HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Shiva Baby
Flowers of Shanghai
War and Peace
Agony
Merrily We Go to Hell
Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie's Dead Aunt)
Amusement Park, The
Lemebel
Hands of Orlac, The
Cats
Death has Blue Eyes
Caveat
Kala Azar
Duplicate
Flashback
Gunda
After Love
Earwig and the Witch
Zebra Girl
Skull: The Mask
Vanquish
Bank Job
Drunk Bus
Homewrecker
State Funeral
Army of the Dead
Initiation
Redoubt
Dinner in America
Death Will Come and Shall Have Your Eyes
PG: Psycho Goreman
Maeve
Sound of Metal
Things of Life, The
Auschwitz Escape, The
Jungle Fever
Great White
Spy Who Came in from the Cold, The
Raya and the Last Dragon
Letter from Paris
   
 
Newest Articles
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
   
 
  Yobi, the Five-Tailed Fox Let the fur fly
Year: 2007
Director: Lee Sung-gang
Stars: Son Ye Jin, Gong Hyun Jin, Ryu Deok Hwan
Genre: Animated, Science Fiction, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: One hundred years ago an alien spacecraft crash-landed on a forest mountain in South Korea right in front of Yobi (voiced by Son Ye Jin), a young five-tailed fox spirit who lost her family to hunters. Since then Yobi has looked after the rambunctious furry little Yoyo aliens, hiding them away from human beings. Unfortunately the Yoyo's latest attempt to jump-start their spaceship results in a calamitous crash caused by the youngest alien, the aptly-named Naughty. Scolded by his elders, Naughty runs away but is captured by curious kids at a summer camp for "maladjusted" children. Using her shape-shifting powers Yobi adopts the guise of both a sexy single mom and an energetic little girl to enroll herself in the camp where she ends up falling in love with a friendly little boy called Geum-ee (Gong Hyun Jin).

Throughout the past decade the Korean film industry all but eclipsed Hong Kong as Asia's foremost producers of glossy action fare, comedies and special effects blockbusters but their efforts to outdo Japan in the field of animation drew a more muted response. For decades Japan utilized the talents of Korean animators yet for some reason when local artists set out to craft their own movies they repeatedly failed to produce the kind of international hits comparable with Akira (1988), Doraemon (1979) or the output of Studio Ghibli. Lee Sung-gang looked set to buck that trend when his feature debut, My Beautiful Girl Mari (2002) won a slew of awards around the world that led some to label him the next Hayao Miyazaki. Which predictably proved the kiss of death as Sung-gang's second feature, Yobi, the Five Tailed Fox received a severe drubbing from critics and animation fans alike and sadly sent the bruised filmmaker scurrying back to the realm of animated shorts.

Yobi is not a bad film by any stretch of the imagination. In fact parts of it are downright inspired, laden with a sense of wonder and moments of audacious visual invention liable to delight any sci-fi-fantasy mad child (or grownup) along with a streak of lyrical melancholy you just don't find in animation outside Asia anymore. Yet at the same time it is easy to see why so many people found the film so frustrating. Inspired by the Korean legend "Gumiho" the film mixes traditional folk tales with science fiction in a rather awkward and ill-conceived fashion. Frankly, as adorable as the Yoyo aliens are there is no reason for them to be included in this story. Sure enough once Geum-ee enters the plot, Sung-gang casts the Yoyos aside before they eventually exit the plot in strangely casual fashion with scant regard for their seemingly close emotional bond with the titular heroine. There is a strong history of wild genre mash-ups in Asian cinema, whether in live action productions like the Hong Kong made A Chinese Tall Story (2005) or Japanese The Sword of Alexander (2007) and too many anime movies to mention. Unlike those examples Sung-gang takes too long to establish a solid emotional core to string all his cool concepts together.

Scripted by acclaimed live action director Lee Chang Dong, the film reworks the original legend about a fox spirit attempting to steal the soul of a man by turning the creature from antagonist to sympathetic protagonist. In that area the film succeeds although Yobi, the aliens and the supporting cast of animals (the giant bear mourning the loss of its cub is especially engaging) and otherworldly beings prove more endearing than the various child characters peppered throughout the narrative. Aspiring stand-up comedian Geum-ee is amiable enough, albeit a trifle bland, but Sung-gang makes a bold choice in portraying the other youngsters as bratty, rude or abrasive. It is an admirably non-sugar-coated depiction of childhood yet the director never really grapples with the issues plaguing these "problem children" or detail the rather dodgy concept of corralling kids in a camp where an unsympathetic coach tries to bully them out of their insecurities.

As often happens in these sorts of stories Yobi finds herself pursued by a grumpy old ghost hunter who has a grudge against fox spirits. She also finds an ambiguous ally in a slouch-hatted, two-dimensional spirit called Detective Shadow. He claims he can help Yobi become a human being but first she has to steal a human soul. Sang-gang's debt to Hayao Miyazaki and his Ghibli cohort Isao Takahata grows increasingly obvious as imagery and plot elements evoke Spirited Away (2001) and Pom Poko (1994) but the third act descent into a surreal apocalyptic nightmare proves genuinely spectacular and suspenseful and the melancholy resolution does attain some semblance of their lyricism. Provided you can overlook a few conceptual flaws this is good-natured, exuberant fun.

Click here for the trailer

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1539 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
Andrew Pragasam
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: