Tidal Wave: As Bad As You Thought?

For this week’s movie I decided to mix it up a little; instead of reviewing a notoriously bad film I wanted to find a hidden gem. I asked my local Blockbuster manager for her recommendation and without hesitation she lead me to this South Korean disaster film, Tidal Wave. The summary on the back of the DVD made it sound like Jaws but with a tidal wave instead of a shark, this had me intrigued. So I ran home and threw it in the DVD player to find out if Tidal Wave was as bad as I thought.

The movie wastes no time on introductions as a group of people at a research facility are alerting someone on the radio of an impending tsunami. Elsewhere a helicopter is hovering above a boat on a dark, stormy, and poorly animated sea while radioing to the terrified families of the sailors who are otherwise enjoying a nice and sunny day. The chopper saves everyone onboard save for one, when the poorly animated tidal wave claims the ship. From there we see a flood of news reporters about the earthquake at sea and their impending doom from a tsunami. How is that for an introduction?

In a drastic shift in tone we go to a sunny and peaceful coastal town and a guy who I can already tell is not the brightest person around encouraging his son to sing while he hold’s the end of a string tied around the child’s tooth. As the unsuspecting child sings his heart out the man slaps him in the forehead knocking him to the ground, the poor boy spends the rest of the scene crying and hiding from the man. I can only hope he is not the main character. From there he rushes out t break up a fight between his mother who apparently runs an arcade and a woman a poor orphan woman whom the filmmakers want us to feel sorry for, who is selling her fish. It is during this fight that we learn the guy pushing the kid over is actually in charge of this town’s Chamber of Commerce, oh and we learn later on he is an obnoxious alcoholic to add to the mix. I would think that pushing kids down in an attempt to rip out their teeth would not be in such a position of authority but people have held higher offices and done worse. And in case your wondering, no, none of these characters have names apparently.

Meanwhile, at scientist get together, a scientist argues with his colleagues trying to convince them of an oncoming Mega Tsunami. After he is dismissed he goes out and has to deal with his ex-wife and son who doesn’t know he exists, because I guess they hang out at science conferences. How come in disaster movies we always get the one scientist who knows about the impending doom before everyone else, and has data to back up his claims and yet nobody takes him seriously. I mean I’m not as smart as a movie scientist but if another scientist came up to me with evidence of an oncoming threat, I’d believe him. I often think it’s because whatever is coming is on such a level that there’s nothing that can be done to stop it so you might as well left it hit the fan.

Back in our lovely coastal town we meet some of the other people who will be in our movie including a man and his nephew, who have one of the greatest exchanges in movie history. The child is dressed in a pirate suit with an arm in a sling, while the man very solemnly tells him that his guts will get him through life, and that they are like his “bad ass spirit”. Pure poetry, I wish my dad cared enough to tell me that. We learn he told his child this to get him psyched up for work, which for them is him pretending to be blind being lead by the child on a leash who sings for money, very classy. It is about this time I realize I will not be coming across any character in this movie who is rational and intelligent, they all have some kind of obnoxious quirk to destroy any likability they might otherwise have, and I should just settle in and wait for them to be wiped out by the impending Mega Tsunami. But we have to spend way too much time around these people before reaching that point. In the meantime, we get the joy of our head of the Chamber of Commerce getting incredibly drunk and abusive at a baseball game then swallowing shampoo, as well as a know it all teenage girl verbally abusing a man who saved her life in very unintentionally hilarious fashion., and various other pointless interactions between characters. One can not help but feel lied to; the introduction to the movie threw everything but the kitchen sink at you then once the actual movie starts it hits an incredibly boring lull, the most exciting part of which is a fireworks display which actually looks great.

Eventually though the Mega Tsunami that felt like it was prophesied so long ago happens. When a flock of CGI sea gulls are quickly flying away from the sea something is about to go down. And I must give the filmmakers credit the gulls were actually a nice touch. From there we return to the poorly animated ocean where we began as a poorly animated ship is tossed around by the waves. Back on land we can only watch in horror as a CGI tsunami heads at top speed towards the city. Did I say horror, I meant to say apathy. As the giant wave seeks to destroy all those in it’s path, the people stampede each other to get out of it’s way. One girl even calmly grabbed a guys hand and told him simply “Run”, honestly that bit made me a little sad, because it reminded me of Doctor Who, and of the fact that I could be watching Doctor Who right now instead of a CGI tidal wave killing people I don’t care about.

The tidal wave successfully makes land fall and floods the city, well some parts of the city, you see while the overhead shot makes the entire city look submerged, we see our beloved protagonists are okay in various parts of the city where the water only goes up a few feet and at the same time some people are in the top floors of sky scrapers which are flooded, yeah I can’t figure it out either. Our beloved alcoholic child abusing Chamber of Commerce guy confesses his love to the girl  who sold fish even though he did the same thing in less dramatic fashion several minutes ago, but it felt like hours so I guess the filmmakers felt the need to remind us.

The guy who was being verbally abused by the girl who’s life he saved earlier dramatically sacrifices himself to save the douchebag who beat him up over her, and he is swallowed by the waves, but seems kind of cheerful about it actually. The scientist who prophesied this event saves his estranged daughter while revealing to her that he is in fact her father, because his wife felt it best to keep that fact from her because….well I dunno, maybe if my ex could prophesy horrible events through science maybe I’d keep secrets from kids too. The guy who taught his nephew the value of his “bad ass spirit” almost gets drowned by his mother who forces him to save the kid, I mean they could follow the cliche of the morally bankrupt character becoming noble when the time of crisis came, but that was much more entertaining.

Without much explanation we go straight to the future where the memorial services are being held for the people who perished during the Mega Tsunami, and when I say without much explanation I mean literally the movie goes from floods and chaos to the service. The solemn situation where the survivors discuss their fallen friends and family are left unintentionally funny by the bad English voice overs and silly lines of dialogue they have to utter. One scene in particular stands out as an old woman tells a younger woman that once you get old you don’t care if your loved ones die because you come to expect it. Personally, I found it sad that a movie called Tidal Wave, featured only about ten minutes of it’s total run time on the tidal wave, and a puny tidal wave at that, it would be like if in Halloween, John Carpenter only had Meyers stalk the girls for a few minutes and then go back to insane asylum without much fuss.

So was it a bad as I thought? It was worse, like I’m sure many others who watched this flick expecting a dumb but enjoyable B-movie but what I got was what felt like an eternity of idiot characters doing idiotic things. I have always felt that the barest essential that a movie needs is a likable protagonist(s), but sadly not a single person in this ensemble cast is worth the effort it would take for the audience to care. Normally I would chalk it up to the poor voice dubbing but it’s quite obvious that the dub job is only adding ketchup to the already terrible french fries. If I had to find a nice thing to say about this movie it would be that if I only had minutes to live I would want this movie playing in the background because every minute of this flick feels like hours.