I’m a big fan of animated films even though I haven’t had the chance to review many. Since I have been on a South Korean film kick this past week, The King of Pigs should fit right in. This is the first of two films directed by Yeun Sang-Ho and being released by Olive Films. The second one (The Fake, 2013) Garrett has already reviewed here on TNM.
The Movie Itself (3/5)
Our film begins with Kyung-min who is taking a shower after brutally strangling his wife. Well, we assume he did it since he doesn’t call the cops and just goes on about his day. Also, don’t expect anything like a silly little murder to be resolved, because it actually has very little to do with our story. After Kyung-min’s cleanup and mild hallucination we meet Jong-suk and he is quite the jerk. Actually, jerk is probably nowhere near strong enough. So we have, Kyung-min who just killed his wife and Jong-suk who just kicked his girlfriend’s ass because he was jealous. Two real winners and no one to care about in this film. If you need likeable characters you can stop reading and find a different movie to watch.
Kyung-min invites Jong-suk for coffee/tea and to recollect; they haven’t seen each other since middle school even though they were best friends. For the rest of the film, the majority takes places in flashbacks detailing the boys hardships. The goal of the director is to make you feel pity for these boys and that what they did as adults correlates. It kind of works due to the film being so heavy handed. It pulls no punches with the bullying, peer pressure (animal killing), and tense family situations (both fathers are failures at being a role model).
The film also relies on the two boy’s surrogate role model Kim Chul, The King of Pigs himself. He stands up for the two boys and fights back against the bullies. The film uses Chul to promote its message of disproportional classism and its drain on society. By being The King of Pigs and leading, being a voice for the undesirables, he can possibly give some hope? The problem isn’t necessarily the overall view, but how it gets accomplished. Chul believes to fight evil you must become even more evil, because that has never backfired before I am sure.
What culminates from this, is everyone being unlikable and dangerous with maybe the exception of Kyung-min, though his wife may disagree with that sentiment. While not liking most of the characters, I was still strangely engaged with the film. You knew that the ending was going to go a little off the wall and it does for the most part. Like Garrett said in his review of The Fake, this type of film is hard to recommend as it is not for mainstream audiences. Having said that though, I am interested in now watching The Fake because I think the director is on to something even if The King of Pigs permeates slight amateurism and takes a heavy handed approach.
Visuals/Picture Quality (3.5/5)
The actual colors and detail look rather nice. What doesn’t make it outstanding is the animation itself and the fact it looks very raw and unpolished. Considering there are not a lot of Korean animated films, this is somewhat expected. It is even discussed in the titles lone special feature. The visuals were never jarring by any means and shouldn’t ruin the film for anyone. After a few minutes, I was paying attention to the story and was only occasionally brought back by a few scenes that looked more amateur than the rest.
Score/Audio Quality (4/5)
The King of Pigs is mostly a dialogue driven film where it most likely wouldn’t benefit much from a 5.1 surround mix. The DTS 2.0 does an adequate job. Everything spoken comes through clear and crisp. The little score that it has matches the film well and the bass does thump when needed. While a 5.1 may have been nice for some of the fight scenes, nothing is taken away and this mix certainly serves its purpose.
Special Features (1.5/5)
Cast and Crew Interviews (15:11) The Director talks about the difficulties in making an animated film in Korea and about casting actresses to voice young boys. A few of the cast come and and talk about their favorite scenes and what techniques they had to employ for their characters. There really isn’t much of note as far as information wise. It’s short enough though to check out if you really liked the film.
- Sturdy non Eco-case
- Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
- Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
- English (Optional)
Runtime 97 Mins
The King of Pigs (2.5/5)
I’m certainly torn on this film. It is very hard to recommend to most audiences, however it should have some fans for sure. The story is interesting and keeps a good pace. I definitely want to watch the directors second film which Garrett saw as well and see how the two films compare. It has since gone up a little since release as a lot of animated films do. The overall package is somewhat anemic if you are used to releases with nice packaging and robust features. As a film itself, it would probably be a safer bet to rent or stream if available. However it might be worth a buy to some in the $10-$15 range.
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.