THE CAVE (PG-13, 97 minutes)
Cave explorers Cole Hauser, Eddie Cibrian, Piper Perabo and Morris Chestnut encounter something scary dwelling in a secret subterranean grotto. Screen Gems did not screen this film in time for review. Area theaters.
SAVE THE GREEN PLANET! (Unrated, 116 minutes)
"You probably think I'm crazy." Those are the first words the audience hears -- spoken via voice-over by protagonist Lee Byeong-Gu (Shin Ha-Gyun) -- in "Save the Green Planet!," a bizarre yet occasionally compelling sci-fi/thriller/black-comedy hybrid playing exclusively at the American Film Institute's Silver Theatre (and coming to DVD Sept. 6). This dude's not kidding. Within moments of Lee's confession, we find out he believes Kang Man-Shik (Baek Yun-Shik), the chief executive of a major chemical company, is an extraterrestrial plotting with other aliens to destroy Earth. So Lee, with help from submissive girlfriend Sooni (Hwang Jung-Min), kidnaps said CEO, shaves his head (because the aliens communicate via telepathic signals in their hair follicles -- duh), removes skin from the tops of Kang's feet and wipes mentholatum rub all over the bright red, raw sores. To put this in Tom Cruise terms, it's pretty obvious Lee is in dire need of serious vitamins and exercise. Or is it? First-time South Korean writer-director Jang Jun-Hwan jumps between genres like a hyperactive child playing hopscotch. Yet despite some disjointed transitions and plot developments, he keeps the audience in his grip by introducing more and more questions: Will detectives searching for the missing businessman catch Lee? Is Kang responsible for putting Lee's mother into a coma? And, most important, is Kang really an alien? At times, "Green Planet" -- with its kung fu-fighting digressions and tracking shots reminiscent of David Fincher's "Fight Club" -- plays like an action flick. At others, it veers into Hitchcockian territory, particularly during tense scenes involving a detective (Lee Jae-Yong) who comes to Lee's mountain compound, where Kang is sequestered underground. Amid all the tonal shifts and multiple storylines, the director also attempts to slip in some social commentary on the evils of big corporations and those who hold positions of power. Many viewers may get frustrated before they can absorb those underlying messages, particularly during the wince-inducing torture scenes. But if you appreciate offbeat sci-fi and oddball foreign imports, this "Planet" may be right up your solar system. Contains violence, scenes of torture and foul, subtitled language. In Korean with English subtitles. At the AFI Silver Theatre.
-- Jen Chaney
UNDISCOVERED (PG-13, 92 minutes)
Tailored for the readership of Teen People magazine and about as thought-provoking as the average 500-word celebrity profile, "Undiscovered" follows the romantic and career-based ups and downs of a group of pretty, yet pretty vacant Los Angeles model-musician-actor hyphenates. When cute-as-a-bunny model-turned-actress Brier (Pell James) meets singer-songwriter Luke (Steven Strait), a hunk poised on the verge of becoming a pop-music heartthrob, she's involved in a doomed relationship with a caddish rock star (Stephen Moyer). So while Brier and Luke's relationship languishes in the "friend zone," the only tension the film is able to muster comes not from the question of whether, but when, these two crazy kids will wake up and realize they're meant for each other. I have news for you: This particular epiphany comes, right on schedule, about 90 minutes after the lights go out. And I don't think I'm spoiling anything for anybody except those who have never been to a romantic movie in their lives. Meanwhile, Luke's career takes off, then does a nose dive, represented by the infamous Downward Spiral Montage of heavy drinking and repossessed cars. Somewhere in there, Luke realizes that Brier played a part in his discovery, leading to Luke's anger at not being able to -- cliche alert -- make it on his own terms. But rest easy, my children. All will be well, and Ashlee Simpson, who plays Brier's best friend, Clea, will get to sing -- or at least lip-sync -- several more songs than she managed on "Saturday Night Live." Contains some obscenity, a drug reference, post-coital canoodling, a catfight and scantily clad booty-shaking. Area theaters.
-- Michael O'Sullivan