The Red Chapel

Det Røde Kapel

DVD - 2011
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Red Chapel
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"Combining the muckraking spirit of Michael Moore with the confrontational comedy of Borat, The Red Chapel is a one-of-a-kind documentary that reveals the injustices of North Korea with a hilariously dark wit ... a trio of Danish comedians, who call themselves "The Red Chapel", pretend to be regime sympathizers and mount an absurd variety show in Pyongyang. This stunt is led by the acerbic director Mads Brügger, and assisted by Simon Jul and Jacob Nossell, two performers of South Korean descent. Constantly shadowed by their guide, Mrs. Pak, they fake allegiance to Kim Jong-il and hope for "One Korea." Only Jacob is allowed to speak his mind. Suffering from cerebral palsy, his halting speech is impossible to translate, so he insults his socialist hosts and receives smiles in return ... an unconventional, hilarious and damning peek into a totalitarian nightmare." -- Container.

Published: New York, NY : Lorber Films : Kino Lorber Education [distributor], [2011]
Branch Call Number: DVD 951.93 RED
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (88 min.) :,sd., col. ;,4 3/4 in.
Alternate Title: Røde kapel

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Dec 31, 2014
  • Nursebob rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Danish comedy trio “Red Chapel” set out to punk North Korea but end up with a little shit on their own hands in the process. Traveling to Pyongyang for a supposed “cross-cultural” exchange they purposely present their authorized government previewers with an absolutely terrible show in order to see how they’ll react. As expected, their act is forced to undergo some idealogical censorship and several politically-motivated revisions including the addition of a colourfully jingoistic finale before it finally makes it to the public stage. Accompanied by Mrs. Pak, their official guide and translator whose English Is “designed for interrogations and not small talk”, they are led down the garden path of communist propaganda as they tour a model school filled with happy children and visit a secular shrine devoted to the glorification of Kim Jung-Il and his late father; the latter pilgrimage moving Mrs. Pak to shed dutifully patriotic tears and spout carefully memorized socialist mantras. According to director and group leader, Max Brugger, there exists in North Korea a “perverted and demonic cult of togetherness” which masks a “core of pure evil”. Certainly the constant surveillance and overt condemnations of American Imperialism coupled with an almost manic desire to appear happy lend some credence to this but Brugger’s non-stop polemic against his Communist hosts begins to sound like a personal vendetta. Indeed Jacob, a Danish-Korean troupe members who is also living with cerebral palsy, begins to find the subterfuge and outright lying too much to bear leading to a teary rebuke and subtle showdown at an open-air Victory Celebration. In the end however what does this jerky handheld piece of guerilla filmmaking really accomplish? We have a few uncomfortable laughs most of which are staged by an increasingly narcissistic Brugger using a host of unsuspecting subjects, we listen to his ongoing editorializing, and we learn nothing new. It’s enough to make Michael Moore green with envy. Besides, while it would be ludicrous to compare the freedoms enjoyed in the West with the brainwashed uniformity of North Korea, I can’t help but feel a disquieting déjà vu whenever I see those glassy-eyed Tea Party “patriots” rallying round their own flag.

Dec 09, 2012
  • Devacalder rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

It was interesting being able to actually see how the people inside North Korea function, but I disagree with the synopsis. There's nothing Borat or Moore-esque about this documentary. I would not consider this a comedy.

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