Saturday, October 15, 2005

Unique jewelry

Sorry for the delay in posting new reviews; school has taken all my time, but I promise I'll try to write some more as soon as possible - I still have about ten movies I'm really looking forward to watching. In the meantime, why don't you check out After Dark Jewelry, a company that makes hand-crafted jewelry with hints of Gothic, Medieval and Renaissance designs (I'm still waiting for some true art deco jewelry). They have some really nice stuff, like the Leviathan necklace. I want that.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Welcome to the Grand Re-Opening

I just wanted to let you know that I'm re-opening my blog. New reviews to come this week.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

End of the Road

This blog is being put on hold indefinitely. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Thanks to all who visited this blog - and returned.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Infernal Affairs

Background
Hong Kong-movies have been popular here in Sweden since the late 80's/early 90's. I remember watching movies like "City on Fire", "Once a Thief" and "The Killer" in 1992-93, being blown away by how great and thrilling they were compared to Hollywood-style cop films. As I delved deeper into the world of Hong Kong-cinema, I also found the bad films, of course. The ones that were boring, unoriginal or simply bad copies of other films. Gradually my love for the Asian cop thriller faded, until it was resurrected when I first watched Takeshi Kitano's "Violent Cop". So what is "Infernal Affairs" - a pale copy, a new "Violent Cop" or just a pretty decent thriller?

Story
Tony Leung plays Yan, an undercover cop who has been infiltrating the triads for ten years. He's burnt out, can't sleep and all he wants is out.

Yan was hand-picked at cadet school because he was great undercover material. To create a believable story, Yan was expelled from cadet school, and the only person who knows his true identity is Commissioner Wong, played by veteran actor Anthony Wong.

Yan has worked for triad boss Sam for three years, gaining his confidence. Now he's working with him on a big drug deal - Thai gangsters are bringing in a boatload of cocaine. Just as the police are about to bust the gangsters, they drop the drugs in the ocean, and the operation is a failure. Commissioner Wong soon understands that not only does he have a mole in Sam's organisation - but Sam has a mole within the police force.

The mole is Ming, played by Andy Lau, who was at the cadet school at the same time that Yan was expelled. Ming is torn between his will to be a real cop, and his loyalty to the triad boss who pays him for his services.

What we are treated to is a cat-and-mouse game, where the cops and gangsters try to find the mole in their respective organisations. And what a game it is. There are twists and turns and just when you think you know what's going to happen, you are proven wrong.

Verdict
"Infernal Affairs" is most reminiscent of great thrillers like Ringo Lam's unforgettable "City on Fire" or some of John Woo's great 80's and 90's films like "A Better Tomorrow" and "Hardboiled". While it has been a while since I watched those Woo films, I dare say that they all pale in comparison with "Infernal Affairs". Finding a cop-thriller of this caliber is something one should treasure.

The actors are of course a huge part of why this film is so great. Anthony Wong, Tony Leung and Andy Lau - could you imagine a better trio? They all give excellent performances, with Tony Leung being especially convincing as the burnt out undercover cop, making every second he is on screen a joy to watch.

There are of course a few things that make this movie less than perfect - sub-plots that aren't necessary and things like that, but you can easily ignore those and they don't take anything away from the charm of the rest of the film.

This is one of those movies you do not want to miss. It has everything - action, suspense, plot twists and lots of emotions. If I ever had to give a five out of five to a cop film, it would be this one.

Monday, August 22, 2005

My apologies

I haven't been updating as often as I should have, but I have been busy with other things. Well, other people. Well, another person. And a few other things, like watching more movies to review. Up for review this week are a few of the following:

All About Lily Chou-Chou
Kamikaze Girls
Zero Woman Red Handcuffs
Red Eye
Drugstore Girl
Into the Mirror

Friday, August 19, 2005

Time to get interactive

In other words, it's time for you to speak. There are quite a few people reading this blog, so I would really like to know what you think about it, and would appreciate any and all suggestions on how to improve it. I've added a poll so you can let me know what you think, but comments on what I should do differently are even more appreciated than a vote, of course.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Asians Do It Better

Some much better than others, especially when it comes to putting a smile on my face. How a simple thing like an email can make me so happy - especially coming from someone I've known for only two weeks - is beyond me. Yes, it is dangerous, falling for someone this quickly...but it is beyond my control.

You know who you are.

(I know I said in my first post that this blog wouldn't be about me. So I was wrong. But I'll try not to repeat it. I just wanted to leave a message to a very special someone.)

Monday, August 15, 2005

Funeral Procession of Roses

Background
As I have mentioned in previous reviews, Japanese filmmakers have often gone further than their European or American counterparts both when it comes to the themes of the movies and the visual presentation. Teruo Ishii's "The Joy of Torture" and the other films in the Tokugawa-series, for instance, took graphic violence to a whole new level, showing people being boiled alive, disemboweled or torn apart by bulls. This at a time when Sam Peckinpah's "The Wild Bunch" was considered extremely violent.

There could be no better example of how progressive Japanese filmmaking really is and has been than Toshio Matsumoto's "Funeral Procession of Roses" (also known as "Funeral Parade of Roses"), released in 1969. It does have a violent scene or two, but it is the theme and how the theme is approached that makes it so exceptional. This is most likely the first Japanese gay-themed film that actually featured gay actors.

Story
The cult actor known simply as Peter stars as Eddie, a cross-dressing club kid enjoying the good life of the swinging 60's. The movie starts with Eddie in the arms of an older man, the owner of Genet, a bar in the Shinjuku-district where the hostesses - just like Eddie - are all cross-dressers (the name, Genet, is a homage to director, poet, novelist and playwright Jean Genet, who was also gay). Eddie lives the good life - not only is he one of the most popular hostesses because of his looks (and he is very convincing and very beautiful as a woman), but the owner of Genet has also promised Eddie that he will be the new Madam - the head hostess - of the bar. This of course makes Leda, the current Madam, who also dates the owner, furious.

It is hard to describe the plot of a film like "Funeral Procession of Roses", because a lot of what goes on is very experimental, and sometimes you're not sure if what you are watching is real or fantasy, or when it takes place. We do, however, get to follow Eddie and see what his life is all about - nights and days at the club and with his friends, taking all kinds of drugs and having sex. At times, Eddie drifts into nightmarish flashbacks from his childhood. His father disappeared when he was too young to remember him, and the only memory he has of his mother is her burning his father's face out of a photograph. That very photograph is the only memory Eddie has of his family, and he keeps it with him at all times. What it all boils down to and what we are treated to in the end is the Oedipus legend, albeit with a twist.

(The tale of Oedipus is a Greek classic. Oedipus was the son of Laius and Jocasta, king and queen of Thebes. An oracle tells them that Jocasta's baby will grow up to kill his father and marry his mother. They leave their son in the wilderness, where a shepherd finds him, and takes him to Corinth. A lot of things happen, but in the end, Oedipus kills an old man - without knowing that the man is his father, Laius - and eventually marries the man's widow, his mother. They have several children, but one day they find out that Oedipus is Jocasta's son. Jocasta commits suicide and Oedipus blinds himself and becomes a wandering beggar).

Verdict
"Funeral Procession of Roses" is a classic, and deservedly so. The theme, frankness and non-judgemental attitude towards homosexuality and cross-dressing alone would be enough to make this an instant classic. Remember, it was made in 1969, and even in a fairly liberal country such as Sweden, homosexuality was considered a disease until 1979. Making a film like this today would be hard, and I can only imagine what an impact it had in 1969. However, the film has so many more elements.

For instance, the 60's was a decade of experimentation. Not only with drugs, the new and exciting music, and a more open attitude towards sex, but also when it came to filmmaking. And there are very few good films more experimental than "Funeral Procession of Roses". Matsumoto uses many different techniques to put the viewer in a certain state of mind. There are a few scenes of low-speed shooting, which when played back speeds everything up, like in an old slapstick comedy - Charlie Chaplin comes to mind. Accompanying these scenes is a very cheesy-sounding organ playing carnival music, making it look even more like a slapstick comedy. Other scenes are just surreal, like when Eddie and a rival scream at each other, and word-balloons appear from their mouths to show us what they are saying.

These elements could easily have made the film completely unwatchable, but just like a master as Buñuel, Matsumoto knows exactly what he is doing, and everything seems logical in some strange way. Like pieces of a puzzle they all fit together perfectly.

Stanley Kubrick apparently got a lot of inspiration from "Funeral Procession of Roses", which he used in "A Clockwork Orange". I am not a Kubrick-fan myself (I think "Funeral Procession of Roses" is superior to anything he made), but the similarities are there.

But a film is only as good as its actors, and Peter is amazing. I have already mentioned how beautiful and convincing he is as a woman, and he manages to make everything believable. Watching this movie is ultimately a very rewarding - if disturbing - experience, and I highly recommend it. Hilary Swank was never this good.


Teruo Ishii 1924 - 2005

Director Teruo Ishii, age 81, lost his battle against lung cancer in his birthtown of Tokyo last friday. While here in the West he was known mostly for his graphic and violent jidai-geki (period dramas), he was a versatile director who made no less than 88 movies during his lifetime, nine of which he directed during his first year with the Shintoho studio.

As I mentioned, most westerners who know about Ishii know only that he made a series of very graphic torture films, all set in the Tokugawa-era (1600 - 1868). You might have at least heard about films like "Tokugawa History of Women Punishment", "Tokugawa Tattoo History: Torture Hell" or "The Joy of Torture". He was, however, much more versatile than this. His first film was a boxing drama, followed by a series of superhero films (the "Super Giant" series, a total of six films). He also directed martial arts films, erotic, film noir and science fiction - wherever Japanese cinema went, there was Ishii, making another film.

But sadly, not anymore. While his impact has been limited in the West, we would most likely not have directors like Takashi Miike and Shinya Tsukamoto had it not been for the influence that Ishii had on the world of Japanese filmmaking. If for no other reason, for that we should treat Ishii and his work with the respect they deserve.

Domo arigato gozaimasu and sayonara, Ishii-san. You will be missed.

Friday, August 12, 2005

House of Fury

Background
Wire-fu is one of my favorite genres when it comes to Chinese cinema. It is exactly what it sounds like - kung fu movies where the stunts are performed with wires. This often leads to very unbelievable stunts - remember the last fight in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", or Jet Li running on water in "Hero"? However, wire-fu is not supposed to look real, it is supposed to be fantastic, over the top and spectacular.

One of the true masters of wire-fu as well as traditional kung fu choreography is Yuen Woo-ping, who choreographed the action sequences in films like "Last Hero in China", Jackie Chan's "Drunken Master", "Fist of Legend", "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", "Kung Fu Hustle", "The Matrix" and many, many more. His latest film is "House of Fury". And yes, I say that it is his film, and not Stephen Fung's, who directed it. Why? Read on and I wil let you know.

Story
Veteran actor Anthony Wong stars as Yue Siu Bo, a former bodyguard to secret agents, now making a living as a chiropractor. After his wife died, he has raised his two children, Natalie and Nicky, on his own. They have heard their father's stories, but never believed any of them. The two siblings constantly fight, and since Siu Bo has taught them kung fu, we get to see the greatest fight for the remote ever caught on film, as well as some under-the-dinner-table-kicking that is really pretty funny to watch.

One day Siu Bo is kidnapped by a very Bond-esque baldheaded badguy in a wheelchair. He wants to know the location of an old, retired agent, who is responsible for putting the badguy in the wheelchair in the first place. Using a truth serum, he finds out that the identity of the agents are being kept in two memory sticks, placed within two necklaces that Siu Bo's children wear, without knowing their true contents.

Mr. Badguy sends his cronies - all very stylishly dressed in black - to retrieve the necklaces. However, since the two siblings are skilled fighters, we're up for a lot of fighting, a few wire stunts and then some more fighting.

Verdict
This is no masterpiece. Don't expect a new "Legend of Drunken Master" or "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon". This was made purely out of commercial interest. That, however, does not mean that it is bad. In fact, it is a very entertaining and rather funny action-comedy, with a strong emphasis on action.

Anthony Wong is as good as his role permits him to be, which is not nearly enough for an actor of his caliber. Gillian Chung, on the other hand, who plays Natalie, is amazing. Yes, yes, she is very easy on the eyes, but she's also got some pretty serious kung fu moves. Granted, she's no Zhang Ziyi, but don't be surprised if she becomes the next cute-as-a-button-star in a whole lot of less serious kung fu flicks.

Director Stephen Fung also plays Nicky, Natalie's brother. This is just his second attempt at directing, but I'd advise him to stick to acting. Why so, you may ask? After all, I just said it's a good film, right? Yes, but that is all thanks to the aforementioned Yuen Woo-ping. Without the many, many fights and his great choreography, this would not have been nearly as entertaining. However, thanks to Yuen, this is a movie I would recommend to anyone wanting to be entertained without having to think. It's fun, fast and filled with fighting.'

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

A New Police Story

Background
I trust you all know who Jackie Chan is, so I won't bore you to death by writing about how great he is. Instead I thought I'd focus a bit more on the director, Benny Chan. This is far from his first action film, and he's even directed Jackie Chan before, in the not to shabby "Who Am I?" about an agent who loses his memory and has no idea why he's being chased. Benny Chan's movies have always been action-packed and a lot of fun to watch, so what about "A New Police Story"?

Story
The story is as simple as they come: Chan (Jackie, that is) is inspector Wing, a super-cop who does what no one else can. When a group of criminals led by Joe (played by American-born Daniel Wu) starts robbing banks and killing police officers just for the fun of it, Wing promises that he and his team can catch the criminals in three hours if he is allowed to do things his way.

Well, things don't go his way, and his entire team is wiped out. Wing, the sole survivor, descends into a downward spiral of guilt, alcohol and self-pity. His salvation comes in the form of a rookie cop (Nicholas Tse, singer and illegal strret racer), who wants to go after the gang, and wants Wing's help.

From here on it is, I am glad to say, classic Jackie Chan-action. There are the crazy stunts, of course, and this time around they're better than ever. Even better than in "Rumble in the Bronx", which is a pretty bad film, but has some of Chan's most amazing stunts.

Verdict
For what it is - an action-film starring Jackie Chan - this is really good. There is plenty of action, pretty good acting from Chan (certainly some of the best we've seen him pull off) and lots of destruction (the scene with the bus being the best example of this). More than anything, it is a lot of fun, and that's what action is all about. If you don't expect too much character development and can accept a screenplay with about as much depth as a kiddie pool, you'll love this.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Sorry, no Appleseed yet

I know I promised a review of "Appleseed" today, but that won't happen. I have to watch it again to be able to write a review that makes it justice. Hopefully tomorrow. There might be something else up later today though, so please come back.

Guts of a Virgin

Background
As I mentioned in my review of "Naked Blood", pinku films with plenty of sex, nudity and/or violence are very popular in Japan. I guess that "Guts of a Virgin" could classify as a pinku, but you'd be even more right to classify it as ero-guro, which simply means "erotic-grotesque". Whether or not it classifies as a good film - well, you'll just have to read the review.

Story
There really isn't much of a story. A glamour photographer, his assistants and a couple of female models are travelling from a photo shoot but because of the dense fog they seek refuge in a deserted house in the countryside. They have dinner and drink a fair bit of sake, and soon we are treated to plenty of sex (both voluntary and forced) and all kinds of degrading games. If you think it couldn't possibly get any worse...well, you would be wrong. For some unexplicable reason, a mud-covered monster with a two-foot penis starts killing the men and raping and killing the women.

Verdict
Ero-guro can be fun if done correctly, but this really isn't. If you're just looking for a bit of sex and gore, well, it does work. There are few scenes that are pretty disturbing and bizarre, and they alone, together with the ending, which is a nice twist, give this movie an extra point. But - if you're looking for a bit more than just sex and gore - most ero-guro's offer at least a little bit more than that - this isn't the film for you.

Wishing Stairs

Background
This is another one from Korea, and it's the third in a trilogy of sorts that started with "Whispering Corridors", continued with "Memento Mori" and now ends with "Wishing Stairs". What they have in common are all girl's schools and supernatural things that go bump in the night.

Story
On a ballet school in South Korea, behind one of the dormitories, there is a stair with 28 steps. If you walk up it one step at a time, counting each step, and make a genuine wish at the top, a 29th step will appear, and when you climb it, your wish will come true. This could make for a very interesting film, but does it?

The movie revolves around two students, So-hee, who is a very talented ballet dancer, and Jin-sung, who lives somewhat in the shadow of her friend. It starts out idyllic, like any high-school film, giving us a chance to get to know the girls as they skip school to go to a concert, spend late nights together trying on makeup and changing their hair, and pledge their love for each other. As the film progresses, So-hee and Jin-Sung find themselves competing for a place at a Russian ballet school. Jin-sung, jealous of So-hee's talent, goes to the stairs and wishes that she will win the contest. Another girl, who does act extremely weird, also climbs the stairs, wanting to lose weight.

As can be expected, we are treated to the same basic plot as in the story "The Monkey's Paw" by William Wyman Jacobs - one should always be very careful what one wishes for, because one might actually recieve it...

Verdict
So, is it any good? As you can probably guess from the length of the review alone - not really. There is about 15 minutes of supernatural horror towards the end of the film, but before that there is over an hour that is very incoherent, uneven and confusing. There is not a lot of character development - not that a horror movie always needs that, but this isn't even scary. All of the scary moments - and I do mean all of them - are totally predictable. This makes for a film that is neither scary nor exceptionally interesting in any other way. It is not completely disappointing, but unfortunately a very sad ending to an otherwise good trilogy.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Coming on Monday...

Is my review of "Appleseed", the most innovative and visually stunning anime ever created. Here are a few screenshots. If you haven't seen it yet, why don't you watch it this weekend?

Hello everyone

This blog has had 57 unique visitors today, which is more than I expected. Thanks to everyone who stopped by. If you like or dislike what you see here, please leave a comment. I can't improve the blog unless I know what you want.

There will be one or two reviews posted shortly, but none more this weekend, since I will be away from Saturday morning to Sunday evening. However, come Monday there will be a few more reviews, including my first review of an anime.

Again, thanks for dropping by. Please come again.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Naked Blood

Background
With more than 50 films under his belt, director Hisayasu Sato is by no means a novice. Still, most of his films never managed to cross the oceans and cultural barriers separating Japan from the rest of the world. That's not really a big blow to cultural diversity, since most of his films are very simple rape and/or sex films. Apart from "Naked Blood", his most well-known film is probably "Unfaithful Wife: Shameful Torture aka An Aria on Gaze aka The Bedroom", a erotic pinku filmu ("pink film", the name of a very popular genre of Japanese films. "Pinkus" are mostly shot straight for video, and often feature copious amounts of nudity, often interspersed with violence.) that stars Issei Sagawa, a convicted cannibal. While living and studying in Paris, Sagawa killed and ate part of the corpse of a female student. He was declared mentally unfit, and his father, a wealthy man, had him sent to a Japanese mental hospital, from which he was released little more than a year later. To this day, Sagawa has shown no remorse for his crime, and he has become a celebrity in Japan.
Cannibalism, as I am about to tell you, plays a part in "Naked Blood" as well.

Story
The plot revolves around a young scientific prodigy, Eiji, and his mother. Eiji has created a drug that by altering the way the brain transmits its impulses changes pain into pleasure. In other words, it is the ultimate painkiller. However, finding suitable subjects to test the drug on is hard when you're a reclusive teenager who makes chemicals in his room. Enter Eiji's mother, Yuki. Yuki is a doctor who is at the moment trying out a new contraceptive drug at the hospital where she works. Eiji, without his mother's knowledge, adds his own drug to the contraceptive and watches from a nearby rooftop as the three female subjects unknowingly have the drug pumped into their bloodstreams.

The three women leave the hospital together, (followed by Eiji, who spies on the girls to see what effects the drug has) entering a restaurant. During their conversation we learn more about them as they talk about what brings them the most joy. One of the girls is a glutton who thinks of little except food; one girl is extremely vain and the third, Rika, never answers the question. We do, however, learn that she never sleeps. So what brings Rika joy? Well, her giant cactus, which she communicates with through a virtual reality-system. Yes, you read correctly. Her cactus. This movie just entered the twilight zone.

Back at Eiji's house, we see his mother watching old Super 8-films of her dead husband, apparently unable to let go. One could assume that this is to show us that not all pains can be taken away by a simple drug - or it could just be filler material to give the film a more serious appearance. I will leave it up to you to judge for yourselves.

Eiji is also watching movies, but of a different kind. He watches all the surveillance tapes of the three girls, noting that the drug will start working within 48 hours. Rika, on the other hand, connects herself to her cactus and has a nightmarish vision of being chased, drenched in blood, by a camera-wielding Eiji.

Cut to the next day. Eiji starts following Rika, but because of the vision she had - or recieved from her cactus - she recognises him and he knows he's been spotted. He manages to gain her confidence, and she tells him about her insomnia - which was caused by the psychological shock of her first menstruation (it gets weirder, believe me) - and that her hearing is super-sensitive. Not only can she hear insects buzzing around, she can even hear plants talking. Ooookay. For some reason, she decides she's gonna trust Eiji, and takes him to her apartment.

In the meantime, the vain girl sits in front of her mirror and notices a stray hair in her armpit. She pulls it out, expecting it to hurt, but it feels good. The glutton is preparing dinner - tempura. As she is slicing the fish, she cuts herself, and notices that it doesn't hurt at all. Quite the opposite. As the effects of the drug - named MySon by Eiji - take hold, we see the vain girl take body biercing to a whole new level, while the glutton discovers the joy of dipping your own hand in tempura-batter and deep-frying it.

If you have seen this film in a store, you probably noticed the blurb "100% Gore - 100% Bloody - 100% Extreme" (which, apart from adding up to 300%, is completely false). Well, they're talking about this part of the film, the rest is pretty much your standard (or rather sub-standard) drama. So there are a few scenes in here that are extremely graphic, and certainly not for the squeamish. It is painfully obvious that Sato added these scenes - or at least made them so graphic - just as a marketing ploy. Sex sells, but so does violence. Well, the rest of the film tries - in vain - to offer us some kind of character development, and tells us what happens between Eiji and Rika.

Verdict
This is not a good film. I felt no kind of empathy for any of the characters, and didn't care if they deep-fried themselves or shoved huge pins through their body. Sato obviously wants it to be taken seriously - the second part of the film shows this, as he tries to tell a "serious" story that just ends up confusing and, in the end, completely uninteresting and very, very weird. The gore is another problem. It will undoubtedly make some people choose to watch another film simply because they don't like to watch blood and guts splashing across the screen - or a woman eating her own labia, for that matter. And if you're a gorehound like myself - well, there's just too little of it. A few minutes of gore and 70+ minutes of an uninteresting story does not make a good film.

Had a "real" director directed this film, it could maybe have been a film to recommend. There is a real story here, it's just not handled correctly. All this being said, I'd still recommend that you give it a go. Not because it's particularly good, but just to be able to say you've seen one of Sato's films.


Thursday, August 04, 2005

Yeopgijeogin geunyeo (My Sassy Girl)

Background
Movies from Hong Kong became popular in the late 80's here in Sweden. Japanese and Chinese films have become increasingly popular in the last five or so years. And now a new Asian country is beginning to make a name for itself all over the world - South Korea. We have already seen the success of the Pang brothers, with films like "The Eye," "Bangkok Haunted" and "Abnormal Beauty" - but Korea can do more than horror. To prove my point, I present to you "My Sassy Girl", written and directed by the talented Jae-young Kwak. It is based on a true story, though you'd probably never guess it.

Story
Kyun-woo is a bored engineering student who one evening is on his way to his aunt’s house to meet a girl she thinks he will like. He’s not exactly thrilled about it.

As he stands there, waiting for his train, he sees a girl, obviously very drunk, wobbling at the edge of the platform. Just as she’s about to fall in front of the train, Kyun-woo pulls her back. She says nothing, but gets on the same train as him. On the train, she is loud and obnoxious, and eventually throws up - on a passenger, nonetheless, and passes out - and as she does so, she looks at Kyun-Woo and blurts out "honey". Kyun-woo is thus mistaken for her boyfriend, and is forced to take care of her. With her unconscious body on his back, he gets off the train to look for a place to get rid of her. He thinks about leaving her on a bench at the station, but he is after all a good guy, so he returns and picks her up again. Still carrying her, he ends up in a motel, where he is eventually tear-gassed by the police, who think that he is a rapist, and ends up in a prison cell.

Well, eventually Kyun-woo and the girl - whose name we never learn - become boyfriend and girlfriend or something similar; their relationship is weird, to say the least, and so is the girl, who bosses poor Kyun-Woo - and just about everyone else - around, much to his embarrasment. Her favorite phrase - which she uses a lot - is "do you wanna die?" She says it when poor Kyun-Woo orders anything but coffee to drink, when he not immediately wants to read the wacky movie scripts she's written, and so forth. Still, underneath the rough exterior you can tell that she has genuine affection for Kyun-Woo, but is unable to express it. They end up in weird situation after weird situation - nearly drowning, being held at gunpoint in a closed amusement park as soldiers look for a deserter - and there is rarely a dull moment.

Yet between all the wacky escapades, there are moments that are just romantic and very, very sweet, and most of them are in the second part of the film, where we really begin to understand that the girl's rough exterior exists to hide her vulnerability. This is where the movie switches gears and really shines.

Verdict
This is a wacky but yet very warm romantic comedy. The greatest thing about it is that director Gwak Jae-Yong has managed to create a film that in a heartbeat can transform itself from a wacky comedy to a serious drama, and back again just as quickly. It is one of the best, if not the very best, Korean films I've ever seen.

I really can’t praise “My Sassy Girl” enough. Not being a huge fan of romantic comedies, this was indeed a breath of fresh air into a genre that much too often stagnates and finds itself going back to the same old Hollywood-clichés over and over again. Director Jae-Yong wisely decided to put all the melodramatic scenes towards the end of the film. This gives the viewer a chance to get to know the characters, to get to like them and actually care about them. And if I had to pick just one reason why you should give "My Sassy Girl" a chance, I wouldn't hesitate. Ji-hyun Jun, who plays The Girl, is the star of this movie. In fact, she so impressed the director with her performance that he wrote an entire script just for her, resulting in "Windstruck", which will be reviewed here some time in the future, hopefully.

I really can't recommend this film enough. It will put a smile on your face and a tear in your eye. Guaranteed.

By the way. "My Sassy Girl" is now being re-made, probably for the American market, by Gurinder Chadha, the director of "Bend It Like Beckham" and "Bride & Prejudice". I'll give you 10 to 1 that it will be inferior to the point of being unwatchable if you've seen the original. Remember where you read it first.