DVD Review: Sector 7 / Cert: TBC / Director: Kim Ji-Hun / Screenplay: Yoon Je-kyoon / Starring: Ha Ji-Won, Ahn Sung-ki, Oh Ji-ho / Release Date: TBC
The success of The Host in 2006 made us all sit up and take notice of Korean horror/monster cinema and this explosive new sea monster movie, not yet scheduled for Region 2 release but worth tracking down if you’ve got multi-region playback capability, is a leaner, more traditional and much less rambling effort than Bong Joon-ho‘s box-office blockbuster classic.
Sector 7 is a good old fashioned man-vs-monster romp set on an oil rig in the storm lashed seas off Jeju Island. A protracted search for oil has proved fruitless despite the suspicion that billions of gallons of untapped reserves are hidden beneath the sea floor. The rig’s operation is ordered to wind down but when headstrong engineer Hae-Jun’s (Ji-won) uncle Ahn Jung-man (Sung-ki) arrives on the rig they decide to give the operation one last try. The fact that they get lucky and the oil starts flowing is quickly tempered by the realisation that there’s something else out there, lurking in the sea and prowling the dank corridors of the rig. Then the killings start…
Sector 7 takes its cues from Western favourites such as Alien (Hae-Jun evolves into Korea’s answer to Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley) and in many ways the whole movie is an homage to (or rip-off of, depending on your viewpoint) Ridley Scott’s seminal sci-fi horror with the oil rig replacing the Nostromo and the rig’s crew serving much the same purpose as the xenomorph fodder of Alien. Sector 7 loses points for its sketchy characterisation and thin dialogue; the first half-hour of the film busies itself trying to flesh out the riggers but they’re pretty much little more than a bunch of stereotypes - a rather ineffectual doctor, a tough rigger, a boasting rigger, the slightly weird coward - and by the time the cull starts we don’t really know or care too much about them. Relationships and character beats aren’t developed enough to make them interesting but fortunately the monster action of the second half of the film makes up for its inadequacies in the human interest department.
Sector 7 has the dubious honour of being the first Korean 3D movie and it’s clear that it’s the monster action where 3D aficionados will get their kicks. The creature – nicely realised in CGI and revealed in full fairly early once its presence is known - is a big racing slug-like thing with a roaring, gaping maw, waving fronds and a whiplash tongue-like proboscis with which it grabs its victims before hurling them against walls or else slicing through their skulls. It’s a charmer and it’s pretty much indestructible - gunfire has no effect (and no, I’ve no idea why oil-riggers would be equipped with rifles and machine guns), its skin seems super-resilient and its only real weakness is a susceptibility to fire. The creature itself has an intriguing origin, being largely man-made and with bodily fluids which can burn for thirty hours or more, making it potentially of huge importance in the race to find new sustainable sources of fuel and it’s refreshing to see a movie monster which isn’t just some inexplicable thing from space or from the depths of the sea.
The last half-hour is exciting stuff as the rig survivors battle against a seemingly unstoppable monster but there’s no escaping the feeling that, competent as this is, we’ve seen it all before and probably done a bit better. Sector 7 ultimately offers nothing new and it tells us a story we’ve been told time and time again in monster cinema. But it’s colourful, energetic stuff, entertainingly derivative and will easily pass the time if you just fancy a bit of reliable creature carnage.
Special Features: English subtitles, (badly) dubbed soundtrack, making of feature.