Review: Save the Green Planet! 지구를 지켜라! at TKFF

Save the Green Planet! 지구를지켜라! (2003)

What’s it about? It’s a genre bending film that mashed together sci-fi, thriller and comedy genres perfectly together to create a film that will keep you entertained. Byeong Gu – the main character – is a slightly crazy (okay, he’s completely psychotic) young man who believes that aliens are coming to destroy the earth. He’s trying to stop them by capturing, torturing and killing them for information with the help of his slightly odd girlfriend. His latest victim is a high-profile CEO and the police start looking into it. Aliens, kidnapping, torture, police investigations… but wait, that’s not all. This is one movie you need to see.

My thoughts

Okay, not entirely on topic but the first thing that captivated me in this film was the song ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ by the Korean rock band Transfixion. Yay, a new Korean indie band for me to listen to! As a music addict, I believe that one can never have enough music. Loved the song! Check out the short YouTube clip of the opening credits of the film for a listen.

I had high expectations of Save the Green Planet! as a few of my Korean friends highly recommended this film when they found out it was playing at the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF) and it definitely didn’t disappoint. I absolutely loved it. In fact, I’ll even say it was one of my favourite films of the festival and this was a festival of (mostly) superb films.

It was part sci-fi, part psychological thriller, part cop drama, part dark comedy all wrapped into a superbly acted film. If you can only see one Korean sci-fi film, this is the one you want. I love how so many Korean films blend genres and Save the Green Planet! did it especially well.

Shin Ha Kyun played the main character, Byeong Gu, marvelously. You end up being scared of him and feeling sorry for him at the same time. You believe him, that aliens are really coming to Earth to destroy us all one minute… and the next, you think he is simply a crazy serial killer. The strength and depth of this character keeps you guessing right until the end – is he just evil, is he right, is he completely off his rocker, should he be pitied, or is it all of the above? 

My favourite parts – other than the overall story and the acting – are the completely random bits. His girlfriend is a circus performer who loves Barbies. The dog gnawing on a leg bone. The cops getting zapped. The foot torture. Save the Green Planet! is such a fabulous collection of random elements and different genres that it’s no wonder it won so many different awards. 

Definitely not for children – or the faint at heart – but it’s a must-see Korean movie. If you haven’t seen it yet, I’d definitely add it to your list. Is it disturbing? At times, oh yeah! Is it funny? Yeah, that too. But it works and not many films can say that. It’s definitely a classic and worth saying again – go see it… now!

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday - this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it's taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I'm the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

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