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Movie Review

Supernatural, Super-Erotic Exploits in 'Herapurple'

September 27, 2002|KEVIN THOMAS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Chung Gil-Chae's "Herapurple: Devil Goddess" is a lurid, lively and eye-popping erotic Korean thriller of the supernatural that its maker has explained was intended "to tear away and plow through any and all [sexual] taboos in my country." In this tale about how the spirit of the vengeful Greek goddess Hera happens to inhabit Hyerim (Chung Kim), a beautiful, dutiful housewife with a daughter in college and a son in high school, Chung fulfills his intention and then some.

A skilled and dynamic filmmaker, Chung, who also plays Hyerim's husband, draws upon a potent pretext: an all-out attack on the ancient oppression and exploitation of Asian women by men and the cult of machismo that drives it on. Although this may seem an admirable target, Chung exploits it to the hilt, cramming into a 93-minute running time as many intense and remarkably athletic sexual bouts as he can, graphic and right up to the edge of hard-core porn. The result is an amusingly outrageous entertainment strictly for sophisticated adults.

Poor Hyerim has become so tormented by nightmares that she has sought help from a psychiatrist (Lee Ho-Sung).

When conventional therapy fails, he tries hypnosis, unleashing Hera within Hyerim upon a series of young men, seducing them to unparalleled heights of ecstasy for which they inevitably pay with their lives.

A young police detective (Lee Se-Chang) with an unexpected tie to Hera, investigating the mysterious serial killings, strives to uncover the reason for them.

Even should the detective and his team succeed, a big question remains as to whether they will be able to bring the murders to an end.

Unrated. Times guidelines: Much nudity, explicit sex and considerable though reasonably discreet violence. Strictly for sophisticated adults.

'Herapurple: Devil Goddess'

Chung Kim ... Hyerim

Lee Se-Chang ... Special Agent Lee

Lee Ho-Sung ... Psychiatrist

Chung Gil-Chae ... Hyerim's Husband

A Pathfinder Pictures release. Writer-producer-director Chung Gil-Chae. Executive producer Nam Sang-Chul. Cinematographer Han Eung-Hoi. Editor Cho Ki-Hyung. Music Youn Duk-Ki. Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes. In Korean, with English subtitles.

Exclusively at the Fairfax Cinemas, Beverly Boulevard at Fairfax Avenue, (323) 655-4010.

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