I love Koreatown in the springtime…

Wherein I blog about all things Korean in Los Angeles

Breaking into Jail August 31, 2007

Yesterday at KCC I caught Jailbreaker (광복절특사, KCC called it Jail Breaker and Cineline calls it Jail Breakers), a comedy about two convicts who break out of jail only to discover they’ve been granted a special Independence Day pardon and they have to break back into jail to take advantage of it. I was trying not to go into this with high expectations since I’d been disappointed last week by Marrying the Mafia, but in this case I thought the movie was hilarious. Okay, it wasn’t Radio Star level in poignancy or anything, but on the other hand, it wasn’t trying to be. It succeeded in being exactly what it was trying to be: a funny comedy (sad how those two things so often don’t go together).

Since yesterday evening I’ve been trying to figure out whether this is a comedy that could have been written/made in the US. I still haven’t completely figured it out, but I’m thinking not. The reason is the relationship between the prisoners and the guards. Sure, a fair amount of beating and mistreatment goes on. I mean, it’s a prison, after all. But I didn’t get the impression that the prisoners and guards were enemies in the same way that they would have been in a US movie. I mean, they were but they weren’t. It’s hard to explain. I’ve never been to prison in any country, so I have no idea what conditions and relations are really like there, but it just didn’t feel American to me.

There are plenty of funny moments, and naturally in the end our heroes… No, I won’t give it away. But I will say the writers wrote themselves into a corner, and I had no idea how they were going to get out of it, so it was fun watching how they did. If you’re looking for something lighthearted that will make you laugh, you might give this movie a shot.

Next month KCC is screening The General’s Son trilogy. Check it out here. They totally need to pay me for plugging them (but they don’t).

 

Wearing Glass Slippers While Marrying the Mafia August 24, 2007

Today’s post is about Lee Ki Young. Mostly it’s about him because I just saw him in a movie yesterday and was startled to recognize him from the kdrama I’ve been watching, and this way I can talk about both of them in one post. And also it’s because I’ve been impressed by his acting.

Upon looking up his filmography last night, I realized I had seen him twice before without realizing it. He played the coach in Marathon, which I only managed to see half of, and he was in A Prince’s First Love, an eminently forgettable kdrama in which he played a resort manager (I take it back, I only wish I could forget this drama, that’s how bad it was despite its cast, which also included Cha Tae Hyun of My Sassy Girl fame). I have to say, the role of the manager in particular was so unlike what I’ve been watching Lee Ki Young in recently that I totally would never have recognized him. Guy’s got range. And here I thought they were pigeonholing him as a mafia boss.

A mafia boss is what he was in the movie and drama I mentioned above. The movie, in which he played only the small role of an opposing don, was Marrying the Mafia (not hard to guess there were some gangsters in that one), and it proved to me once again that it’s wiser not to go into a movie with high expectations. It had its moments, but the emotional turning point for the main character was sparked by a tired old cliche of a scene which kind of ruined it for me. I won’t say what it was, but trust me, it should be stricken from the canon of Korean screenwriting.

The same goes for a lot of the kdrama, which is Glass Slipper (DramaWiki calls it Glass Slippers). I mean, seriously, it’s sad when you find the secondary characters in a drama more interesting than the main characters. Glass Slipper started out by setting up some promising characters and situations, but then it advanced everybody fifteen years (I knew that was coming), introduced a new love interest that I really didn’t care about at all, and proceeded to launch into tired, seen-it-a-million-times kdrama territory. Ho hum. However, Lee Ki Young is one of the few interesting characters (there are about three of them, and I perk up whenever any of them show up onscreen). He plays a mafia boss with a heart of gold, which I grant you may not be the most original type possible, but he brings life to the role. His character went against his conscience to get where he is, and we know it (well, okay, partly we know it because we saw him do it in the first few eps, but he did a great job of showing us how it felt). Now I’m waiting with bated breath to see if he redeems himself in the end. I can’t believe I’m actually going to watch all 40 eps of this thing just to find out, but I am. 40 eps. *sigh*

Come to think of it, he brought life to the role of the resort manager in A Prince’s First Love as well, bad though the writing was in that drama. It’s sad when the material doesn’t live up to the actors in it.

Lee Ki Young is also slated to appear (or already is appearing, since I guess it’s currently airing or may have just finished airing) in this year’s much-awaited drama Time Between Dog and Wolf, starring Lee Joon Ki. I’ll be watching this for the two Lees, since I know they both can act. Don’t disappoint me, guys. I’m so tired of being disappointed.

 

 
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