[HanCinema's Film Review] "Clash of the Families"
By Vasia Orion | Published on
As popular as the romantic comedy genre is in drama, Korean movies are not a medium that has really focused on it much. There are some nice films of course, but few and far between. When they get things absolutely spot on, however, it is a very entertaining and satisfying experience. 'Clash of the Families' takes a comedic turn at a Romeo and Juliet type of romance and its best qualities really make it one heck of a fun film.
The year is 1989. Hyeon-joon (Song Sae-byeok) is a man from Jeolla who illustrates romantic comics under a pseudonym. Da-hong (Lee Si-young) is a pianist from Gyeongsang. The two fall in love after having been pen pals for three years and want to get married. But their home provinces have a known rivalry. To make matters worse, Da-hong's father has a particular hate for Hyeon-Joon's origins. The couple make a plan for Hyeon-joon to learn the Seoul dialect and impress Da-hong's family before revealing his roots.
The characters of this ill-fated couple as well as their actors being so adorable together and having such chemistry is definitely the best starting point for this romance. But as wonderful as these two are, this work is enriched by a powerhouse ensemble cast playing very colorful people. From Baek Yoon-sik to Kim Soo-mi, the families are just very lively and emotive characters, played by actors who create wonderful comedy in their quirky roles.
And it is this humor created by the creators and cast that really makes the movie special. There is romance here, but 'Clash of the Families' is above all a family comedy film. There is plenty of outrageous comedy, there are funny dialogues and insane situations, there are some twists and secrets that just add to the whole thing and the cast makes every scene, from the slowest to the most chaotic very entertaining.
As fun as everything about this family and situation is, the series being set in the past and being heavily packed with cultural, historical and also very local humor and inside jokes means that it might be difficult for international viewers to get the full experience. While Korean viewers themselves might miss certain things that seem very region specific, it can be even trickier for viewers outside of the culture and especially viewers whose own culture does not share many similarities.
One clear flaw of it is the movie's handling of its melodramatic part as well as the resolution that come and go quite hastily from the couple's standpoint. The problem is that the creators do not have the same skill for drama as they do for comedy. This means that when they try to go dramatic, it feels a bit too silly and forced. The good news is, by being handled quickly and without being more than a simple "sad montage", it does not really bring the work down in any way.
'Clash of the Families' is one of the good examples of the romantic comedy genre in Korean cinema. It is fluff, but fluff at its finest. It is a feel-good work with a lot of soul, vibrant cast of characters and it takes a known type of story and makes it its own. With a delightful cast and equally likable characters and with its energy and non-stop comedic family shenanigans, it is a work both for the romantic and those who just need a nice laugh and a relaxing and satisfying couple of hours.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'
Available on Blu-ray from YESASIA