masterly master lee

a home for forgotten and famous korean pulp, its heroes, its heroines, and its pulpeteers

Rainbow Eyes 가면 2007 review

Rainbow Eyes didn’t immediatelyrainbow1 appeal to Master Lee and the box it came in didn’t help (come on, how many contrasting colours can you get away with?). When he put the disc in his trusty DVD player he had his thumb firmly on the fast-forward button. But lo and behold, he never touched it!At first sight, Rainbow Eyes by director Yang Yunho (Fighter In The Wind) seems your typical underproduced, overacted serial killer movie with minor ‘stars’ whose last shooting was either without clothes on or for a towel commercial (not that there’s anything wrong with that, says Master Lee: remember Jo Yeojeong 조여정? Do a search here and rejoice, my children).

A serial killer is on the loose  and the experienced detective team consisting of Jo Gyeongyun (Kim Gangu/Kim Kang-woo 김강우 of Le Grand Chef 식객 fame) and Pak Eunju (Kim Minseon 김민선: you’ve seen her but won’t want to remember the movie) are assigned to it, Jo being a way too tough male cop (who doesn’t look like he is, so has to resort to brooding, snarling and meaningful silences), Pak being his way too cute partner who acts as if she’s tougher than Lee van Cleef’s mustache.

Master Lee is  not going to waste much ink on the plot (yes, he is without a computer at the moment and is writing this review with a fountain pen on the back of a vanquished enemy – if you’ve seen Dangerous Liaisons, you get the picture). The plot is about bloody murder, cruel abuse, vanished persons, unknown identities and obnoxious flashbacks. Shuffle these ingredients and you have a plot. It’s not the plot (that just keeps thickening and thickening and thickening: the suspense came closer to killing Master Lee than  anything – or anyone 🙂 – else ever has) that makes this movie worth watching. It’s not a fun movie, it’s not particularly well-made or well-acted, but it’s got guts and that’s something the Master always appreciates.

How can a thoroughly mediocre B-movie have guts except in a very literal way? (The Master fondly remembers that one particular movie in which he… oh well, never mind). Well, that’s simple. By tackling a social taboo. And not in an intellectual, sensitive, cautious, art-house movie way of pussyfooting about, but by doing it the Master Lee-way: by grabbing it by the throat and kicking it in the teeth. No nuances, no caution, no pussyfooting, no whining: now you have a social taboo and now you have its smoldering ruins. What’s the social taboo, you’ll ask (if you have the guts the disturb the Master while he is busy demolishing social taboos). Well, without giving away the plot (oh, who are we kidding, what plot? Even if the Master reproduces the plot here in annoying detail, chances are you’ll never understand it anyway. It’s that kind of plot), it’s homosexuality, transvestisism (is that a word?), transgenderism (likewise) or what is usually considered in Master Lee’s home society as different and reprehensible. Not by the Master though. His only criterion for liking you is whether you can open a can of whoop-ass on someone and smile while you do it. If you dress as a woman while doing it (or if you are a woman dress and like a man), more power to you (just make sure the colours are coordinated, the Master is kinda particular about that).

rainbow2One last word about the ending: while clearly referring to teen-angst inspired, fuel-driven movies such as Beat 비트 and Rebel Without A Cause, the ending also completely subverts the ending associated with movies such as these. Two guys (or a guy and a girl) on a motorbike riding into the darkness of the night will never be the same. Master Lee gives a thumbs up for a gutsy movie.

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