R-POINT opens eerily in Vietnam, in 1972. A Korean army base recieves whispered radio transmissions from Donkey 30, a division of Batallion 53. The transmissions are distressed, begging for someone to go and save them before they all die.

The only problem with this is that the Batallion were all reported dead six months earlier. A wounded survivor confirms this when interviewed in his hospital bed. Completely covered in bandages, he argues that he witnessed the platoon's slaughter, and even collected the dogtags from their corpses.

Enter the hard-as-nails Lieutenant Choi Tae-In (Woo-seong Kam, MARRIAGE IS A CRAZY THING; SPIDER FOREST). After visiting prostitutes with a friend and subsequently becoming involved in a shooting, he is bribed into leading a mission to search for the missing Batallion.

Given nine men to complete his task, Tae-In sails to the island of R-POINT, where Batallion 53 were last heard from.

The men bicker and wind each other up for most of the time, although they all agree on one thing - their leader is a man with a fearsome reputation. One even tells of how he saw a photograph of Tae-In proudly holding two severed Vietcong heads in his hands.

Once on the island, the men trek through it's jungle and come under fire from snipers. Retaliating with a hand-held rocket launcher, Tae-In blows the snipers' den up and the team move in for a closer look. There, they find a girl still breathing. The men challenge each other to take her life, but they bottle it and leave her to die.

Later, they stop to rest in a field but swiftly move on after becoming spooked by some etched writing on a piece of rock, warning of ill fates in store for those with "blood on their hands" ...

After a night's rest, the soldiers awaken to discover they are mere feet away from an abandoned, derelict building. Cautiously, they move in closer to explore the premises. Upon inspection they realise the building is deserted and plan to use it as their base.

Tae-In rounds the men together and advises them that they are there to search for the missing Batallion 53. He divides them into two teams and instructs them to split up.

And so, the creepiness starts as people hallucinate, team members go missing, a US platoon visits the camp and warns that "no-one ever leaves R-Point alive" and unsettling recorded messages are discovered.

And that's just the start for Tae-In's unlucky band of brothers!

R-POINT is beautifully shot, with great landscapes and a fine location in the creepy building. The sunsets, the fields, the jungles ... cinematographer Suk Hyung-Jing has a keen eye for eveything at his disposal.

Acting-wise, the film is strong - with Kam particularly impressing by way of an undeniable screen presence.

R-POINT runs with an interesting, if unoriginal idea and builds momentum gradually as we get to like the quirkiness of the platoon's individuals. It's when the movie moves into it's more supernatural second half though, that things heat up with a genuine sense of creepiness to proceedings.

A well-made film, equally intent on creeping out it's audience as it is with covering the screen with splatter. Definitely worth a look.

Tartan's disc is a winner.

The 1.78:1 transfer is anamorphically enhanced for 16x9 TV sets, and looks fantastic. Images are bright, sharp and vivid. The multiple audio options - Korean 2.0, 5.1 and 5.1 DTS equally impress, with the surround options coming across particularly well. Big, bassy, in your face - lovely stuff. The film has easily readable removeable English subtitles.

The attractive animated menus include a scene selection menu offering 16 chapters. Not bad for a 107 minute film.

Extras include a fluent and engaging audio commentary from director Kung Soo-Chang (TELL ME SOMETHING), producer Choi Kang-Hyuk and location supervisor Kim Wan-Shik. The commentary track is in Korean with removeable English subtitles.

There's also an entertaining (and gory) 30 minute 'making of' featurette, entitled MISSION R-POINT. In-between the behind-the-scenes footage there's plenty of onscreen crew interviews to be savoured.

A featurette on recording the sound effects (BROKEN RADIO, 13 minutes) is followed by a 9 minute documentary on the special visual effects. And it's nice to see artists working with prosphetics and latex - none of this CGI shit!

Even the props man gets his moment of glory in a 10 minute featurette entitled 1972, VIETNAM.

Finally, there's an interesting theatrical trailer that clocks in at just under 2 minutes.


Review by Stu Willis

Released by Tartan
Region 0 PAL
Rated 18
Extras : see main review