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By Jeremy Knox | March 26, 2006

It is customary for a reviewer to give details on a film’s plot in a review, but I can’t do that in this case. This creepy little gem from Korea needs to be seen with no foreknowledge and I wouldn’t dare ruin it. All you need to know is that it takes place in 1972 era Vietnam and that it involves certain creepy transmissions that the Korean central command has been getting for almost a month, weird distress signals from a place called R-Point. Only one problem, there’s a horribly wounded man in the infirmary that says he’s the only survivor of the same unit that’s sending the signals. They’re dead. He even has their dog tags to prove it.

To find out what’s going on, a group of soldiers are recruited out of the Army medic unit venereal disease ward (always the best place to find enlisted personel in tip top physical shape) and put under the command of Lieutenant Choi, a man who is known as the type that either makes the enemy bleed or bleeds while trying.

To say more would be to ruin the surprises that will follow. All you need to know is that they do get to R-Point and find out that it was the scene of old massacres and that the French built a huge hotel/retreat there. To call this building creepy would be an understatement. It makes the apartment building in Dark Water look inviting and cheerful.

Oh, and I know what you’re thinking right now because I was thinking the same damn thing.

“There were Koreans on the side of the US in Vietnam?”

Yup, about 320,000 South Koreans fought in Vietnam during the time the US was involved (1964-72). In fact, they were the largest US ally. 5,077 were killed and 10,962 were injured.

Kind of makes you think huh? And yes, there’s Koreans in Iraq right now.

So with this specter of real horrors looming over the entire film, we follow our group of ragtag grunts as they find out exactly why R-Point is listed as a no-combat zone by central command. It’s because even the Viet Cong are afraid of it. It’s one of those bad places should have a sign that says: “Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here” at the entrance.

Director Su-chang Kong creates a spooky “Apocalypse Now” feel throughout this movie, but whereas Apocalypse was like a ghost story in which the ghost never appears, this is a ghost story in which the ghosts very much appear. If you’ve been worn down a bit by all of the J-horror movies having to do with spooky ladies in blue makeup, this will serve as a refreshing change of pace.

I also like the fact that Kong isn’t afraid to tackle unpleasant matter. Horror films are supposed to go too far. They’re supposed to sting a bit. Vietnam is a touchy subject in this part of the world, but it’s good that we can air it out like this. The events happening to the characters may be far fetched, but not the fear they feel. And that’s why I think that any soldier who’s been to war will recognize a lot of truth in this, horror movie or not.

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