Eun-shik is a 28 year old college student, always ending up in awkward situations, especially once he falls for one of the most popular girls on campus, an aerobics dancer, Eun-hyo. Eun-shik’s group of friends, a team of martial arts performers, end up going out with Eun-hyo’s friends, while Eun-shik is left pining after Eun-hyo over her obligatory jerk of a boyfriend.
A little advice about humor is necessary for Yoon Je-gyun’s execution. Sex is Zero’s screenwriter better take down some notes too. You need a pretty damn solid joke to get a laugh if viewers see it coming from a mile away. Any of those awkward sexual walk-ins, or gross-out eating slapstick is simply not going to cut it when one banks on this strategy for most of the film. When Eun-shik squirts ketchup in a suggestive place on a poster of a woman, and empties the bottle, its simply an annoying, cringe-worthy matter to grudgingly wait for the build-up to a surprise walk-in while he’s licking. All too common scenes like this are more likely to be met with groans. As a viewer, entertainment is always my number one priority for a film, so turning off the brain and watching is never a problem. Even so, most of the humor in Sex is Zero is just derivative, predictable and just filler for an interesting story. The overall plot and characters spell out light fun, and the gross-out humor adds to this, but it is hardly worthy to generate more than a few laughs. It’s definitely not excrutiating enough to compel the viewer to shut off the film half-way through, but the failed humor does count against it. When the humor does occasionally surprise, it just goes a long way to prove my point. Seeing Eun-hyo notice Eun-shik conspicuously checking her out, and her rice-spitting inducement that follows, is definitely a hilarious moment that gives us a taste of higher quality humor that never continues later on.
As the film descends into more serious substance, the turn-around wasn’t particularly drastic in my case, as much of the film was spent without laughing anyway. For those expecting pranks and sexual hijinx to continue for the entire film American Pie style, they will be shocked to find a serious plot twist that can destroy the light fun of the film as it slips into a bit of melodrama on a number of occasions. The part of the film that seemed to hold it together and compel the viewer to finish was the story. Even though the film takes cues from American Pie, Bring it On or any teen sex comedy you can think of, and ups it a notch in explicit images, it still delivers a nice feeling from the director. It feels like he’s reliving his college days with a touch of fantasy added to his experiences. Even though the goofy nature of the film sends off a vibe that most everything is contrived, it works fine as a breezy way to kill 90 minutes without any pretentious attempts at quality filmmaking.
Country: South Korea
Director: Yun Je Gyun
Cast: Chang Jung, Ha Jin Won, Choi Seong-Guk, Jin Jae-Yeong
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