August 30, 2011

Marine Boy: One Man Goes Underwater Just So Someone Can Get High

I'm trying to remember if it's ever actually specified, what kind of drug is being trafficked in Yoon Jong-seok's enjoyable crime pic Marine Boy. Is it heroin? Is it cocaine? I know it's a contentious white powder that has rival gangs and cops all vying for its possession but, for all I know, it could be talcum powder, a product which also strikes me as worth fighting for given the recent advent of cornstarch within the Johnson & Johnson empire. There is some mention early in the film of benzodiazepine, I believe, in relationship to the film's femme fatale Yuri (Park Si-yeon), a nightclub singer who likes to croon in Paul McCartney's "No More Lonely Nights" in English and clock men with her surprisingly lethal purse. But since we never see anyone pop pills, shoot up or snort lines, Marine Boy almost feels like a stylish agit-prop piece against drugs filmed in a country where depicting drug use on the big screen is illegal.

And it's not the only vice under attack here either: Former swimming-champ-turned-drug-mule Chun-soo (Kim Kang-woo) never would've gotten involved with the backstabbing world of black market narcotics if he hadn't incurred a gambling debt by misreading an ace for a four in the mirrored surface of an opponent's lighter. Has he been framed? Can he escape? Is there anyone to trust among this den of thieves that surrounds him? Or is the only way out to shove a sausage full of the aforementioned but unspecified drug up his butt and then to swim underwater from one ship to another in the un-patrolled waters between Japan and Korea? Well, at least he looks good in a rubber wetsuit. Really good. And if he's fallen for Yuri, despite having seen her last boyfriend beaten to death by her surrogate father, frenemy and drug kingpin Kang (Jo Jae-hyeon) who also just happens to be the man pimping out Chun-soo's large intestine as a storage locker, maybe that's because he knows that if Yuri sees him often enough in that wetsuit, she'll double-cross anyone who stands between the two of them and their fantasy getaway on the island of Palau. Don't be jealous of two beautiful young people who end up shacking up on a picturesque beach front property with quick access to world-class surfing. Neither has enrolled in a 12-step program for gambling or drug addition yet.

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