Director Jeong Yong-ki
tried his hand again at comedy and selected a winning leading duo in Park Yong-woo
and Lee Bo-yeong
, aptly complemented by a number of supporting roles. The film is situated during the final days of the Japanese colonization of Korea.
"Once upon a Time" is a well balanced heist comedy; including fast and dynamic action and fight scenes, glitter and glamour, and plenty of jokes. The humorous scenario is well handled by the director and the actors' fun during filming is apparent for anybody to see.
PARK transforms from the shy guy who never had a girlfriend in his breakthrough film "My Scary Girl
" into a confident player. His eyes are set on the beautiful singer played by LEE, however, she is also pursued by a Korean officer in Japanese service.
PARK, LEE and Korean officers of the Japanese army become entangled in a struggle for a phenomenal diamond; while freedom fighters and pro-Japanese Koreans clash during the dying days of the Japanese occupation. Among the resistance are the club owner and a close clumsy employee who plan to assassinate the officer in command in their quest for fame. This duo is played by Seong Dong-il
and Jo Hee-bong
and they are responsible for a good deal of the jokes in the film.
LEE – like PARK – also successfully experiments with an unfamiliar role. She catched attention with her supporting role in Yoo Ha
's "A Dirty Carnival
", a dramatic role of a woman struggling with her being in love with a gangster while she loafs the criminal world. In "Once upon a Time", she shines as a confident and beautiful woman with a love for diamonds, but she doesn't need men to get those.
The diamond is huge and shines bright, but is still outshone by the technically excellent film itself. The sets of Korea in the 40s are well done and with the help of fine lighting and lensing, a warm nostalgic atmosphere is created to give the film its historical feeling. The music suits the film nicely, at times bombastic when themes as freedom are discussed, colouring the humoristic scenes, or adding adrenaline to the fight scenes.
Director JEONG works both as scenario writer and director. He directed the comedies "Marrying the Mafia II" and "Marrying the Mafia III
". Also, he wrote and directed the horror film "Doll Master
"Once upon a Time" sets the bar high early on in the new year. The film has a wide appeal as it offers entertainment for most ages. "Once upon a Time" opens on the last day of January in cinemas.
Yi Ch'ang-ho (KOFIC)