SPECIAL FEATURE: DVD Review: My Sassy Girl

Film: My Sassy Girl
Running time: 123 mins
Director: Kwak Jae-young
Starring: Cha Tae-hyun, Gianna Jun, Han Jin-hie, Hyun Sook-hee, Kim Il-woo
Genre: Comedy/Drama/Romance
Country: South Korea

Region 1 release.

Based on a collection of true stories that were posted on the internet by author Kim Ho-sik, My Sassy Girl was turned into a film by one of South Korea’s biggest movie directors, Kwak Jae-young, going on on to receive numerous awards and attention since its release in 2001, including a 2008 Hollywood remake, a Japanese television drama and being given the Bollywood treatment.

The film portrays Kim Ho-sik’s stories of a young student called Kyun-woo who comes across an attractive unnamed girl whilst she attempts to commit suicide in an underground station. The nameless girl ends up on the same train as Kyun-woo but is completely intoxicated and begins causing an assortment of troubles, including arguing with others and vomiting on a nearby passenger’s head. Soon Kyun-woo is forced into assisting the girl by passengers mistaking his identity as the girl’s boyfriend and is shamed into taking care of the situation.

Kyun-woo takes the girl to a nearby hotel where he plans on leaving her for the night, but soon the police burst into the scene and start accusing him of an array of offences. Kyun-woo spends an uneasy night in jail, deeply regretting his decision to help the girl and attempting to forget about the entire night. Soon after, however, the girl contacts him via mobile phone, and reluctantly he agrees to meet and explain the situation. He is soon flung straight back into a familiar situation from that of the night before, with the unnamed girl again becoming uncontrollable.

Once Kyun-woo takes care of her for the second time, he begins to ask himself questions as to why the girl is acting in such a way. He starts to develop an odd sense of responsibility for her, which in turn enables him to tolerate her exhaustive and rather abusive personality.

Their unusual partnership begins, and their adventure together ensues. They go through moments of being best friends, mortal enemies, betting buddies, squash partners and hostages. Their time together creates a great example of an odd and unlikely friendship that overcomes great odds and times of trouble to find nothing but forgiveness and compassion…

The film is sectioned into three distinctive parts. The separation of these parts allows for the narrative to continue at a steady pace, even whilst the plot takes twists and turns towards the unimaginable and unforgettable.

The performances from the main cast are immaculate, their portrayal of the characters described within the novel are right on par, and although Gianna Jun’s efforts as the anonymous girl are sometimes judged as overly brazen to the point of annoyance, to others she executes the perfect balance of compassion and tyranny that goes hand in hand with this film’s heart-warming core and content.

Cha Tae Hyun’s performance in the film is equally as memorable. His sense and ability to perform as a comedic actor are an accomplishment within itself. He generates the majority of the laughter and undoubtedly creates the film’s youthful innocent charm that is played well throughout. His role in this film actually made him one of Korea's ‘most wanted dates', according to a survey on Korean girls.

The script, being originally based on a novel adapted from the Internet stories, does extend the film into a full two hours twenty minutes, but audiences won’t be left feeling weary at the length with such a witty and intelligent script that perfectly reflects the feelings and reactions felt by the characters, and the circumstances that surround them. The script brings together elements of science fiction, romance, adventure and road movie, which makes for a diverse viewing pleasure that audiences may find unfamiliar. However, the film is so well written the story is at no point incomprehensive or confusing.

My Sassy Girl is a compassionate film with both a humane message and humane characters. Almost every scene in the film gives the viewers something to laugh, cry, or think about. There are no moments of silence or dead air, and every act within the film carries its own heart-warming blend of physical comedy, straight melodrama and emotional highs. LS

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