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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Fox Family


Starring: Joo Hyun, Park Joon-gyu, Ha Jeong-woo, Park Si-yeon and Ko Joo-yeon
Terracotta Distribution
RRP: £12.99
Certificate: 15
Available 10 August 2009

To be human is an extraordinary gift, so much so that many other creatures look on this simple state with longing. It is not just the vampire and the werewolf who craves to be like us, foxes also have the desire. So a family of fox spirits travel to the city, disguised as circus performers, to take advantage of a mystical loophole which allows them to remain human if they eat a human liver. The only catch is that the opportunity only arises on a particular nigh, once every thousand years...

The Fox Family (2006 - 1 hr, 41 min, 46 sec) is a dark musical comedy from first time director Lee Hyung-gon. The script was written by Jeon Hyeon-jin and Park Eun-ah. Given its premise the film is likely to appeal to an audience which enjoyed The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001), The Adams Family (1991) and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), though the songs are not as catchy for a western audience.

When we first meet our heroes they consist of the father, his two daughters and his very strange son. The Kumiho have only thirty days left until the once in a thousand years eclipse happens. Their plan is a simple one, move down from the mountains and lure some hapless humans into the circus in order to butcher them at the appropriate time. The simple plan is put into jeopardy by two problems. The first is that someone is murdering humans with an axe and suspicion has fallen firmly onto the family. The second problem is that the only person that they succeed in luring into their scheme is Gi-dong, a hapless conman, who makes a living from picking up girls and filming himself having sex with them. A perfect victim until the eldest daughter falls in love with him.

Director Hyung-gon uses this wacky premise to reiterate the value of human life. So, the father rescues a woman from throwing herself off a bridge as she feels that she is too ugly to be loved. The family does a dance routine with the desperate and dispossessed of the city, transforming them from a down trodden minority to an all singing and smiling troupe.

The film was made effectively on a shoestring, but some of the cinematography of Choe Jin-ung and special makeup of Lee Chang-man deserve praise. There’s a nice long shot at the beginning of the film which parodies many western long shots and here and there an attentive audience will notice other reference to western movies.

It is difficult to measure the quality of the acting as all the parts are wacky to one degree or another, though Joo Hyeon (who plays the father) does get a few contemplative moments, which helps to round out his character. The oddest character is the Fox son (Ha Jung Woo) - who spends a lot of his time dressed as a demented Pierrot - who is the perfect contrast to the sensual eldest daughter (Park Si Yeon), who lures men to their doom with her womanly charms. Well, at least that’s the plan. Problem is, she’s just not very good at it. Any comic horror film needs a freaky child actress and this role is ably filled by Ko Joo-yeon, who everyone suspects of becoming a serial murderer. The supporting cast is small, mainly consisting of the detective (Park Joon Kyu), who is investigating the murders and Park Cheol-min as the conman with dubious morals.

The disc has a nice clean print with a Korean audio track and optional English subtitles. Apart from a couple of trailers - that’s adverts - the disc contains no extras.

It’s a silly film about some bizarre characters and all the more fun for this. Perhaps if the movie has a fault it is that the main theme, that human life is precious, is introduced too early, leaving much of the remaining half of the film as a sequence of odd happening, but then I enjoy odd happenings.


Charles Packer

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