R-Point
R1 - America - Tartan Video
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (18th June 2006).
The Film

Asian Horror films over the last few years seem to have grown in popularity, 1998ís Ringu was one of the first to gain mainstream western attention, and was suitably followed by many copy-cat films and a slew of J-horror, Honk Kong horrors also followed in greater numbers and the Koreans are also making their presence felt in the genre, some of the more popular films include Whispering Corridors (1998), Memento Mori (1999), Phone (2002), Memories (2002) and A Tale of Two Sisters (2003). The Korean horror seems to focus heavily on the spirit world, ghosts are a popular device used in these films and R-Point is no exception.
Traditionally horror films play on popular beliefs and primal fears in order to conjure up scares, the Korean horror has taken their belief of the spiritual world and managed to create films that are uniquely Korean but those that can also be appreciated by audiences world-wide. Many cultures in Asia, including Korea recognize the existence of spirits that live in the houses, these spirits look after the well being of the house. It is in-built in many Koreans that these spirits surround us, its part of Koreaís cultural landscape and comes as no surprise that their films all have spiritual themes. In this case weíre not talking about friendly house spirits, they usually manifest themselves as creepy dead little girls or ghosts that want to kill you.
R-Point tells the story of a Korean platoonís tour of duty in 1972 Vietnam, they are sent out on a mission to locate a missing platoon. They must go to a position know as R-Point where the soldiers went missing. However R-Point has a troubled history and his haunted by ghosts, slowly as they begin to discover what happened to the lost platoon these soldiers end up dead one after the other.
There are several things I really liked about this film, the first in particular is that these roles were very well cast; each soldier was different and had their own personality. They all meshed incredibly well together as if a unit that had been on tour for quite some time. The military training camp would have instilled some sort of camaraderie that feels real and uncontrived.
I also liked the effects, especially the gore elements. Being a fan of horror and also of realistic looking violence adds a level of believability that is used effectively to scare the viewer and also sparingly, the filmmakers knew when too much was enough and held back at times, letting our imaginations take hold. This is clearly a sign of someone that understand and respects the horror genre; donít show off all your tricks.
However for every positive there is a negative and unfortunately this film did possess some negative attributes, Firstly I found the pace to be too slow, The first half of the film is used to set up the story and introduce us to the platoon, while the second half we watch them die. Although the scenes were we get to know the soldiers were interesting I was also honestly bored. They also didnít really seem to be doing anything other than setting up based at a creepy looking disused building and searching the grounds for the missing soldiers. Thereís really only so much you can do in one location until you end up having repeating yourself. I guess thatís the major limitation of the script.
While they were searching, there was no excitement; it was simply just that, people patrolling an area looking for others and occasionally being freaked out by seeing ghosts. I never felt an adequate build-up of tension and it seemed like many opportunities were missed, perhaps it was the plain and uninteresting location (with the exception of the house)? Maybe it was the way the film looked? Which leads me to another point, the photography was fairly straightforward and plain looking. It did not evoke a mood or ma sense of dread, it felt very Ďmade-for-TVí, I love horrors that take liberties with the look of the film, setting tone is very important and the photography play a huge hand in that. I just wish the filmmakers could have tried something different than just the run-of-the-mill.
If youíve enjoyed the many ghost themed Korean Horrors than R-Point should please, otherwise itís not something that anyone should go out of their way to see.

Video

Presented in the filmís original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1, this anamorphic transfer is gorgeous, the image is sharp and detail holds up well, especially in the background. Colors are well rendered especially skin tones and the deep reds in the blood, blacks are solid and rich and shadow detail is consistent. I could not spot a dingle flaw with this transfer; this appears to be a direct port of the Korean release.

Audio

Three audio tracks are included on this release all of which are in Korean, the first is a DTS 5.1 surround track, we also have a Dolby Digital 5.1 and also a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its DTS soundtrack. I found dialogue to be clear and distortion free, atmospheric surrounds are presented well and music is makes full use of the 5.1 space. Although a good track it wasnít the best DTS has to offer, I felt that an overall depth wasnít entirely achieved, Iíve heard better but this is far from the worst.
Optional subtitles are included in both English and Spanish. The English subtitles are easy to read and I could not spot any spelling or grammatical errors. There are some parts of this film spoken in English, when this occurs burned-in Korean subtitles appear as part of the print.

Extras


First up we have the feature-length audio commentary by director Kong Soo-Chang, producer Choi Kang-Hyeok and location supervisor Kim Wan-Shik. This track is very much screen-specific and entirely in Korean with English subtitles. The participants comment on various aspects of the production such as when the scenes were shot, production difficulties and locations among other things. While I enjoyed this track I found that the majority of the time they were complaining about missed opportunities and what they could have done had there been enough time. I get the sense the director was not entirely happy with a lot of the shots in this film and if given another chance would completely redo everything. This constant blaming of insufficient time doesnít really inspire confidence in his work, which is a shame because the film wasnít all that bad. I also found it difficult to make out who was talking at times, as there was no onscreen titling. This was at times confusing, however whenever the discussion moved to the location it was fairly evident the location supervisor was talking.

Next up is the Making of R-Point featurette that runs for 30 minutes 8 seconds. This is a fly-on-the-wall style video journal that also includes interviews with the main cast and crew shot during the production of this film while on location in Cambodia as well as a look at the military training the cast received before filming started. This is an interesting clip however I could not understand a word of what people were saying because there are no English subtitles, thatís correct, this extra was ported over from the Korean release and was not subtitled!

Following that is the Creating 1972 Vietnam featurette which runs for 9 minutes 58 seconds. Just like the clip above this too does not include and English subtitles. This takes a look at the production design to help sell a 70ís era Vietnam, the costumes and props are also briefly covered.

Special Effects featurette is next and also runs for 9 minutes 58 seconds and sadly the similarities continue with no English subtitles, this clip looks at the prosthetic effects and dead bodies made for the film, Iíd love be able to understand what the person in the interview is saying but alas I do not know Korean.

Also included is the filmís original theatrical trailer which runs for 1 minute 48 seconds, plus a collection of bonus trailers that include:
- Marebito which runs for 1 minute 51 seconds.
- Old Boy which runs for 1 minute 36 seconds.
- Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance which runs for 1 minute 32 seconds.
- Spider Forest which runs for 1 minute 19 seconds.

These bonus trailers can be viewed individually or with a Play All option.

Packaging

This disc is packaged in an amaray case housed in a cardboard slipcase.

Overall

The Film: C+ Video: A+ Audio: B+ Extras: C- Overall: B-

 


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