FILM:KAI — Story Behind EXO KAI’s Visual Film
Even though its been a month since KAI released his Self-Titled Debut Album, its still a trending topic in the k-pop Industry. From celebrities covering the song in various platforms to the records that are still being broken, KAI remains one of the most successful k-pop releases in 2020.
Apart from the mind-blowing album that KAI released, the visual film he put out also became a trending topic in the k-industry; becoming the first k-pop idol to deliver a visual film like this for their solo.
The visual film, named FILM:KAI, consists snippets of all the songs from the album — like a Highlight Medley video that is usually released by previous SM artists. So what makes this film different? It has a storyline that connects all the snippets of the songs. “Each song has a story; and they’re all connected in a flow” he says, “The film is about Kim Jongin wanting to express his feelings as KAI”.
Let’s delve deeper into what each song in the film depicts:
The film starts with KAI sitting in a house-like setting, deep in thoughts. He says that its him thinking about how is his performance going to be like. This is depicted using smoke through a beam projector that shows two KAIs imitating each other. One represents his stage persona while the other is supposed to be Jongin.
In his words, “Normally before I get on stage, I get inspired and picture what my stage is going to be like. This is what I was trying to express through Hello Stranger”
In Reason, the setting is that of a restaurant where there’s a lot of people gathered but are all talking about different things. This set is depicting the world where people are interested various things that is not necessarily KAI. But since he’s a performer he still has to go out there and present himself. Some people may pay attention and some may not.
Reason also has a cut of him dancing in a transparent box but with a mask on. This can show how he’s out there for everyone to see but he’s still hiding behind that “stage persona” and his “idol image”, which is what the mask represents.
“I’m dancing with a mask on, which gives a message of how I’m here to impress people” KAI says.
Amnesia’s environment is a train track, which exhibits the path KAI has walked his entire life and the path he’d be taking in the future. He’s shown standing in the middle of the track looking back to his past and then looking forward to everything that’s in store for him.
“I was having mixed feelings at this point; excited, nervous, worried” KAI mentions, but he still performs on the track; expressing his love for stage is above all the other feelings. He was born to perform.
Mmmh is the title track of his self-titled EP so it includes multiple settings: the restaurant in reason, the train track in amnesia. Each frame holds each performance he did in his career.
He also used teleportation — his superpower from EXO’s concept — to navigate through all the performances as different frames. And all these frames also include clips of different countries (in this instance, Germany) representing the concerts and tours he held with his group, EXO.
Nothing On Me
The setting used for Nothing On Me is personally my favorite. There’s sun setting on one side and the Moon showing up on the other side. And he performs the contemporary piece in this song, the dance form he made a thing again in k-pop with his stage “Deep Breath” in 2014.
There is also a mirror that depicts his inner self and his outfit in the snippet holds a wonderful story within it. He wears a white laced outfit without a single speck of dust on it. But the choreography is produced in a way where his outfit gets all messy and dirty. This dirt represents all the hardships he had to face in his life and through his career.
The dance piece with his inner self in the mirror could be depicted in many ways. I personally interpreted it as his inner self in the mirror is directing him throughout his performance. KAI once said that he dances because it makes him happy. He performs because he loves to do it. So he’s letting his feelings take control over him and dance though his heart’s content.
And when the beat drops, the dance form completely shifts to a fierce one. “I get into my inner self here” he says, indicating that he’s completely sucked into his feelings towards his performance — giving it his all.
Ride Or Die
The last song of the film appears when he finally overcomes all his difficulties, his hardships, his challenges and gets on the stage. This is where he’s finally in the spotlight with all the eyes on him and he’s set to perform with all his might.
Once he performs it finally shows the stage being all cleared and KAI standing in the middle, alone.
He’s wearing the same outfit in Ride Or Die as the one in Hello Stranger, creating a loop for the film. It begins again once a performance ends; representing the process KAI goes through to prepare his every stage.
Watch the commentary for FILM:KAI here, in KAI’s words: