Film & DVD Review
Jin Chae-Byeol and Na Han-Soo were sweethearts who planned to share their lives together. When time passed by Han Soo became secretly engaged with Cha Hyeon-Joo, the daughter of the Han Soo's boss, so that he could boost his career. Chae-Byeol find out about his relationship with this other women, and becomes extremely sad and depressed. At one time when full of anger because of Na's betrayal, she is waiting for a subway at hte edge of the platform, sales ghosts of Suicide Ghost Association (SGA) instigates her to commit suicide. Even though she didn't want to commit suicide, the sales ghosts instigate her to become a member of SGA in order to revenge herself on Na. At SGA, she meets Kantorates, White Face and Diety all of whom have unique characters. Since White Face committed suicide because she was raped, she supports Chae-Byeol's plan for revenge and even helps her. On the contrary Kantorates holds back Chae-Byeol. Chae-Byeol finds that Kantorates remains in SGA because he wants to help his lover move on from his death. But it will take quite a bit of persuading to stop Chae-Byeol from trying to take her revenge...
Please note the original title of this film is Ghost In Love. For this Thailand release of the film, it has been renamed Love Soul. As everywhere else it is called Ghost In Love, that is what I have chosen to list it under.
Ghost In Love or Love Soul, whatever you want to call it, was a film I bought pretty much completely blindly. I saw it at ethaicd.com and thought the cover looked interesting and it was really cheap (US$8.50, ~£5, delivered!), so I tried to do some research on it to see if the film was thought of as being good or not. I only found one review, of which I only read the conclusion. It was positive, so that was good enough for me. I went and ordered it, and I'm glad that I did.
Ghost In Love is a film which takes place in several different 'worlds': The normal world that we all know, and the ghosts' Netherworld. Before I go into an brief covering of the plot I think I should first explain the ghost's netherworld. People who die, I guess, go to Heaven or Hell, this isn't mentioned in the film, but it is stated that people who commit suicide can't go to heaven. They remain on Earth but in the Netherworld, which is essentially a sort of parallel dimension type thing. If they wander the netherworld for too long, their memory and being will disappear and they will become wandering ghosts. To stop this, Messengers arrive at their body about the time of death to take the ghost away (to Hades? Not too sure on this point), or ghosts known as Recruiters may get there first and take the ghost to join their Society for Suicide Ghosts (SSG, or Suicide Ghost Associate as it is called in the Synopsis for the Korean release), the first democratic society for ghosts in the Netherworld! Once in the SSG, the ghosts don't disappear, and they live on Earth and are able to interact with all things, but are not seen or felt (unless the ghosts want them to be, for the latter one) by humans.
Hope all that is clear! While I don't think any of the individual plot and film theme elements are that original in themselves, I don't recall ever seeing them all combined in the way that Ghost In Love has combined them. The main story is a romance and love story, spurned love which turns the one who was spurned to revenge. But this story crosses worlds, from the human world to the ghost's netherworld. Add lots of fantasy themes, CG effects, sex and blood and gore and you have Ghost In Love.
Anyway, the film is primarily about Jin Chae-Byeol, a woman completely in love with Na Han-Soo. They were engaged to be married, but she found out that he was cheating on him with another woman. Angry, sad and depressed she briefly contemplates suicide while standing on a subway platform, unaware that the two SSG recruiters are standing behind her. Despite deciding not to jump in front of the train, the recruiters give her a push and she is killed by the oncoming train. Her ghost is then taken to join the SSG. There she learns about the organisation, and the ability of ghosts to take revenge on people in the human world.
In one visit back to Na Han-Soo, Chae-Byeol sees that he is forgetting about her and planning on marrying the woman that he was cheating on her with. Clearly angered to the extreme over this, she starts to interfere with his life in the human world. This interference is illegal for ghosts, she learns from another ghost and SSG member, Kantorates - a man who is unlike the other members of the SSG, as he does not believe the ghosts should interfere with the human world. Chae-Byeol soon learns that there are Messengers of Hades (or Death) who arrest and execute any ghosts who are found guilty of interfering with people in the human world (yes even ghosts have laws and can die!).
Slowly a relationship builds up between Kantorates and Chae-Byeol, as he tries to persuade her to let Na Han-Soo go, and not take revenge on him. However, another ghost, Pale Face, who strongly believes in taking revenge on those that have wronged them pushes Chae-Byeol in the other direction, and she does keep interfering with his life, in an effort to ruin it and make him feel guilty. With her contact with Kantorates she learns why he is a ghost in the SSG, and why he believes she should not do anything to Na Han-Soo. But somethings happen which puts the situation beyond their control...
Being a story primarily based on romantic relationships, it does sound like a bit of a sappy 'girl' type film, but it is not! There are honestly enough different things in Ghost In Love to keep everyone happy, although it is definitely not for children. There are reasonably frequent showings of the what I can only guess is Hades, which is where it would appear ghosts found guilty of interfering with the human world are kept as prisoners until they are executed. There is quite a bit of violence, usually coming after a rape scene, of which there are a fair few, so you've been warned. Blood and gore are common in these violent scenes too. Anyway, I'm pretty much repeating what I've already said now, but the point I was trying to get to was that I found myself interested in the film, and how the situations were going to be resolved. The blend of everything helped mesmerise me into the film, heightening the overall experience.
One of the things I really liked about the film was that in the ghost world, while they stil appeared to have laws and the like, there were no clear good ghosts and bad ghosts. The Recruiters and many members of the SSG are involved in killing humans, which is obviously bad, but they do have a good side to them as well. They help protect their members from the Messengers, who the SSG pretty much universally look upon as being evil. The Messengers, on the other hand, come across as being quite evil, and the general stigma given to them by the SSG is not good at all. Yet these ghosts are the ones which enforce the laws and think that interference with the human world and killing humans is bad, and should not be done. Throughout the film it also becomes clear that one of the Messengers is pretty much a good person/ghost at heart.
As I have stated the film is quite heavy in computer effects. None of these were bad at any point, and in that I was quite surprised too. Granted they were not up to Hollywood standards, but for the task in hand they all do the job. Some are certainly more impressive than others. The Hades part of the Netherworld looks suitably bleak and eery, and some of the morphing and ghost effects are pretty good to, simple but good. I particularly liked the opening scene with the train coming in. That is what initially grabbed my attention towards the film, as when I saw it taking place I was like "W.T.F.?!" (if you don't know what WTF means, then tough!!). It looked cool, and definitely marked the opening of the film well. Some of the death scenes were not quite as convincing, looking quite clearly like CG effects. That is a minor criticism though.
As I've stated already, there are quite a few rape and a few sex scenes in the film. While most of the rape scenes are used in the film's plot, a couple of them are not, and the sex scenes are pretty much gratuitous, making them feel out of place in the film. If it were not for these scenes, this film would have been suitable for younger teens, but with their inclusion the age limit has unnecessarily gone up. I don't have anything against sex scenes in films at all, but in Ghost In Love they don't fit in with the feel and tone of the film that well.
Acting wise, there are no turkeys I'm pleased to say. Everyone got their job done well enough, with Kantorates possibly being a little too bland. For me though the highlights were the Recruiters for the SSG. They had more than their fair share of humourous moments, and when out recruiting they were suitably entertaining! What I will say about the casting, though, is that Ghost In Love has, for my tastes anyway, an improbably high proportion of remarkably attractive women. Surely if this were real, of all the women involved more of them would be average looking, rather than pretty much gorgeous? Of the 5 main women in the film 4 are stunning in my opinion. While this may not reflect real life that well, it does make viewing Ghost In Love more of a pleasure!
Ghost In Love is one of those unexpected surprises you get every now and then when you watch a film. I had no expectations as I knew nothing about it before hand, and in the end I was quite taken with the story, the world it is set in, and the way it is told. Yes the main basis of the story is relationships and romance, but it works well in the film. My only criticism, is that the ending is a bit too happy for my liking.
Audio & Subtitles
Ghost In Love comes with a choice of Korean of Thai Dolby Digital 5.1. Being a Korean film I chose the Korean option... duh. Not being an action film with chases and gunfights and the like, the surrounds are used sparingly. When music comes on for effect, it spreads round the speakers, and in the train scenes the trains 'horn' (can't remember the name of the steam thing that makes the noise on a train!) and its chugging are spread around too. In fairness, this is decent enough as it isn't really necessary for this film for much more. All the audio is nice and clear, with well balanced volume levels.
The subtitles were of a high standard too. They are removable, a nice bold white font with a black border around each letter. Grammatically they were very good, as I don't recall noticing any bad sentence structure or anything like that. Spelling was also nigh on perfect. I only recall seeing one or two spelling mistakes, one of which was pluralising a word when it shoudn't have had the 's' on the end. Actually this happened on a couple of occassions, so make that about three or four spelling errors. Between about 17 1/2 and 21 minutes into the film, the timing of the subtitles is a little off, being delayed by approximately a second behind the speech. This is a little off putting, but not too serious. Also near the end of the film I have the feeling that one line of subtitles was missing. A sentence apparently ended at a time when I would certainly have expected a few words more to actually finish the sentence, but these words never came up. Don't know whether that was an error or actually how it should have been. On the whole though, the subtitles were excellent, with a few minor gripes.
The Ghost In Love DVD can be bought very cheap. The price in Thai Baht is written on the DVD itself, and it works out to be literally a couple of quid. It can be delivered to your home from ethaicd.com for about £5. With that in mind I would have expected a rather cheap release. No, hell no. The anamorphic widescreen picture for Ghost In Love is superb. There is very, very little speckling or other mess on the print. I only actually noticed anything on maybe one or two occassions. Grain levels were reasonably low. At times there was more of a sort of shimmer than others, but certainly never to a point where it even came bordering on distracting. Colours looked really good, with whites being bold white and blacks look pretty deep black, not grey. I wasn't aware of any colour bleeding either. Detail levels were also very good. The picture looked sharp and fine details were there to be seen. For me this is most obvious when you see someone with long hair on screen, as hair strands could be resolved rather than just being an over clump of hair with blurry individual bits. In short, I was very impressed!
DVD & Extras
Extras are, however, quite sparse. There is the theatrical trailer for the film, a trailer for Gangs of New York and a trailer for a Thai film which I don't know the name of (it is written in Thai). But it looks to be about a group of wannabe lady-boy volleyball players (!) or something like that! Fortunately the menues and all other options bar the title of this film are in english.
Overall, I was very impressed by Ghost In Love. Were it not for the fact that it is available so cheap, I probably would never have picked it up or given it any notice. If that had been the case I would have missed out on a reasonably original film (because of the way it blends genres and styles together) which is visually appealing and entertaining and quite engaging throughout. On forums that I use, someone else has stated that they found the film quite boring and basically it didn't really do anything for them at all. While I disagree, this shows why there are lots of different review sites around! Opinions differ! I certainly don't hesitate to recommend it, and can only hope people enjoy it as much as I did. As the audio and video quality are the most important factors in a DVD (in my opinion), given the price you can get it for, it is an excellent DVD and film!
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