When "The Last Stand," Arnold Schwarzenegger's comeback film, is released on Jan. 18, Kim Jee-woon ("A Tale of Two Sisters," "The Good, the Bad, the Weird") will become the first Korean director to break into Hollywood. A few weeks later, Park Chan-wook ("Oldboy," "Thirst") becomes the second, with "Stoker" (with Nicole Kidman); and not too long thereafter they will be joined by Bong Joon-ho ("The Host") with "Snowpiercer," starring Chris Evans and Jamie Bell.
Kim's previous film, "Doomsday Book," has recently been released on home video. Actually it's his previous third-of-a-film: he directed only the middle story of this three-part sci-fi anthology, Yim Pil-Sung helming the other two installments. The first is "Brave New World," a comically disgusting zombie apocalypse story; it's amusing, though this turf is growing pretty worn down. "Happy Birthday," the final part, is a giant-comet-apocalypse tale that wittily suggests you can't be too cautious when buying on EBay.
In between these is Kim's futuristic "The Heavenly Creature," about a monastery, one of whose robots seems to have gained self-awareness and may even be a manifestation of Buddha himself. Unlike Yim's frenetic stories, it's a contemplative, elegiac take on the old question of what it means to be "human." This is handily the best of an entertaining trio.
"Doomsday Book" (Well Go USA, Blu-ray, $29.98; DVD, $24.98)
ANDY KLEIN is the film critic for Marquee. He can also be heard on "FilmWeek" on KPCC-FM (89.3).