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  Attack on the Pin-Up Boys  

(left) Lee Dong-Hae and Kim Ki-Bum, and (right) Kim Hee-Chul, Kang In, and Choi Si-Won.
Korean: 꽃미남 연쇄 테러 사건  
Year: 2007  
Director: Lee Kwon  
Writer Park Yeon-Seon  
Cast: Kim Ki-Bum, Choi Si-Won, Kim Hee-Chul, Kang In, Lee Dong-Hae, Lee Hyuk-Jae, Shin Dong-Hee, Kim Ryeo-Wook, Sung-Min, Han Geng, Ye-Sung, Park Jung-Su  
The Skinny: Twelve boys, one movie, and a bunch of poop jokes. Attack on the Pin-Up Boys is pre-packaged commercial fluff for fans of Korean boy band Super Junior, but there are some jokes that could prove amusing to even non-fans. The movie won't make card-carrying Super Junior fans out of your average moviegoer, and indeed, the movie isn't very good. But for what it is, it's not that bad, either.  
by Kozo:

Idol movies live with Attack on the Pin-Up Boys, an agreeable trifle of a film aimed squarely at the teeming masses who find the thirteen members of Super Junior to be the height of huggability. That's right: the group has thirteen members. The popular Korean boy band could easily run their own five-on-five basketball game with a three-man referee crew if they so desired. However, despite one of them being an ace at hoops (or so the film purports), sports are not their main thing. Their main thing is dancing and singing like packaged idols should, and the boys have good looks and an admirable willingness to make fun of themselves. How do we know this? Because in Attack on the Pin-Up Boys, at least four of them have feces thrown in their faces, and at least three more openly desire for the same treatment. A movie where pin-up idols jockey to become victims of a feces facial? Super Junior, you rock!

Confused which Super Junior member plays who? Matching the names to the faces can be quite a chore for the uninitiated, since there are thirteen members of Super Junior, but only twelve appear because one of them, Cho Kyu-Hyun, was hurt in a car accident. Even then, figuring out which twelve guys is an issue, because perhaps only eight are obvious members, with the rest being figured out through process of elimination. Thankfully, the filmmakers help by having every actor play a character with their exact same name. Is this a meta-reference, or just pure laziness? You can decide, but it's an understandable and even agreeable detail. After all, this is a movie that's meant for fans. Do they really want to think of the Super Junior boys as anything but members of Super Junior? And besides, using their real names means less memorization for the probably overworked Super Junior boys, who can now call their buddies by their actual names instead of arbitrary made-up ones. A note to the filmmakers: both the fans and Super Junior thank you.

The film kicks off with the first Pin-Up Boy Attack, when orange-haired prettyboy Sung Min gets a face-full of crap from an unknown assailant. The crap-throwing mystery culprit struck on February 14, and each month thereafter on the 14th, he or she strikes again. The next victims are the basketball playing Han Geng, followed by rock band frontman Ye Sung. Brainy, glasses-wearing Kim Ki-Bum of neighboring Neulparan High School theorizes on his website that the next victim will be a person from his high-school, which leads to three possibilities: dancing fool Kim Hee-Chul, local Judo champ Kang In, or class president Choi Si-Won - who perhaps is better known to non-fans of K-pop as the prince from Andy Lau's Battle of Wits.

Ki-Bum's online theories make his website exceptionally popular, as everyone and their brother is apparently anxious to know who the next victim of an attack is. The kicker is the guys who were previous victims all became much more popular post-feces facial, so before too long the three candidates all desire to become the victim. There's a built-in amusement to this thinly veiled media satire, and placing the whole thing in such a ridiculous arena as high school politics makes it even more witty. Add that to the film's more silly details, like the fact that Choi Si-Won can apparently use Dark Jedi-like Force Lightning, and Kang In sometimes practices his Judo moves on a bamboo-eating panda (played by some guy in a patently fake panda outfit), and you have a movie that doesn't take itself seriously, and proves sometimes fun because of that.

Not that Attack on the Pin-Up Boys is the next coming of A Hard Days' Night, because it most definitely is not. There are plenty of ways in which the film does not succeed, among them its laggy second-act pace as the suspense over the next Pin-Up Boy Attack goes from acute to flaccid to irrelevant. Also, the film has time for pointless existentialism where characters talk about their purpose in high school, and how the Pin-Up Boy Attacks bring extra meaning to the dog days of their high school existence. That stuff would be great for parody, but the film doesn't treat the stuff as either earnest emotion or as a parody of typical youth film fodder, resulting in the moments coming off as nothing more than boring filler featuring pretty guys talking to one another. Once you get past the mild media satire, amusing manga and anime storytelling techniques, and self-deprecating attitude of the boys, there isn't much to talk about. The film doesn't succeed at making the boys distinct beyond their basic types, so it's doubtful that Attack on the Pin-Up Boys will necessarily create any new Super Junior fans. It'll just satisfy existing ones. The existence of a climactic musical dance number should make the purpose of this film clear: it's not for your average moviegoer, much less one who thinks Oldboy is the zenith of the Korean film industry.

What attraction, then, would the film hold for non-fans? Cultural curiosity, perhaps. Getting past internationally-approved film genres and trying out culture-specific content would help many a western-oriented Asian film fan appreciate the differences and/or similarities in pop culture moviemaking worldwide. Basically, this movie is a total marketing gimmick, and the lack of attitude and the genial, lowbrow playfulness of the proceedings makes it easier to deal with than, say, a movie starring the Spice Girls. Seeing the antics of cute boys in school uniforms can also allow the viewer to make a connection between the popularity of shojo manga and the proliferation of boy bands in Asia. What else is this but agreeable live-action representation for Yaoi fangirls worldwide? And doesn't North America have pre-packaged boy bands that stoke the fantasies of pre-teen girls? When you break it down, the basic culture inherent in Attack the Pin-Up Boys is present everywhere, and not just in Korea. That's the true value of this movie: it's a universal pop-culture case study that brings the world that much closer to together. Okay, that's probably an overstatement, but we shouldn't forget about the pandas and poop jokes. Everybody loves pandas and poop jokes, and Attack on the Pin-Up Boys gives us both. Super Junior, we thank you. (Kozo 2007)


DVD (Korea)
Region 3 NTSC
SM Entertainment
2-Disc Set + CD Soundtrack
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Korean Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English Subtitles
Numerous extras

image courtesy of Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen