Runtime: 2hrs 1min
Appropriately, the film begins in Hong Kong where a boat transports a crate full of illegal Filipino immigrants headed for South Korea, and one man coughs without the cover of a mask. That's all it takes. Upon arrival in Bundang the crate is opened to reveal everyone has died, except one person, although he does seem to be showing the symptoms (a fact that is never cleared up). While he flees the situation, one of the two men who had opened the crate contracts the virus and checks in at the hospital where it's discovered that he has a mutated version of the H5N1 virus.
As the virus spreads, we're given interesting shots that give us a sense of how easily germs can spread. And as they do, more and more people come into hospitals seeking treatment. The more the virus spreads, the more panic ensues. Cars crash all over the city as sick drivers lose control. It prompts the government to lock down the city to keep the epidemic from spreading, despite knowing that about half the population is likely to die from the virus. The immediate question this brings up is, why couldn't they get an antidote from those immune? Instead they intend track down the Filipino immigrant Mong Sai and use his blood for the antidote.
There's a good movie somewhere in "Flu." The first half of the film is rather good, and the central character's desperate journey is a tense, thrilling ride. However the second half ratchets things up to an absurd level. About halfway through, the film takes a turn, and more and more of the film's logic begins to stretch. There's also an entirely unnecessary fight for power between the South Korean President and the South Korean and American Defense Ministers, who cite the Mutual Defense Treaty between the United States and South Korea as justification for striping the President of his power, and drawing weapons on anyone attempting to flee the city. It's a strange villanization of westerners that creeps up in the last 45 minutes of the runtime. It's also hard to believe some of the poor treatment of those infected.
Despite some inconsistent logic (even some of it downright poor logic) in the film, it is an entertaining blockbuster from a country whose films are gaining more and more attention here in the states. The performances from the leads are all strong, and the little girl, Park Min-ha, will have you desperately rooting for them. One way or another, this film will have you thinking twice the next time you hear someone coughing.