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'Wet Dreams 2' delivers false teenage fantasy

2005/01/13 | 1232 views |  | Permalink | Source

It is an unwritten rule that sequels rarely outperform their originals in the movie industry. Higher expectations - and a slightly skeptical attitude - may explain why sequels are often synonymous with flops (I've seen it all in the original, so what else can you do with this sequel?).
"Wet Dreams 2", which opens today nationwide, falls into the sorry category. But before brushing it aside quickly, it is worth pondering what this supposedly "provocative sex comedy" is about and what issues, if any, it puts forward.

Directed by Jeong Cho-sin, the film revolves around sexual fantasy and episodes played out by 17-year-old high school girls. The background is set in 1991, Chung said in a post-premier news conference, suggesting that girls might sport a whiff of innocence.

Our "innocent" heroine Oh Sung-eun (Kang Eun-bi) and her close friends Bang Sue-yeon (Jeon Hye-bin) and Kim Mi-Sook (Park Seul-gi) are hanging around together, dreaming about their Prince Charmings.

The dreams suddenly look achievable for Sung-eun when a handsome trainee teacher named Kang Bong-gu (Lee Ji-hoon) shows up. He is a well-mannered heartthrob with a golden-boy smile.

But Kang's name is embarrassingly misleading. His name should have been corrected into Kang Bang-gu ('bang-gu' in Korean means 'fart') for he has an incurable disease that synchronizes farting with sexual stimulus - a cheesy toilet humor that reminds one of comparable scenes in the "American Pie" series.

Whenever Kang sees a sexy girl passing by, he unloads a heavy dosage of pernicious gas along with high-pitched sound effect. This ludicrous condition aimed at forcing the audience to laugh seems to be working - until the technique is used too often, too indiscriminately.

Unaware of the tragic illness that plagues the handsome teacher, Oh Seung-eun sets her eyes on Kang. Here, the storyline goes somewhat overboard. Oh is so audacious that she marches toward Kang's apartment to sacrifice her virginity, a plot that might have raised some heckles among diehard conservatives 15 years ago.

Given that the movie is partly concerned about portraying sexually liberal Korean high schools in a candid way, such unrealistic development might be forgiven. But what sparks controversies among critics and moviegoers is that Oh doesn't know the difference between menstruation and bleeding from the first sex.

It turns out that Oh gets so drunk before knocking on the door of Kang's apartment that she just falls asleep. In other words, nothing immoral happens, and coincidently Oh begins to menstruate for the first time, and thinks it is a sign of her lost virginity.

Although the director claimed that all the episodes have been modified from real stories he got from teenage girls and women aged between 20 and 30, it is hardly believable that a 17-year-old high school girl in 1991 might have made such a stupid mistake.

Oh's archrival Park Se-mi (Shin Joo-ah) is also a controversial character. Park is portrayed as a voluptuous teenage actress who shows up on major TV shows. She unabashedly flirts with her teachers at school and even attempts to lure the gas-emitting Kang by revealing part of her breasts in a class.

The film's official motto is to reveal the sexual fantasy of high school girls, but Park's sexually mature and overly suggestive images are far removed from real teenage girls.

So what has gone wrong? The original "Wet Dreams" directed by the same director Chung was a huge success in 2002, selling 2.45 million tickets nationwide. It was about 15-year-old middle school boys, and the setting was quite similar.

Perhaps, the difference might lie in the understanding level of teenagers' sexual psyches by a director who happens to be a man who has only superficial knowledge about girls' wet dreams. While the original was faithful to the premise that Korean boys have to suppress their sexual drive in the name of rigid social systems, guilt feelings and other factors, the sequel doesn't have a clear direction or convincing perspective.

As if the shoddy storyline were not enough, director Chung goes ahead with a truly bizarre ending. The school holds an annual festival and somehow the highlight is the performance of professional tango and Latin dancers who show off their colorful skills in a gymnasium.

All the main characters clad in vociferous costumes move toward the center stage and dance together. Is this supposed to be funny? In 1991, as far as one can remember correctly, professional tango and Latin dances were not as popular as today, and at the time few schools could afford to invite a horde of them to their annual festivals.

The movie seems to argue that teenage girls have every right to fantasize - and realize if possible - their wet dreams. There is no doubt that the subject matter is interesting but the way it is presented to the audience is problematic. Unfortunately, there's little room for taking a breather because our beloved teacher Kang never stops spewing stinkers throughout the movie.

By Yang Sung-jin

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