Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Aachi & Ssipak (2006): Giving Crap to the Government

Aachi and Ssipak (2006)
dir: Jo-Beom Jim

Ed's Note: This review is based on the original Aachi and Ssipak, and not Mondo Media's 2014 English language rewrite and dub. Mondo Media did not put the original version of the film on either their blu-ray or their DVD. That version can be found through usual channels, as well as a website with a Y and a T in it.

The world of Aachi and Ssipak isn't that hard to imagine. A world where natural resources have run out. A world where electricity is harnessed from one renewable resource: feces. A world where the government runs the electric company and also demands people give their feces for the electricity. A world where they placate the masses by giving them a highly addictive drug for regularly pooping instead of, probably, selling feces on the black market as its own type of resource. And, a world where that drug has had the negative power to make people constipated, mutated, yet still addicted to the drug that requires the ability to poop.

Jo-Beom Jim has concocted a world which bends in on itself in some of the likeliest manners, given the two axioms of resources have run out and the world is now run on crap. He created a world where the lines between government and commercial entities blur, where the authority is just as destructive and violent as the criminals, where drugs and media create placid easily manipulated addicts, and bodily function and pleasure are married in intimate ways.

Needless to say, this movie gets very complicated very fast for a movie that merely appears to be about poop and porn. Let's try to unwind this movie.

Aachi and Ssipak opens with a scrawl giving the basic outlines of this dystopic future, then jumps in to its first of many action sequences. The diaper gang, a bunch of adorable and disposable blue mutants who are ripe to be stuffed creatures out of a Disney background character, is seeking to seize a shipment of Juicybars, the drug given to people for their fecal matter. The diaper gang have mutated in a way that they don't have the ability to poop, and now must subsist solely on Juicybars. This seizing is foiled by Geko, a renegade cyborg cop, whose goal is foil the gangs, but not necessarily to save the shipment. All of Geko's behaviors is monitored and dictated by a large headed woman who appears to be CEO and Dictator of the country.

Aachi and Ssipak, are two small-time criminals in one of the ghettos who both deal for Juicybars, and also hold up bathrooms to try to steal them for resale on the black market. Their primary dealings happen with an organized mob, who are out to get them for shortchanging the deal, and also stepping in territories that aren't theirs. They also have a friend, Jimmy the Freak, who is a wanna-be porn director who wants to make a porn movie about a woman who defecates strongly.

The way that the feces are actually distributed to people is by a ring placed in anuses at birth that also encode that person's identity into their ass. When a ring detects a successful bowel movement, it delivers a Juicybar to the bathroom of the defecator, and also the main government computer identifies the defecator by name.

When Jimmy the Freak tells the Diaper King about this, the Diaper King gets the idea to take out the identity rings from his Diaper Gang minions, and put them in the anus of a porn actress, Beautiful. Beautiful had already become the object of affection for Ssipak, who rescues her from Jimmy and the King only to find out she had already been implanted with all the rings and now gets mountains of Juicybars.

The above four paragraphs are all packed into the movie's first 30 mind-bending minutes. And, I haven't even mentioned the sequence where Aachi and Ssipak get Jimmy the Freak high as hell on Juicybars, then hypnotize him to go into the mob office to perform scenes from Basic Instinct and Misery. For all of Aachi and Ssipak's low brow humor and aims at base sensibilities, Jo-Beom Jim has created a scathing satire on all things government, consumer and media. The vast majority of the second and third acts are made up of cinematic action sequences upon action sequences taken from other films, most notably Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

For a movie whose first 45 minutes are packed with more cultural insight and impact than many movies do with 2 or 3 hours, it's hard not to be both disappointed and relieved that the spins didn't keep coming for the entirety of the movie. When you piece together everything, you're allowed to mindlessly sit back and watch the action unfold, which is also a scathing indictment of how cinema soothes people into complacency. You see all of this corruption through the use of drugs and government, but the happy ending is that Aachi and Ssipak rescued Beautiful and are able to become rich again. Not that the government corruption has ceased to exist, or that the people are done being drugged, but our heroes made out for themselves. It's a high note that's as intentionally hollow and flawed as anything the movie corrupts.

On the other hand, the movie is so well done. The sight of the diaper gang mutants being so chipperly evil is always hilarious, as is their frequent gory and brutal murders. They're the most precious victims of action movies. Jo-Beom Jim's action sequences are rapid paced and fast moving, and really well done. They don't obscure the action and are visually sumptuous.

Aachi and Ssipak's hyperkinetic nature, high-brow satirical intents, and mixture of medium-brow and low-brow humor makes this a movie that is simultaneously a must see and a movie that will be appreciated by few. The scatological and pornographic nature of the film will turn most people off, though Aachi and Ssipak shows no actual feces or sex in the film. Yet, because it attacks both the brain and the adrenaline, Aachi and Ssipak is a one-of-a-kind thrill ride of a weird type of intelligence, making this a required viewing.

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