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Film / Save the Green Planet!

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Save the Green Planet! is a Black Comedy/Science Fiction film directed by Jang Jun-hwan. The film was inspired by Misery, particularly the director's dissatisfaction with the characters being one-dimensional.

A mentally disturbed young man and his girlfriend kidnap a wealthy executive, convinced that the latter is really a top-ranking alien on a mission to destroy Earth. A young police officer and his older mentor race to rescue the executive before it's too late. Meanwhile, the clock counts down to the lunar eclipse, on which time the earth will be destroyed...

This film contains examples of:

  • Ancient Astronauts: According to the executive's speech, humans were created by the aliens based on their DNA. This narrative includes many classic features of the trope, including the creation of cavemen and a Shout-Out to the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The aliens actually look like people from ancient Chinese/Buddhist art.
  • Asshole Victim: The executive's Establishing Character Moment is him being a jerk to his taxi driver, and he's a Corrupt Corporate Executive who had a hand in Byeong-gu's mother's accident. Much of the movie involves him getting tortured.
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  • Axe-Crazy: Byeong-gu is violently crazy, and at one point threatens to cut off the executive's foot with an axe.
  • Battle in the Rain: During the final showdown in the chemical plant, something causes the fire sprinklers to go off, so most of the final battle takes place in the rain.
  • Bee Afraid: Byeong-gu throws honey on a police officer and releases several crates full of bees. Guess what happens.
  • Blood Is Squicker in Water: Used several times.
    • When the older police officer dies, a Gory Discretion Shot shows his blood flowing through a mountain streamnote .
    • In the final showdown, there are a number of shots of the characters blood mixing with the water from the fire sprinklers.
  • Break Them by Talking: The executive tries this repeatedly from almost every possible angle, constantly mouthing off at Byeong-gu whenever he gets the chance: insulting Byeong-gu, appealing to his plans, appealing to his love of his family. It sort of works when he tells Sooni that Byeong-gu doesn't love her, but she just leaves instead of freeing him.
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  • Cloudcuckoolander: Sooni is a childlike circus performer who believes everything Byeong-gu says, even though he's obviously off his rocker.
  • The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right: The executive turned out to be an alien the whole time as Byeong-gu suspected.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Byeong-gu's modus operandi.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: A news montage shows that the kidnapped executive had a history of getting out of jail in shady ways. He's all buddy-buddy with the chief of the police, and runs a chemical plant with several disgruntled employees and another (Byeong-gu's mother) who was put in a coma by her work.
  • Creepy Doll:
    • The underground torture chamber is filled with mannequins and mannequin parts, as Byeong-gu claims to make mannequins for a living. They don't ever do anything, but they form a creepy background.
    • Sooni is constantly playing with Barbies, and when the Chairman tells her that Byeong-gu doesn't love her, she tears off the doll's head. After she leaves, several shots show Byeong-gu playing with the headless doll, heightening the disturbing atmosphere.
  • Creepy Souvenir: Byeong-gu's creepy basement is filled with preserved human limbs in jars, which were collected from his previous victims who he interrogated and killed to find out if they were aliens.
  • Da Chief: A very sycophantic and incompetent chief of police, who refuses to listen to the young cop and takes him off the case, even after his older mentor goes missing, and hauls in an obvious false lead.
  • Determinator: The Chairman, who constantly tries to psych Byeong-gu into releasing him, and repeatedly desperately tries to escape even while severely injured or drugged.
  • Downer Ending: Byeong-gu is shot dead by the police and the aliens view Earth as a failed experiment and end up blowing it up.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: What happens at the end. The aliens declare Earth a failed experiment and blow it up.
  • Fed to the Beast: Byeong-gu feeds his victims to his dog Earth. Discovering human bones near the dog's pen tips off the older cop that Byeong-gu is the kidnapper.
  • Freudian Excuse: Byeong-gu's father lost his arm in a coal mine, and was killed by his mother when he attacked her and Byeong-gu. Byeong-gu was also beaten in school by the students and the teachers, and ended up in jail, where he watched his girlfriend die. Eventually he snapped when his mother was put into a coma.
  • Grey-and-Grey Morality: Byeong-gu is a crazy Serial Killer and torturer, but he's a Well-Intentioned Extremist convinced he's out to save the world. All his victims are jerks who to some extent have it coming to them. It's also unclear for much of the movie if the aliens according to Byeong-gu are good or bad- are they there to destroy the world or save it?
  • The Greys: Byeong-gu's UFO literature portrays aliens as grey aliens with big saucer eyes.
  • Human Alien: Byeong-gu thinks the executive is an alien disguised as a human. Turns out he's right, and there really are aliens, who look just like Daoist immortals (people with big earlobes).
  • Impaled Palm: The executive is nailed to a chair by his palms.
  • Look Behind You: Byeong-gu tries to keep the older detective from seeing his TV with surveillance footage of the tied-up executive by saying "Oh look, there's a UFO outside".
  • Manchild: Sooni is very childlike, and still plays with dolls.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: The older detective, who mentors the younger one, dies about halfway through the movie.
  • Mood Whiplash: The film goes from surreal comedy to horror in a second. This trailer should give you an idea of what to expect.
  • Pet the Dog: The younger cop doubles back to save Byeong-gu's dog after he escapes captivity and goes to take down Byeong-gu.
  • Photo Montage: There's one over the credits.
  • Revenge: As the chairman points out in one of later Breaking Speeches, this is really what drives Byeong-gu. In all of his investigations, only two of the eleven people he captured actually turned out to be aliens according to Byeong-gu's notes. Instead he convinces himself that people who hurt him in the past are aliens, and captures and tortures them out of revenge.
  • Scenery Porn: Lots of gorgeous shots of the green mountains, which contrast with the depressing depths of the torture dungeon.
  • She-Fu: When Sooni shows up to save Byeong-gu, she does some impressive handsprings to attack him and then dangles from the ceiling to avoid bullets. Justified, as she's a circus acrobat.
  • Shout-Out: The executive's speech about the aliens is a close copy of the opening of 2001: A Space Odyssey, with ape-like early humans pounding bones together next to an alien obelisk.
  • Sistine Steal: The classic "God touching Adam" pose is used during the executive's speech about aliens, overlaid with colored lightning.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The film makes heavy use of various mixes of "Over the Rainbow", a wistful and innocent song, which almost always precede torture scenes.
  • Stock Footage: The executive's speech about the aliens makes heavy use of stock footage of Nazi war atrocities.
  • Torture Cellar: Byeong-gu has multiple levels of cellar underneath his compound which he uses to torture and interrogate suspected aliens.
  • Traumatic Hair Cut: The executive's head is shaved early on as Byeong-gu believes that the aliens can communicate to each other with their hair.
  • Twist Ending: The executive was an alien prince all along.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Lee Byeong-gu believes he's saving Earth. Turns out he condemns it, as the executive really was an alien, here to determine if Earth was salvageable; guess what his final verdict is.


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