Monday, July 23, 2012

PiFan 2012: 90 Minutes (90분, 90-boon) 2012

Part of MKC's coverage of the 16th Puchon International Film Festival.

It’s a rare thing to sit down to a film and know just from the opening shot how bad it’s going to be. Sadly this was the case for me at the world premiere of 90 Minutes, a new low-budget Korean revenge thriller. Whether it was the poor framing, choppy editing or thin premise I couldn’t say.

A good-looking commercials director is living in the fast lane and every door seems to open for him until one day when, following a late afternoon tryst with a high-class hooker, he finds himself blackmailed by this femme fatale who has recorded their rendez-vous. He must now follow her commands for 90 minutes if he wants to escape with his life and career intact.

It’s a simple plot that in the right hands and with a bit of creativity might have yielded an interesting, if modest thriller. In director Park Sun-wook ‘s hands however, it becomes an unwieldy and illogical mess. The film’s first mistake is that it takes a full 40 minutes to get things going. The excessive exposition introduces us to a plethora of unlikeable characters, none of whom change throughout the narrative.

Once the premise does kick off it looks like it could turn into an attack on the still-rampant chauvinism ingrained in Korean society. Yu Ha’s Howling did a similar thing earlier this year as it folded this bit of social commentary into his procedural thriller. But shortly after starting down this path, 90 Minutes makes it abundantly clear that it has no social aspirations, at least none that came through on screen. In fact it seems to revel in chauvinism, the main evidence being its central sex scene, which wouldn’t have looked out of place in a softcore TV movie.

There are numerous holes in the film’s plot, not to mention a few scenes that seem completely unrelated to the main narrative: a bit of judicious editing might have helped. Had they cut out 20 minutes of the flab and inconsistencies, it could certainly have been a lot better but honestly it still would have been a bad film. I should ward you off this train wreck of a production but honestly I’ll be surprised if it’s ever heard from again.


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