with inputs from Millennial Correspondent Jai Garcia
In the wake of a catastrophic earthquake, Seoul, a once-thriving metropolis, finds itself reduced to a sprawling wasteland of debris and despair. Amidst the chaos and ruin, one lone structure defies the odds, standing tall and unscathed – the enigmatic Hwang Gung Apartments. As the city’s survivors catch wind of this resilient haven, a gripping tale of survival, power, and intrigue unfolds in Concrete Utopia.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen a disaster-related film and Concrete Utopia is a standout as it focuses on a situation that anyone living in an apartment complex would probably face after a catastrophe. As someone who experienced living in an apartment, I also had a lot of “what ifs” in my mind, which this movie brought to life.
Watch the trailer here:
The film — which is based on Kim Soong-Nyung’s ‘Cheerful Outcast’ webtoon, features an impressive ensemble cast, including some of South Korea’s most talented actors – Lee Byung-hun, Park Seo-jun, Park Bo-young, Kim Sun-young, Park Ji-hu, and Kim Do-yoon, to name a few. Their stellar performances breathe life into a post-apocalyptic world where the struggle for survival takes center stage.
The synopsis reads —
After a massive earthquake, Seoul has swiftly been reduced to rubble. Everything in the city has
collapsed, except for one building. Hwang Gung Apartments remains standing, as it was before
that day. When survivors from the outside hear of this, they begin to gather at Hwang Gung Apartments.
However, the original residents of the building start to feel threatened. Banding together for the
sake of their survival, they elect ‘Young-tak’ as their Resident Delegate. Under his leadership, they
strictly ban entry by outsiders and draw up a new set of Resident Regulations. Thanks to this, in contrast to the hellish nightmare outside, Hwang Gung Apartments stands as a safe and peaceful utopia for its residents. But amidst the continual threats to their survival, unexpected conflicts begin to arise among
The R-13 film, directed by the visionary Um Tae-hwa, also marks a significant moment in South Korean cinema. With his masterful storytelling and a cast that brings their A-game, Um Tae-hwa creates a cinematic experience that is bound to leave audiences on the edge of their seats. Concrete Utopia has even been chosen as South Korea’s official entry to the Best International Feature Film race at the 2024 Academy Awards, further piquing our interest as we attended the advanced screening under Columbia Pictures Philippines at SM Megamall last Thursday (September 7, 2023).
“[The movie] is an interesting approach to a dystopian storyline. The cast was able to deliver a great performance, convincing us to either root for them or against them. We came for the cast but we were hooked by the plot! Despite being a dystopian thriller, we enjoyed the few tones of humor injected to cut through the tension, hence, making the movie non-monotonous. Of course, some scenes will definitely have you at the end of your seats. The ending, although unexpected, gave us hope that indeed, crises can bring out the best in people,” describes our millennial correspondent Jai Garcia a.k.a. Funko_Papi after the screening.
While it’s set to hit Philippine theaters on September 20th, 2023, Concrete Utopia will be making its North American premiere and gala presentation at the 48th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September. Select cinemas will also be holding sneak preview events on September 11 and 12.
Should you watch it? Our answer is YES.
We don’t want to spoil the experience for you so for now: Will the residents of Hwang Gung Apartments find the strength to maintain their utopia, or will the cracks in their society lead to their downfall? Don’t miss the opportunity to witness this gripping tale of resilience and intrigue unfold on the big screen!