I confess, I love disaster movies (actual disasters, not so much). But disaster movies are not all about the big spectacle. Sure, we expect to see buildings fall and cars get swept away, but the only way we care about the big spectacle is because of the small spectacle. I’m talking about the dysfunctional personal relationships that accompany any good disaster movie. And Haeundae has them aplenty!
Haeundae puts some tragedy up front, but Korean movie fans know to expect that the small spectacle that is the family dynamic, and Haeundae does not disappoint. I know Koreans have very loving family relationships, but if films like Haeundae, The Host, and The Quiet Family are any indication, those relationships can also be pretty off the chain! And yet Haeundae works its magic, because you care about the alcoholic brother wracked with guilt, the workaholic scientist whose warnings go unheeded (another must in the disaster film), the hapless lifeguard who gets swept up in the bizarre beach drama among college students. Otherwise, when the big wave comes, they’d just be a bunch of folk who can’t swim.