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Sector 7: Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray Disc (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 8, 2012 by  



“Sector 7” is a solid first entry from Korea’s JK film/CJ Entertainment into the 3D action genre.  The film definitely seems to have been inspired by well-known sci-films and possibly even a few video games, but for the most part, it’s a banal, sci-fi action film with its fair share of sci-fi cliches. But for a Korean popcorn action film that can be enjoyed in 3D or 2D, despite its shortcomings, “Sector 7” manages to be a fun film with a lot of humor and off-the-wall action!

Images courtesy of © 2011 CJ E&M Corpration. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Sector 7 (7 Gwanggu)

FILM RELEASE: 2011

DURATION: 112 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), Korean DTS-HD MA 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Digital Stereo, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Shout! Factory, CJ Entertainment, JK Film

RATED: NOT RATED

Release Date: June 26, 2012

Directed by Ji-hun Kim

Screenplay by Heo Joon-Seok

Written by Kim Hwi, JK Youn

Produced by Sean Lee, JK Youn

Executive Producer: Katharine Kim

Associate Producer: Joon H. Choi

Co-Producers: Gil Young-Min, Lee Soo-Nam, Lee HanSeung

Music by Kim Sung-Hyun

Cinematography by Lee Doo-Man

VFX Supervisor: Jang Seong-Ho

Special Effects by Yoo Dae-Won

Edited by Wang Sung-Ik

Starring:

Ji-hwon Ha as Cha/Hae-jun

 Sung-kee Ahn  as Captain Jeong Man Ahn

Ji-ho Oh as Kim/Dong-soo Kim

Ye-ryeon Cha as Hyun-Jung, the Scientist

Han-wi Lee as Moon-Hyung, the Medic

Jung-Hak Park as Hwang In-Hyuk (Unit Leader)

Cheol-Min Park as Sang-Gu Do (crew member 1)

Sae-Byeok Song as Jong-Yoon Ko, (crew member 2)

Hae-jun works at an offshore rig in Sector 7, a real-life joint-development zone that harbors Korea’s hopes of one day becoming energy-independent. Her greatest dream is to find oil, an obsessive quest that has yielded no results. Along with a crew that includes Dong-soo and ship captain Jeong-man, Hae-jun decides to conduct one last drilling expedition before withdrawing as instructed by headquarters. But when things start to go dreadfully wrong on the rig, the crew is overwhelmed by the disconcerting feeling that something is out there . . .

Directed by Kim Ji-hoon and produced by JK Youn (Tidal Wave), this sci-fi action thriller revolves around an oil rig crew forced to battle a deadly creature at sea.

Korea’s first 3D action film  “Sector 7” arrives in American shores on Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray courtesy of Shout Factory!

“Sector 7” generated a lot of excitement in Korea when it was first released.  Produced by “Tidal Wave” director JK Yoon, the film is directed by filmmaker Ji-hun Kim is best known for his drama “May 18”, the true story of the 1980 Gwangju massacre in South Korea, a film which earned him a nomination for best film at the 2007  Blue Dragon Awards.

This time around, Kim takes on an action film, in this case “Sector 7”, the first 3D action film to be released in South Korea.

“Sector 7” would star actress Ji-won Ha (“Tidal Wave”, “Phone”, “Sex is Zero”), Sung-kee Ahn (“The Warrior”, “Battle of the Warriors”, “The Divine Weapon”) and Ji-ho Oh (“Love Trilogy”, “My Wife is a Gangster 3”).

And now, this film will be released in the United States courtesy of Shout! Factory on Blu-ray 3d/Blu-ray (both versions on one Blu-ray disc).

“Sector 7” is a sci-fi action film which is set in an offshore oil rig manned by a Korean team searching for oil.

Back in 1985, one of the employees went to check on a drill that was stuck miles below sea level.

While the man is checking on the drill, he encounters a mysterious species (about an inch long) floating around the drill.  Amazed by it, he goes to touch one of them, but the one reacts as if the man was being hostile and the entire mysterious species floating around him react and attack the man to death.

Fast forward to 2012 and a group of nine people are working hard to search for oil near Section 7 but have been unsuccessful.  Because of the many failures, the group have been given orders to stop.  But Hae-Jun (as portrayed by Ji-won Ha), the female member who is most vocal and most active in finding the oil, does not want to quit and feels they are close to finding oil.

She is quite blunt about how she feels and is often in confrontation with the unit leader (as portrayed by Jeong-hak Park).  Her boyfriend Dong-Soo (as portrayed by Ji-ho Oh) tries to calm her down but he is more passive compared to Hae-Jun.

Meanwhile, as the group survives a major mistake by one of the younger employees in Sector 7, one of the mechanics finds these odd looking type of fish emanating from near the drill structure.  The scientist (as portrayed by Ar-ryeon Cha) on board Sector 7 takes some of these mysterious fish and places them in aquariums in her lab.

As the group packs up at Sector 7, a helicopter brings Jeong Man (as portrayed by Sung-kee Ahn), a former colleague of Hae-Jun’s father and a man she calls “uncle”.  Jeong Man is the newly assigned Captain of Sector 7’s underwater exploration vessel “Eclipse” and is brought to oversee the withdrawal of the staff.  And before withdrawing, Hae-Jun pleads with her uncle to look for oil, one last time.

And Captain Jeong Man gives the go ahead and the group manages to find oil!

With the success of the team, they now get the opportunity to stay aboard Sector 7 and prepare for underwater work on the oil platform.  But unbeknown to the crew, there is something moving around Sector 7.

As Hae-Jun and a young crew member go to work on the platform, this mysterious thing aboard Sector 7 hits the equipment which is attached to both Hae-Jun and the crew member and the young crew member accidentally injures himself. And because the equipment was knocked over, there is nothing to pull him back up aboard Sector 7.  The crew notices the accident and as they try to rescue both crew members, unfortunately, they are only able to rescue one…. Hae-Jun.

And as the crew mourn the death of their young crew member, another death occurs aboard Sector 7 as the scientist is murdered and then another crew member is killed.  As Hae-Jun and Dong-Soo go to investigate, they find out that what had killed the crew members is actually a huge and hideous monster.  And now the monster will do nothing but wanting to kill all crew members aboard Sector 7.

With bad weather conditions preventing the people aboard Sector 7 from calling out for help, now the crew must do all they can to survive the monster’s onslaught.

VIDEO:

“Sector 7” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1). The film can be viewed in 3D or 2D, but for 3D, one must own a 3D-enabled TV, 3D glasses and 3D-enabled Blu-ray player.

While I felt the CG work for the film was amazing, especially when it came to creating the monster for the film, on Blu-ray, you see quite a good amount of detail for the antagonist and also the scenery. The CG work was really well done and making you feel the film was shot in the ocean.  The film is not too violent.  We do see blood, but we do not see the characters getting bludgeoned or eaten by the monster.

It’s important to note that one of the key criticisms that the film received in theaters was that it was too dark for certain scenes.  So, they had to lighten up the film a bit.  I personally didn’t observe any problems with scenes that were too dark.  Black levels were good, really nice and deep.  There were good details when it came to the monster and the clarity of closeups on the character’s faces.   While the CG work was well-done, I did notice a few scenes with mild artifacts, especially on scenes with a lot of bright red.

Bare in mind, this is South Korea’s first foray into 3D action but they did manage to create a good amount of depth especially during the most perilous moments of the film.  I don’t want to spoil the action segments so much for the viewer but the depth for scenes that involve one hanging off a ledge of Sector 7 or scenes featuring the monster and its use of its killer tongue was nicely done.    But I will give JK Film and CJ Entertainment some credit for getting into 3D action films and “Sector 7” being the first.  But even for modern American 3D films, aside from “Avatar”, many Hollywood films didn’t utilize 3D all that well and with “Sector 7”, the 3D was good but it’ll be interesting to see how far they utilize the technology especially for Blu-ray in the next few years.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Sector 7” is presented in Korean DTS-HD MA 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 and English Dolby Digital Stereo.  The lossless soundtrack is pretty awesome.  Because of the high level of action featured in the film, with many gunshots, explosions, motorcycle revving, metal pipes dropping everywhere, glass shattering and the monster screaming constantly, there is a good use of the surround channels in “Sector 7” as well as a good amount of LFE.  While not too immersive as I would have hoped, “Sector 7” still has a solid lossless soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Sector 7” comes with the following special features:

  • Trailer – (2:35) The theatrical trailer for “Sector 7”.
  • Making Of – (5:26)  JK You talks about his inspiration of “Sector 7” and a look behind the production of the film.
  • Teamwork – (2:00) The cast talk about timing on green screen and the importance of eye movements and working together.
  • Workers – (3:09) The cast of “Sector 7” talks about working on a blue/green screen and having to fight imaginary monsters.
  • Actress – (2:03) Ji-hwon Ha talks about working on the film and the challenges she faced, including riding on a motorcycle and more.

EXTRAS:

“Sector 7” comes with the Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray version of the film on one disc.  A slipcover case is also included.

“Sector 7” is a film that comes off with mix results.

In many ways, it’s an action film that contains many sci-fi cliches and also utilizes JK Youn’s style of screenwriting which involves comedy during moments where people are close to dying.  It was used quite a bit in his film “Tidal Wave” and it was a comedic style that received mix results by western viewers who were not used to seeing tragic or near-tragic moments of the film.

And the same happens in “Sector 7”.  The film centers around actress Ji-won Ha’s character of Hae-jun, similar to Ripley of the “Alien” films, she is a strong woman who is blunt and determined to find oil around Sector 7.  Not afraid to show off her strength in front of the guys, nor is she afraid to race a motorcycle with her boyfriend Dong-soo on board the oil rig, she is a very strong character.

And while we have Hae-jun as the strong protagonist of the film, her supporting cast are not as strong.  Her boyfriend Dong-soo is often criticized of being the woman in the relationship with Hae-jun and then we have two male crew members (a gay couple) who are often cracking jokes with one another and then you have mechanic who is often seen as a character who acts as if he’s mentally disabled, inebriated or just crazy.

There was no doubt that these characters were added to balance out the film’s horrifying moments and action, but at the same time, there is a banality throughout the film that these people are just fodder for the monstrous entity that is stalking them.

In one scene, while the two crew members are being eyed by the monster, the captain orders them to know the crates down.  But instead, one misinterprets it as clapping.  So, while the crew is armed with weapons and waiting to attack the beast, the crew member is just clapping.

As for the mechanic, he’s often seen as a weird man making weird faces and trying to get the scientist onboard to like him and possibly be her girlfriend.

And for western viewers, the comedy incorporated into this action-film during these more unnerving moments may seem unnecessary or just all out weird.  But I have watched many Asian films to know that these things occur quite often, may it be a zombie film or a horror film.  Knowing the cast members and seeing comedians is a big indication that there will be comedy and more often, they are going to be fodder to monsters, zombies, aliens, etc.  And the same goes for “Sector 7”.

In many ways, “Sector 7” reminded me of the film “Sunshine”, where a killer goes after the whole crew, in this case, it’s a huge monster that appears to not have many weaknesses and watching it, you wonder who will survive (especially since a few of the characters seem to be created as monster fodder).  While “Sunshine” utilized visual effects of a space station and the sun, “Sector 7” is a film that relies on blue/green screen and CG technology.  From the monster to the environment of “Sector 7”, for the most part, the oil rig in the middle of the ocean looks very convincing on film, but there are some action-driven moments that didn’t look right, especially one scene featuring Hae Jun walking away from an explosion.

But still, “Sector 7” is a major step forward for a Korean studio.  Back in 2007, filmmaker Hyung-rae Shim really took the risk of trying to make “Dragon Wars” internationally friendly and unfortunately, it was the film’s biggest problem.  Instead of trying to appeal internationally by hiring unknown actors that speak English, I’m so happy that “Sector 7” maintains its Korean identity.  Asian action cinema tends to have its own style much different from a Hollywood film and may the action be over-the-top or humor placed in unusual moments, it’s part of what I enjoy about Asian action films, especially Korean films, because of the unpredictability.

“Sector 7” is actually quite predictable and full of sci-fi cliches.  As mentioned, there is a bit of “Sunshine”, a bit of “Alien”, a bit of the “Abyss” and the monster and the fighting, it reminded me a lot like the video game “Resident Evil III: Nemesis”.

Korean filmmakers (and screenwriters) will spare no expense to kill off a protagonist or to win you over and then suddenly give you something quite unexpected and tragic.  While “Sector 7” is a film that shows a strong female protagonist and has an Ripley vs. Alien type of feel, “Sector 7” is first and foremost a popcorn action film, with an ending that left you feeling complacent but at the same time, making you feel a bit cheated.  But I suppose, the endings does leave things open for possibly a sequel.  Who knows?

While the special effects of “Sector 7” are impressive, the only thing that I felt was a bit uneven was mainly makeup effects.  There are times when the main character Hae-Jun was cut, full of blood and sweaty and then next thing you know, she is not as sweaty, looking much better.  There is a moment when her right arm is jacked up but then she is OK and able to fight with it.  The film loses its consistency when it comes to these details.

And last, the major plus of this film is that audiences all over the world, especially here in the United States, will be treated to a Korean action film in 3D for the very first time!

“Sector 7” is a step forward for Korean action cinema and for it’s use of CG work but as for the film itself, well… it was OK.  Western viewers probably will not see the 3D utilization of this film as groundbreaking and some may find the humor a bit bizarre.  But still, there is something about the film that makes it quirky but yet enjoyable.  If anything, you just want to see how much damage this monster can create, especially how these characters die.

Overall, “Sector 7” is a solid first entry from Korea’s JK film/CJ Entertainment into the 3D action genre.  The film definitely seems to have been inspired by well-known sci-films and possibly even a few video games, but for the most part, it’s a banal, sci-fi action film with its fair share of sci-fi cliches. But for a Korean popcorn action film that can be enjoyed in 3D or 2D, despite its shortcomings, “Sector 7” manages to be a fun film with a lot of humor and off-the-wall action!






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