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DVD Review

DVD cover

Tidal Wave


Starring: Sul Kyung-guy, Ha Ji-won, Lee Min-ki and Kang Ye-won
Optimum Asia
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 15
Available 12 October 2009

Following the tragic tsunami in the Indian Ocean, marine geologist Kim Hwii becomes increasingly convinced that a disaster of similar proportions will strike the south Korean mainland, but who will listen. Man-sik is having his own troubles committing to his girlfriend Yeon-Hee as he feels responsible for her father’s death in the last tsunami. On the local beach Man-sik’s brother, Hyung-sik, is working as a coast guard when re-rescues and falls for Hi-mi. All these lives will be changes with the arrival of the new tsunami...

Tidal Wave (2009 - 1 hr, 42 min, 33 sec) is an epic disaster movie which would make Hollywood proud. Written and directed by Je-gyun Yun, the film follows the same premise of many other disaster movies, though this time with a little twist.

Like most disaster films its split into two halves, the first sets up the various relationships, so that when the characters get to meet their maker the audience has some emotional investment.

Although one would think that the main emotional thrust would be from Man-sik (Sul Kyung-guy) and his fraught relationship with his girlfriend Yeon-Hee (Ha Ji-won), especially as there is some suggestion that he had some involvement in her father’s death, at the very least he left him trapped on a boat to die, the real heart of the story rests with a little girl. His brother Hyung-sik and his admiration for Hi-Mi (Kang Ye-won) is only included so that the film makers can get some good sea rescue shots, though their first meeting is one of the funnier sequences in the film. And that is where this film sets itself apart from others.

Usually, in disaster movies, the characters are dour with portentous things happening in their lives and there is certainly some of this in Tidal Wave, what is unexpected is the amount of humour which Je gyun-Yun has injected into his script. The humour pervades the whole film so that it never really feels out of place, nor does it detract from the impact of the various deaths.

The tsunami, when it does arrive, is suitably impressive having been created by Polygon the team who worked on the Star Wars prequels, The Day After Tomorrow and The Perfect Storm, so it is unsurprising that the film shares a common feel with these movies. To make things more difficult for our assembled heroes, this is no ordinary tsunami but a mega-tsunami which creates a series of huge tidal waves, so even if you survive the first there is no guarantee that you will be so lucky the second time around.

The smashing of the skyscrapers is impressive, even if you get the feeling that you’ve seen it all before, as are the ocean scenes which owe more than a little to The Perfect Storm. That is not to say that there is nothing original in the film, the sequence with the cargo ship stuck on the bridge and its final demise at the hands of an idiot was pretty much the high point of the film for me.

The cast are pretty convincing and the director has given over a large chunk of the film to his characters before he decides to drown them, this is possibly the reason that I cared more about their fate than I would normally do in a film of this kind.

The DVD is presented with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with audio options for stereo 2.0 (not sure why you would go for this option) and a superior Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. There are English subtitles for the Korean track. The only extra on the disc was the original theatrical trailer (2 min, 25 sec).

So, it’s another formulaic disaster movie, but with enough wit and heart to make it worth watching.


Charles Packer

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