Directed by Su-chang Kong, 2004
The Tartan Asia Extreme (a company I truly respect, so you should too) R1 release of Korea’s R-Point touts on the cover, “The best military-guys-meet-supernatural-evil flick since Dog Soldiers.” That may be true, but it isn’t saying much. First off, there are only a handful of army v. supernatural flicks out there that aren’t Sci-Fi original pictures (and thus nothing special to begin with). Second, Dog Soldiers is watchable, but forgetable. R-Point is just as watchable and just as forgetable. Not to mention the time lapsed between Dog Soldiers‘ release and R-Point‘s is a meek two years. Hardly a generational gap…
A Korean platoon goes missing in the jungle of Vietnam only to break radio silence 6 months later with a distress call. A new platoon made up of a mixed-bag of soldiers is sent in to find out whether the platoon is alive or not. We’re given some better than average, but still expected, setup as to their ghostly predicament (an ominous warning carved into a rock that they’re entering a point of no return, a huge, dilapidated building that looks like a mental hospital etc), but after that it kind of teeters back and forth until the last 15 minutes or so.
The film’s largest problems fall with the script. We know there are ghosts. The troop knows there are ghosts. And yet the soldiers are written with such idiotic action that any time they encounter a ghost they act like it is for the first time. The script is muddled with moments like this where the soldiers act in ways that no real person would. Plus, they’re fucking soldiers. Last time I checked, for any country, being a pussy was usually not a requisite to joining the army. None of this running in the dark, screaming like a girl crap. The script never lets itself get scary because any time there is a ghostly encounter, the soldier(s) just starts screaming and running in total surprise. You don’t write a scene in which all of the film’s characters openly discuss the haunting of the place they’re staying in and then for the next 30 minutes write the characters as if they had no clue the place was haunted. It is a very redundant script.
The performances are typical of K-horror, nothing amazing, nothing horrible. But, the Americans here deserve special mention. There is only one American who actually speaks, but fuck can he not act. Every word is delivered with such complete mediocrity that it will make you laugh. Was that really the best English speaker they could find? Wow.
The last 15 or so minutes are filled with death and mayhem, whether it makes sense or not, but at that point, it really doesn’t matter. There are too many characters left alive so the script just does what it can to kill them off as fast as possible. Then of course, there is the attempt to correlate all hauntings together and give them a purpose – which is about as deep an explanation as a dive into a bathtub. But hey, it still ends with the ominous (and creepiest bit of the film) radio message that started it all, so when the credits roll you may have goosebumps, but for no reason relating to anything prior to the last 100 minutes.
R-Point is better than the handful of K-horror from 2004/2005, but that isn’t much of a praise. It’s all watchable, but nothing memorable.