by Del Harvey
This DVD is available for purchase at HKFlix.com.
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A teen boy is obsessed with his online role-playing game, spending all of his time at the local arcade. While he’s playing, someone hacks his account, causing him to lose all connectivity with the game he’s been playing, and he’s attained a pretty high level of play. When he’s finally able to connect to the game again, the character that he has spent so much time leveling up and acquiring rare items for is stripped of all its experience and items. The teen decides to find this hacker who stole his inventory and weapons, but all he has to go on is the player’s game-playing nickname, “Viagra.” The only thing he knows is that “Viagra” lives in an apartment/condo building named Paradise Villa. So the teen sets out to find Paradise Villa and the nasty “Viagra.”
We are not told whether or not the teen has mental deficiencies but, as portrayed here, it would only seem likely. His simple-minded focus on his internet nemesis turns as obsessive as his love for the game. And once he comes into contact with the quirky and self-obsessed inhabitants of Paradise Villa, his desire to find and destroy “Viagra” is all-consuming. He is dedicated to killing this person who has ruined his game-playing abilities. So he wanders through the building, meeting the various inhabitants and slaying a few along the way.
Paradise Villa’s motley group of residents includes: a building owner who cheated on his wife with an autistic teenage girl; his peeping tom son and his friends, who like to place cameras in other people’s apartments to tape their sexual habits and then sell the tapes to other friends; a woman so obsessed and desperate to sell a water purification system that she forgets her own family and friends; a businessman who is having an affair with another tenant; and a woman who strongly resembles a famous porn star and is having problems with the fact that this porn star is more popular and beautiful than her. Enter our young teen, who is unable to find the mysterious “Viagra” and is only further enraged by the tenant’s uncooperative attitude, which in turns causes him to go on an unstoppable killing rampage.
The concept is good, but the story is not without problems. The most unforgivable of which is the lack of quantitative character motivation and logic. The few surprises in the story occur without any basis in plot, so that any social message is lost. This feels more like a slasher film without a message than anything else. Produced and directed by Chong-won Park, Paradise Villa is one that I have a difficult time recommending to any except the most ardent fans of Asian cinema.
Del Harvey is a Chicago writer and a member of the screenwriting faculty at Columbia College Chicago.
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