South Korean director Sang-ho Yeon (The King of Pigs) returns to animated story telling in 2013’s The Fake. It is a mix of the Drama and Thriller genres. Olive Films just released the film here in the U.S. Does it warrant a spot in your Blu-ray collection? Read on to find out!
The Fake mostly takes place in a little village where the residents are going to have to move because the area is going to be flooded for a new dam to be constructed. They have to leave their homes behind, but fortunately a local pastor has promised a new church building where they can stay in the new area. All that is needed are the funds from the village to help support the building. The main characters of the animated drama is an abusive father coming back home from jail, the small village pastor, and the pastors business benefactor who is taking in the villages funds for the building project.
Writer/Director Sang-ho Yeon paints a bleak picture of life with his film. Characters are physically and emotionally tormented at every turn. The film has a very cynical view on religion and family relationships. It seems like no one really has any real answers or comfort in the whole film. The animation itself is fairly simplistic, but I think the style really fits the dour tone prevalent through The Fake. The message is very clearly presented, but the main characters are very mean spirited, leading to pity from the audience rather than understanding of their motives. Of course, some may argue that this is in fact how it works in real life, so it all depends on your view.
The Fake seems like a diatribe without a real shred of hope in sight. This film did not hit me emotionally like Grave of the Fireflies, although I think if it had more subtlety and had one or two endearing characters it could have. It’s unfortunate that it did not grab me in the same way because I think the groundwork for an interesting film is definitely here. The problem is, I think many viewers could find The Fake deeply unpleasant. Characters are vile and violent, and there isn’t much to root for here. Ultimately, The Fake is compelling in the sense that it could spark a discussion on the subjects brought up here. The film knocks at the door but it’s up to the viewers to take the steps necessary.
Audio and Visuals:
The Fake is presented in it’s original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The colors are vibrant and certain scenes really pop, especially the reds. The animation itself is not the prettiest in the world but it seems to be a stylistic choice to represent the mood. Olive Films did a good job with the transfer. The audio is in 5.1 surround. It is Korean dialogue with English subtitles. The main part of the movie is mostly talking, although there is a nice atmospheric score as an undercurrent to the film. Dialogue is crisp and the vocal acting shines in the mix. This is a solid presentation of the film.
There are no special features on this release.
The Fake Final Thoughts:
This is a hard movie to recommend to mainstream audiences. It’s not that the film is poorly done, but rather that the message could be divisive. The main characters are difficult to like and get behind. So many bad things happen within the town that it is a far cry from being a feel good movie. Parts of the film are super realistic, while other parts are exaggerated and overly dramatic. Every character has flaws. To some viewers this must sound great and complex and others might not want to spend the time in this type of world.
The message of The Fake to some may just seem to be an exercise in Nihilism. I personally think the film makes interesting comparisons with the characters and is worth discussing or debating about those points with your friends. While not a perfect film, I thought it was worth watching. If it sounds interesting to you, then you can pick it up at your local video store or online at Amazon or Best Buy.
Note: This Blu Ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.