“Seobok” is the newest sci-fi thriller from South Korea headed by hallyu stars Gong Yoo and Park Bo Gum. The movie premiered last week and has topped the box office upon its release.
However, the movie was met with mixed responses from fans and critics, but why? What went wrong and why did the movie receive divisive reviews?
Below is a quick recap of “Seobok” ending scene and followed by my review- heavy spoilers
“Seobok” ending recap
“Seobok” and Ki Hun are saved by the old business man military personals and brought back to the lab. Seobok is bleeding because he’s gone without a chemical liquid he must take daily.
When Ki Hun wakes up, he finds that Seobok is attached to the lab machines and the doctors begin extracting his blood causing him pain the process. Ki Hun realizes it might not be worth the pain he’d have to go through so he can live.
Ki Hun takes the doctor hostage and threatens to shoot him, he wants to stop all of this madness. Military personals surround the lab along with the old man who arrives to see what the commotion is about.
Ki Hun asks the doctor where is Seobok’s mom and finds out she’s been killed as she tried to assassin the business man who wants to keep Seobok alive for himself and use him as he pleases. Ki Hun is beaten and escorted outside.
Seobok gets up and see her body, he cries and says, ‘you shouldn’t have done it, it wouldn’t have ended that way.’
He is hella pissed, as the doctor attempts to inject him with something he crushes his body and slams him repeatedly on the ground until he’s dead.
The surrounding military personals attempt to withhold their guns as the old man says so, but end up firing any ways to no avail. Seobok easily gets rid of them and then crushes the old business man inside his chair.
Meanwhile, the company’s small military army is waiting outside armed.
Seobok basically destroys the entire lab and using his powers split opens a dent in the ship and gets out, he’s faced with the army who proceed to shoot at him. They also fail. But since he’s using so much of his power, he begins to bleed. Meanwhile, Ki Hun wakes up after being tossed from the pressure applied to the lab, he takes an army vehicle and attempts to start it, he manages to escape with it.
Despite Seobok basically wrecking the military army, chief Ahn gets up, uses a vehicle armed with heavy machine gun and starts firing at him, he is unable to defend himself as well, he’s tired. Ki Hun interferes and with the army vehicle he’s able to stop the bullets momentarily. However, chief Ahn keeps firing at the vehicle until it explodes in their faces and causes injury to both.
Ki Hun tells Seobok to run away, Seobok says, ‘but you know, I have nowhere else to go.’ He gets back up, and then begins applying pressure enough to bring the ground upside down, it ends with the military personals in a hole with Chief Ahn dead with all the rubble over him, other personals who haven’t died yet are trying to crawl back up.
Seobok wants to set the hole on fire, Ki Hun tells him not to and screams, ‘then why did you go back?’ Seobok says he wanted to be something, something meaningful to someone.’
He then adds that it’ll never end until he’s dead, he asks Ki Hun to kill him, Ki Hun refuses at first but then reluctantly agrees and shoots him in the heart, he cries by his body.
Was Seobok ending necessary?
Many people liked the movie but disliked the ending and while I was expecting it to end with either one or both of them dead, I didn’t expect it to be so anti-climatic.
This ending makes sense in the grand scheme of things, it won’t ever end unless he’s dead. People will continue to do their best to hunt him down until they either capture him and use him or kill him mercilessly.
However, the execution of the ending felt not only rushed but void of emotions. I expected a lot better but I shouldn’t have set my expectations so high.
With the abundance of noteworthy Korean movies, I expected Park Bo Gum and Gong Yoo to sign on to do something that would be at least meaningful. “Seobok” was set up to be this amazing sci-fi Korean movie that’ll blow us away. Sadly, it didn’t turn out like this.
Now onto the review.
Director Lee Yong Joo worked on this, he both written and directed it. Its… not… memorable.
I’ll talk about the performances in a bit, but for now let us focus on the writing, directing and CGI.
The writing appears unfinished.
Its like he’s trying to say something profound but it ends up coming out so shallow that you can’t help but wonder what you’ve just watched. Not only has this been done over and over again so many times before, this movie doesn’t really add anything to the discussion surrounding this topic.
“Seobok” attempts to ask the eternal question, ‘if given the chance, should humans be allowed to live forever?’
That’s a very interesting premise, but the director hardly does anything with it.
Some said the movie should’ve been slightly longer and I agree, but even then, it wouldn’t have been able to mask the mediocre writing, nothing can fix this, it needs to be re-written completely in order for it to have an impact, it would’ve been better had it been written by a screenwriter not a director who also writes. This isn’t a job for a director but an experienced writer who can write philosophical scripts.
The movie lacked depth the most, we do get flashbacks to our heroines past but its hardly enough to keep things interesting, it also comes out too late, when it should have been introduced early on.
If you’re going big in a script then be prepared to set up exposition correctly, I didn’t quite understand how and why Americans are interfering, and why they only sent one man to protect seobok if he’s the key to eternal life. Wouldn’t it have made more sense if they had hired an expert team?
Also, I was taken aback by the ‘super powers’ of Seobok, it almost felt like I was watching X-men. It was so off-putting and clearly inserted for dramatic effects and a tool to help out the leads whenever they’re cornered. Setting clones aside, being able to mess with gravity and pressure is still highly unbelievable. Two contrasting ideas, the script doesn’t even attempt to explain why. Cloning is biology-related while the superhero stuff can’t be explained by ‘we cloned something and it was able to stop bullets and bring the ground upside down.’
If you’re trying to do biology-related science fiction then stick to it, why are you introducing super powers to the mix and don’t even attempt to clarify it? If its to cover up why the main male lead alone won’t ever be able to survive and save Seobok, then re-write that entire part for it to make sense, make it so that instead of one man, a team is doing it, or a collaboration between the greedy old man who will support them as they escape the others.
The CGI was also okay. The movie budget is around 16$ million…. But the CGI is lacking and sort of reminded me of kdrama CGI, but kdramas usually have lower budgets to work with and a tighter schedule.
Now onto the characters
Ki Hun is very under-developed as a character. I would’ve loved to see more of him, his struggles and why he was so cowardly, maybe more scenes that shows he isn’t perfect other than the one scene we got when he basically handed in his friend to that ‘company.’
Because other than this, he goes above and beyond to protect someone he’s met like a couple of hours ago, even if he wants to live, it doesn’t necessarily show on his face, and he basically gives up on his idea of staying alive when he sees how seobok was being treated. He’s either going to be empathetic and brave or cowardly and self-loving. If you’re gonna show contrasting qualities then flesh out the characters better so we can understand what’s going on in his brain. He also just ends up killing Seobok as if it’s nothing, only one sentence is enough to convince him to kill someone. Is this the same man who feels immense guilt for causing the death of a friend? Seobok is still a living being after all, human or not.
Would it have killed him to run away with him? Seobok wouldn’t have lived for long without those injections, they could’ve run away and hidden so they both can live their final days in peace.
I liked the chemistry between the two actors but would’ve loved for more scenes that show them bonding together, something that would give me anything to latch onto. This is why I said the drama lacks substance.
This is what happens when you market your movie as the next ‘hit.’ “Seobok” isn’t downright terrible but very disappointing as a movie, if you show up expecting a lot, there is a good chance you’ll be very disappointed.
The actors performances definitely help mask a lot of the movie issues, I especially loved Park Bo Gum’s performance. He suits the character perfectly. Gong Yoo was great as usual but his character is so poorly written and unmemorable. If he had been replaced by any other actor, I don’t think it would’ve changed much. This isn’t in relation to Gong Yoo but in relation to how the character is bland and has no unique traits or habits or anything. Gong Yoo’s talent was wasted here.
It is sad because this could’ve been so much better. If you’re trying to ask profound questions about life and death, do it more sensibly, dive deep into it and make arguments for and against, the director barely scratches the surface.
So these are my thoughts on Seobok, what about you guys? what did you think of the movie