Doomsday Book Blu-ray Review
Written and Directed by Pil-Sung Yim and Jee-woon Kim
2012, Region A, 115 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on December 11th, 2012
Doona Bae as Min-seo (older)
Joon-ho Bong as Joon-ho
Ji-hee Jim as Min-seo (younger)
Yun-hie Jo as Ji-Eun
Kang-woo Kim as Robot repairman Park Do-won
Jun-hee Ko as Kim Yoo-min
Dong-seok Ma as High school zombie
Hae-il Park as In-Myung
Seung-beom Ryu as Suk-woo
Sae-Byeok Song as Min-Seo's uncle
Doomsday Book is an ambitious anthology of three dystopian views of mankind’s future by two of Korean’s most talented directors. Directed by Pil-Sung Yim (The Flower of Evil, Hansel and Gretel), the first vignette, “Brave New World”, starts off as a sweet love story between a nerdy boy and a popular girl. Eventually, a discarded apple rife with poisonous mold and fungus makes its way from the trashcan to the recycling center. From there it is ultimately ground up and incorporated into cheap feed for cattle, subsequently contaminating the nations beef supply. Within minutes, anyone who eats the now tainted beef soon becomes a zombified hulk, wandering the streets looking to wreak havoc and devour human flesh. Unfortunately, the love story aspect quickly takes a back seat once the storyline degrades into a far too comedic, goof-ball satire surrounding the media coverage of the zombie outbreak.
The second story, “The Heavenly Creature”, was directed by Jee-woon Kim (A Tale of Two Sisters, I Saw the Devil) and is by far the gem of lot. It revolves around an accounting robot utilized to run the financial interests of a Buddhist monastery, who has somehow found true enlightenment, even going as far as to claim to be the physical manifestation of Buddha himself. Suspecting some sort of glitch, the monks call for a repairman to look into the issue. After an exhaustive diagnostic evaluation, there doesn’t appear to be anything mechanically wrong with the unit. Fearing that this might represent a threat to mankind at the hands of a new breed of sentient robots, the owner of the robotics company, along with an army of goons, arrives at the monastery with orders to destroy the “malfunctioning” robot with extreme prejudice. This entire segment is so beautifully shot, each and every frame on its own could stand as a work of art. The robot itself is gloriously elegant in its design, looking like the product of copulation between Sonny from I, Robot and the white porcelain mask from V For Vendetta, and as far as I can tell is all done with superb practical effects.
The third and final vignette, again under the direction of Tim Pil-Sung, is “Happy Birthday”. It’s a tale about a little girl who accidentally breaks her uncle’s magic 8-ball, then quickly, feverishly, desperately, before he returns home, goes on-line and finds a strange website selling a seemingly identical product for cheap cash. Unbeknownst to the little girl, she inadvertently found her way to a website hosted by an alien race. Instead of ordering an 8-ball that could fit into the palm of the hand, she schedules expedited delivery of a global killing 8-ball the size of a small moon. Again, global panic comes into play as the object hurdles at breakneck speed on a collision course with Earth, forcing the little girl and her family to hide for a decade in an underground fallout shelter, finally emerging from the darkness towards a new reality.
These three films, independent from one another, are highly entertaining. I was, however, very disappointed that there wasn’t some sort of grand thread that truly connected all three tales into one cohesive mind-blowing experience. I kept waiting for an ending that showed that somehow, someway, these stories, and these people, were interrelated. That type of connection is alluded to on the cover of the Blu-ray case but never really comes to fruition. This is, however, a relatively minor quibble as I thoroughly enjoyed each vignette for what they were in their own right
Video and Audio:
Doomsday Book is presented in 1080p at a 2.34:1 aspect ratio while the audio is Korean DTS-HD 5.1. English subtitles are available.
Unfortunately the special features on this release are pretty scarce, consisting of only a trailer for the very movie you are watching.
*Note: The screenshots on this page are not a reflection of the Blu-ray image. They were captured using the standard DVD.*