More Drama than Natural Disaster. But still a good film.
Tidal Wave uses the idea of a Tsunami to pit it's characters in a life and death struggle against nature. That being said, the first two thirds of the film are really more about charcater development.
In the film Professor Kim, a marine geologist, discovers that a high magnitude earthquake is likely to occur off the shore of Haeundae. There is reason to believe that if a high magnitude quake occurs, a small island off the coast will sink into the ocean causing a Tsunami. However it's the peak season for vacationers in Haeundae, so his concerns are down played by his superiors who would prefer to see the season go on uninterrupted.
As he moniters the earthquake situation, the film spends time developing several groups of characters. They primarily live around the coastal area of Hameundae and are unaware of the impending Tsunami. The characters vary in range. Yeon Hee is one of the main female characters whose father died in the 2004 Tsunami. Her father's dying wish was that Man-Sik look after her. Man-Sik is true to his word and looks after Yeon Hee as she runs her mediocre resturant. The two seem to have an attraction to one another, although Man-Sik is older than Yeon Hee and he seems to feel his role with her should be more of a guardian. Yeon Hee would prefer him to become closer to her though. To make matters worse, Man Sik's mother does not seem to like Yeon Hee very much.
Another set of interesting charcters are Kim-Yi Mi and CHoi Hyung- Sik. Kim Mi is a universtiy student from Seoul vacationing in Haeundae. She comes from a wealthy family but falls off a ship and is rescued by Choi Hyung Sik, a marine rescue team member. The rescue goes a little poorly. However, Kim Mi seems to develope a crush on Choi even though they are seperated by a class difference. The plot with them developes humorously as she demands his attention and he is conflicted about whether they should be seeing each other.
Finally we have Professor Kim and his ex-wife Yoo-Jin. They share a daughter, but Yoo-Jin decides to keep her father's identity from her. The two do not get along. They have seperate career paths, however, professor Kim seems interested in starting ties with his daughter when he meets her.
With the character plots running we finally reach the earthquake which causes the Tsunami. The waves are high and the destruction ensues. Haeundae is not ready for the Tsunami. As a result, the characters fight for their lives. Some do not make it. I won't spoil the ending for you.
Well Tidal Wave was a good film. It is a disaster film, but it does not use the disaster element to carry the story the whole way through. The characters had plenty of deveopment time which is good. You feel a genuine concern for them when they run into trouble. The film is also very humorous considering it had a Tsunami rushing in on it at the end.
The special effects are good. Some of the better effects I've seen in Korean cinema. The action at the end can be tense but also manages to add sperts of humor.
As for the tech aspects. The film has the original Korean language along with an English dubbed version. It also has subtitles in English and Spanish. Deleted scenes, a gag reel, and a making of the film are also included as special features. The English dub version is done fairly well. Although it does not have the same intensity as the origanal Korean language. Which is understandable since a dub actor is bringing their own interpertation while still trying to lip sinc. The film is still watchable in English though.
Overall I gave the film a 4. Not for the Tsunami however. I felt the character development was good and could have carried the film to the end. The Tsunami just happens to come in the last 1/3 of the film and causes a whole new twist. This film may appeal to people who like natural disaster films, but I think it will also appeal to people who like asian cinema and dramas. A good rental and a possible purchase is you like collecting well made Asain cinema films.