New for me
Sequels in Korean cinema are a pretty rare thing and even those names that become franchises, like the Whispering Corridors horror series, have a tendency not to feature direct sequels. As such, Sex Is Zero's sequel (appropriately named Sex Is Zero 2) is rather surprising entity, being a direct sequel of a film which is itself an example of an uncommon subgenre in Korea, the raunchy sex comedy. The original was a hit in Korea, and while it suffered from a lack of focus in its storytelling and a fun-killing tonal shift towards the serious in the final act, some of the setups and situations were undeniably gut-bustingly funny and saved the film. The sequel does a little to ameliorate some of the dizziness of the original film and strengthen the actual relationship story, but is devastatingly unfunny, especially for those who have seen the previous film and ultimately sinks from losing the only saving grace of its predecessor.
The film opens up with Eunsik (Im Changjeong) saying goodbye to Eunhyo (Ha Jiwon) at the airport, their relationship from the final film coming to an end to open the door for a new love interest in Gyeonga (Song Jihyo), who he first meets as she threatens to kill him and herself in a psychiatric hospital before fast forwarding three years when they've long been dating. However, Gyeonga has maintained abstinence the whole time, leading Eunsik to be frustrated. Meanwhile, many of the same characters remain at the school, the spiritual concentration team that Eunsik is a part of becoming an MMA team and Gyeonga becoming a star member of the school's swim team. Things get complicated when a man from Gyeonga's past, Giju (I Sangyun), re-enters the picture.
Or, at least that's what the film would like us to think. Even though the relationship drama is much more meaningful in this film than the original Sex Is Zero, it suffers greatly in that it simply lacks any worthwhile drama with Gyeonga's unfazed devotion shattering any tension in the viewer and Eunsik's own devotion resulting in contrivance driving the conflict. Of course, this might all be a moot point if the film managed to be entertaining, but the film makes the terrible mistake of rehashing most of the old jokes from Sex Is Zero and somehow decides that toning them down will somehow keep it funny. That's right, the sequel is somehow tamer than the original and it makes every single joke derived from the original fall utterly flat in the sequel, as well as some of the moments seeming rather forced. Finally, the film expands deeper into the stories of some of the crazy side characters, but these stories hardly resonate with the main story and fail to provide a reasonable contrast or any real solid comedy, padding the film's unnecessarily long runtime.
One definite area where the film has improved since the original is the production values, where the film shows up benefiting from the development of the Korean film industry since the debut of the original and director Yun Taeyun actually handles the visual direction with a steady hand, which results in the film looking much cleaner than the original film. However, the film, addled with an unfocused story, still feels like it's a series of unconnected events and doesn't do much to draw it all together. Strangely enough, the rehashed nature of the film leaves most of the characters seeming rather unfresh, something which none of the actors are really able to counter and, under the more controlled direction, the performances of the rubber-faced Choe Seongguk and Yu Chaeyeong feel like caricatures in a more real world than the more bouncy original.
Ultimately, even though Sex Is Zero 2 avoids the predictable "bigger and more" factor of sequels, its more sedate and tamer story and telling of it results in a comedy that's actually quite boring, never getting the story together well enough to win on that ground, despite the mild improvements to character relations. Furthermore, the cleaner directing kind of exposes just how ramshackle the storytelling was in the original, but also creates an environment that does not favor the goofy antics that are contained within the film. And all this is wrapped up in a nearly two hour package, which is much too long, especially with the comedy missing much more than hitting. While the original film had some outrageous antics to make up for its shaky storytelling, this sequel has lost the only thing holding the original together and for that reason, I would suggest that you look elsewhere for a raunchy sex comedy. 5/10.