Quite possibly the first film to open with an assurance that it isn’tbased on real-life events, Flu may overestimate its ability to incite panic among germaphobic viewers. Kim Sung-su’s avian-flu drama foregoes the global pomp of a movie like Contagion in favor of a more centralized outbreak in Bundang, South Korea, presumably to maximize the effect among Korean moviegoers (over 2 million of whom have already seen it). Foreign blockbusters of this sort are often most interesting as a glimpse (however distorted) into their country’s national consciousness, and a climactic scene in which South Korea’s young, charismatic president defies an interloping Westerner’s orders is indeed Flu’s most revealing moment. But other than a sequence in which the authorities shoot birds out of the sky lest the winged disease-carriers spread the H5N1 virus even farther, Kim’s film is hackneyed even within the realm of Korean disaster movies—The Host this is not. All the familiar parts are there: brief prologue showing how the disease first spread, a precocious child who both raises the stakes and provides moments of adorable levity, and the ragtag group railing against the government’s cynical, for-the-greater-good plans to sacrifice the few for the many. Still, on a visceral level Flu mostly works in spite of its familiarity; these tropes exist for a reason, and Kim has enough discipline behind the camera to keep things reined in.
Sung-su KimHyuk Jang, Soo Ae, Hyo-ju Park, In-Pyo Cha, Min-ah ParkCJ Entertainment