Korean cinema has seen its fair share of bizarre comedy but Collective Invention stands alone as the one of the weirdest. Take a man, turn him into a fish, add a stream of social satirical commentary and you’ll reel in the viewers…
Park Gu (Lee Kwang-soo) is a half man half fish mutation due to a new, experimental drug malfunction. Fish-man Gu is the figure of social satire in this hopeless black comedy where he is thrust into stardom only to be dragged back out again with a salty taste in his mouth. Due to his sinking financial situation, Gu decides to take part in a medical experiment for a meagre reward of 300,000 won (£170). The story begins with Sang-won (Lee Chun-hee) who is interning as a journalist. He takes it upon himself to uncover what truth lies behind the urban legend of the ‘fish man’. His suspicions lead him to interview “girlfriend”, Ju-jin (Park Bo-young), and he realises the myth is all too real. The media response to Park Gu is unfathomable and overnight, he becomes an idol. It isn’t long until Gu shows the world he is more human than they realise.
Collective Invention drives social issues into the narrative in the second half of the film featuring cultural concerns such as the rising rate of young unemployment and more importantly, the reality of cloning at the hands of scientist Hwang Woo-suk. The context in which these issues, and more, are addressed in such an abstract way, they sometimes seem to feel lost in the plot.
Park Bo-young is no stranger to playing alongside mutated main characters as her infamous role in A Werewolf Boy (2012) is all too familiar. Her acting is commendable as she plays a feisty lead alongside fishy friend Park Gu. Running Man star, Kwang-soo, oozes natural comedic talent but suffocates under the weight of his over-sized fish head. His talent is wasted in the guise of a mutated fish but he doesn’t fail to deliver some brilliant scenes.
Collective Invention was hyped up to be one of the better films of 2015 and it became one of the very best as it featured in Toronto’s International Film Festival!
Director: Kwon Oh-Hwang
Cast: Lee Kwang-soo, Park Bo-young, Lee Chun-hee, Jang Gwang, Lee Byung-joon, Kim Hee-won.
Watch if you loved Castaway on the Moon.
Check out the trailer and prepare to be hooked… (fish puns over…)