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A Bloody Aria (AKA Guta-yubalja-deul) (2006)
6th Mar 09
The dodgily permed Professor Park (Lee Byuong-jun) is driving young wannabe opera singer In-jeong (Cha Ye-ryeon) out through the countryside when he finds himself on the receiving end of a ticking off from cop Moon-jae (Suk-kyu Han). Huffily giving the cop two fingers he speeds through another red light taking his young charge down to a quiet spot by a river where he tries to have his wicked way with In-jeong. She flees leaving Park with his brand new Mercedes Benz, thats now stuck in the sand.
Park is not alone for long though as he soon finds he has some rather dumb locals to contend with. In-jeong fares as badly when she takes a bike ride with Bong-yeon Mun-shik Lee), whom she hopes will drive her away from this madness only for him to drive her right back to where Park and Bong-yeon's goons are at. Bong-yeon soon reveals his true colours and begins playing games with the professor and the young girl, along with a young lad Hyun-jae, whom the gang have picked on for some time.
Review A Bloody Aria takes us along a similar journey to that of John Boorman's masterful 1972 movie Deliverance and Michael Haneke's Funny Games (1997 & 2007). And whilst there's no 'squeal piggie squeal' moments there is still enough moments to unsettle. Unlike Boorman's movie there is a vein of black humour running throughout writer/director Shin-yeon Won's tale.
The movie is also about status and authority and how both mean little to a cop wearing a badge. When Professor Park tries to impress his passenger In-jeong, by stating that 'Only fools abide by the rules' and subsequent drives through a red light, he soon finds himself changing tact when he is pulled up in his Mercedes Benz by Moon-jae, the cop. Upset he later drives by the policeman giving him the two finger salute.
Anyone that has ever watched a horror flick just knows that anyone choosing to leave the main roads and park up in the middle of nowhere is just asking for trouble. A Bloody Aria takes the more regular movie viewer nowhere new initially when it comes to squaring city folks up against goons out in the sticks and the humour is sometimes misplaced. Having a jolly soundtrack bubbling along in accompaniment to an attempted rape jars tremendously. I can cope with most violent acts depicted on screen but find little to laugh about in that situation.
The performances are spot on with the majority of the characterisations well rounded. If there is a grumble it’s that Shin-yeon Won has his country bumpkins play as comedy sidekicks, till the climax, that almost border on caricature.
Bong-yeon, whom you know is not gonna be the nice guy giving a lift back to the bus station, you just know he's gonna take the girl back where she started, is a well-rounded villain, ending up ultimately sympathetic even after the atrocities he commits.
Audience empathy is toyed with and displaced. Initially the young girl In-jeong is the one we kind of route for, then the young school boy Hyan-jae who has been bagged and subsequently humiliated to breaking point. When the cop arrives at the end we find ourselves shifting yet again when the bullies become the bullied. They are all victims in this tale.
Professor Park is probably the least sympathetic having set into motion the events that occur by first upsetting the cop and then trying to rape the young girl in his charge. It could be argued that In-jeong fires up Park to the point of wanting the girl sexually by admitting she had a crush on him when she was at school, her way of looking to manipulate him into help with her singing career.
A Bloody Aria is a tad overlong and could have done with a less leisurely set-up. Whilst the first half plays funnier, the second is stacked with tension and a wodge of brutality that keeps coming and coming as the bullies start to play their power games, and even when its not there on the screen, you can feel it brimming under the surface. From the swooping bird of prey that flies into the screen for the opening credits to the savage beating dished out by the cop, during the finale, Shin-yeon Won wants us to know that we are all at risk in this savage world we inhabit and that you can only survive by becoming more savage than the next man. It’s a far from comforting thought.