Nov 19, 2008


Much like how I'd like to open this review up to a blitzing world view on violence in the media, Mago greets you with the same sentiment although infinitely more visceral. Enter a dark street road. The camera slowly pans down until you hear a cacophony of chirps and ribbits. You see thousands of frogs littering the road in a very condensed formation. Human feet begin slowly approaching. Had you heard about the descriptive notoriety and flak this film has been hit with, you can predict what happens next.

Feet begin stepping through and on our amphibian friends resulting in a sickening squishing sound. Next come the bicycles, then to the cars, then to the tank treads. The evolution of technology directly attributes to the increasing danger of the possibility of an environmental genocide. You will watch in shock & awe as frogs are slaughtered for the sake of "art" and a "message" to society. The same hypocritical effect could be done if Al Gore decided to slash a polar bears throat and claim Global Warming was the villain. Thankfully, they saved the worst for first so for the faint of heart, tread carefully.

Mago is the title of the film and the elusive goddess hinted at towards the incoherent plot, but is also based upon a character in many Oriental religions, mainly Taoism. The film takes the creationist theory and adds a feminine and more divine touch to it, embodying all aspects of Gaia into 12 female spirits, who tend to become suicidal she-bitches after we humans are done with their forsaken planet. You will watch muddy Korean women sobbing in a wasteland of pollution holding dying birds to her bosom. It's quite a depressive feat seeing as how the "Water Spirit" eventually dies in the very pollution that kills her brethren.

The average chauvinist might take immediate disgust to this film upon baring some of the fleshed mythos of Mago. Instead of the "weaker female" succumbing to the heart of temptation, the male is the one who steals the forbidden red grapes. As a resulting action, all the males turn primal, raping, killing, beating, and screaming to their hearts consent. Mago fits the religious context of the bible as much as it would had Ann Coulter authored the Old Testament stuffed with Betty Crocker recipes and endless Sally Fields re-runs.

Mago presents human realization synchronizing with the heartbeat of nature fluidly at best. The film is a message to all technology enthusiasts. I can imagine the director filming this stock on certified recycled 35mm film stock. "Give up your primitive bodies and disperse your soul into information." is the basic message of one of the more esteemed chapters showing a bald unnamed Korean male drowning in the static screen of his computer monitor. After seeing stock footage of bombs going off, this film is certainly made with post-Hiroshima in mind. The environmental apocalypse is nigh!

What novelties make Mago a bit too much to swallow? Perhaps it's the wacky J-Pop musical cues that use death as choreography that blister on the scenes. Listening to the Korean equivalent to Kylie Minogue during a scene of pigs getting brutally massacred is not on my list of to-do's. One such reviewer went as far as to call Mago a "low budget art film", then began claiming how this "Art film" totally sucks because the film doesn't have a Hollywood look to it. I began to become intrigued with critical reception to Mago. Much to my dismay, I found that everyone claims that Mago is a film that had no impact whatsoever on them. It's safe to say that they perhaps had nightmares from this film. I'd personally rather a low budget art production made with callow soul and furious sexuality as opposed to huge budget Hollywood "quirkfests". I'm looking at you Wes Anderson and Diablo Cody.

Mago might have broken a record with the staggering amount of nude actors/actresses appearing in the film. The total tally rounds up to about 825 people appearing fabric-less in this huge Korean production. This truly is "an allegorical poem of environmental destruction." The word "pretentious" is whored and handed out constantly. Before I get a chance to appreciate wonderful visual poetry, from left field comes the inability to fully understand ones personal work. Know that Mago has more deep-seated meaning and philosophy than such over-heralded films such as Begotten.

The rebirth of the female sexuality has never been as stunningly filmed as demonstrated here. The sacrifice of thousands of wildlife souls is done in vain. While the conveyed message is brutal and nerve-wracking, the animal cruelty is needless. They might as well have directed a sequel to Godzilla vs. Hedorah. I'm sure that charts & graphs wouldn't have the same effect, but I cannot stop suffering for those poor frog creatures in the opening scene. Mago is definitely recommended for people of tolerance, but comes with fore-warning.


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