Black comedy is a very tricky genre. Not only does it have to be funny and witty, but it has to be appropriately dark without becoming melodramatic. Aside from that important balance, creating sympathy for its usually eccentric characters is a very difficult task to get right. Korean cinema has hits and misses in the genre and "Head" has some issues which keep it from being one of the great successes in it, but it is still a delightfully enjoyable film.
Sin Hong-joo (Park Ye-jin) is a gossip reporter who wants to get a break and move up in her career. One day, her brother, Hong-je (Ryu Deok-hwan) calls her in panic, telling her he found a human head in the package he was asked to deliver. Hong-joo ignores him, but soon finds out he has been kidnapped. The ransom asked of her is to find and deliver the severed head to them. Hong-joo sets off on a race against time to save her brother and get her much wanted scoop.
What "Head" does well in terms of engaging viewers is that its comedy and drama are mostly well balanced. While not a masterpiece in getting that balance right, it is done well enough for viewers to be invested in the journey and survival of the main characters. Everyone in this film feels insane in one way or other and there are moments the comedy or drama feel inappropriate for, but they work for the most part and they allow for sympathy to form.
This is also aided by the wonderful cast who keep their characters quirky and fun, but without alienating viewers, maintaining their likability even through their chaotic development. Hong-joo is a very interesting character in that she is both a strong woman who takes control of the situation, but also an emotional mess. Park has her shaky moments, but she is also tasked with the difficult job of making Hong-joo both vulnerable, but brave and also smart and tough when she needs to be. Park delivers nicely, for the most part. Ryu Deok-hwan's Hong-je is portrayed well too and while their relationship is not shown much, it is shown enough for the amount of emotional investment viewers need.
Where things are not so fun in "Head" is the way in which it fails to avoid some contrivance in its plot and tie up loose ends. This is not the movie to really deliver a hole-free plot and some character decisions and actions just feel incredibly and unnaturally moronic. Like Hong-je dropping his pants and relaxing at home while he was panicking over people chasing him moments earlier. This is convenient dumbing down of characters and situations to serve where the plot needs to go, which could have been handled better.
The movie follows the same erratic delivery in its presentation, as things can get pretty confusing. Most of the time, there is barely any strong indication of what is even going on and a lot of situations only make partial sense with effort. Its scenes are put together in a very choppy manner and it takes a while for viewers to make their own mental transition. Paying attention and being patient are prerequisites for not being completely lost as to who wants what and what is happening, which are hard to get at times even then.
"Head" is a fun and a fast-paced, hilarious chaos. Between its nice cast able to deliver the amount of insanity needed, its fine veterans like Baek Yoon-shik, Oh Dal-soo and Joo Jin-mo-I, its batty characters and dark sense of humor, there is a lot to love here. As an experience, it is not the most coherent or polished one, but it offers entertainment for those who find themselves fond of its style and its characters.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'
Available on DVDfrom YESASIA
Vasia, also known as Orion or Ori online, is currently doing drama episode reviews, daily opinion pieces, and weekly drama news roundups. She has a love for good TV and a penchant for rambling in written form. Vasia can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Film Review] "Head" + DVD Giveaway"
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