Sunday, February 10, 2008

Paradise Murdered (Korea 2007)

What can I say about Paradise Murdered (극락도 살인사건)? It's definitely a who-dunnit-murder-mystery, but it's also an incoherent mess with questionable acting and direction. Watching this movie was no walk through paradise. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

1986; two officers make their way towards Paradise Island to investigate the disappearance of seventeen people inhabiting the island. When we first meet the villagers living on the island, which by the way was voted number one remote island by the Korean government, the village is celebrating the 80th birthday of Grandpa Cheol-yong's (Kim In-moon), the sole surviving member of his family who owns the island. After the good times, and even a near death incident, everyone retires for the evening except for two engineers and Deok-su (Park Gil-soo), who head off to the engineers place to do a little gambling. The next day, Woo-sung (Park Haeil), the doctor on the island, is awaken to Tae-gi, the resident little boy, banging on his door. When he runs to see what all the commotion is, he sees the bodies of the two engineers from the previous evening, brutally murdered, but Deok-su is nowhere to be found.

The villagers all get together to figure out what they're going to do next. During the initial search, Deok-su's shoes, and the knife use to kill the engineers were found by the ocean cliffs. This causes imaginations to run wild, and they eventually begin to think that Deok-su has been killed as well. Woo-sung throws out the idea that maybe he committed suicide in an attempt to calm the panic stirring amongst the others. However, it has the reverse effect of what he intended and the mayor (Choi Joo-bong), and others, begin to suspect the doctor. The mayor locks up the doctor under the premise that if another murder is committed while he's locked up, then it obviously isn't him. With the knowledge that patrol boats will be at the island within the next few days, the doctor agrees to being locked up in order to keep the peace. Meanwhile, Gwi-nam (Park Sol-mi), the island school teacher who arrived with the doctor, is spending her time trying to find out who the murderer is in an attempt to clear the good doctor's name. In the middle of the night, a masked man breaks into the mayor's home looking for something specific. The mayor and his two sons, Sang-ku and Jong-ku, wake up and attempt to stop the man they assume is the murderer. In the process Jong-ku is killed, and when the killer makes a run, another resident of the island, Yong-bong, tries to stop him. Gwi-nam witnessed the entire scene and believes that it's the work of Choon-bae (Seong Ji-roo), resident wacko, that's behind the murders. Gwi-nam heads to the doctor to tell him about what she saw, and Tae-gi and Bong-soon, Deok-su's daughter, are also on their way to see the doctor. During their trip, Tae-gi's ankle is grabbed by a dying Yong-bong, but when Tae-gi looks at him, it appears to be the young boy's dead father. Strange things are brewing on the island. After an unfortunate incident involving Tae-gi and the seaside cliffs, everyone on the island seems to be losing their minds and pointing the blame at each other. So what's behind the madness on the island?

That is indeed the ultimate question you'll be asking yourself when you watch Paradise Murdered but you'll probably also be asking, "what the hell is going on in this movie?". When I finally found out what the twist was at the very end of the movie, it felt like it came out of nowhere and there was nothing in the movie that really hinted at what was going on. The acting is almost not worth mentioning because it's really just a bunch of people screaming at each other for two hours. These are definitely all major problems, but the real annoyance was the feeling that the movie didn't know whether it wanted to be a serious thriller or an at-times dark comedy. Some scenes are so strange and out of place that I literally laughed out loud.

When all is said and done, I was happy when Paradise Murdered came to an end. I felt so lost watching it that I didn't really care about the big explanation at the end, and it ended up just irritating me more than surprising me. A good story should engage the viewer and leave clues along the way in hopes that they feel like they're interacting with the story. That feeling is completely missing here and so was the entertainment value. (Lee)

Grade: D-


No comments: