Look Corner: “Tidal Wave (해운대)”

English Title: Tidal Wave
Korean Title: 해운대
Year: 2009
Genre: Thriller
Director: Yoon Je-kyoon (윤제균)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Not available
My Rating: 1 out of 5

The Korean title of this film is Haeundae (해운대), which is a district of southern port city Busan (부산) with a famous beach that bears the same name. In some places outside of Korea, the film’s name was problematically altered:

In English-speaking countries, the film was released as Tidal Wave (which is an incorrect term for its theme and should actually be “Tsunami”).

You know a film is going to be bad when the title itself has some issues. Yikes.

Some people refer to Tidal Wave as South Korea’s first disaster film. As you may gather, the film focuses on a gigantic tsunami that heads toward a wealthy, densely-populated area of Busan. It follows a handful of characters before, during, and after disaster strikes. Unfortunately, this entire film is a disaster.

The main problem with this film is that it tries to be too many things: a thriller, a romance, an action-adventure, a comedy, a family film, and, of course, a disaster flick. It tries to do all of these things by beating tropes to death and producing wholly unlikeable, unrelatable characters. By the time the wave actually hits, it is hard for the viewer to feel any sort of connection to the characters who are affected by it.

I was going to write that a good part of the film was that the special effects probably looked pretty cool when the film was released in the early 2000s. However, I then I realized that Tidal Wave debuted in 2009. The special effects were not a product of their time – they were just cheesy and unconvincing! Unless you have no other option, I’d recommend passing on this film.