The Flu

The Flu - Ae Su, Jang, Park Min-ah, posterDirector: Kim Sung-su

Cast: Ae Su, Jang Hyuk, Park Min-ah

Cert: 15

Running time: 122mins

Year: 2013

The lowdown: Korean pandemic thriller in the style of Outbreak that ladles on the de rigueur (mortis) apocalyptic imagery, but also finds room for romcom antics and a liberal glazing of melodrama. A disaster movie evoking the cheesy charms of The Towering Inferno or The Poseidon Adventure, this crams in enough excitement to satisfy those looking for an easy thriller, although the gushing sentiment might make this Flu too sickly for some.

The Flu - Ae SuThe Flu - Jang Sung, Park Min-ah

The full verdict: Cramming in enough disaster to make the most fraught season of 24 resemble a lazy Sunday with the papers, The Flu cannot be accused of shortchanging the audience.

But, a little more restraint would have provided greater focus for this blunderbuss of a disease-of-the-week flick.

Opening as a meet-cute romcom, rescue worker Ji-gu (Jang) saves stunning, prickly virologist In-hye (Ae) from a plunge into a sink hole.

After comedic scenes of attempted wooing, both Ji-gu and In-hye are forced to team up and save the population of Bandung, a city near Seoul, when illegal immigrants unwittingly bring a lethal new strain of avian flu into the country.

And then In-hye’s cute moppet Mirre (Park) develops the sniffles and it all literally gets personal.

The FluThe Flu - Korean movie, mass contagion

Despite the chilling image of a football stadium brimming with dead bodies and a bleakly pessimistic view of how the South Korean government would act in such a crisis, The Flu is cheese corn.

Both lead characters break people out of quarantine for noble reasons (inadvertently risking widespread contagion), massive coincidences pile up alongside the bodies to guarantee a race against time denouement and Mirre’s tearful climactic stand-off with armed soldiers is likely to elicit giggles rather than the intended wobbly bottom lip.

As with the masterly monster movie The Host, politicians are boo-hiss villains concerned more for opinion polls than the sneezing masses and colluding with shadowy American figures who want the issue resolved with extreme prejudice.

A hit in its native South Korean, despite sequences of well-staged suspense and an overall goofy charm, The Flu is less likely to spread here.

Rob Daniel