have been played up a little more in stead of it being reduced to the voyeuristic pleasure of see her in her underwear for 40 minutes.
The film also struggled to adequately articulate its own backstory and events. Lengthy exposition and self-referential inserts worked initially, but served only to act as a crutch to catching the audience up on what the director thought was necessary information. If you are looking for something deep or even insightful, this is not the film to watch. Besides Freud's involvement in a number of Oedipal conflicts and sadomasochistic pleasures, the film is flat and lacking substances. I found that a shame because I personally found its premise intriguing, possibly the right ingredients for noteworthy indie film on par with "Save the Green Planet". Sadly though, "Invasion of Alien Bikini" is a few too many chuckles short of a laugh, and when a better version seemingly exists, you'll be hard-pressed to find a recommendation for Oh Young-Doo's decent, but troubled efforts here.
-C.J. Wheeler (Chriscjw@gmail.com)
Q&A took place after a screening of "Invasion of Alien Bikini" at the 2011 Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival on July 15th. AsianWiki editor Ki Mun was there and transcribed/translated the session.Invasion of Alien Bikini" won the grand prize at the Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival. What was your reaction to winning the grand prize at Yubari and the reaction of the Japanese audience? Oh Young-Doo (director) - It felt like the award was a big birthday present. There was some difficulties making the film. The day after receiving the grand prize the movie screened and it was also my birthday. When I went on stage, the staff members of Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival presented a birthday cake to me. When you win the award at Yubari you have to make a new movie, so I'm making my next film. I guess I learned that good things happen all at once. Moderator - Question for the actors in the movie. There are some risque and erotic scenes in the film, which audience members have questioned. Hong Young-Guen (actor) - Wearing only underwear in the movie. There were action scenes, 3 against 1 in a small room so I was questioned more whether I got hurt and how it was acting with other actors in the crawling scene for the movie. Also, how the action scenes were expressed. Before the shooting started, I practiced a lot, but when shooting the choking scene, the actress almost died. Another hard thing about the movie was the weather. It was very hot while shooting. Ha Eun-jeong (actress) - I have been asked about my relationship with Hong Young-Guen because of the erotic scenes. We are close. We are like friends, but when shooting we needed to transform ourselves into lovers. It was difficult at times to focus and it was funny to see my friend Hong Young-Geun's erotic expressions. Oh Young-Doo (director) - I recall one funny story. While shooting, Ha Eun-jeong wore a bikini all the time. To make her feel less exposed, the assistant director took off his t-shirt and pants. Audience Question – There's a lot of computer graphic parts. I'm curious where you worked and were there any difficulties in making the movie? Oh Young-Doo (director) - Not much graphic work. Simple graphic stuff I did at home. The more complicated stuff I assigned to a cg team. Audience Question - The alien aspect seemed fresh. Curious if there are any indirect meanings behind the alien? Oh Young-Doo (director) - These kinds of questions are difficult for me. When the original idea for the movie came about, there wasn't any thoughts about placing deeper meanings into the movie. The idea for the movie actually came about after I looked at (main actor) Hong Young-Geun's body. Last year, around this time, I came here and had a chat with Hong Young-Geun at a coffee shop. At that time the idea for the movie came to fruitiion. So there isn't any deeper meanings. Audience Question - It didn't look like there was much cg work for the action scenes, but it did look like the fighting was styled after Shaolin Temple. How did you edit the movie? Oh Young-Doo (director) - I think that's the basic crux of action films. Emotionally strong action scenes, even though the action isn't glamorous. I edited in a normal way. When I shot the movie the shooting for the action scenes took place at my house. I thought the house was going to collapse. The house is small. There was a lot of damage to my home. The actors in the fighting scenes have trained in the martial arts for a long time. When we shot at night we were able to work comfortably because of them. We couldn't show glamorous action scenes so we focused on showing real action. 3 actors, including main actor Young-Geun, tried their best from their heart. They weren't afraid to get hurt. The shooting place ... roof room ... was very hot. More than 40 degrees celsius, so they were all covered in sweat. The editing wasn't anything special. Moderator – A beautiful alien hunts for sperm from a 30-year-old virgin. How did you come up with that idea? Oh Young-Doo (director) – It's simple. Usually in movies, men kidnap women and do bad things. I wanted to do something different from that typical idea. So in this movie, the woman does it. I also wanted a woman with a unique personality. So, how about an alien? I thought of it like that. Moderator - This question is for Hong Young-Geun. In the movie, your character attempts to live the "right way". Also, mentions a violent father ... Hong Young-Guen (actor) - When I analyzed my character from the script, I thought a lot about how to express my character's emotions, because he was abused and abandoned by his father at a young age. By chance, the answer came out by simply not expressing. At some point there would be an explosion and that is when he meets Monica. When he learns that she is an alien, he remembers his past and starts to use violence force. I thought that part was difficult to portray. Moderator - While playing the sexy alien was there any funny stories or difficulties? Ha Eun-jeong (actress) - I've never seen an alien or played an alien. I joined the movie before they had a script, so we discussed a lot of things and also collected ideas. In the beginning, there wasn't a set look for the alien. Talked with the director and Hong Yong-Geun. We decided not to think or calculate too much. I acted in a simple fashion and comfortably. The alien got into a human's body and used human feelings. I acted like that. Funny story ... I don't feel awkward anymore when guys expose their upper body parts, because while shooting all the guys were exposed from the waist up. Moderator - Question for Hong Young-Geun and Ha Eun-jeong. After you watched the movie what scenes were you impressed with the most or liked the most? Hong Young-Guen (male actor) - The most impressive scene for me was also the most difficult scene for me. The scene where I choked my father. It was emotionally difficult. The most memorable was the fighting scene that took place in a room to save Monica. Moderator - For the director, you mentioned the idea for the movie came about from seeing Hong Young-Geun's body. Is there any message you want to send to the audience? Oh Young-Doo (director) - No messages. I'm sure you can come up with something if you look hard enough, but the reason I made the movie was just so the audience can have fun. The most important thing is that the audience has a good time watching the film. That is the most important message. Moderator - Last question. What projects do you have coming up or what do you hope to achieve in the near future? Hong Young-Guen (actor) – "Invasion of Alien Bikini" is released on August 25th. I hope a lot of people come out and watch the movie. Ha Eun-jeong (actress) - I hope people enjoy "Invasion of Alien Bikini" a lot. Right now I'm filming a new movie. I hope we finish the new movie without accidents and the movie can show here next year and I can talk with you then. Oh Young-Doo (director) - "Invasion of Alien Bikini" will be released in August. I hope 15 million people watch the movie and we win the best foreign film award at the Academy Awards. Also, I hope I can show my next film, which I am shooting now, at next year's PiFan and the audience will enjoy that movie.
* The above Q & A was taken from AsianWiki and the original aritcle on there page can be found here.
"[HanCinema's Film Review] "Invasion of Alien Bikini": This Sexy Alien wants your Seed!"
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