Seems like even South Korean filmmaking is getting into the 3D bandwagon. From the producers of “Tidal Wave”, comes the first 3D horror film to hail from South Korea. “Sector 7” is an action-sci-fi horror film directed by Kim Ji-hoon boasts of excellent special effects and set designs. It is your basic monster feature that is part “Alien” and then part “The Host”. I guess when out at sea in an oil rig, no one can hear you scream.
The film takes the viewer into the real-life joint development (Korea and Japan) area, Sector 7 which is located off the coast of Jeju island. The area harbors Korea’s hopes of one day becoming energy independent since the zone is believed to have several billion untapped gallons of oil. Hae-jun sometimes called “hard-ass” by her associates (played by Ha Ji-Won) dreams of finding that oil, even when their many attempts had yielded no results. Finally with a last ditch effort to find oil, the crew joined by her old mentor Jeong-Man (Ahn Sung-Kee, Arahan), discovers something much different and these may be a new scientific discovery as they may have found a new form of life form, much to scientist Hyeon Jeong’s (Cha Ae-Ryeon) curiosity. Shortly after, things begin to go wrong in the oil rig, the crew becomes overwhelmed by the horror that they may have discovered something more dangerous than they had bargained for….
When I say, “your basic monster feature”, I mean real basic. We’ve all seen this kind of movie before and I believe that the film may be much more fun to watch in theaters since it has the look that can be quite amazing in 3D (I saw this on bluray). The writing by Je-Gyun Yun is pretty simple and captures the familiar themes that we have grown to like in monster movies. There is the obsessed who is willing to sacrifice everything to benefit from the discovery. The strong-willed female character who just won’t stop at anything to try and set things right. A bunch of oafish characters who appear to be mere fodder. The direction also does some subtle bits of ecological commentary here and there; as it tries to communicate that man’s need for energy may lead him to his own destruction. It is your basic monster movie and while technically superior to “The Host”, this film is drenched in cliché, while “The Host“ tried to be more creative.
I guess I wouldn’t have mind if this film was buried in cliché, there are times that it can work. The film does take a little longer to pick up as the viewer is taken to get to know our characters. They each have their issues and the group dynamics are there, and I liked the fact that there is a sort of role reversals in the script. The woman is the stronger type while most of the male characters are crybabies save for Dong-Su and Jeong-Man). Hae-jun takes the lead in almost any problem while his male compatriots hang back. There is something real amusing in the way this was done. Much of the first act is al about our characters being playful and then they experience a little bit of paranoia as the number of dead bodies begin to build. There is some hints of romance but it did not stay too long within that subplot.
Characters can drive a monster movie (take for example “Jaws”) and when the characters cannot carry the movie, what we can hope for is the monster itself. The creature designs are good. The monster is indeed gruesome and it gets even uglier the more our human friends try to fight it off. It looks like a cross between a slug, a catfish that has been “zombie-fied”. Several scenes were reminiscent of “Predator”, “Alien” and maybe even “Resident Evil”. The film had some mild gore and bloody scenes but not so much to gross out the casual horror fan. Once the monster finally shows its ugly head, the film becomes more of a chase film as one character dies after the other until we get to two significant showdowns. The film is more geared towards action than horror, as the final act goes into the classic man (in this case, woman) vs. monster feature. The shots were made to look cool in 3D and made to be a grand display of green screen magic. The film becomes an action extravaganza in its last 35 minutes filled with explosions and stunts to generate intensity and suspense. It works in some ways, with its gorgeous cinematography but I had issues with its editing and pacing. There were several moments that I saw that just took too long, and the film became dangerously close to becoming too stylized. The film also suffers from some inconsistencies when it came to the action scenes.
Ha-Ji-Won took the stage as she proves her worth as a female action hero. She had the tomboyish look and the feminine charm to pull off her role; to make things easier, she wasn’t shy at all in doing most of her own stunts. The script was very limited, but she managed to make do with what she had. It was nice to see a woman really use her physical ability and brains to fight off the creature. Ahn Sung-Kee had that usual strong screen presence and he was able to lend support to the female lead. The rest of the supporting characters felt a lot like minor 'fillers' to give the movie a decent body count.
“Sector 7” is an action monster movie that could’ve been real good. I don’t mind cliché as long as the film is able to engage with several scenes that was able to keep me on my toes. However, the pacing and plot missteps (longest countdown ever) did weaken the film’s impact that it became so much harder for me to get into the supposed suspense in the film. This is a good intentioned film that came a little short. Still, “Sector 7” does prove that South Korea is still going forward in filmmaking, and there is hope that they can even get much, much better.
Half a star out of **** I think I heard of "Sector 7" through Shout Factor earlier this year when they released it onto DVD and Blu-ray in the US. It's a Korean monster movie that I would have not seen let alone have taken notice of without the home video distributers attached; I assumed it must be worth something. So as I watched it, you can probably guess my intense disappointment when I began to realize, at a relatively fast rate, that it really wasn't worth much at all. … more