A greedy hunter, a detective and an ecologist appear in "Chaw," a Korean monster film that centers upon a flesh-eating wild boar, but details about the creature were sketchy at a press conference in Seoul on Monday.
The lack of information about the main character called Chaw, a man-eating boar, was apparently designed to nurture more curiosity about the film that director Shin Jung-won readily described as "B-movie."
Few Korean films are designed as B-movie, partly because of the rigidity in themes and subject matters. Despite the exceptional success of Bong Joon-ho`s "Host," monster films are a rarity, still more so when the main character is a terrifying pig.
"This film has adopted a typical Hollywood B-movie monster narrative in a way that offers a chance to think about all the destruction happening in the country`s nature," director Shin told reporters.
Shin built his fame as a stylish storyteller in the horror comedy genre with "To Catch a Virgin Ghost" (2004), which won both critical and commercial success.
The movie is set in a small town called Sameri on Chiri Mountain, a place far removed from the hustle and bustle. The peace is disrupted violently when a parts of a formerly human body are found by ecologists staying on the mountain to study wild animals.
To catch the creature, a special squad is formed: a policeman (Eum Tae-woong), ecologist Su-ryeon (Jung Yu-mi), a long-forgotten hunter Il-man (Chang Hang-seon), a celebrity hunter (Yun Jae-mun), and a detective dispatched from Seoul (Park Hyeok-kwon).
While the hunters are real figures, the hunted could be brought back to life without the help of computer graphics. So the production crew and the main actors, flew to the United States to shoot special effects scenes.
Plenty of computer-generated images were blended into the leafy forest - the film`s make-or-break battleground -- but the task was far more difficult than expected.
"Hollywood staff members found it very difficult to follow my script," Shin said. "Although they handled various subjects for special effects, it was the first time that they had to produce a Korean pig through computer graphics, which was fairly tricky."
The shooting lasted for about 40 days in San Francisco, with Korean actors negotiating with thick trees and unfriendly rocks on a daily basis.
Chang Hang-seon, clad in colorful hunter clothes, said that the U.S. special effects team often misunderstood the nuance of a scene or a dialogue. "Perhaps because of a different cultural background, U.S. staff members interpreted a scene very differently, while Korean actors took hidden meanings according to Korean conventions."
Eum Tae-woong, who plays a policeman, agreed: "At first, we expected a lot regarding the co-production with Hollywood staff members, but there were some disheartening moments. However, after the shooting was over, we formed a strong team spirit, as if we battled together in a war."
Director Shin said the film departs from other monster flicks in that it tackles environmental issues, particularly the serious destruction inflicted on Korea`s ecology.
The film, produced by Soo Jack Films, will open nationwide in July.
By Yang Sung-jin