Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Flu: Hold that Cough
is easy to understand why pandemic thrillers might strike a chord with Korean
audiences. Watching a few SARS and Bird
Flu outbreaks rip through our hemisphere would grab our attention too. A year or so after unleashing Park Jung-woo’s
Deranged, CJ Entertainment breaks out
the hazmat suits again with Kim Sung-su’s Flu
opens tomorrow in Los Angeles.
Kim In-hae ought to have been more gracious when daring fireman Kang Ji-koo
pulled her out of the massive sinkhole that gave way beneath her car. Unfortunately, infectious disease specialists
are not always very warm and fuzzy. Her
bedside manner will not improve when she learns what a human trafficking ring
inadvertently smuggled into the country: a highly contagious mutated strain of
an unlikely set of circumstances, Kang befriends Dr. Kim’s adorable but
demanding daughter, Mi-reu, in hopes it will pay dividends with her mother. As a result, when the health authorities lock-down
the bustling Seoul suburb of Bundang, Kang becomes Mi-reu’s protector. Unfortunately, she seems to be developing a
in Deranged, human nature takes a
nasty turn when confronting a virulent form of microscopic mortality. However, Deranged’s
parasitic McGuffin manifested itself in a more intriguing way this titular flu. Those afflicted in Bundang simply start to
cough, break out in rashes, and die—except for the mysterious survivor of that
fateful human cargo container.
is all kinds of manipulative, but the relationship between Kang and young Kim
is still highly effective. As the
former, Jang Hyuk nicely balances grit and swagger, while Park Min-ha is cinematically
cute and surprisingly natural on-screen as Mi-reu. Superstar Soo-ae is also appropriately
intense as Dr. Kim. Alas, most of the
authorities are just cardboard cut-out villains. Regrettably, this is especially true of the
distinctly anti-American portrayal of various Yankee military and medical
advisors, most notably the ruthless Schneider (not uncommonly a Jewish surname,
adding an additional layer of awkwardness to the film). Only Ma Dong-seok’s Jeon Kook-hwan, a
military officer turned rogue provocateur, is a worthy heavy.
Flu operates on an impressive scale, incorporating
some big set pieces and a way over the top climatic stand-off. In contrast, Deranged more trenchantly explores the perils of the mob mentality
running riot. Indeed, it is the superior
outbreak movie. A better melodrama than
a viral thriller, Flu is just
sort of okay overall. Mostly for Soo-ae
fans and hot zone junkies, Flu opens
tomorrow (8/16) in Los Angeles at the CGV Cinemas and September 6th
in New York (Queens) at the AMC Bay Terrace.
Labels: Korean Cinema, Soo-ae