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`Superstar' a Feel-Good Winner

2004/09/16 | 470 views | Permalink | Source

By Joon Soh
Staff Reporter

"Superstar Gam Sa-yong (Mr. Gam's Victory)" is part of a wave of films hitting local theaters today in preparation for the Chusok holiday, a peak time for the local film industry. Whether the movie will end up topping the box office remains to be seen, but this sweet and modest story set in the early days of Korean baseball has all the ingredients necessary to be a hit with the whole family.

Much like the taekwondo tale "Tollyochagi (Spin Kick)" that came out earlier this summer, "Superstar" tells of underdogs in sports and in life trying to overcome their limitations. The film is based on the true story of Gam Sa-yong (Lee Bum-su), whose five-year record as a professional baseball pitcher was one win and 15 losses.

A regular company man with aspirations to be a professional baseball player, Gam's dreams come true when the Korean Baseball League is founded in 1982 and a team _ the Sammi Superstars, sponsored by Gam's company, Sammi Steel _ is set up in his hometown of Incheon. Gam takes part in an open tryout held by the Superstars, and contrary to all expectations, ends up making the team.

It turns out, however, that Gam was only brought onto the team because they had to have a left-handed pitcher in their lineup, and he ends up spending most of his time on the bench, watching as his hapless team _ the worst in the league by a mile _ chocks up loss after loss.

In fact, the only time Gam gets on the mound was in the final innings of a losing game, when the team wanted to rest their "real" pitchers and when most of the crowd were already heading towards the exit. Embarrassed to tell his family of the reality of his baseball career, Gam waits for a chance to play in a big game and watches longingly as famous pitchers like OB Bears' Park Chol-sun (Gong Yoo) race towards league records.

Despite all the losses faced by the main character, "Superstar" is actually a film full of optimism and hope. The film presents the right combination of sentiment and humor to tell the story of Gam as he fights through the odds to keep his dream alive. And with a great bittersweet performance as the losing pitcher, Lee, who found Chusok success last year with the comedy "Oh! Brothers", has put out yet another winner this holiday season.

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