Infernal Affairs - Penthouse Elephant (2009)
Raito
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Infernal Affairs
Hello, you've reached Raito's movie review blog. Most of what you'll find here is reviews of Chinese movies, because that's pretty much all I watch. :'D

November 2012
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Raito [userpic]
Penthouse Elephant (2009)



This was a really interesting movie.  Not the least because the descriptions and whatnot of it were very misleading.  There was also a certain amount of societal commentary in it, possibly a lot, depending on how you look at it.  The descriptions tell you it's about three friends, one a photographer, one a plastic surgeon and one a financial something or other.  However, the story mostly centers around the photographer played by Jang Hyuk who has apparently just been dumped.  The opening scene has him slicing off his own fingers to stop himself from grabbing his cellphone.  That turns out to be all in his imagination and sets the tone for the film to mess with realism, at least while the camera's on Jang.  Meanwhile, the plastic surgeon friend is introduced as someone with a womanizing problem, which later comes out as a sex addiction and his regret is eventually meted out in the form of anonymous threats and an STD fear.  The third friend doesn't get much focus, but you get the impression that he's in some kind of trouble with his firm and it eventually comes out that he's been having an affair with the plastic surgeon's wife besides.

But back to Jang's character.  He's dealing with depression over his recent breakup and spends a lot of time smoking weed and seeing things that aren't there, though he later tells a doctor that he would see things even if he wasn't high.  Throughout the film he occasionally has fantasies about killing himself and further fantasies about the news reporting how inept he is at carrying them out.  To be honest, Jang really carries this film because his portrayal of a creative type dealing with manic depression is completely convincing and relateable, assuming that you fit or have fit that description.  He even seems to believe the fake doctor when she spins him a tale of being an agent from the future.  Second, in acting terms is probably the plastic surgeon who comes across as someone who is just really confused and seems to have this childlike mentality of simply responding to his urges, unable to deal with problems and he has the same amount of dismay when he realizes the trouble it's got him into.  The funny thing is how in the closing half an hour or so of the film he becomes a far more sympathetic character than the cold financial guy who is running away from everyone and everything and taking the plastic surgeon's wife with him.  The wife, by the way, is also Jang's sister and he has known about their affair all along but can't bear losing either of them as friends and has kept it a secret.


The climax is something out of a nightmare and follows the scene where the surgeon goes to one of his affair's house only to find her with slit wrists in her bathtub.  He also discovers upon leaving that she was likely the one sending the threats, if not her then her manager who apparently also has a thing for her.  Said manager sees his car leaving the complex and the surgeon eventually gives the car to Jang, hoping not to be connected to the suicide.  The manager, who is out for revenge, later bursts in on the three friends and Jang's sister having a confrontation over the banker guy leaving and in a rather gruesome scene, he tries to kill Jang, who had the car, but the banker guy tackles him, gets fatally stabbed and the manager is eventually hit fatally over the head by the surgeon.  The nightmare element is from Jang's point of view who can't believe he's helping the surgeon dispose of the bodies in such a way that it won't be connected to them.  The surgeon keeps telling him that it's a dream and he'll soon wake up, to which he responds angrily that he's not crazy.  After that, it goes back to the opening opening scene where Jang is scrubbing blood out of his clothes and hands when detectives show up at the door.  He, and probably everyone watching, assume they are there about one of the two people killed, but instead they want to know about the woman whom Jang thought was a doctor, but is actually a crazy criminal.  To this point, I really wasn't sure what their scene was, if it was real or if it was more of Jang's hallucinations, but I had suspected all along that she wasn't reallly a doctor.

At the end, Jang convinces himself to go to the police about his friend's death, only to find out that he is not listed as a citizen of Korea at all, that he was probably American and that Jang never knew his real name.  Somehow that becomes yet another illusion he has to dispel, a piece of the past that he has to forget.

Mood blahMood blah
Tags: drama, jang hyuk, korean, suspense