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My Sassy Girl R3 DVD Review

Discussion in 'Movie Forum' started by Seth Gecko, May 28, 2005.

  1. Seth Gecko

    Seth Gecko
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    Oct 9, 2004
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    <P STYLE='text-align: center'><FONT STYLE='font-size: 18px'><IMG SRC='http://www.wvip.co.uk/images/dvd/MySassyGirl/MySassyGirlR3.jpg' ALT='MY SASSY GIRL DVD cover artwork' ALIGN='RIGHT'>MY SASSY GIRL</FONT><br>Reviewed April 2005 by <A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?dvdid=Chris McEneany' target='_blank'>Chris McEneany</A>.</P><P><B>The Movie : 7</B></P><P> “Wanna die?”</p><P>Told largely in flashback and even then further divided into convenient First and Second Halves, Kwak Jae-yong’s romantic comedy is about as far removed from any of its Hollywood counterparts as you could possibly hope to get. Smart but lazy student Gyeon-woo (an immediately likeable Cha Tae-hyun) can’t help but hit upon any girl that fits his <i>type</i>. But the object of his latest infatuation could seriously damage his health. Going without a name throughout the entire film, this young girl (a quite remarkable performance by Jun Ji-hyun) seems hell-bent on drinking herself into oblivion and creating chaos wherever she goes – impromptu fashion tips to innocent passers-by tend to devolve swiftly into snarling death-threats and many horrendously embarrassing situations for her poor bewildered suitor ensue. Suffering, Gyeon believes, from the grief caused by a prior relationship, he nevertheless resolves to help heal her pain. As a result of this foolhardy mission, he is subjected to all manner of degradations and even arrested on a couple of occasions. This warped relationship is further complicated with the girl’s complete lack of romantic interest in him, despite her devotion to having him around as her own private whipping-boy. Like a loyal lap-dog he is always there for her throughout her tantrums, belittled, humiliated and even physically abused in the course of her crazy schemes. She is the perpetual tease, dangling her sexuality before him like the proverbial carrot on a stick. But, as the tale progresses, it becomes apparent that there is far more lurking beneath her wild façade as glimmers of heartbreak and loneliness shine through, giving Gyeon an aching nobility in his insane quest to reach the innocent and vulnerable girl locked within. The girl is literally an itch that he cannot scratch and with each new set-piece drama we, too, are drawn deeper and deeper into the mystery surrounding her. By turn irritating and alluring, the girl is an enigma, typified by Gyeon’s almost voyeuristic attentions to her whilst she sleeps off yet another drunken binge.</p><P> “Why were you naked in a motel with me?”</p><P>Director Kwak Jae-yong manages to keep the First Half fairly light and breezy, with an emphasis on slapstick, albeit buffoonery that ricochets around in the leftfield. The girl wants to write for the movies and allows Gyeon to read some of her screenplays. We get to see this material acted out in a series of playful fantasy sequences – there is the almost obligatory Matrix-style shootout, an epic period martial arts duel and a bizarre rewrite of a Korean folklore classic – but it is quite clear that the missing elements to all of this are heart and soul. It is almost as though these crucial features have been removed from the girl, herself. But it is not until the largely bittersweet Second Half that the relevance of all this will become apparent.</p><P> “Some day, I’ll meet someone from the future.”</p><P>It is with the above quote that I detected the underlying resonance at the core of the movie. Up until then I had found the proceedings intriguing and occasionally amusing but emotionally redundant. The characters were baffling – just why would two wildly different personalities become so drawn to one another? Why would anyone put up with as much grief and heartache from someone as unstable and volatile as the girl Gyeon falls for? Did it really need the sledgehammer scene of the renegade soldier holding the pair hostage to ram its heartfelt plea home to us? But then events take that pivotal turn that suddenly makes all that has gone before fall into place and all the more worthwhile as a clever screenplay finally reveals its hidden motives. Obviously, I am not going to say what happens, but let me assure you that the emotional connection I had believed missing from the movie had indeed been there all the time, bubbling away almost subliminally just beneath the surface. The mood swing that takes place is a necessary one and leaves an indelible imprint afterward. I loved the unravelling notion that Fate is pulling all the strings, an incredibly powerful force that is impossible to elude. The denouement may feel a little stretched out but it is like the calming of the sea after a storm, smoothing over all the madness and turning everything full-circle. It’s hard to imagine a similarly-themed western film achieving the same level of poignancy and understanding without being laughed off the screen.</p><P> “We promised to meet here two years later … but she hasn’t come yet. I’m going to wait.”</p><P> My Sassy Girl is certainly an oddity. Don’t be lulled by the lovely lilting score that greets you. The movie can be edgy, awkward and confrontational. With a fresh premise and an offbeat script and a couple of very enjoyable performances it injects a terrific dose of originality into a tired and clichéd genre. Plus, it might make you think twice the next time you see someone stumbling drunkenly around the subway. Not something that you would watch often but certainly a competently made comedy that turns into something much deeper and more thought-provoking the more you stick with it. It would be interesting to see what a Hollywood remake would be like. Then again … no, it wouldn’t.</p> <P><B>Picture : 6</B></P><P>The visual transfer of My Sassy Girl’s 1.85:1 image is perfectly adequate without being exceptional. Colours are nice and warm, though often betray the slight softening inherent from an NTSC transfer. Nothing too detrimental there, though. Clothes and scenery always look fresh, skin tones are realistic and consistent and the overall picture is suitably alive with a reasonable degree of detail on offer. It’s funny how a scene that is submerged in rainfall can often be the most eye-catching and there are a couple of great ones in this. The disc handles them impressively with lots of luscious detail caught in the downpour. Black levels are satisfactory too, adding a good sense of depth and contrast.</p><P>However, there is a fine layer of grain that will become more apparent on larger screens and the occasional element of print damage sometimes invades the picture. There is the odd NTSC judder on sideways motion and camera movements, but I have seen far worse. Blissfully, edge-enhancement is kept to a bare minimum and no other digital gremlins reared their ugly heads. Overall, the image is quite pleasing without trying too hard to showboat.</p> <P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.wvip.co.uk/images/dvd/MySassyGirl/MySassyGirl_1.jpg' ALT='MY SASSY GIRL'></P><P><B>Sound : 5</B></P><P>I believe that there is a version of My Sassy Girl with full surround sound but the one that I am reviewing has only a 2-channel Dolby Digital track in its original Korean on offer. Although always clear and strong and featuring the odd moment of steering across the front soundstage – the girl running from the right to vomit over in the left, for instance – I found the mix to be slightly disappointing. Given that this is a fairly recent movie (2001) and does have a fantasy gun-battle as a highlight it would have been nice to have heard it in full 5.1. As it stands though, there is precious little to mark it out as anything other purely standard. Surely a shame for such a sparky and energetic movie.</p> <P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.wvip.co.uk/images/dvd/MySassyGirl/MySassyGirl_2.jpg' ALT='MY SASSY GIRL'></P><P><B>Extras : 1</B></P><P>If you count a dreary Photo Gallery, Theatrical Trailer, Cast and Crew Filmographies and the Music Video to the signature tune of “I Believe” as anything special then you can add another mark to the total. There is a 2-disc edition of My Sassy Girl out there somewhere which even has the afore-mentioned 5.1 sound mix. That also contains the Director’s Cut that I have reviewed here. If you are fan then obviously you should track that one down.</p> <P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.wvip.co.uk/images/dvd/MySassyGirl/MySassyGirl_3.jpg' ALT='MY SASSY GIRL'></P><P><B>Verdict : 6</B></P><P>A fresh, vibrant take on the traditional rom-com, given a great Korean slant that immediately places it head and shoulders above the usual home-grown fodder. Difficult and uncomfortable at times and containing perhaps an unhealthy dose of slapstick in its First Half, it nevertheless worms its way under your skin with affecting central performances – particularly from Jun Ji-hyun – and a terrifically powerful closing segment. Maybe I’m just a big old softie at heart, but the deft manipulation of the emotions and the rug-pulling worked a treat on me. But, in all fairness, the movie did <i>need</i>something a bit deeper to haul it out of the doldrums of endless farce that were in danger of drowning it altogether.</p><P>That said, however, if you are going to take the plunge, my advice would be to go after the 2-disc edition. Not sure exactly what is on the extra disc but it has to offer more than this somewhat forlorn release.</p> <div ALIGN='CENTER'>Review Disc Supplied by <a href="http://global.yesasia.com/assocred.asp?W7QIPXOV+/en/prdTransfer.aspx/pid-1002857345" target=”_blank”><img src="http://www.wvip.co.uk/images/dvd/SuppliersLogos/YesAsia.jpg" Align="absmiddle"></a><br>Please support us by using our review sponsors.</div><TABLE border='0' CELLPADDING='0' CELLSPACING='2' WIDTH='100%'><TR><TD COLSPAN='2'><B>MY SASSY GIRL (2001)</B></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Genres</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=COMEDY' target='_blank'>COMEDY</A>, <A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=ROMANCE' target='_blank'>ROMANCE</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Director</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=director&search_for=JAE-YOUNG KWAK' target='_blank'>JAE-YOUNG KWAK</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Stars</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=TAE-HYUN CHA' target='_blank'>TAE-HYUN CHA</A>, <A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=JI-HYUN JUN' target='_blank'>JI-HYUN JUN</A>, <A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=JIN-HIE HAN' target='_blank'>JIN-HIE HAN</A>, <A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=SOOK-HEE HYUN' target='_blank'>SOOK-HEE HYUN</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65'><B>Region</B></TD><TD><B>3</B> <FONT>(KOREA)</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Supplier</TD><TD><FONT>Edko Films Ltd. Released Wednesday 30th July 2003</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>SRP</TD><TD><FONT>$13.25</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Discs</TD><TD><FONT>1</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Format</TD><TD><FONT>DVD9</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Time</TD><TD><FONT>137 mins.</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Chapters</TD><TD><FONT>30</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Picture</TD><TD>Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1 (NTSC)&nbsp;</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Sound</TD><TD>Korean Dolby Digital 2.0</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Subtitles</TD><TD>English, Traditional Chinese</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Case</TD><TD>Amaray</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Extras</TD><TD>Theatrical Trailer<BR>“I Believe” Music Video<BR>Photo Gallery<BR>Cast and Crew Filmographies</TD></TR></TABLE><P STYLE='text-align: center'>If you would like to comment on this review, please reply below.</P>

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