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‘Emergency Declaration’ shows the power of South Korean cinema

by Erin Chew, AsAmNews Contributor

Passengers on board a flight to Hawaii race to fight a terrifying virus released in mid-air by a domestic terrorist in the latest South Korean blockbuster thriller: Emergency Declaration.

The protagonists investigate the reasons behind the act of terrorism. Captain and Crew must implement unprecedented emergency measures to save the lives of those on board.

It is one of those films where you can easily pinpoint the big-name veteran actors and name the last film/drama you saw them in. The main cast features Song Kang Ho (Parasite), Kim Nam Gil (The Fiery Priest), Lee Byung Hun (Squid Game), Jeon Do Yeon (Secret Sunshine) and Im Siwan (Run On). Seol In Ah (Business Proposal), Park Hae Joon (The World of the Married), and Kim So Jin (Escape from Mogadishu) take up significant roles.

It is not hard to feel a little uneasy watching a story about a deadly virus considering the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the eye candy selection of heroes and villains, the fast-paced emergency feels and the emotional farewells to family and loved ones will win you over. The almost 2.5 hour film’s thrilling pace makes it feel like short film.

There are also a few suspicious coincidences that will surprise you- (a certain passenger just happens to be a pilot, etc.) and the film works hard in its climactic moments like the plane losing momentum, almost crashing and under threat of being eliminated off the face of the earth etc.

A few plot holes in the story become head-scratchers. Where are the general safety procedures for in-flight passengers? Why was there only one child on the flight considering they were heading to Hawaii? Why did the terrorists release the virus?

This film like other major Korean blockbusters and dramas – such as Squid Game, Train to Busan, Parasite, Kingdom, All Of Us Are Dead – shows the power of South Korean film and TV and its influence on how the world perceives entertainment coming out of Asia. It is a long-standing sign of changing times, that Hollywood is not the end all be all. Asian entertainment industries can be just as or even more successful.

Other major Asian film and television hubs coming out of Asia are Japan, China, India (Bollywood), Hong Kong, Taiwan and emerging hubs of Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam. Many of these Asian nations have been creating films and dramas for a long time, but it is the big blockbusters coming out of South Korea that have renewed interest, appreciation and initial understanding of Asia and what it has to offer.

Emergency Declaration is now out in theaters, so check your local theater guides for showtimes.

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