R-Point

Movie Review by Jonathan Harvey

Starring: Kam Woo-sung, Sohn Byung-ho, Oh Tae-kyung, Park Won-sang

Director: Kong Su-chang

Vietnam is the setting for this new supernatural chiller from writer/director Kong Su-chang. It tells the story of some soldiers from Korea (who sent thousands of troops to assist the US in the war), who receive disturbing radio signals apparently from a unit stationed in the isolated region codenamed ‘Romeo Point’. The trouble is that all the soldiers from the unit in question are supposed to be dead. In response to the distress call a platoon is sent out to investigate the area, which turns out to be under a horrific curse. This is something that the soldiers, led by Captain Choi Tae-in (Kam Woo-sung), discover slowly as they are terrorised by supernatural forces on their way.

It’s a powerful idea to pit armed troops against a ghostly enemy, as this is one situation in which guns and armoury, which might well be effective on the battlefield, won’t help. But of course the premise is certainly not something new – the classic reference point is obviously John McTiernan’s PREDATOR, and it’s unsurprising (and a bit disappointing) that some of the traditional basic army character-types are to be found among the troops (the tough-talking sergeant, the young blood yet to see combat, and so on). That said, the talented young Korean ensemble cast do a good job of bringing life to the group as the horror worsens, and Su-chang too does well to breathe a real sense of fear into the action, exploiting the claustrophobic environment of the Cambodian jungle where the film is mostly shot. The clever use of the landscape to build tension is also effective, and again reminiscent of PREDATOR.

It’s arguable that, having raised the interesting fact of Korea’s involvement in Vietnam, perhaps R-POINT misses the chance to say something about that country’s attitude to the war, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that this is fundamentally a ghost story, not a political movie. Like so many of the top quality movie exports from the Far East over the last few years, this film does deliver in offering a good few chilling moments worth the admission money. The plot does drag in places and a deeper insight into the soldiers’ characters would have been welcome, but this mix of war and horror is for the most part a satisfying blend.

4 out of 6 stars

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