While the marketing for "#ALIVE" has caught many off guard with its at times pedantic look of extremely normal characters, rather than obvious heroes, the movie is nevertheless in good company when it comes to recent hitmakers. Comedy has been a critical element of popular South Korean films in recent years. And with it, social commentary on just what kinds of lives normal South Korean lives in the current era.
"Train to Busan", of course, is the predecessor of "#ALIVE" in being a zombie movie. But more importantly, "Train to Busan" was very deliberately the story of the passengers on one particular train, none of whom were especially important people even as all of them represented certain aspects of South Korean society. Even beyond the immediate conflict mere social mores alone allowed for much of the energy in "Train to Busan" to sustain itself without the need for zombies themselves at times.
"Tunnel", which came a few weeks after "Train to Busan" utilized similar ideas in a very different setting. Instead of supernatural elements, the lead character is trapped in a collapsed highway tunnel and unwittingly made the hostage of a media circus he almost never actually sees- though audience members do. The situation, while life-and-death, was tempered by a laconic sense of humor in the face of such tragedy.
This brings us to the most recent such hit at the South Korean box office, "Exit - Movie" wherein a couple of rock climbing enthusiasts must escape to the higher ground of the urban cityscape in the aftermath of a gas attack. "Exit - Movie" has minimal exposition about how and why the gas attack took place, instead having an extended prologue dedicated to expositing family relationships and how they're affected by an inability to procure a proper job.
While "#ALIVE" has noticeably different social undertones than any of these three movies, it is nonetheless clearly following in the same tonal tradition. "#ALIVE" will be released in South Korean theaters on June 24th.
Written by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's News] "#ALIVE" Follows Recent Trend of Socially Conscious Big Budget Box Office Draws"
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