INVASION OF ALIEN BIKINI (2011) – The Dungeon Review!
Now this is the full Vancouver International Film Festival experience! Not only did I get Invasion of Alien Bikini I got too short films and a Q&A with the film’s star Young Geun Hong. It is such a treat to get shorts before a film. I wish they included them before all the festival films. Western Story (9 minutes) and I’m Sorry I’m Late (3 minutes) were both a lot of fun and like the feature presentation both shorts hailed from South Korea. I got more than my money’s worth with these two shorts and Invasion of Alien Bikini; the Q&A was the icing on the cake. Apparently I am not the only one who dug Invasion of Alien Bikini. The film won the Grand Prize at the Yubari Fantastic Film Festival. I assume fans of Asian cinema are probably aware of the Yubari Fantastic Film Festival but those of you who aren’t the festival chooses its share of unusual and interesting selections. Check out their previous selections by clicking here.
Young-gun is a self-proclaimed protector of the city. Each night he throws on his raincoat and bad fake mustache and patrols the streets. Most of his job however seems to consist of picking up litter. One evening while patrolling he sees a woman harassed by some men. After a lengthy fight he manages to escape with the woman and takes her back to his humble abode. They get to know each other over a game of Jenga. The woman is Miss Ha Monica and Young-gun discovers they have much in common. Not only is her name similar to his favourite instrument, she is impossible to beat at rock, paper, scissors and is also outstanding at Jenga! Young-gun is smitten until Monica puts the moves on him. You see, Young-gun has taken a vow of chastity and his resolve is strong. Miss Monica is pretty determined herself as she is an extra-terrestrial who needs Young-gun’s pure sperm and she needs it before the end of the night! Meanwhile Monica’s attackers who are actually government employees are on the hunt for the seductive alien.
One of Invasion of Alien Bikini’s most appealing aspects for me was the performance by its two central characters. Actor Young Geun Hong is excellent in the central role of Young-gun and is called on to do a number of physical feats. He is unshakeable in his resolve, fanatically healthy, brave and moral but he is also hopelessly awkward, and gives incessantly long descriptive explanations for even the simplest things. He creates a character that is sympathetic and likable. Even after witnessing some buried darkness I still rooted for Young-gun. Eun-Jung Ha is a hoot as Monica. She is freaking adorable and it is a blast watching her character go from sweet to naughty. She is forced to take exceedingly more severe measures to get Young-gun to donate his sweet sperm. Both characters are appealing and a joy to watch.
Invasion of Alien Bikini is definitely comedy first. The film has several giggle-worthy moments and a few hysterical ones. What Monica is forced to do to get Young-gun’s sperm goes from amusing to weird to nasty. The film is well paced, funny, strange and sweet but don’t get too comfortable as the action does take a dark and intense turn. The action even gets bloody but this is not about the blood and gore. Invasion of Alien Bikini is a genre stew that leans heavier on its comedy and sci-fi than it does on its limited horror elements. Director Oh Young-doo is creative and throws a lot of amusing distractions that help make the most of his budget (more on that later). There is a bending time element that is played with throughout. My only criticism is very minor. Invasion of Alien Bikini’s runtime is a little on the short side and they throw a lot of stuff in during the last few minutes of the film. A lot of crazy stuff happens quickly and it made the finale feel a bit rushed. It’s fair to say the ending is rather ambiguous. I don’t dislike ambiguous endings and it did suit the film and its quirky story I just wish they had taken more time with certain aspects.
Before each festival film someone is assigned with introducing the film and thanking the sponsors. It is clear that most of these speakers are terribly uncomfortable. This time around however an older gentleman with a UK accent introduced the film, who based on his comments, actually had something to do with putting the festival together. He was well-spoken and charismatic which was a treat. He seemed genuinely enthusiastic about Invasion of Alien Bikini. He informed us that the director Oh Young-doo could not make it to the festival but recommended he ask the films star Young Geun Hong. With a translator at his side Young Geun Hong introduced the film suggesting we don’t read too much into it and just sit back and enjoy. After the film he fielded questions from the audience. During the Q&A actor Young Geun Hong stated the film’s budget was $5000! Director Oh Young-doo wisely confines the majority of the films action to Young-gun’s apartment. There is very little in the way of effects but the film is nonetheless visually satisfying from start to finish. I loved how they used child-like drawings to explain one particular part of the story. It would have been extremely difficult to pull off a live-action version with this modest budget. The film has a campy appeal that is downright charming and Young-doo definitely makes the most of what he has to work with. It is rather inspirational to see someone making a film this enjoyable for that little moola. Another question during the Q&A came from a woman asking why it was necessary to include the violence, stating it rather turned her off. At one point the film does take a decidedly dark turn but I would hardly call the film excessively violent. The little bit of blood and gore they include is towards the end of the film and while one aspect could potentially disturb some viewers I thought it added an interesting ingredient to Young-gun’s character.
If you watched the trailer I threw up here a couple weeks back I can tell you this film delivers everything the trailer promises and more! And what a fantastic poster campaign! The only thing it doesn’t deliver is the bikini. While Monica our alien seductress does appear in her underwear and bra for a good part of the film an actual bikini never makes an appearance. While the pursuit of sex is part of the plot of Invasion of Alien Bikini there is actually no nudity in the film. I still don’t recommend you watch this one with the kids however.
Invasion of Alien Bikini is a real trip! It is visually interesting throughout, funny, well-acted, and quirky. The dark turn the film takes will blindside some but I freaking loved it! I sincerely hope this film finds a home on DVD as I look forward to watching it again! I eagerly anticipate director Oh Young-doo’s next feature! Highly recommended.
Dungeon Rating: 4/5
Directed By: Oh Young-doo
Starring: Eun-Jung Ha and Young Geun Hong