A Million was released in 2009 and is best classified as an adventure/thriller. Eight people are chosen to be contestants for a new reality show that is similar to survivor. In order to be eligible to win the million dollar prize they are taken away from their familiar surroundings and shipped off to Australia. Tragedy soon arises when they realize that they must win in order to survive.
It surprised me to hear that Shin Min-Ah would be starring in this film. I had always thought of her as the full-of-life Gumiho in My Girlfriend is a Gumiho and knew it would be hard to shake off that preset image. Her character (Jok Yu-Jin) is a bit of an idealist, thinking that they will all make it out alive. I almost believed her. Park Hae-Il (Han Ki-Tae) played as her male counterpart and was immersed in his role. Once starring in the box office success, The Host, he didn’t fail to impress. There were other familiar faces. Such as Park Hee-Soon (Why Did You Come to My House?), Lee Min-Ki (Quick and Daja’s Spring), Lee Chun-Hee (Gloria), and Jung Yu-Mi (Crucible and Que Sera Sera). Overall they performed well.
The day I watched this movie I only intended to see about 30 minutes, but couldn’t resist finishing it. Although it didn’t add anything new to the genre and the concept seemed familiar, I was entertained. I needed to know the reasoning behind the madness. Why were these particular people chosen, and what was the story behind the death game? There wasn’t anything too gruesome and the deaths weren’t that tragic. It was established from the get go that these people would die, but as the body count rose I was itching for answers. This boosted up my attentiveness and became the movie’s greatest strength. I looked at every detail in an attempt to decipher its meaning. It helped that things were paced just right. My biggest grievance with the film was the villain, Director Jang (Park Hee-Soon). His character was a bit of a mystery. At one point I thought he was a run of the mill psycho and the next I was told that he was just a man looking for revenge. It may seem like a minor difference, but it also changed the tone of the story. I didn’t like it.
As far as being trapped in a desert by some psychotic killer goes, there isn’t really much that I can relate to. Obviously, I have never experienced that nor do I think I will. Two things in the film stood out though. The first was the implementation of the “fat man”. In Korean media and I think the country as a whole, heavier people are either made fun of or looked down upon.There was a guy in the film that was played to be some sort of gluttonous pig although he was hardly overweight; he didn’t even have a double chin. It slightly angered me to watch him fighting for food or being overly sluggish. What was the point?
The second was how the movie serves an eye opener to our capabilities and fear. When we watch reality TV shows, we pick apart the flaws of its contestants as if we could do better in their shoes. Even in movies/dramas. I often find myself yelling at the leads to get their act together or man up. What we forget is that there are things that we think we can do and things that we can actually do. Usually our thoughts fall into the first. The viewer is meant to parallel Yu-Jin (had you been put in the same situation); an idealistic optimist that eventually succumbs to the rules of the game.
I do not know the exact amount of money that was spent to produce this movie, but I am sure it wasn’t small. The film was shot in Australia, meaning each and every cast member had to be on location. The scenery was excellent at creating the illusion of total isolation. I loved about half of the casting, and accepted the other half. There isn’t really much more to say, because this section didn’t really stand out too much. It wasn’t great, it wasn’t bad. It was just decent.
This film is not going to make you crap your pants, it’s simply meant to entertain while keeping you on your toes. Things might seem vaguely familiar but don’t be swayed. You won’t be bored.