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Doomsday Book - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Inryu myeongmang bogoseo

South Korea 2012

Sci-Fi, Thriller, Comedy

Lim Pil-sung
Kim Ji-woon

Ryu Seung-beom
Ko Jun-hee
Kim Kang-woo
Park Hae-il
Jin Ji-hee
Bae Doo-na
Bong Joon-ho
Song Sae-Byok
Ma Dong-seok
John D. Kim

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Doomsday Book

Story: Suk-woo (Ryu Seung-beom) gets some time off from military service. But just when he returns home his parents and his sister go on a trip and he is left all alone. To make things worse he also has to tidy up the apartment. While he cleans everything up he finds a rotten apple. He throws it away but thanks to recycling process a mutated virus is served to him on a table in the shape of some beef from a cow that ate the remains of the apple and suddenly an illness starts to spread like wildfire which turns people into zombies.
In the near future every household has a robot. The technician Do-won (Kim Kang-woo) is called to a buddhist temple to take a look at brother In-myung (Park Hae-il). In-myung is actually a robot that has attained enlightenment and is highly respected by the other monks. However, a robot shouldn't be able to achieve something like that. Do-won now has to think about whether to report the robot as being defect or not...
By accident the little girl Min-seo (Jin Ji-hee) destroyed a billiard ball of her father. She secretly orders a new one on the internet. Two years later the world is doomed. A giant meteor is heading for the earth. Min-seon and her family have found shelter at a bunker. There they suddenly hear in the news that the meteor looks just like a billiard ball...

Review: When three talented Korean directors come together in order to each contribute a short story to an omnibus then expectations are quite high. But "Doomsday Book" was already ill-fated when one of the directors, Han Jae-rim, jumped off for financial reasons. And this even though his work, a Sci-Fi musical, promised to be especially interesting. In the end the movie also can't meet the expectations that were associated with the involved names. Lim Pil-Sung ("Hansel and Gretel", "Antarctic Journal") sits on the director's chair for two of the three films and just delivers mediocre stuff, although there might be some clever ideas here and there. Thus, all hope lies with director Kim Ji-woon.

As word spread that Kim, who recently was talked about a lot because of his movies "I Saw the Devil" and "The Good, the Bad, the Weird", would contribute a science fiction movie to "Doomsday Book" everyone was really excited. To see his vision of the future on screen would make us expect great things. Sadly, the framework of a short story is simply too small for his ideas. This becomes especially apparent in the technician, who obviously undergoes a change that comes way too haphazardly. We also would have liked to see or hear more of the robot who has attained enlightenment. Here a lot of potential was wasted, but Kim luckily manages to save his movie with a very well achieved ending. After all, the idea of a robot as a buddhist monk is genius by itself.

Being the best contribution to the omnibus Kim's work should have been put at the end. Instead it makes itself comfortable between Lim's short stories. Lim's first movie centers around an absurd outbreak of a zombie virus which exact source is an apple, therefore pointing at the biblical sin and the expulsion from Paradise. However, this seems rather contrived, even the more as the story itself, and this is something it deserves some kudos for, is told in a pretty abstruse fashion. The hackneyed story didn't give room for more anyway. Thus, it's interesting to see that Lim puts a lot of humor into his movie. During the most untimely moments, because in its core this should be a horror story, he incorporates his jokes. This is original but may not be to everyone's liking.

With his second contribution Lim carries things to extremes. Through a black hole the order of a eight-year old girl ends up at some aliens' who just send her an oversized billiard ball. This ball now threatens to plunge the world into ruin. The plot is so wacky that you can't really start to like it despite Lim's winks. At least the director pokes fun at the media as he already did in his former short story. During the last minutes of mankind half-baked survival pods are sold on the home-shopping channel or an anchorwoman reveals the affairs of her colleague and jumps down his throat during a live broadcast. You just have to shake your head about all this. Things might be revolving around doomsday, but still everything else is just funny.

As it should have become obvious the three movies are in no way connected to one another. In Kim's work not even doomsday stands in the center of the story, unless you want to see mankind's ruin on a moral-philosophical level maybe. What is pretty apparent in all three works is that there seemed to be a good amount of money at disposal and so the special effects certainly don't need to hide. Thankfully the robot in Kim's work hasn't any real similarities to the one from "I, Robot" because of some motorical flaws. Except of Kim's contribution, which would have deserved a better rating as a work on its own, the film as a whole proves to be too wacky to really excite western audiences. Yet, "Doomsday Book" gets an international release. A movie that could have been a lot more.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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