Directed by: Steven Whatmough
Written by: Steven Whatmough
Starring: Steven Whatmough, Ben Carew, Pui-Mei Wong
This is one weird film. It is as strange as the movies of David Lynch.
Nam-Hong (Whatmough) has just left South Korea, in order to go to Australia, where he has being offered a job as the head of security at Chandlerdale Exports, a well established trading company in Melbourne. The company’s director William Knoll (Carew) is Nam-Hong’s new boss and keeps a close eye on the newcomer. As time goes by, things get more adventurous, deadly and…bizarre. Eventually, it is apparent that some people are damaging the company and it is up to the new head of security to take action.
This unusual, Australian comedy-drama is filled with eccentric characters and rather awkward situations. Right from the start it becomes clear that this is not a typical movie. The characters have strange conversations with each other and the dialogue resembles the kind written by David Lynch. Protagonist Nam-Hong is an alcoholic and he is often shown drinking (even at work, in front of colleagues), playing the guitar in a crowded street or (for some reason) smashing furniture. Knoll is equally awkward, as he spends a great deal of time in a dark room, observing monitors and commenting. There is also plenty of hand-to-hand martial arts combat, as the hero fights the company’s opposition.
The film is partially shot like a documentary, with characters occasionally looking at the camera and addressing the audience, speaking about their roles withing the company or introducing a new product. It also addresses multiculturalism and provides an insight into the world of international trading and Australia’s relations with other countries, particularly Eastern Asian ones.
Trying to make sense of the script could be challenging. The atmosphere is rather surreal and many scenes will most likely make the viewer think ‘what on earth?’ For instance, at one point while two characters are having a conversation, one of them is inside a rubbish bin. There is a sequence where the movie suddenly turns into a music video. Another strange scene involves people standing on top of a moving train, talking to each other, while one is eating cereal. This is an odd film indeed and at times appears to be mixing reality with fantasy.
The acting matches the tone of the film. It is peculiar. Whatmough portrays an alcoholic, socially awkward man, who also possesses impressive fighting skills. Carew is the company’s director, who knows his business inside out and is determined to carry on doing a great job. Generally, the performances provide a surrealistic feeling.
The score is rather interesting and contributes to the strange atmosphere. It consists of dramatic instrumental music, eerie music, unmelodious horn music and electronic jazz music.
The Korean From Seoul is a weird film, but in a good way. The characters’ behavior and awkward situations attract the audience’s attention and the fight scenes are cool and well choreographed.