On June 26th, those of us who own 3D capable televisions should be very excited. CJ E & M and Shout! Factory will be releasing the film Sector 7 on 3D Blu-Ray, and I will tell you that this film makes the most of your expensive television’s HD and 3D capabilities. Forget Avatar, Drive Angry and other projects that were “made for 3D”. Sector 7 is without doubt the definitive 3D experience. Similar to the previously mentioned films, Sector 7 was “made for 3D” but with a different approach. There are no gimmicky “object thrusts” at the audience or jerky camera motions to blur the action. This film simply facilitates the 3D experience by immersing the viewer in an environment that allows the setting to not only project set depth, but make you feel as though you are sitting 8,000 feet below sea level with a drilling team. Yes, I’m gushing – but only because the viewing experience actually made me giddy!
The opening sequence of the film, which sets the tone for a sensory rich environment, takes place in 1985 as an oil rig drills feverishly off the southern tip of Korea’s Jeju Island. This area, known as Sector 7, is a joint exploration between South Korea and Japan intent on providing lasting fuel sources (note: oil) to relieve some of the Asian dependency on Middle Eastern fossil fuels. Approximately 8,000 feet below sea level, a maintenance worker from the rig is assessing the trouble with the drill bit when the ground beneath him shifts, exposing hundreds of tiny creatures that dwell beneath the surface. In addition to providing a great amount of visual detail on these new CG life forms, the quality of the film makes the viewer feel as if they were sitting on the ocean floor with the drill. I swear that the plankton and sea debris kicked up by the drilling were literally drifting by my head as I sat 8 feet from my television screen. It was absolutely breathtaking and all the more incredible how clear the visuals came across. No blur, lag or quick camera pans to take away from the experience.
The discovery of these new life forms spells impending doom for the maintenance worker (cue dramatic music) and the screen blacks out as he screams for help. Fast forward to 2011, where a new crew is having difficulty lining up the pipe-works to continue drilling in the same region. We are introduced to our heroine, Hae-Jun (played by Ha Ji-Won), who takes control of the situation and solves the piping problem with some extreme acrobatics and a bit of wit. One by one, the cast of the deep sea monster flick takes form, with the love interest, scientist, staff doctor and Three Stooges-esque comic relief workers. Yes, it’s a trite formula. But for those who have seen Producer Yoon Je-Kyun’s “Tidal Wave,” the comedy works very well with the assembled cast. Those who have seen “Tidal Wave” also know that the transition from pseudo-comedy to thriller happens at a rapid pace, which is also evident in Sector 7.
You see, Sector 7 is not the typical, formulaic monster movie like “Deep Rising” or “Deep Star Six”. There is a small twist involved in the film that actually does keep the viewer guessing, but also has a pretty significant political impact derived from real world problems. The late inclusion of Hae-Jun’s uncle in the film most certainly plays a role in how events pan out, but not how one would initially expect. I’m not suggesting that this film will pioneer a moral crusade, but the ideas that drive the plot late in the movie certainly add depth to the film where it’s aquatic predecessors most certainly failed. Don’t worry, I won’t drop any spoilers today, although I will say that there’s a certain “Voorhees” characteristic to the film’s monster. Yes, this motherfucker just won’t die!
So let’s talk about this “virus-like” sea creature for a moment. At first glance, I felt that the design and implication of the creature was hokey at best. However, my opinion changed as the film went on and we saw more of the creature’s interaction with the environment. The actual concept design and execution was unique and pretty nifty. At its worst moments, the creature was at least a marvel to look at and kept the viewer focused on the film. During its finest scenes, we sat in awe at how well the CG effects blended with the environment and took precedence over the live action cast. A considerable amount of time was obviously spent on the fine detail work on this beast and its features. The animation was spot on, colorization beautifully done and life-like movements – jeebus! Applause definitely due to the folks behind its creation!
The special features on the disc are quite sparse, providing a “Making Of” featurette and theatrical trailer. While the behind the scenes footage is always nice, the disc really is lacking the depth of a blockbuster presentation. As a huge fan of Asian cinema, I would like to see more interviews with directors, producers and actors. There is such a huge disparity between American and Korean filmmaking philosophies that I almost feel let down when a release doesn’t include at least some insight as to why directors or producers go in a specific direction, or how a film concept came to fruition.
With the exception of the anemic bonus features on the disc, Sector 7 was one of the most rewarding Blu-Ray experiences I’ve had. This film justifies the purchase of a 3D capable television more so than any of the heavily advertised films from James Cameron or Pixar, and will actually motivate audiences/owners of these devices to seek out similar experiences. I was personally thrilled to death watching this film and will most likely pop it in again over the weekend just to watch the underwater scenes over and over.