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Ko - production in Busan
  • by Pierce Conran /  Oct 27, 2020

  • 2006
     | 90 MIN | Animation, Comedy, Action, SF, Crime
    DIRECTOR JOE Bum-jin,
    CAST RYOO Seung-bum IM Chang-jung
    RELEASE DATE June 28, 2006
    CONTACT Mirovision
    Tel +82-2-797-7589 
    Fax +82-2-3443-4842 

    An ambitious passion project that was developed when the Korean film industry was taking its boldest steps and biggest strides into becoming the industry that is globally recognized today, Aachi & Ssipak may take the cake as the most unique film to see the light of the day during the nascent days of the revitalization of the Korean film industry. Yet this deliriously inventive and relentlessly shocking opus almost never was, stalling for several years after the infamous failure of the Korean SF blockbuster Resurrection of the Little Match Girl (2002). 

    In a dystopian near future with depleted natural resources, a city has resorted to harvesting human waste and converting it into energy. Those that defecate well and regularly are rewarded with an addictive laxative known as a juicybar. Naturally, these juicybars give rise to a criminal underworld, and they also lead to a mutant race of addicts that have become constipated and turned into little blue monsters that belong to the psychotic ‘diaper gang’.

    Low-level juicybar peddlers Aachi and Ssipal get caught up in a struggle between the Diaper King and the government forces looking to crack down on his gang, led by the supercop cyborg Gecko. They soon find themselves on the lamb with a pornstar named Beautiful, whose prodigious bowel movements make her a formidable tool to control the illegal juicybar trade.

    While Aachi & Ssipak features an unbridled imagination and exceptionally intricate and impressive animation design, there’s no dying that for many viewers, the film’s pursuit of everything under the sun that has ever been in bad taste may be too hard a pill to swallow. For those who can get past the film’s initial volley of extreme cartoon violence and relentless scatology, which gives even the nastiest Adult Swim series a run for their money, there’s an extraordinary mashup of Japanese anime, Hollywood blockbuster influences and unique Korean animation to discover. After getting past the shocking and disorienting nature of the setup, there’s also a surprisingly engaging story to enjoy that keeps topping itself with each new scene.

    Originally developed in the late 1990s, Aachi & Ssipak was expected to go into its final production round in 2002, before losing its financing, with much of the passionate team of animators that had assembled for it disbanded. New investors were eventually found and the film ultimately found its way to theaters, but its release in Korea wound up being a huge bust, while festivals overseas embraced its bold and dynamic vision. It won Best Animated Feature Film at the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival and was invited to dozens of other high profile events. MTV even optioned a TV series based on the film, but ultimately that never happened and the film disappeared from view and has seldom been heard about since. However, Korean audiences will be given a second chance to embrace the film as it is being given a re-release in local theaters in November.

    With influences that range from Mad Max, Alien, Terminator and Robocop to Tetsuo: The Iron Man and Akira, not to mention Battleship Potemkin, there’s a love for cinema that drives this breathless foul-mouthed and filth-fueled story. Unjustly maligned by the press when it was initially rolled out, perhaps the singular charms of Aachi & Ssipak, which have aged far more gracefully than many other Korean animated works from earlier in the millennium, can now be rediscovered. “You’re the worst character in the movie”, an exasperated Ssipak says to Aachi at one point in the film, but perhaps a new generation won’t agree.
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