Haemoo (2014)

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Released 16-Sep-2015

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Eastern Eye releases x 4
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2014
Running Time 106:19 (Case: 111)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Sung-bo Shim
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Kim Yun-seok
Park Yu-chun
Han Ye-ri
Kim Sang-ho
Mun Seong-kun
Yoo Seung-mok
Lee Hee-jun


Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Korean Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Things are not going well for fishing trawler skipper Captain Kang (Kim Yun-seok). His boat is old and in need of repair, he is overdrawn at the bank, his crew, accept for his Bosun Ho-young (Kim Sang-ho), are a mixed bag of the inexperienced and barely competent, the fish are not running and his wife is cheating on him with another man. In desperation Kang accepts a job smuggling illegal migrants into South Korea from China without informing his crew until they are well out at sea.

     Thirty illegal migrants, including two women, are transferred from another boat during a storm. In the transfer one young woman, Hong-mae (Han Ye-ri), falls into the water but is rescued from drowning by Dong-sik (Park Yu-chun), the youngest of the trawler’s crew. Making their way back towards Korea, the trawler is intercepted by a Korean patrol boat; the illegals are hidden in the fish hold but after the patrol boat departs the crew discover that everyone in the hold is dead due to a gas leak. Kang decides to chop up the bodies and dispose of them overboard during a sea fog. But there was a survivor: Dong-sik had hidden Hong-mae in the trawler’s engine room and when she is discovered the crew members lose whatever comradeship they had previously as lust, greed, guilt and the need to keep their crimes a secret come to the surface.

     Haemoo (“Sea Fog”) is based upon events that actually occurred in 2001. It is produced and co-written by Bong Joon-ho, writer / director of the excellent Snowpiercer (2013), and co-written and directed by Shim Sung-bo. This is Shim’s directorial debut, his only previous film experience being a couple of writing credits over ten years ago, including co-writing Memories of Murder (2003) with Bong Joon-ho. He really brings little of note to Haemoo; there are some beautiful images of the trawler at sea and the scene where the crew cut up the bodies in the fog is quite surreal, perhaps courtesy of cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo who shot Bong’s previous films Snowpiercer and Mother (2009), but most of the action scenes are filmed in close up, queasy cam style which is quite distracting.

     Haemoo is not a feel good film and the fact that it is based upon actual events makes the actions of the crew feel all the more horrendous. Where Haemoo does work it is due almost entirely to the excellent acting of Kim Yun-seok. He is always worth watching and I have enjoy his performances in other films I have reviewed on this site, including Chaser (2000) and Yellow Sea (2010), both directed by Na Hong-Jin. In both those films Kim was hardly a straight forward or pleasant character; in Haemoo his Captain Kang is a more subtle performance but, in the end, Kang is a ruthless man who will do everything to save his boat and his livelihood, including dismembering corpses and cold blooded murder. The scene where he beats one of the illegals for challenging his authority and then orders him thrown overboard is chilling in its matter-of-factness.

     Haemoo takes its time to set the scene and introduce its characters. This does pay off as the film moves towards its climax but I cannot help but feel that the tension delivered might have been much more intense and gripping with a more experienced director in charge. However the silent and brooding Kim Yun-seok is always worth watching.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Haemoo is presented in the original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

     This is a very dark film, with many sequences occurring at night, inside the ship’s darkened hold or in the fog. Close-up detail was fine and some exterior scenes showed bright colours but mostly this was a dull colour palate with greys predominant. Blacks are solid enough but some of the shadow detail was indistinct. Skin tones looked glossy under lights, brightness and contrast were consistent.

     I did not see any marks or artefacts although the end credits showed some slight shimmer.

    The English subtitles are in a clear yellow font and are error free.

     The layer chance created a slight pause at a scene change (56:58).

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio is Korean Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps.

     Dialogue was centred and easy to hear. This is not a constantly enveloping audio track; there are many silences in the surrounds with only dialogue in the front but when effects did occur, such as the sudden splash of a body entering the water or voices in the fog, they were very effective. During the storm the rears delivered thunder, wind and rain effects, as well as crashes and thumps during the fights plus music. The sub-woofer added bass to the storm.

     The score was fairly generic.

     Lip synchronisation was fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Theatrical Trailer (1:08)

More from Eastern Eye

     Trailers for Shield of Straw (1:51), Tokyo Tribe (1:47), Rurouni Kenshin (2:10), and Firestorm (1:53).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     There is currently not a Region 1 US or Region 2 UK release of Haemoo. There are Region 2 Japanese special and normal editions, neither of which is English friendly, and a Region 3 Hong Kong version that has only a trailer and is listed as being 1.78:1. The Region 3 Korean two disc edition includes a director’s commentary and a separate disc of making of featurettes and deleted scenes, but although the feature has English subtitles listed it is unclear if the extras do as often these are not subtitled.

Summary

     Haemoo is a chilling and unsettling film based upon a true event that is driven by a compelling performance by Kim Yun-seok. Sadly, it is a story that remains all too topical today given some of the events occurring in Europe at the moment.

     The video and audio are fine, trailers are the only extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, November 20, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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