R-Point DVD Review
Written by Neon Maniac
DVD released by Tartan Video
Written and directed by Su-chang Kong
2004, Region 1 (NTSC), 107 minutes, Rated R
DVD released on February 14th, 2006
It is 1972, and the Vietnam War is nearing a climax. A platoon of Korean soldiers, who are eager to go home, sign up for a dangerous rescue mission with the promise of being sent back to Seoul when it is completed. The location of the rescue is R-Point, a desolate island off the coast. Six months ago, a platoon was on a mission there and were never heard from again — until recently, that is. HQ started receiving terrifying radio transmissions from men claiming to be the lost platoon and begging for a quick rescue. They were facing an imminent, horrible death.
The rescue squad gets to the island and begins their trek through the thick jungle. Along the way they encounter very odd grave stones, suspicious temple ruins and an eerie marker explaining that decades ago the Chinese army drowned helpless Vietnamese in a now dried up lake. When the soldiers make camp in a decrepit mansion, things really start to get weird. Why are there extra men in the platoon now? What is that cheap jingle bell sound? Why did the Ventures tape suddenly start playing horrific screams?
A lot has been written onlinr about R-Point, comparing it to everything from "Dog Soldiers in the jungle" to being the "Korean version of Apocalypse Now." I would have to disagree with these ideas. An original movie, R-Point takes the tired premise of rescuers needing rescuing themselves and brings new life to it. Closer cousins to R-Point would have to be The Thing and Predator, but even those would be a stretch for comparison. However, what R-Point does share with other horror films is something that is quickly becoming an Asian Horror cliche. When will we get to see a major asian horror pic that does not have a long-haired girl in white? Thankfully, the one here was played down, and didn't even do a spider crawl.
The attention to detail in R-Point is truly amazing. The cast went through boot camp, the costumes and props are all authentic Vietnam war surplus gear, and even some of the most overlooked details were done correctly here. While filmed in Cambodia, it's hard not to believe these guys are in Vietnam, circa 1972.
R-Point is at times both a war movie and a horror movie. It does both aspects well. Most importantly, the suspense builds at the perfect pace as the characters begin to realize what the viewer already knows; that they are screwed. My only gripe with R-Point are a few small plot holes that are easily forgiven for sake of the story. One example is that a photograph taken at the beginning of the mission with a 35mm camera somehow gets developed and passed around in about a day's time. In the jungle. But like I said, it's easily forgiven and does not mar the viewing experience.
R-Point should appeal to a wide audience of war, action, J-Horror and just plain horror fans.
Video and Audio:
R-Point has an anamorphic 1.85:1 picture. It's a nice average pic and shows off some beautiful natural scenery. It is very dark at times, but there were only two scenes that showed traces of macroblocking. Some artifacting is present in highly detailed jungle scenes, but should not be enough to ruin it for anyone.
R-Point includes Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 soundtracks in the native Korean language. R-Point takes full advantage of 5.1, and will give your speaker system a decent workout. Both Dolby and DTS tracks sound great, with the main difference seeming to be that the DTS track is slightly louder.
The R-Point DVD contains trailers, director's commentary, making of, and special effects documentaries, and an interview with the film's Prop Master. The interview with the Prop Master is highly entertaining. He discusses the difficulty of getting authentic Vietnam War gear out of Korea and through Cambodian customs, driving 5 hours through the Cambodian jungle to find paint, and what it was like to live and work around a 'haunted' mansion out in the middle of nowhere. All of the docs are worth watching, as an extraordinary amount of detail went into making this film.