For a movie that got itself invited to many foreign film festivals, Haemoo certainly did not fail in the intensity and scale in terms of issues it wanted to present, namely social stratas and human nature in adversity. What it did fail, as mentioned in most of the review articles out there, is the depth of characters. At 111min long, the story had to build up the reason why the owner of the fishing ship decided to dabble in human trafficking, the squabbles that happened onboard, how and why calamity striked, the crew’s approach to the problem at hand, as well as resolving the possibly unnecessary love story that became important in the last act. There was simply too much on the plate, to give depth to the main characters, and most of them ended up to be one dimensional. movie-haiwu-by-sung-bo-shim-s1-mask9   Based on a real event which happened in 2001, Haemoo sets its timeline slightly earlier, during the IMF crisis in Asia, which provides the reason for Captain Cheol-joo (Kim Yoon Seok) to agree to take in Chinese-Korean illegal immigrants on his rickety old fishing ship. He has with him 5 other crew members, chief engineer Wan-ho (Moon Sung-keun), boatswain Ho-young (Kim Sang-ho), Chang-wook (Lee Hee Joon), Kyung-goo (Yoo Seung Mok), and the youngest of them all Dong Shik (Park Yoo Chun). Being the most inexperienced and joining simply because he’s interested in marine science, Dong Shik risked his life to save a young female immigrant, Hong-mae (Han Ye Ri), when the immigrants were jumping from another ship to Cheol-joo’s ship, in a dark and stormy night (yeah I know it’s cliche). I think it’s kind of a mutual attraction between the two young ‘uns, though perhaps more of gratitude on Hong-mae’s part. It’s a point of debate for some who had watched the movie, though it doesn’t affect what the movie wants to present on the overall. cloverfilm-3 It is difficult to hide 30 people on a medium sized fishing boat, and when faced which no choice, Cheol-joo had them all squeezed in a holding area meant for fishes. It doesn’t help that an official (Yoon Je Moon) from the coastal guards pop up for a chitchat with Cheol-joo, when all everyone wants is for him to leave their ship asap. Luck is not with those onboard the Jeonjinho (the name of the fishing ship), and without spoiling much, let’s just say death count is pretty high in this movie. I guess it’s no wonder coming from Producer Bong Joon Ho, whose previous works included the highly acclaimed The Host and Snowpiercer, both of which also had pretty high death count. Anyway, things started spiralling downwards for the crew of Jeonjinho at a startling rate, and everyone just somehow became out of their minds. Yoo Chun’s fans can be rest assured that Dong Shik remained alive and kicking till the end. haemoo_3 Haemoo is pretty violent, with some gore, and I think what the producers want to portray is the raw human nature when survival is threatened with both natural and manmade disasters. What makes us so different from beasts is reduced to nothing when our immediate survival is severely threatened. Haemoo leaves its viewers depressed, and is a movie not easily forgotten.

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