he consequence of having starred in a brilliant movie that earned blockbuster status (read: My Sassy Girl) is that your next movies for review are placed under closer scrutiny. One can't help but compare. Such is the fate of Cha Tae-hyeon.
So, the movie. Admittedly, it has a good plot and had the makings of a romcom drama that could equal, say, My Sassy Girl. In fact, given the right touches, it could even be more poignant and more funny than My Sassy Girl.
Here's the story. Tae-il has one ambition in life - to marry his childhood love, Il-mae (Son Ye-jin). Sadly, that is his ONLY ambition. He doesn't care much for school and is constantly on a war path. Il-mae's dad, who happens to be Tae-il's homeroom teacher, believes that there's more to Tae-il than the latter would admit. So he offers a proposition - Il-mae's hand in marriage if Tae-il would raise his rank from No. 300,000 to No. 3,000. Tae-il impressively rises to the challenge. The dad takes it a bit further - finish law school. Tae-il accomplishes this, at Seoul National University, no less. And while Tae-il is busy making himself the impressive son-in-law, he still finds time to protect Il-mae from her countless admirers, and from himself. D-day comes when Tae-il passes his bar exams and the dad finally allows him to marry Il-mae. Problem is, Il-mae is already engaged to a wealthy womanizer. Heartbroken, Tae-il now has a new mission in life - to win his first love back.
A good storyline, but a mediocre presentation. Once again, the people behind the movie made the common mistake of magnifying everything so the movie will be something it's not. I'm talking particularly of the comedy. It's disappointing really, the way Cha Tae-hyeon portrayed his Tae-il role considering the natural ease with which he portrayed Gyun-woo in My Sassy Girl. There was too much shouting, and granted that they utilized the Busan dialect, did he have to sound so...Japanese? A lot of potentially funny scenes were wasted because they weren't presented right. A pity, considering that there were naturally funny clips far and in between. The drama was somewhat butchered due to the confusing story surrounding Il-mae. It felt like the scriptwriter lost track of his own narrative. I ended up being baffled in a scene that calls for sympathy. Again, a pity, considering that this movie had strong drama potential.
6 kimchi dishes out of 10.
*also on www. yesasia.com