Bae Doo-na shines in winning, high-concept race-the-clock action comedy
SAVING MY HUBBY(2002) D: Hyun Nab-seob. In Korea, a not-uncommon cash-grab scheme for unscrupulous bar owners is to drug already-tipsy patrons, then bill them when they wake up for ridiculous amounts of booze they never drank. On a night out with his new employers, business man Jun-tae (Kim Tae-woo of JOINT SECURITY AREA) is the victim of just such a con, and the only way out is for his wife Geum-soon (Bae Doo-na)
a former volleyball champ sidelined into a domesticity she wasn't
prepared for after a shoulder injury - to stalk through a seedy, after-hours entertainment district, evade the minions of a gang boss she inadvertently pelted with a tomato, find the elusive bar, pay the debt with her fists and drag her childish husband back home before his parents arrive for dinner - all with her chubby little year-old baby daughter (who everyone assumes is a boy, much to her dismay) bouncing on her back in a baby-strap! Winning, high-concept race-the-clock action comedy allows for the heroine to cross paths with many of society's less fortunate souls and repeatedly outrun a handful of relentlessly altruistic henchmen, and one tellingly wordless encounter with a humiliated PR girl that speaks volumes about the treatment of immigrant bar hostesses in the country.
Mild social commentary aside though, there's much to enjoy here, and though many of the supporting characters represent the broadest mob comedy stereotypes, the entire secondary cast is memorable, right down to the cute old couple that runs the tent bar where Geum-soon spikes one of her husband's sexist co-workers clear across the room. Bae once again nails another quirky, tough-but-vulnerable role as a woman who battles through hell, often using cinematic ally enhanced techniques, for the sake of an existence she never truly expected, while Kim Tae-woo essays pitch-perfect man-child naivete as her weak-willed but loyal hubby. Only the ending seems somewhat fantastical. I give it an 8.
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