R.U. Ready? (2002) Movie Review

“RU. Ready” amounts to an expensive amusement ride, and it’s only exciting while you’re watching it, but will be quickly forgotten soon afterwards. But while you are participating in the ride, the film is a decent enough fantasy-adventure, with strangers on a safari amusement ride finding themselves in a magical “Fantasy Island”-esque world that forces them to confront their hidden feelings and past. Some of the adventures are grander than others; some, like the whole episode involving the two school kids, are just silly.

Among the strangers about to be inducted into the trip through memory lane is an uncaring doctor (Jeong-hak Kim), an emotionally closed safari employee (Bo-kyeong Kim), an orphan seeking parental love, a Vietnam vet, and the two aforementioned school kids. Their little adventure kicks off when another school kid spits in the face of a bear and — Well, it’s a little hard (not to mention silly) to explain what happened, but suffice it to say the 6 people mentioned above finds themselves in a strange place where anything and everything can happen.

I don’t mind movies like “R.U. Ready” since they’re basically adventure thrill rides and by movie’s end you know every issue the characters have will have been solved, and they’ll be better people for it, blah blah blah. But I was surprised that some of the episodes were quite intense, namely the Vietnam vet who gets a chance to relive his Vietnam experience, complete with exploding bodies, suicides, and dead soldiers galore. Excuse me, but I thought this was a kid friendly adventure movie! Apparently I was wrong.

The movie’s director, Sang-ho Yu, would make a terrific horror film director. The episodes involving the safari employee and the doctor are nearly as intense as the Vietnam vet’s, if not more emotionally draining (to the characters, anyway). We’re talking about dead parents, attempted suicide, and abandonment issues here, folks. Again, how exactly was this movie sold as a silly adventure movie filled with special effects? “The Goonies” this ain’t.

This film, with its heavy themes, would easily get a strong PG-13 rating, or maybe even a soft R, in the States. Also notice how the camera keeps panning up and down the exposed legs of star Bo-kyeong Kim. I wonder what that was about. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, because Miss Kim is quite fetching. Although I could have done with less of the kid, who gets quite irritating after a while.

At the end of the ride, the film throws one of those “it never really happened” twists at us. But if you had been paying attention you would already know that, since it would be pretty impossible to explain the sudden appearance of a Vietnam battlefield or a haunted mansion with any other ending. The movie is quite heavy on special effects, including a rough ride through a rockslide, rainstorms, and confrontations with CGI ghosts. The film looks, and probably was, expensive to make.

If anything, “R.U. Ready” reminded me of “The Mummy Returns”, which was similarly one big adventure ride after another, and was just as forgettable a few seconds after the closing credits.

Sang-ho Yu (director) / Eun-nim Ko (screenplay)
CAST: Jeong-hak Kim …. Yu Kang-jae
Bo-kyeong Kim …. Dan Ju-hie

Buy R.U. Ready on DVD