Fantasia Review: Seobok

An unusual bodyguard

Humans are the only animals who contemplate their own mortality. I’m not quite sure how you could prove this, but as evolved sentient creatures we approach death with a mixture of trepidation, fear and occasionally glee. The quest for immortality has occupied man for millennia, with concepts such as the Fountain of Youth dating back to the writings of Herodotus and an elixir of immortality concentrating the minds of alchemists for hundreds and thousands of years. In Seobok, the breakthrough involves very modern science.

A former secret service agent, Min Ki-hun (Gong Yoo), is struggling with a brain tumour following his departure from the organisation after an operation goes wrong. He’s asked to return by Chief Ahn (Jo Woo-jin) in order to take on a secret mission of the upmost importance.  He’s tasked with protecting Seobok (Park Bo-gum), a genetically engineered human clone who cannot die from natural causes. This stem cell research could save his life but there are people who will go to any lengths to get their hands on it.

Seobok is an action-packed science fiction thriller which doesn’t overlook the drama implicit from both ‘men’s’ situations. This is both the strength and weakness of Lee Yong-ju’s film. On the one hand you get the added depth that this investment in character brings. On the other, there is a tendency to get side-tracked by the melodramatic elements which impacts on the pacing. That being said, Seobok is an entertaining and compelling slice of Korean chaos.

Seobok screens at Fantasia International Film Festival.

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