1994, Tarantino co-wrote and directed the film “Pulp Fiction”, which earned him a place among the best directors of the moment, and perhaps of all time. Apart from the panoply of very good actors and the absolutely brilliant idea of interweaving stories that seem to come from nowhere, the success is undeniably based on the way of integrating the mode of “pulp magazines”, a genre of comic books known for their violence and their acerbic and conceptual dialogues. Would Pulp Fiction have been so successful if it hadn’t been supported by this starting point? By this desire of Tarantino to be inspired by the way of proceeding with the adaptations of Japanese anime? Probably but, the fact remains, that it was easier to accept it, to swallow it without flinching because of this same point.
“Connect” is the first Korean series to be directed by a Japanese director – Takashi Miike –known as the master of very extreme films. A victim of organ trafficking, Ha Dong-soo goes in search of Oh Jin-seok, the serial killer who stole his eye… with the idea of getting it back. Connected by the same visions, Ha Dong-soo will do anything to stop the psychopath’s murders.
Even if we embark on a Korean series, it quickly jumps to our eyes that the Japanese touch, more than omnipresent, very quickly takes possession of the atmosphere. Decor, context. It’s impossible not to confuse Kitaro, the one-eyed yokai demon boy from Shigeru Mizuki’s 1960s manga.
There are many films that show us the unhealthy adoration of the human body. This denomination suffers from a certain deficiency when one comes face to face on sculptures created with human bodies. “The Silence of the Lambs” by the American Jonathan Demme or “I’m coming with the rain” by the Vietnamese Tran Anh Hung plunge us into atrocious crimes, bordering on unbearable for an overly sensitive spectator.
But “Connect” seems to want to fit in more with the tradition of Japanese horror movie monsters. Even if in the last 20 years Japan has not excelled as much in the subject, its influences still remain intact. A recurring fact always ends up becoming the main point. Hiroshima, more recently Fukushima, these children who are born deformed because of radiation. The notion of monster appears, the imagination develops and flourishes through manga, stories of superpowers or beings endowed with astonishing characteristics. The nightmare, the apprehension of a new nuclear catastrophe settles like a parasite in an unfortunately irreversible conscience.
But, let’s not forget that the thriller webtoon, the original idea was created by a Korean, Shin Dae-Sung. Serialized on Naver Webtoon between 2019 and 2020, there is no official English release yet. South Korea can boast of its horror films, which unlike most countries – the United States included – seem to be building to a crescendo, driven or obviously buoyed by the recent surge in popularity that films like “Parasite” or series like “Squid Game” may have resulted. Not to mention of course the attraction and curiosity for bands like Bigbang, BTS and others.
The world has finally recognized the immense talent of South Korea
As for Japan, the country of the morning calm may its energy in its history and its share of traumas. Affirms and reaffirms itself. So, as for the recent Broker, a communion between a Japanese director and Korean actors is sometimes compromised by a slightly offbeat rhythm. The brain must get used to this new experience without getting lost in the wealth of information and images that are given to us from the first moments. A Japanese director who adapts a Korean webtoon and who finds himself confronted with the pillars of the framing of Korean dramas and who, in turn, must comply with the vision of this director. Uh…
Like Kitaro, who comes to mind regularly throughout the series, Ha Dong-soo, the Connect, fights against demons, this time very earthly, with the hope of saving any victims. Played by Jung Hae-in, the anti-hero and fragile character evolves and advances more and more with strength and confidence. The actor remains equal to himself despite the absence of his powerful and seductive gaze. Unlike the drama, Jung Hae-in does not let himself be manipulated. Very paradoxical, as usual, Jung Hae-in knows how to juggle between gentle, overwhelmed attitudes and a confidence and aplomb (virility?) which confirm his status as a very good actor.
Unfortunately, once the plot is revealed, “Connect” becomes like a balloon that could fly away at any moment. A song as reason, excuse and common thread proves, dare we say… ridiculous? Perhaps too extreme as an appreciation, but it is sure that this song does not have the solid enough shoulders to serve as a link between the two main characters and that a hint of disappointment sets in despite us.
We are impatiently awaiting the end and we also hope that Go Kyung-pyo, prisoner of his role, will eventually wake up. He looks like those characters from Japanese anime who only use 15 drawings per second (instead of 25 or 30 used by Disney) and who remain static, only moving their mouths. It would have been inappropriate and completely irrelevant for him to use his charming dimples to seduce us, but a little more solidity, a little less of this flat and linear attitude, would have fueled the expected chills. There’s no feeling about it, and that’s probably more than intended (on the director’s part, not his) but, suddenly, this whole display of macabre artwork lacks the same depth as their author. . As horrible as they may be. Want to tell the director, “Go Kyung-pyo is a very good actor, let him flourish!” »
Takashi Miike’s style is characterized, as we all know, by excessive violence (which has earned him more than one censorship), and by unusual, even curious characters who often stand out in rather unusual situations. A synthesis that does not seem to be enough for the scale of the Korean webtoon. The suspense of the first part withers and gives birth to a second part which barely manages to satisfy our desire to know the rest. An almost love story that turns out rather like those old censored movies that stole all the scenes from us between the first kiss and the moments when they got up from bed, the hot night off. And then finished, we don’t talk about it anymore. Detectives who seem to wander more than take root… the director neglects what could have been pillars, concentrating instead on the foregrounds of the awful statues by their beauty, the moments of regeneration of Ha Dong-soo and especially these zooms towards the gaping hole of the missing eye.
But, but, but… the talent of the director, the actors, the story of regeneration more than the story of the connection between the two main characters (the latter having already been more than approached), the special effects… all these elements cling and cling to a steady pace, which will not make us regret having watched this drama, to say the least, singular. The extraordinary and daring cliffhanger will be able, on its own, to give a new form and above all a new consistency to the six episodes watched. It will make us reconsider our first approach, forgiving the few disappointments or frustrations suffered without our knowledge.