Doomsday Book ("Nryu Myeongmang Bogoseo")
Official Selection, New York Asian Film Festival 2012
Recently, we’ve observed a renaissance of anthology collectives with such notable titles as THE THEATRE BIZARRE, QUIRKY GUYS AND GALS and LITTLE DEATHS, all presented at Fantasia in 2011. This continues this year with DOOMSDAY BOOK, an alluring collaboration between Yim Pil-sung, director of the magnificent HANSEL & GRETEL, and Kim Jee-woon, the man behind A TALE OF TWO SISTERS and A BITTERSWEET LIFE. In a year in which the world is predicted to come to an end, they offer us their unique perspectives on the apocalypse through three segments that mix spirituality with traces of dark humour.
To start things off, Yim Pil-sung’s "A Brave New World" plunges us into an epidemic that increases the libido and aggression levels of those infected, gradually making them look like zombies. Considering this chaos seems to be the consequence of contaminated meat, its propagation focuses on the heart of the BBQ capital. Next, Kim Jee-woon gives us "The Heavenly Creature", in which a temple’s robotic tour guide may turn out to be Buddha’s latest reincarnation. This situation creates a delicate moral dilemma in a world where machines are increasingly taking the place of humans. The company that designed the android, for their part, doesn’t intend to sit by and let the situation persist. Finally, Yim Pil-sung returns with "Happy Birthday", where a little girl orders a billiard ball online to replace the one that she ruined. Two years later, she and her family are bracing themselves for the arrival of a meteorite that is advancing at a thunderous speed towards Earth. Could it be that this internet transaction is related to humanity’s imminent destruction?
Kim Jee-woon and Yim Pil-sung come back to us in phenomenal form with DOOMSDAY BOOK, a joyful blend of horror, sci-fi, drama and comedy that is brought to life by a dream cast that includes Ryoo Seung-bum (co-winner of the best actor prize at Fantasia 2011), Kim Kang-woo (THE TASTE OF MONEY), Kim Gyu-ri (POONGSAN), Bae Doo-na (AIR DOLL) and even Bong Joon-ho (director of THE HOST) in a hilarious cameo. While there may be noticeable tonal differences between Yim’s two films, which opt for critiques of overconsumption and slices of sardonic humour (his news bulletins will make you howl), and Kim’s, a splendid philosophical segment delivered with masterful aesthetic care, they definitely agree on one thing: humanity’s principal threat remains human beings themselves. But as long as works of art such as DOOMSDAY BOOK are being produced, there’s still hope.
— Nicolas Archambault