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'Temptation of Wolves' suffers from melodramatic plot

2004/07/22 Source

It is tempting to jump to criticizing "Temptation of Wolves", directed by Kim Tae-gyoon, considering its cheesy plot and poor moviemaking quality. But this doesn't really matter to the target audience - girls in their teens and 20s (perhaps 30s).
The most important selling point of this movie is that two cute guys play the main title roles. Whenever they pose for a nice shot or shed tears, ohhhs and ahhhs broke out of the mostly female audience at a preview earlier this week.

The film opens with a fight scene of high school students with cries of wolves echoing in the background (yes, it's corny, but there's nothing you can do about it since this movie hinges on such boring cinematic devices).

Han-gyeong (Lee Chung-ah), a plain-looking girl from the country who has transferred to a high school in Seoul, happens to witness the fistfight. Before she realizes what's happening, two handsome boys fall in love with her.

Why? That's a very good question. But the answer is nowhere to be found, at least in this movie. Although Han-gyeong is far from beautiful or cute, the two boys just chase her throughout the first half of the film. Ban Hae-won (Jo Han-sun) is a good-looking high school student. He fights well, rides a motorcycle and drives a luxury car, though he lacks a license. So popular is Hae-won that whenever he hops on a bus, girls quickly snap photos of him with their digital camera phones.

Chung Tae-sung (Gang Dong-won) is kind-hearted and has a killer smile. He is very protective of Han-gyeong, calling her "sister". His mood swings every five minutes, suggesting that there's something wrong in his relationships with Han-gyeong.

The film focuses on the rivalry between Hae-won and Tae-sung for Han-gyeong's heart. With pride and love at stake, they intensify their efforts to woo her, and she finds it extremely difficult to choose between them.

When the boys fight and run on the street, the film picks up some speed and momentum. But the story loses its pace in the second half, especially when a typical melodrama theme unfolds.

One day, Han-gyeong happens to realize that there is a reason behind Tae-sung's affection. In short, they are not supposed to love each other because of a sad family history.

Even when the audience is not ready, the film continues to present tear-jerking scenes. And it is annoying to see these high school students constantly drink soju (Korean hard liquor). No matter how realistic such scenes may be, the film seems to encourage students to engage in undesirable behavior.

Teenage romance is hardly surprising. But it is still embarrassing to see Tae-sung call himself "seobangnim" (hubby) and gesture as though he and Han-gyeong are newlyweds. It is unbearably tempting to scream at these wayward students to shape up. Yet it's a losing game because the female audience screams much louder when Hae-won and Tae-sung appear on the screen and show off their attractive faces.

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