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Originally published Friday, August 5, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Movie review

War of the worlds ... inside his head?

Destined for cult status and propelled by several punk/pop renditions of "Over the Rainbow," Jang Jun-hwan's wacky, violent alien-invasion conspiracy comedy...

Special to The Seattle Times

Destined for cult status and propelled by several punk/pop renditions of "Over the Rainbow," Jang Jun-hwan's wacky, violent alien-invasion conspiracy comedy "Save the Green Planet" is a thriller for people who wear aluminum foil to fend off transmissions from malicious E.T.s. Or maybe it's for Tom Cruise fans convinced that L. Ron Hubbard was onto something when he wrote "Battlefield Earth." Either way it's insanely over-the-top.

Making his feature debut, Jang delivers a frenetic blend of humor, pathos and sadism that's more than one film can handle. It's a schizoid mess, shifting tones so abruptly that you'll laugh one minute and squirm the next. Like any roller-coaster ride, it may make you queasy, but you'll never be bored.

Movie review 2.5 stars


Showtimes and trailer

"Save the Green Planet," with Shin Ha-gyun and Baek Yun-shik. Written and directed by Jang Jun-hwan. 116 minutes. Not rated; contains graphic violence, language. In Korean and Andromedan with English subtitles. Northwest Film Forum through Thursday.

You've got to love that Jang was partially inspired by an anti-Leonardo DiCaprio Web site that claims the "Titanic" star is an alien who is seducing all of Earth's women in a bid for global conquest. Equally inspired by the popular movie version of Stephen King's "Misery," Jang came up with this plot about a nut-job beekeeper and unemployed conspiracy theorist named Lee Byeong-gu (Shin Ha-gyun) who kidnaps chemical company CEO Kang Man-shik (Baek Yun-shik), convinced that his former boss is an alien from Andromeda, plotting Earth's destruction for the next lunar eclipse.

With the help of his dimwitted girlfriend (who performs a tightrope act when she's not battling aliens), Lee imprisons Kang in his grimy cellar, where the meaning of "Save the Green Planet" is fully revealed: The Andromedans had good intentions (and here Jang includes a riotous sendup of the "Dawn of Man" sequence of "2001"), but their genetic manipulations took an all-too-human detour.

Either that, or Lee is delusional from the psychic aftershocks of childhood trauma. Delirious flashbacks unravel the roots of his dementia, but is he really insane? Add detective thriller to Jang's menu of generic ingredients, and you'll be forgiven for indulging your curiosity about the fate of humankind.

Jeff Shannon: j.sh@verizon.net

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