Wide Awake (DVD)
Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Kim Myeong-min, Kim Tae-woo, Kim Yu-mi, Yoo Jun-Sang, Jeong Yu-seok
Directed by Lee Gyu-man
Distributed by Genius Products
The notion of surgery is a frightening one. Sure at times it is a necessity but you cannot deny the horror associated with someone slicing you open and poking around your innards. The worst that could happen is the operation goes awry and you end up never waking up from the big sleep. The second thing worst thing that could happen? Waking up at the wrong time, paralyzed and helpless as the surgery team (unaware of your state of regained consciousness) cuts, slices, cracks, burns, and stitches your frozen with fear and pained body. That's enough to piss anyone off and want revenge. Enter Wide Awake the latest South Korean import poised to jar our senses.
After a young boy experiences the above trauma, he takes the life of a young girl, kills some animals, and is hypnotized as a means to bury his memories, his crimes, and even his identity. Twenty-five years later a killing spree of all those associated with his operation is in full-swing and the focus of our feature becomes centered on surgeon Ryu Jae-woo (Kim Myeong-min), a doctor who is experiencing some curious twists and turns revolving around horrid nightmares, an angry husband incensed about the loss of his wife to the good doctor during her operation, and a mysterious childhood friend who shows up at an all too convenient time. As the body count rises so do suspicions, and Wide Awake has plenty of twists and turns to keep you watching.
There are a couple problems though. Mainly this flick is kind of a one-trick pony in terms of the outcome. The viewer simply spends the entire film trying to guess which one of our protagonists is the little boy who suffered that day, all grown up. That, and the movie is just too bleak to be considered entertaining. Watching tumors getting removed from cancer patients is just not my cup of tea. As I said before, in my review for The Wig , cancer and entertainment just don't mix. Please Korea, stop depressing me. Thanks.
For those that stick it out and end up diggin' on the movie, the DVD is packed with extras. Kicking things off is the forty minute making-of entitled, Memory Returned: The Making-of Wide Awake. Apart from the usual cast and crew interviews, you'll also get walked through every important sequence of the film which reveal details like why each actor was chosen for their respective roles. Not a bad watch, but much like the film itself, it moves at a painfully deliberate slow pace. From there we get interviews with the actors, featurettes on production design, twelve minutes of deleted scenes (which feature a great deal of hot sweaty sex(!) otherwise missing from the film), and a five minute documentary focusing on the phenomenon of anesthesia awareness and the impact that it has on its victims. In fact I hazard to say there's probably more here about the movie than you'll want to know.
In the end, Wide Awake is a decent import that ends up on the depressing side of the fence due in part to its subject matter and heavy handed delivery. I cannot say I'll ever want to watch this again. If you're in the mood to joylessly brood and realize how cruel life can be, brother, have I got a prescription for you.
3 out of 5
3 1/2 out of 5
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