A Million (2009)

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Released 12-Jan-2011

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Featurette-Making Of
More…-Poster Shoot
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Eastern Eye Trailers
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 108:08 (Case: 114)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (68:34) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jo Min-ho
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Park Hee-soon
Park Hae-il
Shin Min-ah
Lee Min-ki
Jeong Yu-mi
Lee Cheon-hee
Yu Na-mi
Ko Eun-ah
Kim Hak-seon
Case Alpha-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Korean Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Korean Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

I decide the rules”: Jang Min-choel

     Eight young Koreans, four men and four woman, are selected to participate in a “Survivor” type reality show to be shot in Australia; the prize for the winner is a cool One Million dollars. When they meet after a flight to Perth they are indeed a mixed bag: Gi-tae is a man with a video camera permanently in his hand (Park Hae-il), Yu-jin a shop assistant (Shin Min-ah), Cheoi-hee a hot tempered former sailor (Lee Min-ki), Ji-eun a law student (Jeong Yu-mi), Wook-hwan an arrogant financial analyst (Lee Cheon-hee), Soo-yun a competitive swimmer (Yu Na-mi), Bo-yong a bar hostess (Ko Eun-ah) and Seung-ho an unemployed and overweight glutton (Kim Hak-seon). Taken to a secret remote location in the Australian bush, they learn from director Jang Min-choel (Park Hee-soon) that they will participate in seven games, one each day, and that at the conclusion of each game one of them will be “eliminated”. On the second day, when the bodies start to pile up, the participants discover that elimination in reality means their death. Attempts by the survivors to escape only lead to other deaths and it becomes obvious that they are being manipulated by director Min-choel, who has his own secret agenda, and that the contestants were not in fact chosen at random. Instincts of fear, greed, companionship, betrayal and survival intertwine as the contestants die one by one. By the end there can be only one!

     A Million was apparently cast with a number of well-known Korean actors, but this does not mean much to an Australian audience who are more likely to notice things such as the little known fact that jaguars inhabit the Australian bush. Well, at least they do in this film. When one gets past this, A Million is a well made low budget film, with a young, good looking cast who die in interesting ways, although it is not a violent film and the blood and gore are kept to a minimum. A Million is also not a mystery in the sense that Ten Little Indians was; it is not a guessing game about who will win out as we know from the beginning the identity of at least one survivor as the film is told in flashback to a Police Officer. Rather, the film is more like The Usual Suspects where different points of view are provided by piercing together the diverse video footage taken during the contest and the testimony of the survivor, which may or may not be reliable.

     A Million is not a satire on the “Survivor” genre; the genre is pretty much a satire of itself anyway. Rather, the film has some relevant things to say about ours being a society that watches, rather than acts, although, essentially, it is an entertaining, well made thriller with an attractive cast, mystery and a plot that does, finally, make sense. The Australian bush and coastal sand dune locations look resplendent and the film moves along at a good pace. I enjoyed A Million far more than I expected too. Well worth a look.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     A Million is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     This is a modern film and looks very good. There has been a deliberate choice to make the film with leached out colours (I guess to represent the heat of the Australian bush) which results in yellow / silver sheen over the print. The Korean section, in contrast, has a very dull blue filtered look. Within this palate, skin tones are natural, the Australian locations look spectacular, detail is excellent, with each hair on the actor’s heads clearly shown, blacks are solid and shadow detail fine. Some of the footage is treated to show it is video footage, shot during the contests and providing another point of view.

     I did not notice any film or film to video artefacts.

     The English subtitles are in a yellow font. They do have a number of errors, such as “Isn’t abstention is one of the voting rights” (23:48), or sentences I don’t understand, such as “Its not like we’re on a frosh or something”, but maybe that is just me. They are not so numerous as to be distracting.

     The layer change at 68:34 occurred during a scene change with only a slight pause to the audio.

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

Audio

     Audio is a choice between Korean Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps and Korean Dolby Digital 2.0 224 Kbps. The 5.1 audio track is not overdone and does a good job. Dialogue was clear and the Foley effects have separation and good clarity. The surrounds are in use for music and ambient sound such as the animal and insect sounds of the Australian bush. The sub woofer was pretty much silent. The 2.0 track is not surround encoded and was recorded at a much lower level.

     The electronic music score, with some rap added, is not obtrusive nor is it particularly memorable.

     Lip synchronisation was occasionally out.

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

Extras

Making of A Million (22:31)

     Basically an extended interview with writer / director Jo Min-ho with some behind the scenes footage and minor sound bites from cast members Jeong Yu-mi, Lee Min-ki, Shin Min-ah, Park Hae-il and Park Hee-soon. Such things as influences, casting, shooting in Australia, his directing style and difficulties during the shoot are covered, but in a superficial way. Jo does however have some interesting things to say about the Korean film industry at the end. In Korean with burnt in yellow English subtitles.

Poster Shoot (3:33)

     Behind the scenes shooting of film posters with four of the cast. No dialogue, music only.

Theatrical Trailer (1:37)

Eastern Eye Trailers

     Trailers for other films from Madman: Survive Style +5 (1:36), Haeundae (2:37), The Host (2:15) and Sumo Do Sumo Don’t (2:00).

R4 vs R1

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

     The only other release I can find at the moment is a Region 3 Korean DVD. Other than being NTSC, the rest of the specifications and the extras seem almost the same; it includes as extras a making of, premier footage and a trailer. I don’t know the length of the premier footage nor whether the extras are subtitled (the feature does have English subtitles). There really seems no reason to go past the Region 4 release.

Summary

     A Million is an entertaining Korean mystery film. Eight contestants compete in a “Survivor” type reality show in the Australian bush; the prize for the winner $1 million but “elimination” is permanent! The film looks good with stunning Australian locations, has an attractive cast, mystery and a plot that does, finally, make sense.

     The DVD has good video and audio and includes some extras. Well worth a look.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, March 11, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def 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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