Interesting take on the common Korean filmic theme of constructed relationships
MARRYING THE MAFIA (2002) D: Jung hung-sun is a somewhat-above-average romantic mob "Jopok" comedy, made at a time when such films were in vogue (see MY BOSS, MY HERO, MY WIFE IS A GANGSTER, and SAVING MY HUBBY, among others) in which a straight-laced business executive Dae-suh (Jung Jun-ho of MY BOSS, MY HERO) and a somewhat mousy lab tech Jin-kyung (an absolutely charming Kim Jung-eun) wake up in bed together with no recollection of how they got there or what they did. They part company in a rather disgusted huff, but he's soon visited by her three brothers, low class members of a local crime family, who inform him of her family lineage and forcibly encourage him to pursue the relationship with their sister...or else!
Meanwhile, the relationship proceed in fits and starts with neither Dae-suh or Jin-kyung aware of the behind-the-scenes machinations that are drawing them ever closer to true love.
High-concept, if conventional, story is somewhat undermined by an uninvolving side-story detailing older brother Park Sang-wook's attempts to woo a pretty schoolteacher, as well as the increasingly ubiquitous need in Korean gangster comedies to have a nasty rival gang with which the good guys are forced to wage bloody, baseball-bat-swinging war, this time at a dance club and climactic family event. The situational humour shines through, though, particularly in a scene where Dae-suh's parents meet their soon-to-be in-laws, in another where Jin-kyung confronts Dae-suh's sneaky ex-girlfriend and in various vignettes in which the three brothers go to great lengths to create ideal "romantic situations" to help further the relationship. Overall an enjoyably cute comedy with not-unexpected sidesteps into moderate violence and an overly contrived climax, but also an interesting take on the common Korean filmic theme of "constructed relationships," hardly surprising, once supposes, in a country where arranged marriages were for many years the norm:
essentially this film and many like it simply dress up old-school thinking in new clothing, but with a winning wink-wink sensibility. This was the top domestic movie of 2002. Beware the Hong Kong DVD release, which deletes a substantial amount of footage. I give it a 7.
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