Sex is Zero aka Saekjeuk shigong
R0 - America - Panik House
Review written by and copyright: Gary Jukes (29th August 2007).
The Film

28 year old Eunsik (Im Chang-jeong), having recently completed his stint in the military, starts his first year at University. While eating lunch one day he sees the younger (and sexier) Eunhyo (Ha Ji-won, Phone) who he is immediately attracted to. Unfortunately for him the attraction isn't mutual, mainly because she's the most popular girl there who can have any guy she wants, and he's a bit of an idiot, so he sets about trying to impress her in a variety of ways. This often involves the help of his martial arts 'club', a bunch of equally horny guys who, when not chasing the girls themselves, perform 'endurance tests' like bashing each other over the head with sticks (Eunsik's party piece is sticking his head in a bucket of water for a minute). Eventually, through a serious of accidents and misadventures, Eunsik and Eunhyo become closer before events in Eunhyo's life take a dramatic turn.

I have to admit that before watching this film I hadn't seen any Korean comedies, so I had no idea what to expect. Fortunately there's little of the 'local humour' that often spoils foreign comedies for audiences outside their native country, with the film-makers sticking to the tried and tested 'sex comedy' format. And all the ingredients for a successful sex-comedy are here: horny guys, sexy girls, masturbation, nudity, more masturbation...and generally doing things you wouldn't normally do in everyday life. The male characters are all likeable, particularly Eunsik, who must be one of the unluckiest men alive considering the embarrassing situations he often finds himself in (being caught masturbating by the girl he's in love with, for one). However, the female characters are not so likeable - Eunhyo in particular comes across as cold and unlikeable, and by the time the film takes its dramatic turn it's hard to actually care about her and the situation she finds herself in. True, she does change her ways by the end of the film, but this change almost feels 'forced' upon you by director Yun Je-gyun. Still, this is an entertaining film overall and you'll find it hard not to laugh out loud at the misadventures of Eunsik and his friends.

Video

"Sex is Zero" is presented in 1.85:1 non-anamorphic NTSC, but despite zooming the image, the picture remains generally sharp and doesn't suffer too badly from the lack of anamorphic enhancement.

Audio

There is a choice of 5.1 and 2.0 Surround tracks in the original Korean language. The 5.1 track is lively with all 5 speakers being put to good use, particularly during the nightclub scenes.

Extras

Audio Commentaries
First up is a commentary moderated by Panik House President Matt Kennedy featuring "Mr Skin" & Mike McPadden, who run a "Celebrity Nudity" website. This is one of the worst commentaries I have ever listened to. Skin and McPadden spend the entire running time discussing other films and their respective nude scenes, and impart practically no useful information on the film they are actually watching. In fact, the only time we are given any background on "Sex is Zero" or Korean culture are during the few times that Matt Kennedy manages to get a word in. Avoid.
The second audio commentary is by Jesus Olvera, Entertainment Editor of Al Borde. As this is in Spanish with no English subtitles, I gave this one a miss.

Behind the Scenes: The Making of Sex is Zero runs for 40 minutes and features, well, behind the scenes footage of the shoot! This is a really interesting piece as we get to see the director, cinematographer, set decoraters (and other crew) and the cast hard at work. One segment, in particular, shows us just how dedicated to the cause one actress is as she downs a litre of water prior to shooting a vomiting scene. Talk about method acting!

Memories of Sex is Zero: An Interview with the Director and Cast runs 23 minutes and features interviews with director Yun Je-gyun, actresses Ha Ji-won, Jin Jae-yeong, Yu Chai-yeong, Yun Shi-ooh, Yi Shin and actors Choi Seon-guk and Choi Seong-euk. The director mainly speaks about the script, the shoot, the cast, and his other films, while the cast all talk about their respective decisions to make the film, the hardest scenes to shoot, and their future plans. Interesting enough, though the similarity of the questions is a little repetitive.

Bloopers & Outtakes is the usual set of cockups divided into 12 different sections for a number of different scenes. The outtakes are, for the most part, funny, but a little overlong at 20 minutes.

Deleted Scenes. Seven deleted scenes totalling just under 8 minutes. A few are interesting pieces, but add little to the film and were clearly best left on the cutting room floor.

Trailers. Two theatrical trailers (one extended), and a musical promo.

Poster & Still Galleries. Galleries containing posters, promotional art and production stills.

Rounding out the extras we have brief Production Notes, Panik House Press Kit (one page of text), and cast bios. In the case is a 16-page booklet (in English and Spanish) with notes on the teen sex comedy genre

Overall

A fun sex comedy with a touch of drama, and another impressive selection of extras from Panik House. Loses points for the non-anamorphic transfer, though.

The Film: B Video: C Audio: B Extras: B Overall: B

 


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