54 Sex Is Zero

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I don’t really like modern gross out sex comedies.  So why on earth I bought the DVD of “Sex is Zero” several years ago is quite beyond me.  I have tried to watch it several times since that purchase, but I have always found myself totally distracted by something else, or I have just turned it off.

But, in the interests of watching every move that Ha Ji-won hasSex_Is_Zero_film_poster appeared in, I thought the time was right to give this another go.  And to my surprise, I actually rather enjoyed it. 

Sex is Zero” centres around a group of students and other campus folk.  It broadly mixes a couple of cliques – the female Aerobics squad and the male Martial Arts squad.  We follow a number of their sexual exploits for the first two thirds of the film, which results in a number of amusing if rather stomach-turning set pieces.  So far, so normal I guess.

At the core of this group is Eun-shik (Lim Chang Jung ), a 28 year old law student (older because of his National Service stint), who is usually the butt of the more obscene set-pieces.  Eun-shik holds a candle for Eun-hyo (Ha Ji-won), and although they do become friends, she embarks on a relationship with the school’s hottest guy. 

Of course this is a Korean film, so even in the playful lightness of the first hour of the film, we are eventually presented with some heart-wrenching melodrama.

The film is surprisingly crude, and shows acres more (mostly female) flesh than I have been used to.  If you can stomach such things as Eun-shik eating a Rat poison and Sperm sandwich,  then you will be mightily amused.

It does have some continuity problems.  We see a whole selection of events, but the characters seem to come together and become friends off-screen.  One moment they are strangers, and then suddenly they are best of friends.  Of course we the viewer can fill in the gaps, but it occasionally leaves us scratching our heads.  There is a small storyline about a ring which encapsulates this – it is all clear in the end, but I was confused how each character got to where they were.

But nagging at the back of my mind was always – just what is Ha Ji-won doing in this film?  The answer of course is in the final third of the film.  I am going to spoil things now – her character gets pregnant, and has to undergo an abortion.  Now I have read a lot of online comments, that feel this storyline was totally out of place in this film.  I actually disagree.  The daddy of all sex comedies to my mind is the original “Alfie”.  If you have seen that you will know that the comedy is silenced by the back-street abortionist segment.  Therefore I feel what is done here is totally suitable.  It shows that there are consequences in the life these people are leading, consequences that will have lasting effects.  Ha Ji-won has the gravitas to pull off this change of pace.

There is a scene quite near the end, where Eun-hyo has left her convalescence way too early, and has competed in the Aerobic competition.  Eun-shik finds her collapsed in the toilets, blood everywhere.  This scene elevates this movie, possibly to heights it does not deserve.

So – what is the conclusion?  I think this is a pretty good comedy, if you are prepared to be maybe a little grossed out.  You also need to understand that the film is going to take a bit of a turn into melodrama before the end, and that it never quite recovers after making this turn.  For me, that turn is what elevates the movie, but as always dear reader, your opinion may be different.

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