A scene from the upcoming music documentary "Flying Butterfly", starring the rock group YB Band. In theaters Dec. 2. / Courtesy of Indie Plug
By Han Sang-hee
When music becomes one of the main characters of a movie, it takes more than good lyrics and tunes to captivate viewers. It has to work with all the other ingredients, including the plot, and mesh well enough to create a synergy effect.
In the case of rock group YB Band's new film "Flying Butterfly", the music takes a strong stand indeed, but unlike the tunes, the plot stumbles, loosing its way somewhere between a fan's journey to meet her favorite stars and the guitar strings of the band.
The movie follows two storylines: YB's journey touring seven cities in the United States as part of the Vans Warped Tour, a touring music and extreme sports festival, and a young Korean girl's quest in traveling from Texas to California to meet her favorite band.
The first is easy to predict, yet still has the elements of a heartwarming and inspiring tale of growth, but the second falls apart miserably.
The band finally walks on stage at the famous festival, but soon realizes that nobody knows who they are. Their first performance is a failure and they go through something that they have not faced for a long time: indifference.
Their disappointment and shock are apparent throughout the film but the members quickly pick themselves up and gradually become typical Koreans traveling abroad ― they become patriots.
"Are you ready? We are YB band from South Korea! 'Gamsahamnida (thank you)!'" Yoon shouts after yet another thrilling performance at the festival.
Watching the band off stage is one of the highlights of the movie. Bassist Park Tae-hee quietly listens to his bass through new speakers he bought from a music store in his hotel room and constantly checking on his fellow roommate, who is struggling to get some sleep for another big day, while Yoon is crumpled in the back seat of the van, sleeping with his hands tightly grasping his guitar. The members frantically figure out how to order coffee, ("no, no, a cappuccino!") through a fast food drive-through and happily hug each other after stepping off stage.
The director Jeong Heum-mun captures every move without being repetitive and boring, throwing in some stylish music video techniques here and there. The scenes may seem a bit rough, but the MTV video-like film works well with the plot: rock band members having only each other to trust for the wildest ride of their lives.
Ah, and the second plot. Sunny is an ambitious fan of YB and she fearlessly sets off on a road trip with a friend.
To start with, it's difficult to figure out if she really is a fan who coincidently jumped aboard the film, or is a hired actor. Her lines, along with her friend's, are a bit awkward and sometimes even too whiny to comprehend. Her grand plan in meeting her favorite band could have been more dramatic and colorful, but perhaps that's the beauty of documentaries: you can't force anyone to do anything.
Nevertheless, her road trip comes to a rather dull finish; meeting, hugging and taking photos with the band. Period.
For YB fans, "Flying Butterfly" will be something they would want to display next to their collections of concert tour DVDs and albums, but as a movie fan, it may fall short from the expectations of an inspiring, heart-pounding and exciting music documentary.
It reminds you, once again, how important and difficult it is to make music work on the big screen.
In theaters Dec. 2 and distributed by Indie Plug.
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