Review: Doomsday Book 인류멸망보고서

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Thanks to winning two tickets from a contest run by the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival (which is on now!), I headed off to the Bloor Cinema to watch Doomsday Book 인류멸망보고서, the sole Korean film screening at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival. [Side note: I love Toronto! So many fabulous film festivals where I can watch Korean films. ^^] As soon as I entered the theatre, I ran into a friend – Luke – who was covering the festival for his new website, Talk2Canadians, which was neat. After chatting with him for a bit, I headed up to the balcony, my favourite place in the newly renovated theatre to sit, and prepared to be entertained. And I wasn’t disappointed but I’m getting ahead of myself… let me first tell you a little about the film.

*Warning: Spoiler Alert*

Doomsday Book is a fascinating anthology of three completely separate “doomsday” scenarios merged into one film by two Korean directors – Kim Ji-Woon (김지운), who is known for films such as A Tale of Two Sisters 장화, 홍련; The Good, The Bad, The Weird 좋은 놈, 나쁜 놈, 이상한 놈; and I Saw the Devil 악마를 보았다 and Yim Pil-Sung (임필성), who directed Antarctic Journal 남극일기 and Hansel and Gretel 헨젤과 그레텔. I’m more familiar with Kim Ji-Woon as I’ve seen a lot of his films and I was excited and curious to see this collaboration.

Who would have expected social commentary in a zombie story? Or a robot to reach Nirvana? Or civilization to be destroyed by a giant eight ball ordered on the internet? The film combines three completely different tales and genres – horror, sci-fi and dark comedy – which are held together with the common thread of the end-of-days. This is a film were each story is complete and enjoyable on its own but were they are made just a little more intriguing when united.

Brave New World 멋진 신세계

The first of the three tales is a zombie story directed by Yim Pil-Sung shows an interesting look into patient zero and how a zombie outbreak might occur. Strangely enough, this portion of the film left me craving galbi (although I did have flashbacks to it the next time I ate galbi in a restaurant). Yeah, I’m odd sometimes. The most disturbing part for me was the extreme close-up of their kiss. So not necessary and gross. Yep, the kiss closeup bothered me more than the murdering zombies. The bathroom scene was odd too. But I loved how a story of murderous zombies ends with romance.

Heavenly Creature 천상의 피조물

This was by far the most powerful of the three tales and an intriguing take on sentient robots. It’s the segment directed by Kim Ji-Woon. The robot in this case works in a Buddhist monastery and while toiling away, reached Nirvana. But it’s about more than simple sentience (if being sentient is simple) but also people’s acceptance of both the chance that the robot is sentient and that it might reach Nirvana when most people don’t. Definitely one of the tales that make you think and question what you would do.

Happy Birthday 해피 버스데이

In this “end of the world by natural causes” scenario – directed by Yim Pil-Sung – the meteorite that is rushing towards Earth turns out to be an eight ball (yep, the black ball used in pool/billiards) that was ordered by a young girl for her father on the internet. I loved this one, it was definitely my favourite of the three (although I enjoyed them all). Funny & moving at times, it was a heartening tale of family love and new chances. Yeah, it wasn’t all hearts and roses but seeing family pull together is always heartening.

All together it was an interesting mix of stories and genres that put together was quite entertaining. Plus, it had the added bonus of being thought-provoking and a great conversation starter… and I love to talk/discuss with friends so that certainly appealed to me. Was it perfect, no, but it was definitely worth watching.

Did you see Doomsday Book? What did you think? Which of the three tales was your favourite?

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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