This film is directed by Youn Je-Kyun which you may all know he directed titles such as Miracle on First Street, Sector 7 and his recent release Ode to My Father.
Haeundae which had its release back in 2009 is Set in the Beautiful seas side community Haeunda-gu district of eastern Busan, South Korea. This film is regarded as South Korea’s first disaster film and as a avid fan of disaster film’s genre I was highly excited to watch this. I was also super excited when I read the cast list and found Ha Ji Won listed and not only Ha Ji Won , a few stars I recognize from recent dramas, like the very young Kim Yoo Jung, and Uhm Jung-Hwa, Song Jae Ho, Kim In Kwon, All veteran actors in today’s drama circle.
The film starts of in a typical fashion of introducing the main point of the movie , A small fishing boat in distress and massive tidal wave bearing down on the unfortunate sailors , Luckily what seems to be an American rescue helicopter arrives just in time to save the doomed fishermen from the huge tidal wave which was baring down on them but tragedy strikes as one of the sailors is unfortunately lost .
One of the first characters you see is Ha Ji Won, she plays (Yeon He) who runs a sea food restaurant and as you soon find out she is the daughter of the fisherman who was lost at sea in the Mega Tsunami during the Indian Ocean Earth Quake in 2004, By her side is Man Sik a man who has feelings for Yeon He but has never confessed due to the reason behind Yeon He’s father’s death on the fishing boat being caused by him .
Now Just like a typical world ending earth shattering disaster film there is the one person on the planet who is the only one to knows something bad is going to happen and when he tries to warn the Disaster Agency his superiors think he’s a nut job and slam the door in his face, Well a very typical disaster movie approach but you can’t have a disaster movie without the cliché of everyone but one lonely Professor having any common sense to the dangers ahead.
That lonely Fellow is none other than (Park Joong Hoon) , who works as a geologist who informs “The Disaster Prevention Agency” that another occurrence of a mega Tsunami will happen but he is told that it will not happen and south Korea is not at risk , You can tell he’s a man married to his work as we see his relationship with his ex-Wife ( Uhm Jung-Hwa ) is not in a great place as she remarks about him marrying his earthquakes instead of her which I found quite funny , and his Daughter ( Kim Yoo Jung ) who you will find out that over the years of separation his ex wife chooses not to tell their daughter that he is her father .
By Half way through the film the only thing I thought was when is the action going to happen, there is quite a lot of back story to all these characters and it goes on for quite some time but generally in disaster films you get the opener then as the film progresses you get little glimpse of the impending doom gradually building up but here it was almost a Romantic drama with several of the characters going about the day to day life and family problems, even the gallant professor you only seem to see him express his concerns a couple of times and most of the scene’s are with the other characters. But I was relieved after all that what I call “Character Building” it seemed to pay off and you understood why there was so much character story so don’t be put off by all that dialog. One hour in to the film the action begins in Fantastic fashion, a massive undersea earthquake is detected and a Massive Mega Tsunami thunders towards Haeundae and as it comes closer cars crash on the bridge people start to run in all direction at the sight of this monstrous wave .
By this point my eyes were glued to the screen and I couldn’t tear myself away , watching in awe as the sea pulls away from the beach dragging hundreds of people out to sea then as the Tsunami gets closer it smashes in to the bridge and everyone is running for their life’s, this was truly amazing and I felt the heart thumping race of people fleeing as if I were there running away with them. As the Destruction unfolds there was one aspect I didn’t expect to see especially at this point of the film with all this death and destruction …… a bit of comedy yes I said comedy, after the first wave hits the bridge we are treated to the class clown of the film running about franticly like a headless chicken, it was almost like watching a road runner cartoon, I did find the lighter scene quite comical.
By now my eye balls are exhausted and I’m still engrossed at all the scenes of the wave hitting the city and the very last thing I wasn’t expecting was for my emotions to given a work out as well, I was already sad after watching the electrocution scene and this film pulled out the big guns and I mean BIG guns, nothing make me cry so much as a child crying and boy I felt sad for hours after watching our lovable (Kim Yoo Jung) “Ji min” being carried away, as a parent myself this was one of the most powerful scenes in the whole movie for me.
Conclusion, this film was a roller coaster of visual and emotional hits to the head, once the action started it just flowed so well and the characters so brilliantly portrayed each scene, so amazing I was totally memorized. For South Korea’s first Disaster film I was very impressed not only in visual aspect but in the story aspect too. I would rate this as one of my top ten Korean Films and its replay value quite high so in all I can’t wait for another disaster film to be made, if it’s made to this standard then we can expect great things from the next one and I would recommend this film to any disaster genre fan .