"Sorum is a terrible movie that gets worse and weirder as time goes on."
- Mighty Peking Man
Director: Yun Jong-Chan
Cast: Chang Jin Young, Kim Myung Min
Running Time: 112 mins.
Plot: A man moves into a new apartment, only to discover slowly that it was the scene of a mysterious and gruesome crime some time ago. But the memories of that terror still lurk the hallways.
Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com
WOODY'S REVIEW: Jong-chan Yun is not a bad director. In fact, I think he has a great film in him somewhere. I have concluded this by watching the 2-disc special edition of his 2001 film "Sorum" which contains a supplemental disc, featuring three english-language student films done by Yun in college.
Two things bring me to the conclusion that Yun could be a very good director. Number one, "Sorum" looks wonderful, and Yun really knows how to make an aesthetically beautiful film. From the breathtaking locations to the wonderful cinematography, there is not a frame in the film that doesn't look great.
Number two, I was fortunate enough to watch a great little 20-minute student film by Yun called "Views". "Views" concerns a filmmaker, played by Yun, who roams a small midwestern town making a film out of footage he shot there with a now deceased girlfriend. All alone, Yun makes friends with a young Israeli who has just come to America. The Israeli is also having relationship problems, and the two become partners, filming Yun running around, re-enacting scenes of his dead love.
"Views" is a great little movie. It is a meditation of love and loss, a brief and touching look at a friendship between two outsiders. It works very well.
"Sorum" is aesthetically great, but lacks an actual script. Elements of horror and drama creep in an out, but nothing sticks, and nothing gels. The film is filled with great images, but nothing ties them together. The film has some potentially interesting characters, but either gives them incredible lapses of logic or leaves them underdeveloped enough to not matter.
Worst of all, there is no real noticeable theme to the film , a point to it all. Things seemingly happen just to happen. I've heard people try and discuss what the theme of the film is. The best I can come up with is that a creepy ass apartment building filled with strange people can make a guy do some crazy ass shit. I think.
"Views" works because it feels improvisational, but has a point and theme. It had a script of some sort, it was used, and the film succeeds. "Sorum" seems very much like a by the fly, make it up as you go along film, but it doesn't have the benefit of a real script or outline. Things just happen, without explanation.
And yet there are moments that recall the greatness of something like "Views", moments of revelation and humanity. Two scenes in the film always gets me. Our hero, Chang Jin Young , is drunkenly asking for the heart of Kim Myung Min, who is simply using him for security after having murdered her husband and having him help her. He is practically begging her to love him, and them reveals to her a shocking secret from his past, about a bully, a knifing, an impromptu grave, and a feeling of relief. The confession is chilling and memorable.
The other scene takes place in a hotel room not too long after that afformentioned scene. Chang is again pleading with her, but she'll have none of it. He is enraged, and finally snaps. That scene will strike a cord with anyone who has had to witness or endure spousal abuse, and how an average man can be pushed over the edge into becoming a monster.
"Sorum" doesn't work, but I can't fully say not to see it. It's open to much debate, and had just enough memorable images and scenes, I have to at least recommend it for a rental.
Director Yun is one to watch for. If he can combine a script like "Views" with the aesthetics of "Sorum", he is quite capable of making an honest to God great film.
WOODY'S RATING: 5/10
MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S REVIEW: Before you read this review, check out the plot above. Doesn't that sound interesting? I thought it did. Judging from the DVD art work, the simple plot and numerous tidbits I've read on the internet (this film has been raved by many) - it seemed to have the makings of something I had to get my hands on; that's just what I did and now, I'm sorry I took my chance on it. The moment the end-credits started rolling, I pressed stop on the DVD player, ejected the disc and I wanted to toss the thing in the garbage can. What stopped me from doing so was the ultra-cool package design and a sudden thought I had: Why should I throw away something that has the potential to be re-sold to another future victim who has also heard so many good things about it like I have? Ebay, here I come.
The truth is, people out there like this movie and I have no idea why. All I gotta say is pass the joint, cuz you guys obviously puffed way too much.
First of all, the official plot is misleading. There's more to this film than some guy moving into an apartment that was a scene of a mysterious crime. Basically, it goes a little something like this:
Kim Myung Min, who could easily pass as Leon Lai's twin brother, is a taxi driver who likes to eat candybars and imitate Bruce Lee. He decides to move into an old, run-downed apartment complex that even roaches would be afraid to dwell in. On his first day there, he meets some neighbors, two main ones to be exact: a man and a woman. The man, a washed out novelist who used to run a publishing firm, now loathes in this crappy apartment complex for whatever reason. The woman, played by Chang Jin Young, appears to be all screwed up, but there's something about her that attracts Kim Myung Min and it's definitely not her hair because it looks like...well...it looks like shit. The two instantly become friends.
Anyways, Chang Jin Young tells Kim Myung Min that there was a man that was burned to death in apartment #504 - the room he's currently living in. Kim Myung Min's reaction: "No wonder the ceiling looked like charcoal". As you can see, Kim Myung Min is a bright young man.
Chang Jin Young has some serious issues. It's revealed that she had lost her baby somewhere along the line. Now, she lives with her alcoholic husband where she lets him do fun things to her like beat her up and take her hard-earned money so he can gamble with it. One day, he beats her a little too much and Chang Jin Young decides to kill him. After doing so, she runs to Kim Myung Min, the only person she can turn to. In a scene straight out of "Goodfellas", Kim Myung Min and Chang Jin Young bury his body somewhere in the woods. Yes, Kim Myung Min likes her so much that, not only does he keep this a solid secret, but he also digs the hole on the ground as well.
After this delightful event, Kim Myung Min and Chang Jin Young grow closer together. They begin to have lots of sex and soon move in with each other. This is where the movie goes downhill at full-speed. I'll be the first to admit that I didn't get it, but let me just run by what goes down without giving away too many details. Warning, the following paragraph was chewed in and spat out:
Kim Myung Min ends up being connected to the guy that was killed in his room. Chang Jin Young ends up being connected to this incident as well. Jeong Jin Yeong (the ex-publisher guy) happens to be working on a novel that is connected to Kim Myung Min, Chang Jin Young and her female friend who also had a husband that was killed in that same apartment - and get this, that same husband appears in ghost form to warn his widow that "some events will happen in this apartment tonight" or something like that - and this is out of nowhere. So basically, we have two guys that died in the apartment complex and a burned baby who survives the fire and grows up to be Kim Myung Min, which he discovers at the end of the movie.
If you didn't understand that last paragraph, don't worry. I wrote the damn thing and I don't think I understand it myself.
"Sorum" is a terrible movie that gets worse and weirder as time goes on. Like I said, I don't get it. And if it takes one or two more viewings to get the full explanation then count me out because there's no way in hell I'm going to sit through this shit again.
Any good things about "Sorum"? Well, I did give it a 2/10 rating so those 2 points came from somewhere. I thought the cinematography was excellent, but wasted. The apartment building was definitely a visual-horror to look at, but also wasted. Chang Jin Young and Kim Myung Min are obviously talented, but once again... wasted. The package design for the DVD was neat, but guess what.... you guessed it, wasted.
I'm going end this review by admitting that I chuckled more than once at Kim Myung Min's imitation of Bruce Lee. It's actually hilarious but misplaced in this film. In other words, WASTED!
MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S RATING: 2/10