In the realms of world cinema, there are simply some themes and stories that cross all boundaries and can be told from any vantage point. "Flu" is a tightly wound and effective thriller that puts us right on the city streets as we see people do anything and everything to survive as best as they can.
The worst epidemic ever seen is sweeping through Bundang, the suburb of Seoul. After smuggling illegal immigrants into the country, Byung-woo dies from an unknown virus. Soon after that, the same symptoms are plaguing scores of residents in Bundang. People are helpless against the airborne disease and the number of infected increases quickly, spreading chaos. As the worst-case scenario precaution, the city of half a million people, just 19 kilometers from Seoul, is about to be sealed off. The government orders a complete shutdown. Meanwhile, infectious disease specialist In-hye (Su Ae) and rescue worker Ji-goo (Jang Hyuk) go into the closed city to find the blood serum of the index case, a crucial part of developing the vaccine. With medical professionals in an absolute panic over this mystery virus, the government soon orders the military in to quarantine the entire area and desperation and violence soon grip the public as the infected and the non-infected struggle with everything as society in this suburb begins to spiral out of control.
While it does borrow from films that have come before it, "Flu" is a tension filled ride that will shock just about anybody into getting their flu shot, next time the season comes around.
It's a film that keeps the tension levels high throughout and director/co-writer Kim Sung-Soo knows his tension as some crack camera work weaves us in and out of the city streets at a break neck speed as the story is quickly set up and our contagion is on the loose infecting the unsuspecting populace. While the narrative certainly has themes of overwhelming and forever looming governmental control that creating the disturbing aura that the film is going for it doesn't skimp on the gore and ooze of sick person after sick person to the point that you can almost feel the germs coming through the TV screen.
Both stars are relatively new to the Korean film scene and might not be recognized by too many people in North America, but they both handled the rigors of the genre pretty well and had very good chemistry together as we couldn't help but root for them at every turn as they were trying to simply stay alive.
Special features on the DVD include a making of, some concept art and deleted scenes.
"Flu" is yet another example of the high quality of film making that comes out of South Korea and is a solid action thriller that can stand up to any of its Hollywood equivalents.
3 out of 5 stars.