By Aaron Rourke (Melbourne, Australia)
Expertly crafted to ensure maximum worldwide publicity, Big Bang Made The Movie is an ultra-slick opus that, while certainly achieving its overall ambition as an elaborate advertisement, also succeeds in presenting a group that appear genuinely likeable, fully appreciating the huge success that has come their way.
Created to celebrate their 10th anniversary as a group, the movie opens with some self-deprecating comments by its five members, before delivering a stunning, deliberately over-the-top short that feels like a cross between Reservoir Dogs and The Fast And The Furious. It’s a cleverly engineered introduction, one that sets the tone for what is to follow, as we watch a band that understands the fans’ demands for masterful showmanship and on-stage satisfaction.
Big Bang (made up of G-Dragon, T.O.P., Taeyang, Daesung, and Seungri), and formed under the banner of YG Entertainment, agree to embark on their biggest world tour yet, entitled Made. Coinciding with the release of their same-named album, the tour will last 340 days, covering 32 cities across 13 countries, including Japan, China, and the U.S., with the final concert taking place back in Seoul on March 6, 2016. The band will make their inaugural visits to Mexico, Macau, Canada, and Australia. This enormous endeavour will attract an incredible 1.5 million fans, making it the most successful K-Pop tour of all-time.
Kicking off on April 25, 2015 with two concerts in Seoul, Big Bang take on what will be a massive undertaking, which also includes shooting music videos for songs released from the Made album. The most amusing one is for their single We Like 2 Party, where the group were drunk during filming, and their relaxed nature is evident throughout the finished MV.
As the tour continues, performing sell-out shows in locations such as China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Indonesia, we get to see the band members’ behind-the-scenes routine, whether fastidiously preparing for the Seoul concerts, or just goofing around in their hotel rooms in New York. There is also a decent amount of screen time given to their dedicated staff, some of whom have been with the group from the very beginning. Speaking to those in charge of make-up, hair, costume design, and dance choreography, everyone clearly feels part of a team, and this positive outlook makes for a refreshing change.
While any concert movie’s main aim is self-promotion, what is harder to manufacture is the group’s genuine love for their craft, the close-knit, familial atmosphere that exists among the large staff that surrounds them, and the fans’ appreciation for not only the music, but the efforts made by Big Bang to give them a night they’ll never forget. The fan base are predominantly young, but it is interesting to see how the age bracket fluctuates once the group leave home soil. One of the U.S. concerts shows two women in their 70’s clearly enjoying what they are hearing and seeing, so they are definitely a contemporary band that are appealing to all ages.
For a group who sing in their native Korean language, it is extraordinary how popular they are around the globe, and demonstrates how music can bring people of all cultures together. The extra effort that Big Bang take to connect with foreign audiences is another reason why they are so highly regarded. Some may see it as calculated, but these small touches can leave the biggest impression with fans. Whether it’s singing a popular Chinese song at their Macau concert, or nearly arguing over what area to mention when they play at Anaheim (the diplomatic result is rather endearing), this is the kind of attitude that does win you over during the movie.
Personally, it was nice to see some footage of their first trip to Australia, with the guys enjoying a ride around (and a swim in) Sydney Harbour, complimented by a scenic view of the Sydney Opera House. Of course, a Koala toy makes its way onto the stage during their concert. It’s scenes like these that also display how much the group are obviously savouring the chance to travel around the world, making the most of this privileged opportunity while it still exists.
The concert excerpts presented are lavishly orchestrated and executed, and each track is performed with vibrant energy by the gifted band members. Numbers include Haru Haru, Stupid Liar, Sober, and Bang Bang Bang.
The K-Pop industry is a ruthless one, with singers and bands coming and going at a rapid rate. Even immensely popular groups such as 4 Minute and 2NE1 have disbanded recently (2NE1’s touching farewell song, Goodbye, was released on January 20, 2017), while highly successful ones like The Wonder Girls and Girls’ Generation have lost members over time (controversially so in the case of the latter). So it is heartening to see all five original Big Bang members fruitfully staying together over a period of ten years, still wanting to create the best music possible, as well as the energised, imaginative staging of those songs.
Big Bang Made The Movie is a terrifically well-oiled production that proves hugely entertaining (a credit to director Byun Jin-ho), offering not only a whirlwind inside look at an epic world tour, but also presents five talented musicians (and a devoted staff) in a personable, upbeat manner that should only increase their already mammoth fan base. If you have never listened to (or heard of) Big Bang, this will be the perfect introduction to their colourful universe.