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Located on the southeast tip of the Korean peninsula is the international city of Busan. A popular vacation spot on the East Sea coast, Haeundae draws one million visitors to its beaches every year. Man-sik, a native of Haeundae, lost a co-worker to a tsunami on a deep-sea fishing trip four years ago. He has never returned to sea ever since. He now leads a simple life running a small seafood restaurant and is preparing to propose to his longtime girlfriend, Yeon-hee. Man-sikís brother Hyung-sik works as a coast guard. One day, he rescues a female college student from Seoul who promptly, comes on to him aggressively. While these everyday domestic affairs unfold, geologist Kim Hwi, an expert on tsunami research, discovers the East Sea is showing signs of activity similar to the Indian Ocean at the time of the 2004 tsunami. Despite his warnings, the Disaster Prevention Agency affirms that Korea is in no harm of being hit. When he discovers a mega-tsunami is headed straight for the Korean peninsula, he quickly heads down to Haeundae. There he meets up with his ex-wife, who is organizing a cultural event, for the first time in seven years. He also sees his young daughter who is unaware that he is her father. Eventually, Kim gets a call about a deadly oncoming wave, with only ten minutes to spare! While the vacationers and citizens of Busan are enjoying a peaceful, hot summer day, a mega-tsunami is headed straight for Haeundae at 500 miles per hour.
For more about Tidal Wave and the Tidal Wave Blu-ray release, see the Tidal Wave Blu-ray Review
Starring: Kyung-gu Sol, Ji-won Ha, Joong-Hoon Park
Director: Je-gyun Yun
» See full cast & crew
Tidal Wave Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, May 15, 2010
Yun Je-gyun's "Haeundae" (2009) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Korean distributors CJ Entertainment. The supplemental features on the disc, none of which are English-friendly, include an audio commentary with director Yun Je-gyun; interviews with cast and crew members; making of featurette; behind the scenes featurette; gag reel; the film's original theatrical trailer and more. In Korean, with optional English and Korean subtitles for the main feature. Region-Free.
I think that most of the early reviews for Yun Je-gyun's Haeundae (distributed in the U.S. by Magnolia Pictures under the alternative title Tidal Wave), a big budget Korean disaster blockbuster, got it right: There is plenty in this film to like and plenty to dislike. The special effects are outstanding but the rest isn't. Haeundae Beach looks like a terrific place to visit during the summer.
Early into the film, a young fisherman (Sol Kyung-gu, Peppermint Candy) loses his uncle during the Indonesian tsunami tragedy of 2004. The story then immediately moves to present days and we see that he has become an alcoholic who likes flirting with the beautiful owner (Ha Ji-won, Closer to Heaven) of a small seafood restaurant - possibly because he is in love with her.
Another of the many colorful characters in the film is a divorced geologist (Park Joong-hoon, My Love, My Bride), who believes that our planet's climate is changing, and that it is only a matter of time before Korea is hit by giant tsunami waves. Of course, no one believes him, even though there is plenty of data already pointing to the fact that the man knows what he is talking about.
The geologist's ex-wife (Uhm Jung-hwa, Marriage Is a Crazy Thing) arrives in town for an important conference and the two decide to meet. She also brings along with her their young daughter, who has never before seen her father. When the three meet, however, the woman tells the little girl that the geologist is just a good old friend who she has not seen in years.
A naive but good-hearted lifeguard (Lee Min-gi) falls for a feisty but very good looking tourist (Kang Ye-won), who has trouble figuring out why the local young men are not as aggressive as those from her home city of Seoul. Confused and irritated, she takes matters into her own hands and immediately causes all sorts of different problems for the lifeguard.
Finally, a strange elderly woman (Seong Byeong-sook) decides to buy a pair of shoes for her rude son (Kim In-kwon, My Wife Is a Gangster 2), who for some unknown reason always gets a second chance in life no matter how badly he screws up.
Eventually, two giant tsunami waves hit Haeundae and all hell breaks loose. Most of the characters mentioned above survive the first wave, but not the second. For awhile, water covers the entire city, but after things calm down, it becomes obvious that all Haeundae Beach would need to reopen is a serious cleanup.
For the genre it belongs to, Haeundae is far from being a disappointing film. The CGI effects are outstanding, the camerawork very good, and the editing convincing. The creators of the film have also infused a strong dose of suspense into it that effectively prevents it from being a giant snoozefest.
What does not work well in Haeundae is the constant tiptoeing between comedy and drama. Large portions of the film are plagued with silly one-liners and flat jokes that are countered with serious conversations about family values and true love that simply feel awkward.
The leads are strong. With the right script, Ha Ji-won could easily become an international superstar. Lee Min-gi also looks ready for a prime time role. The supporting cast, however, is notably disappointing.
Note: In 2010, Haeundae won the Best New Actor award (Lee Min-gi) at the Baek Sang Art Awards.
Tidal Wave Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Yun Je-gyun's Haeundae arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Korean distributors CJ Entertainment.
This is a good high-definition transfer. Fine object detail is pleasing, clarity excellent and contrast levels consistent throughout the entire film. There are a number of different panoramic shots from the Haeundae Beach that look absolutely stunning; especially the ones from the first half of the film where the CGI effects are not too prominent. Close-ups are also impressive. The film's color-scheme is convincing as well. Blues, greens, reds, yellows, browns, grays, and blacks look lush and well saturated. Edge-enhancement is not a serious issue of concern, though I did notice its presence during a few of the outdoor scenes; neither is macroblocking. Additionally, blown through a digital projector Haeundae looks very good - the image is tight to the frame and conveying wonderful depth. For the record, I did not detect any disturbing scratches, cuts, debris, or stains to report in this review. (Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location).
Tidal Wave Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. For the record, CJ Entertainment have provided optional English and Korean subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they appear inside the image frame.
The Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is solid. The bass is powerful, the rear channels not overly active but very effective, especially when the tsunami arrive, and the high-frequencies not overdone. The overall dynamic amplitude is great. There is wonderful depth to the sound as well. Balance is also handled well, so you should not have to adjust the volume once you begin watching the film. The dialog is crisp, clean and exceptionally easy to follow. There are no specific balance issues with Lee Byung-woo's music score either. Finally, I did not detect any disturbing pops, cracks, hissings, or dropouts to report in this review. The English translation is very good.
Tidal Wave Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Note: I would like to apologize to our readers for not being able to comment on the supplemental features included on this Blu-ray disc. Unfortunately, they are all listed in Korean and not subtitled in English. Even the names of the participants in the audio commentary are listed in Korean only.
Audio Commentary - there are a couple of participants in this commentary, and I assume that one of them is director Yun Je-gyun. Since the audio commentary is in Korean and the names of the participants are listed in Korean only, I am unsure who they are.
Interview - an interview with director Yun Je-gyun and crew members. In Korean, not subtitled. (10 min, 480/60i).
Making of - in this featurette director Yun Je-gyun, cast and crew members address the special effects seen in the film. In Korean, not subtitled. (46 min, 480/60i).
Behind the scenes - raw footage from the shooting of the film as well comments from cast and crew members. In Korean, not subtitled. (6 min, 480/60i).
Interviews - a gallery of small interviews. In Korean, not subtitled in English. (30 min, 480/60i).
The Visual Effects - a standard featurette about the visual effects used in the film. In Korean, not subtitled. (24 min, 1080i).
The Characters - a look at the key characters in the film. In Korean, not subtitled. (12 min, 480/60i).
Gag Reel - In Korean, not subtitled. (6 min, 480/60i).
Trailer - the original theatrical trailer for the film. In Korean, not subtitled. (3 min, 1080p).
Tidal Wave Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I did not expect much from Yun Je-gyun's Haeundae and ended up enjoying it quite a bit. There are some obvious flaws with its script, but most, if not at all, are rather easy to tolerate. If you like these types of disaster films, definitely give Haeundae a try. The Blu-ray disc herein reviewed, courtesy of Korean distributors CJ Entertainment, looks and sounds very good. It is also English-friendly and Region-Free. The packaging is once again very elegant. RECOMMENDED.
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