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Hera Purple: Devil Goddess 헤라버플 2001 review

hera1A great beginning for the movie publicized as ‘the sexiest and most shocking movie in Korean cinema history‘: a naked crucified body. Then a priest in a church, looking increasingly frightened by two books in front of him that are leaved through by an invisible force, stopping at a page with a picture of Greek goddess Hera. And it gets better. Very pretty ajumma Yi Hyerim (played by veteran actress Kim Cheong 김청, Master Lee is smitten) is seeing a psychiatrist, because this is after all a psychic sex thriller, and the viewer quickly realizes she is more than a pretty face and supple body. To be precise, she is also an incarnated goddess (you guessed it, Hera) who drives men crazy, seduces and screws their brains out, and then kills them (trust Master Lee on this, you don’t want to know how. Really). Something we get to see in quite some detail (alas, in her Hera incarnation Yi Hyerim is not played by Kim Cheong, but by a younger actress who undoubtedly paid her dues in the erotic movies industry). Detective Yi Eungju (Yi Sechang 이세창) and his  nameless underling (Hong Seokcheon 홍석천 of TV sitcom fame who was taken off the TV when he publicly declared to be gay) try to solve these murders.

kimcheongThe movie is basically a flashback from the shrink’s couch to the various murders which invariably involve a rump in the hay/snow/grass/hotel room or on top of a horse (yes, you read that correctly: on top of a horse) and then the gruesome death and mutilation of the unlucky male. Yi Hyerim is married to a director of sleazy sex movies, which gives the movie a bit more postmodernisty ‘depth.’ Master Lee knows, there’s no real depth here, but still, the appearance of a sex film director is nice in a movie that comes surprisingly close to being a sex movie itself.  And that’s what it is, really, a movie a step above a sex movie (a small step, not a giant leap for mankind). The investigating team find themselves without clues, but fortunately an American scholar contacts them through the net (as they do), alerting them that it is the goddess Hera that is killing these men. And, as one does, the team takes this information at face value, mainly on account of the incontrovertible proof it provides: the watches of the victims all stop when Hera boinks them straight into hell.

Master Lee stopped thinking along with the plot right about there. This is a revenge movie, something terrible happened to a young girl and Hera avenges her in an orgy of sex and bloodshed. Despite some successful jokes by Hong, which play on his sexuality, and the hilarious scene in which he gets taken by Hera in quite a different form, the movie isn’t very distinguished. Run-off-the-mill sex serial killer flick. Direct-to-video would have been a compliment. Master Lee was fascinated by the beautiful Kim Cheong, but the rest of the movie (plot, acting, cinematography et cetera) couldn’t really get him going. Not an embarrassment to pulp, Hera Purple, but not an asset either. With these actors, the director should have set his sights higher than at what is in effect a sophisticated sex movie.

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