"No, I don't know. I've forgotten it all. When you say "we", I'm not included, so how could I know?"
In the UK, over the past few years, an advertising campaign for a brand of DIY products has become very well known for its tag line "It does exactly what it says on the tin". If the company who conceived that marketing concept had, instead, been asked to design an advertising campaign for Sad Movie, a better tag line could hardly have been found. Sad Movie tells the story of four, partly intertwining, relationships:
Television presenter Su-jung (Lim Soo-Jung) and her firefighter boyfriend, Jin-wu (Jung Woo-sung); Su-jung's deaf sister, Su-eun (Shin Min-ah), who works as a clown in a fairground, and is quickly falling in love with artist Sang-gyu (Lee Ki-woo); Ha-suk (Cha Tae-hyun), an unemployed man desperate to rekindle his relationship with Suk-hyun (Son Tae-yeong); and Hui-Chan (Yeo Jin-goo), a young boy who feels that his mother, Ju-young (Yeom Jung-ah), is becoming increasingly distant.
The earliest scenes in the film comprise of a series of (musically accompanied) montages which successively introduce each of the main characters and play very much like a stereotypical romance.
As the plot subsequently gets underway in earnest, elements of both heartfelt drama and genuinely funny romantic comedy are added to the mix, and straight away it is clear that the writing in Sad Movie is of an incredibly high calibre. A noticeable depth is given to each of the main characters and, even more than that, each has their own subtle, but nonetheless significant, idiosyncrasies and well realised individual personalities, all of which adds up to a set of characters who are truly likeable, eliciting viewer empathy almost from the outset.
Once relatively familiar with all involved, we increasingly find that their hopes, dreams and fears (unsurprisingly) become the driving force behind everything that they do:
Su-jung is aching for Jin-wu to finally propose marriage and worries constantly that he will be injured in his firefighting duties; Jin-wu is desperate to propose but lacks the self-confidence required and, instead, repeatedly finds excuses to support his fear that the time isn't right; Su-eun, though she copes well with her deafness, has deep-seated psychological scars related to the burns on her face - leading her to hide from the object of her affections beneath her clown mask; Ha-suk, realising that he needs gainful employment for his relationship with Suk-hyun to continue, sets up a business providing break-up services for those unable to say the words themselves; and finally, Hui-Chan uses his mother's increasing ill health to enable him to get closer to her.
It pretty much goes without saying that in a film called Sad Movie, the aforementioned fears are, sooner or later, going to be realised, and (unfortunately) therein lies the problem: Each of the individual stories within the film is easily strong enough to stand on its own, as a plot in its own right, but with so many main characters, and the resultant large number of heartbreaks detailed in depth, the overall result verges on overkill. This is especially true in the case Su-jung and her firefighter boyfriend, Jin-wu - though initially being one of the strongest and most affecting of all the stories present, it eventually becomes an obvious and deliberate attempt to push the tear count to the nth degree (and beyond) and feels noticeably contrived to accomplish exactly that. In fact, of all the characters' tales, the most poignant and empathy-worthy are those of deaf character Su-eun and unemployed Ha-suk, simply because they are, plot wise, less melodramatic and more understated in their realisation.
By the end of the film, each and every one of the characters’ lives has utterly fallen apart, and though each separate story successfully, and almost effortlessly, brings a tear to the eye and a lump to the throat, their combination is so all-ecompassing that all previously elicited feelings of hope for the future are lost.
As such, it's difficult to definitively ascertain what director Kwon Jong-gwan was trying to say with Sad Movie. One would assume that the intended statement was along the lines of "Into every life some rain must fall" or "Don’t neglect the present while striving for the future" but, sadly, the ultimate feeling that comes across from Sad Movie is "Live for today, 'cos tomorrow everything you care about will be totally destroyed, guaranteed".
The cast list of Sad Movie almost reads as a who’s who of Korean cinema and, as you would expect from such an accomplished group of actors and actresses, the portrayals of all of the main characters are faultless. In fact, the only criticism of the believability of the characters isn’t the fault of any of the cast. It is simply that in casting an actress as beautiful as Shin Min-ah in the role of Su-eun, it is hard to believe that anyone would allow the burn scar on Su-eun’s face (which is relatively small) to alter their opinion of her looks.
Initially succeeding as an engaging romantic drama with genuinely funny comedic elements, Sad Movie ultimately pushes too many heartbreaks too far.
Jung Woo-sung... Jin-wu
Lim Soo-jung... Su-jung
Cha Tae-hyun... Jung Ha-suk
Yeom Jung-ah... Ju-young
Shin Min-ah... Su-eun
Son Tae-yeong... Suk-hyun
Lee Ki-woo... Sang-gyu
edition reviewed here is the Korean (Region 3) DTS SE 2-Disc release from HB Entertainment Korea. The film itself is
provided as an anamorphic transfer with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and there are no image artifacts or ghosting present. Colours are bright and well balanced with darks uniform throughout.
The original Korean
language soundtrack is provided as a choice of Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0 and Dolby DTS and is well balanced throughout.
Excellent subtitles are provided
throughout the main feature but English-speaking viewers should note that, as with many Korean DVD releases, there are no subtitles available on any of the extras.
• Director: Kwon Jong-gwan
• Format: NTSC,
Anamorphic, Widescreen, Subtitled
• Language: Korean
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0, Dolby DTS
• Region: Region 3
• Aspect Ratio:
• Number of discs: 2
•Running Time: 108 Minutes
•Studio: HB Entertainment Korea
- Pre Production (featurette)
- Making Of Documentary
- Jung Woo-Sung and Lim Soo-Jung
- Deleted Scenes
- Behind the Scenes
- Theatrical Trailer
- Music Video