SAVE THE GREEN PLANET

Science fiction has always been a genre that creates an imaginative space, if you’ll excuse the pun, for both writers and directors to let loose in. Traditional constraints slackened, customary mores challenged and so called ‘common decency’ tested to the point of death ray induced melt down.

      At the extremities we find the body shocks of David Cronenberg, gorefests in the style of John Carpenter’s The Thing and bleak social commentaries like Kubrik’s A Clockwork Orange. But being out here on the peripheries needn’t mean a dour creative environment, as a rarely tapped branch of black humour also flourishes within this warped locale. It’s here, with the Bad Tastes and the Delicatessens, that Save the Green Planet rightfully belongs.

      The film itself should be a tough one to watch – involving as it does the abduction and torture of a business executive by the mentally unhinged lead character. What’s clear, however, right from the wonderfully deranged opening sequence is that this is a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a romp. A wickedly sadistic exposÈ of the evils of human nature set against an oddball backdrop. As such, the cringeworthy moments of cartoon violence that appear throughout, are of a type that make you laugh even if you are peeking at them between white knuckled fingers.

      Byung-Go, is the down-trodden hero of the piece and, as the movie opens, he’s a man on the edge. He has lost his job, the first love of his life was killed during a riot in a detention centre and his mother is in a vegetative state. No surprise then that the industrial strength happy pills he’s taking can’t quite quell the conviction that all his woes are caused by alien invaders. Enter the unfortunate Kang Man-Shik as the abducted executive and suspected native of Andromeda.

      Through a truly terrifying level of conspiracy theory-styled research, Byeong-Gu becomes convinced that Kang Man-Shik is about as far removed from a flower hugging ET as you can get. He’s pure space-spawned evil, and his mission to Earth will result in nothing less than the destruction of the planet during the next Lunar eclipse.

      So unfolds a protracted round of torture against the clock as Byeong-Gu and his circus trained girlfriend, Su-ni, attempt to avert global catastrophe. From caustic sticks rubbed into the eyes, to steam driven anal probes (we kid you not) the extremes that Kang Man-Shik endures are both repellent and yet darkly comic. Acting as a counterpoint to the horror is Sun-ni’s disarming innocence, but it’s the film’s ability to shock that remains the driving force behind its visceral success.

      Away from a general fascination with the bodily grotesque a bigger, more poignant picture does begin to emerge. There’s little doubt that Beong-Gu is presented as a Job-like figure. A lonely man of conviction having his faith brutally tested against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. But, the effect of this deeper narrative, told through a series of heart-rending flashbacks, is to add a compelling level of pathos to the proceedings. Moreover, the resultant emotional weight lifts the slapstick and leaves a comic, and yet incredibly thoughtful experience in its wake.

      Added tension arrives in the guise of a sub-plot involving the investigation into Kang Man-Shik’s disappearance. The purpose of this, as well as providing some respite from the claustrophobic activities of Byeong-Gu’s DIY dungeon, is to add a gifted level of ambiguity to the film. The further the ex-cop/rookie duo delve into the executive’s history, the more puzzling questions arise. All of which makes Beong-Gu’s elaborate beliefs that little bit harder to dismiss. Is Kang Man-Shik’s heritage truly not of this world? Or are we merely being led through the delusional reality of one young man? To reveal anything here would be churlish.

      If you can stomach the more sadistic elements of Save the Green Planet – and let’s face it, there’s nothing here that fans of the fantastic haven’t seen before – you’ll unearth a gem of a Sci-Fi tale. All we advise is that you have a spare hanky ready for the anal probe scene. It’s a real tear-jerker for all the wrong reasons.