A Bloody Aria



ImaginAsian Pictures/Prime Entertainment

NEW YORK -- One would think that the domestic film industry produces enough bad exploitation films that we shouldn't have to import them, but the arrival of this Korean thriller apparently demonstrates otherwise.

"A Bloody Aria" has been likened to an Asian "Deliverance" with its story of a pair of sophisticated urban dwellers menaced by a gang of rampaging thugs during a trip to the countryside, but this grotesque film lacks the style or wit necessary to distinguish it from the similarly witless genre films released here practically every week.

The film depicts the travails of a music professor (Lee Byeong-jun) and his young female protege (Cha Ye-ryeon) when they embark on an ill-fated road trip. After an unpleasant encounter with a traffic cop, the professor pulls the car off the road, ostensibly to avoid detection but actually to force himself on his student. She quickly flees, and by the time he discovers that his car is stuck, he's been surrounded by a gang of hoodlums who also have captured the girl.

The resulting mind games quickly turn violent, with the rural roughnecks demonstrating their propensity for sadism with the revelation of a young man kept in a sack who they apparently have been tormenting for their amusement.

Director-screenwriter Won Sin-yun adds some welcome humorous notes to the proceedings, not to mention the sort of not-so-veiled social commentary that has become so pervasive in Korean genre films. But ultimately the sheer nastiness on display becomes so overwhelming that "A Bloody Aria" becomes a simply unpleasant experience unleavened by any deeper thematic resonance.