Wednesday, December 26, 2012
The Third Generation Ureme 6
Director: Kim Cheong Gi
Starring: Han Jeong Ho, Kim Jong A
I initially came upon this super obscure film series in the mid nineties. Ureme (which stands for Thunderhawk in English) was a series of eight ultra low budget children's sci fi action comedies that began in 1986. I had first read about these in Damon Foster's 'Oriental Cinema' magazine (come to think of it, it's still the ONLY place I've ever read about them) and was able to obtain the first and sixth entries from a grey marketeer who charged far too much (as was always the case back then).
Ureme was apparently Korea's local answer to the beloved Japanese anime and live action shows of the '70s as it combined a Henshin Hero known as 'Beperman' with an animated transformer robot. For a fan like myself, this sounds ideal and for the most part it is. The thing that nearly ruins the whole deal for me is star Shim Hyung Rae. As far as I know, Shim was a very popular comedian among children and since that was the series' targeted audience, I'm sure he went over well with the young locals. That's fine but for a much older (and at least slightly more mature) 'foreign devil' like myself, he comes off as an extremely unfunny, borderline mentally challenged doofus. Throughout the initial entry, I found myself hitting the fast forward button frequently as his comedy (cough!) took precedence over the super hero sci fi material. Afterwards, I couldn't help but feel that maybe this wasn't really my thing afterall. But I did remember that Damon's reviews got more positive as the series progressed, so I gave it another go. Which brings us to our featured review, 'The Third Generation Ureme 6'.
Right off the bat I knew that this was going to be a much more enjoyable experience as for this one entry, Shin Hyung Rae was replaced by the more subdued Han Jeong Ho. Han though still playing the same goofball main character, did not generally resort to unbearable facial contortions and actually came off as semi-superheroic in human form. Ironically the very things that made him more bearable to me likely disappointed the Korean kiddies who must have badly missed their 'beloved' regular star. The comedy itself was kept to a relative minimum this time, which allowed for it's sci fi story and no budget, yet oddly compelling special effects to take center stage.
The story (as near as I can figure out since these films are in raw Korean language only) features our heroic Beperman and his sexy female sidekick, Dae Illie (I THINK that's the character's name) getting caught in a war between good and evil alien civilizations who want to use Korea's forest backdrop as their battlefield. The battle eventually moves itself to one of the aliens' home planets.
The entire film sports an unapologetic toy-like (literally) visual style. The alien landscape that dominates the second half appears to be a two dimensional drawing or painting that the live actors share, George Melies style. The transformer robot is (as it is in every episode) a cartoon. Most incredible (in every aspect of the word) of all are the dino robots that the bad aliens use to dispatch our heroes. They are literally store bought wind up toys! I realize this all sounds intolerably junky, but somehow these 'effects' appealed to me on a child-like level that I found utterly irresistable. Perhaps this coincides with my either overly simplistic or overly complicated brain function (I'd prefer to think it's the latter) but either way, I found myself rewinding these climatic scenes many times. Hey, that has to be worth something...
'The Third Generation Ureme 6' can be a very entertaining experience, provided you know what you're getting into in advance. Sit back late one night (the later, the better) and revel in it's creative, childlike charms.
*** / ****
Click on the link to watch a highlight clip: http://pann.nate.com/video/216944872