Nearly 15 years have passed since Kim Dusik fled to the Philippines after committing a murder in Korea. He presently lives in Manila with his Filipino wife, Medusa, and their 15-year-old ...
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Nearly 15 years have passed since Kim Dusik fled to the Philippines after committing a murder in Korea. He presently lives in Manila with his Filipino wife, Medusa, and their 15-year-old Kopino (Korean-Filipino) son, Philip. Away from his homeland, Dusik's overwhelming yearning for his old mother causes him to inflict violence on his son and sexually abuse his wife. He only looks forward to going back to Korea as soon as the 15-year statute of limitations runs out. Only a few months remain. As Philip grows up, he confronts his father for mistreating his mother. While he feels a strong antipathy to violence, Philip, in spite of himself, takes after his father's violent behavior. Medusa finds out that Dusik is leaving for Korea in a few months and begs him to take Philip with him to raise as a Korean. However, Dusik believes that Philip must live in the Philippines because he is not Korean but Filipino. Once Medusa, who dedicated her whole life to her son, realizes that Dusik will ... Written by
Had I never seen a Kim Ki-Duk movie, I would have been more inclined to enjoy this film but I am a huge fan of Kim Ki-Duk. So, when I see a movie that looks like a Kim Ki-Duk movie, with subject matter similar to a Kim Ki-Duk movie, but not nearly as good as a Kim Ki-Duk movie, it makes me just want to watch a Kim Ki-Duk movie. You may have noticed that in the course of 3 sentences, I've already mentioned Kim Ki-Duk 7 times. Well, here goes number 8. Apparently the director of 'Tropical Manila', Lee Sang-Woo, previously worked for 'Kim Ki-Duk'. So, there's no surprise that he's influenced by him. Thats not even my problem with this movie because, truth be told, had he successfully ripped off Kim Ki-Duk, I'd probably be saying "This movie may not be original, but its still pretty awesome". No, my problem with this movie lies in its incoherence. A young director should not assume his audience understands the subtleties of his movie. During a directors Q&A, if people are asking "Why did the character do this? Why did the character do that?", then the director has failed in telling his story. That's what happened with this.
First, let me back track. The story is about Koreans hiding out in Manila waiting for the statutes of limitations to run out on the crimes they've committed back home. Apparently, there is a 15 year statutes of limitations on all crimes committed in S. Korea, so many criminals attempt to hide out in foreign countries awaiting for the day they can return without fear of being prosecuted. Sounds pretty cool, hey? Thats what I thought. So, the movie starts with a blow-job. Not one of those creative camera angles, leave it to the imagination kind of cinematic blow-jobs. No, it was a blow-job and I didn't really need to see a chubby Korean man getting a blow-job from a Filipino lady in a mask. A mask awfully reminiscent of the one worn by the character Seh-Hee in Kim Ki-Duk's 'Time'. Later on, for no apparent reason, we get to see a character peeing straight on at the camera. I don't know why we, the audience, need to see this. It has no relevance whatsoever to the plot. I'm not a prude. I just don't see the point of its inclusion in the film.
After these blatantly poor attempts at being artistic, the movie just traveled down an incoherent path that often left me wondering what the hell was going on. Yet, I could pretty much sum up the whole movie very simply. The father, Du-Sik, beats his wife a lot, much to his son Philip's disgust. While this is going on, there are a lot of incoherent scenes that feel more like filler than they do like essential pieces of the story. There is one moment in the movie in which the son is handing is father a wad of cash, to which his father shakes his head as if to say "no". I had no idea what was happening during this exchange. Why was he giving his father cash? This was never explained, until after the movie had finished, the credits had rolled, the theatres lights had come up and someone in the audience asked the director "why was the son giving the father money?". Turns out that the father would only take the son back to Korea if the son could come up with the money for a plane ticket. Would have been nice if that had been explained to the audience at ANY point DURING the movie. Screenplay writing 101.. nothing should go unexplained.
All in all, this movie is really poorly done. Its a shame too, because I really liked the premise but, what good is a premise without a coherent plot and well developed characters?
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