Tidal Wave

Reviewed by: sukting

February 17, 2012

Rating: one

How long
2 hours

Tidal Wave (Haeundae) is South Korea's first disaster film and did well at Korea's box office. Does it reflect reality?

Story/Introduction on characters
Haeundae-gu is the city of Busan draws many visitors to its beaches yearly. Several years ago, Choi Man-sik (Sol Kyung-gu), lost Kang Yeon-hee(Ha Ji-won) 's father due to his mistake in the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake while deep-sea fishing together. He does not listen to his advice to cause the tragedy.

Man-sik is unable to get close to Yeon-hee for a few years, who has an unlicensed seafood restaurant like him. He is a single father who lives with his son and mother. His lover ditches him after a one-night stant. His mother often bullies Yeon-hee as they share the plates for cooking.

Oh Dong-choon(Kim In-kwon is Man-sik;s neighbour. He is jobless and often dreams of earning easy money. Dong-choon's mother wants him to go for a job interview but Dong-choon refuses. Man-sik finally plans to propose to Yeon-hee on a night with fireworks.

Geologist Kim Hwi (Park Joong-hoon) meets his divorced wife, Lee Yoo-jin (Uhm Jung-hwa). She is preparing for an expo in Busan. Although Yoo-jin has a daughter and also a new boyfriend, they decide not to tell their daughter that he is her father.

A wealthy college student from Seoul, Hee-mi (Kang Ye-won), falls into the sea from a yacht. Hyeong-sik (Lee Min-ki), Man-sik's younger brother and also a lifeguard, rescues her. Hee-mi becomes annoyed with him for being fierce to her and keeps stalking him. She even pretends to others that she is pregnant with his child. But as time passes on, love starts to grow between them.

During the fireworks, Man-sik proposes to Yeon-hee. Yeon-hee says that a ribbon hung outside her restaurant the day after means 'yes'. The next day, Man-sik sees no ribbon, and he meets Dong-choon. Dong-choon has told Yeon-hee why her father dies several years ago as he doesn't want her to be with him. Man-sik becomes very angry and beats him up.

Meanwhile, Hwi notices that the Sea of Japan (East Sea) is displaying similar activity to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. The Disaster Prevention Agency assures him that Korea is fine, but a big tsunami soon forms near Japan and starts to travel at 500 miles per hour towards Haeundae. Hwi realizes that the residents have only 10 minutes left to escape. Soon, there is an earthquake in Haeundae, causing all to run in vain from the waves.

The lift where Yoo-jin is in stops and traps her. Water starts seeping in and she is terrified. Her daughter is now with Hwi as her boyfriend manages to send her to him before he dies. The tsunami hits Haeundae and the streets are flooded. People and cars on the Gwangan Bridge are swept away. (Very poor CGI effects.)

A powerful electric shock from a telephone pole cause more deaths. Man-sik and Yeon-hee are on the pole. They are scared to see how the current electrocutes everyone in the water and those holding onto metallic surfaces. Man-sik thinks that he is dying and bids his last goodbye.

However, he is saved by an old man who dies on his behalf to float away after pushing him back to another pole. Dong-choon is on the bridge with Man-sik's son and mother. However, they lose each other in the crowd. He manages to escape from the falling cargo containers from the ship stuck on the bridge. (another fake scene.) Dong-choon survives this and gets bored. He lights a cigarette. His lighter drops on a flammable liquid flowing from one containers. There is a big explosion and the bridge is cut into half.

Hyeong-sik jumps down from a rescue helicopter and saves Hee-mi first, who is in the sea with one friend. When Hyeong-sik and the friend are together on the rope, Hyeong-sik realizes that the rope is about to snap and only one can go up to the helicopter. Hyeong-sik cuts down the rope in which his body is tied to and falls down into the sea. He is swept away by the waves but with a cool farewell smile and Hee-mi cries, holding the watch that he has given her.

Yoo-jin talks with tears to her daughter on her handphone, telling her that Hwi is her father. Soon, Yoo-jin is saved when some men manage to break open the lift door. On the roof of the building, Yoo-jin meets her daughter and Hwi. The two help their daughter get on a rescue helicopter. Yoo-jin apologizes with tears to Hwi and they hug each other before they are killed another tsunami.

After the tsunami, there is a funeral for the people who are killed. Among the ones is Hyeong-sik. Dong-choon finds out that his mother is also killed while trying to get shoes for him and he breaks into tears (but trust me, I find no tears). People help to rebuild the city. Man-sik finds the red ribbon and is thankful that Yeon-hee forgives him. They are back together while Hwi's daughter makes friends with his son.

Interesting facts
Haeundae is a joint venture between production company Doosaboo Film and distributors CJ Entertainment with a budget estimated at US$10–15 million, one of the largest for a Korean production.

What foresight the Koreans have to talk about the deadly tsunami here – except that it happened in Japan 2011. I watched this movie after the tragedy – probably that is why I find the so-called tsunami scenes very fake. The part the people are electrocuted in water – look too artificial. There is nothing to rave about the acting or the story. It spends a whole lot of 70 minutes telling us the link between the characters which I deem unnecessary. Luckily, I watch this on television instead of wasting time and money in the cinema.

No doubt big stars are involved but they deliver their lines emotionlessly. I have thought that ‘Sinking In Japan' is bad enough but this movie is worse. It looks like an old 1970s movie with the greyish background. Please don't watch it – you will get as disappointed as me.

Sukting's ratings :
On acting : **1/2 (Scale of 5)

On story : ** (Scale of 5)

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