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R-Point 
Written by: on March 15th, 2006

Release Date: South Korea, 2004
Director: Kong Su-Chang
Cast: Kam Woo-Sung, Sohn Byung-Ho

DVD released: January 23rd 2006
Approximate running time: 102 mins
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 15
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo/5.1/DTS 5.1
DVD Release: Tartan Asia
Region Coding: Region 0 PAL
Retail Price: £19.95

In 1972, a Korean Platoon group is sent to Vietnam to a de-militarised zone called R-Point to search for survivors from a previous mission as mysterious radio messages have been received 6 months after the mission was feared lost. The 9 soldiers set off and come across a young woman who attacks them and they kill her. They eventually find their base, an old French military hospital, and set up camp. On the first night Corporal Chung goes missing and he is discovered dead, when the platoon report the death over the radio to their HQ they are told that Chung was one of the missing from the first mission. They are then visited by American soldiers who tell them that the base has rumours about it. The lieutenant sees a woman in white at night and the soldiers start to disappear.

R-Point is awaiting a Hollywood remake, supposedly to be directed by Zhang Yimou. It is easy to see why Hollywood would see this film as prime remake property as the movie is heavily influenced by US cinema. If it could be described in a sentence it would be Southern Comfort meets Fallen. The director and write of this piece was previously responsible for the script of one of the better Korean movies of recent years, Tell Me Something, a rather neat serial killer flick.

R-Point has clearly been well made with intricate sound design, proper attention to period detail and to background training for the actors. It has a labyrinthine script which has numerous surprises and lots of reveals to keep you watching to the end. The cinematography is beautiful and the acting is committed. But it is rather overdone.

The creepy music works well in some sequences but it is one of those scores that leaves little opportunity for ambiguity and tells the viewer what to feel at all times. The actors are committed but their nerviness leaves you doubting that these are war hardened veterans who can take pressure and the hysteria is at times so encompassing that you long for a bit of a slap to calm them all down. Similarly the dialogue between them is so lacking in anything commonplace or like camaraderie that you doubt they feel anything for each other and learn nothing about their characters. The whole of military discourse in this film involves calling people an “asshole” regardless of situation.

The central problem with the film is that it spends so much time bringing another shock or surprise that it forgets to have explained itself by the end. The central reason for all this mayhem is never explained and basically the film is far more concerned with effect than anything else. It renders itself meaningless tosh which is a real pity because this could have been something special.

R-Point is great if you don’t want to think but I doubt you will watch it twice.

The DVD:

Tartan have done a surprisingly good job on this disc given some of their previous treatment of Asian gems. The colours are for the most part strong and there is no grain visible in the transfer but there is some thinness of image and ghosting in the more active sequences. This is hardly noticeable and the sound here is excellent with a superb DTS track complemented by 5.1 and stereo in Dolby Digital. The subtitles are excellent.

The disc comes with extras which illustrate the care taken in the production of the film with features on costume and historical authenticity, sound design and actor preparation. The disc also includes a Director commentary and original trailer.

This is a fantastic package from Tartan but the sheer disposability of the film makes me doubt many will choose to own rather than rent this.

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