The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Friday, January 27, 2012


True Story: Once upon a time, there was a South Korean director named Shin Sang-ok. He was married to an actress named Choi Eun-hee. The two of them divorced and in 1978, Choi was kidnapped from her Hong Kong hotel room. When Shin went to investigate, he to was kidnapped and brought before the "prince" of North Korea. You may remember the "prince" of North Korea...

Now that the "prince" had his director, and his former leading lady, at his "recommendation" they were re-married and produced several Communist propaganda films at his pleasure. One of them was a giant monster movie called "Pulgasari."

We open in Feudal Korea, where a nobility of Evil Tyrannical Capitalists are twirling their mustaches and being mean to villagers because they can't find a group of bandits that stole a small pile of their iron. Of course, the villagers are hiding the iron, and the Evil Tyrannical Capitalists arrest a few, throw them into cells and, GASP, give them food. They are also questioned as to the whereabouts of their stolen iron. The old blacksmith tells them that the legendary Pulgasari ate it.

Honestly, I don't know what the big deal is. There is no iron anywhere in this movie, just aluminum foil. All the swords bend in the wind... or when placed against someone's skin. But, if I were an Evil Tyrannical Capitalist, and I had to wear plastic Walmart Halloween armor, and had a bendy sword, I guess I'd be peeved too.

The old blacksmith refuses to eat. When his daughter and his other gender-ambiguous child throw rice into his cell through the window, instead of eating it, he carves the rice into a small toy.

The old man starves to death and his body is given to his children to bury. His daughter finds the doll and while sewing, she pricks her finger and bleeds on it. The doll comes to life and begins consuming all the iron. As it eats, it grows. And as it grows, the Evil Tyrannical Capitalists behave like douchebags.

Eventually, Pulgasari grows to be about a hundred feet tall, and starts obliterating the Capitalist Army. Everything they throw at him gets beaten back. You've all seen Godzilla movies, you know the drill. I will give them credit for one pretty creative sequence where they lure Pulgasari into a cage, set fire to it, try to burn it alive, it fails and they all try to escape into the river only for Pulgasari to plunge in after them and because he is so hot, he boils them all alive.

Yes, you are looking at Kim Jong Il's Mary Sue. You're welcome.

Lots of mayhem, and eventually the Evil Tyrannical Capitalists are destroyed. But, what about the iron eating Pulgasari? Here is where the movie finally gets a little interesting. And by interesting, I mean Shin Sang-ok delivers a pretty big "fuck you" to Kim Jong Il, which is so blatant, I can only assume Kim Jong Il was a moron who couldn't see the obvious. Pulgasari doesn't go away. It demands that the people keep feeding it. It's big, it's dangerous, it's become their tyrant. Gee... sound familiar?

Do I recommend seeing it? Well, if you're in the mood to laugh your ass off at a really stupid movie, with a pretty wacky back story to how it came into being, sure. But don't pay for it. I didn't. I pirated it. I stole from North Korea. I hope SOPA, or whatever Congress is calling it now doesn't mind.

So, what did we learn? That Shin Sang-ok was awesome... then he escaped and started making "Three Ninjas" sequels, and that Communists can't do anything right. Oh, and Capitalists have echoing evil laughter, funny hats, and carry aluminum foil swords and wear plastic Walmart Samurai armor.

My only regret? That Kim Jong Il didn't live long enough to slash his Mary Sue with Mothra.


  1. I guess Kim Jong Il got what he paid for, didn't he?

    An alternative to his being too stupid to realize he was being mocked, however, was that he approved of the monster's lordship over the townspeople. Also, the Capitalist leader is totally Lo Pan.

    (I'm also going to be That Gal and point out that Mothra is female, so technically it wouldn't be slash, unless there's something about Pulgasari that we don't know about.)

  2. Kind of a strange name for the monster. Pulgasari (불가사리) means "starfish."

  3. The Host (2006), a SOUTH Korean film had similar theme where the Americans caused a monster to grow in South Korea's sewers. That was a bit of an anti-American screed that was allowed in North Korea.