Synopsis: Very few comedies have grossed over one hundred million dollars at the box office, but those which have are absolute classics: Animal House, Porky’s, There’s Something About Mary, American Pie and Sex Is Zero! You never knew they made comedies in Korea? Well now you’ll never forget! This film out performed Titanic 3 to 1 in its homeland – eventually becoming the highest grossing Korean comedy of all time. Ever wonder what Fast Times At Ridgemont High would have been if directed by the Farrelly Brothers? Wonder no more! This hysterical Asian import has a decidedly American sense of humor that will have you rolling on the floor just in time for spring break.
Saekjeuk shigong 6.0
I only recently discovered this film via an online list of ’40 best sex comedies’ – a list so filled with lame ducks that it only confirmed that the genre is a weak one. Most of them were familiar to me, if in name only. However, I had never heard of ‘Sex is Zero’, which has been boasted to be the Korean ‘American Pie’.
I’m not a huge fan of ‘American Pie’ (I actually sold off my copy of the DVD and never saw the sequels), but if ‘Sex is Zero’ is being compared favourably to it, I figured I might as well see it – I’ve never seen anything like this in Asian cinema (and I LOVE Asian cinema!), so that is a big selling point.
For starters, the writing is so lacklustre that what was happening on-screen was often nonsensical; it was mostly conceived as a series of gags that aren’t woven together into a cohesive whole. It’s also so poorly edited that scenes started and ended abruptly; it was like a bunch of vignettes pasted together with no concern for coherence.
The pacing was really bad. One moment, we’re moving from one scene to the next in an ADD fashion, and then the next we just grind to a halt. For instance, there’s this extremely long dance/performance competition towards the end that was unbelievably lengthy; it just dragged on and on and on. The worst thing is that you can’t justify it: it wasn’t that great a sequence and the editing was so choppy that the performances were basically hobbled. So why bother focusing on it?
The acting is also fairly iffy – or, one should say, it’s typical of the teen comedy genre. As I watched the movie, I couldn’t help but wonder if any of the actors were hired for their thespian ability, because there wasn’t much evidence of it. I figure that they were likely hired for their looks and/or ability to do group competitions (for the sequence mentioned above) and/or for their willingness to do stunts on screen.
Because that’s all the film is: a series of gimmicky or sex-related moments. For the most part, the actors ended up doing stupid stuff that made no sense (at least not in real life) and the humour wasn’t really funny; I frequently found myself being completely underwhelmed by the punchlines, feeling deflated instead of elated. The drama didn’t really fare much better, honestly, in that, while the sequences held an ounce of truth to them, they weren’t truly believable.
At least the film delivers on its promise of gratuitous sex; it’s filled with an abundance of sex-related humour or R-rated scenes. It has its fair share of nudity, and some of it was actually relatively steamy – it gives its American brethren a run for their money. As for the humour, it certainly tried to push the envelope: for instance, and for good or bad, there’s a memorable sequence in which one of the characters… um… unloads in a frying pan. And then proceeds to fry it.
Having said this, while these moments leave quite an impression, it doesn’t make the film especially funny or particularly entertaining. However, if one can ignore the ADD and amateurish qualities of the film, then it may prove to be more potent. As far as its staying power, I can’t even imagine watching this in full again. Perhaps, with time, I may be coaxed – if I pick up the sequel, for instance…