Director: Kim Ji-hoon
Starring: Ha Ji-won, Oh Ji-ho, Ahn Sung-ki, Park Chul-min, Song Sae-byeok, Lee Han-wi, Cha Ye-ryun
As the Hollywood movie industry is finding that the increase in ticket prices attached to 3D films is, in many cases, very good for their bottom line, other countries around the world are scrambling to create their own works using this new technology and hopefully re-create the successes of U.S. big budget films. Enter the film Sector 7; touted as South Korea’s first big budget 3D smash hit, it was one of Korea’s biggest hits of 2011. So does this home grown effort, from director Kim Ji-hun, have what it takes to satisfy monster and action fans?
The versatile Ha Ji-won plays Cha Hae-jun, a female oil rig worker operating in Sector 7, a real life oil installation where her father was killed years earlier. With little luck in finding oil, she and her motley crew are just about to be recalled when suddenly they hit oil. Oil, however, isn’t the only thing they pull from the depths. With the oil, they find creatures that have followed the drill back to the surface of the rig. When workers turn up dead, the survivors must band together to find a way to get off of the rig and stay live.
Visually, the film is great to look at. The high quality effects work and large sets offer a great locale from which to tell this tale. With the importance of 3D in this film’s marketing, there are a number of ‘in your face’ moments made to take advantage of the film’s numerous explosions and action sequences. These scenes really amp up the audience participation and definitely bring the viewer into the film. The sound design is solid as well, with eerie creaks and groans among the first half’s creepier scenes and the punctuation of explosions and battle once the creature is revealed.
Like many monster films, story is not paramount. This is unfortunate, but it is pretty much how it has been since the sub genre was born. Clearly emulating many Hollywood films, Alien and Aliens being most obvious, the film does not introduce anything unique and instead relies on a number of clichés to carry the film. Despite the introduction of Ha Ji-won as a strong woman who is even more competent on the rig than the men, once the monster appears, she devolves into damsel in distress mode for most of the remainder of the film, until its final minutes. It’s very unsatisfying to see this considering the archetype (Ripley, Sarah Conner, etc.) she is evidently meant to embody.
Action is, on the by and large, mostly computer generated, with little in the way of real physical action stunts. This works since the emphasis is to showcase the use of the 3D, but those watching the film will be disappointed by the fact that the action serves the 3D as opposed to 3D enhancing it. Ha Ji-won does take a beating as she is continually tossed around during the film, but you never really feel she is in any real danger. The monster is animated well, but isn’t very scary. It is big and strong, but rarely menacing. When it takes out a worker though, there is a decent amount of violence in the kills.
In the end, Sector 7 is populist film making. It is loud and dumb but cool to look at. It doesn’t really have much more to it than what is on the surface, but it is worth it for those looking for some quick and short entertainment. If you have the opportunity, watch it in 3D since it is clearly made to be seen in that way, but if you can’t, catch it in a group of other non-serious arena where you can simply turn off your mind and take it in.
Special Thanks to SHOUT! Factory for providing a viewing copy!