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I'll be honest. The only reason I rented this film was because Su-jeong Lim starred in it. My first Su-jeong experience was with A Tale of Two Sisters (2003), which is without a doubt the finest film ever made. Next came the very powerful and moving film ing (2003). Afterward came the entertaining yet over-dramatic Sad Movie (2005), in which Su-yeong only played a supporting role. Just recently I had the pleasure of experiencing the wacked out romantic comedy I'm A Cyborg, But That's Okay (2006), where Su-jeong gives a remarkably quirky and downright crazy performance. She's quite simply the best actress on the face of the planet at this very moment. The Chinese actress Zhao Wei is a close second though.
I had no idea this film was about horseracing. All I knew was that it had Su-jeong Lim and cute horsies. How could I resist? In any case, this film is so powerful that it made me bawl like a little baby. I kid you not. Yeah, it has a bit of that melodramatic tear-jerking feel to it, but it never feels cheap or manipulative in its execution because the relationships between the characters (including the horse) are so well-developed and powerful.
Although much of the film focuses on Su-jeong as an inexperienced jockey who chooses to conquer the challenges of horseracing, there is also considerable attention paid to the fairytale like love between Su-yeong and her horse. Heck, I'd even say that the horse itself was given significant character development so much so that the horse itself becomes the main character during the final 20 minutes of the film. Note that this is not accomplished with an overly simplistic event. On the contrary, the viewer experiences the pain and suffering of the horse throughout the film, and is given some excellent statements that are indirectly made by the horse in classic Kim Ki-duk fashion i.e., through actions absent of words. By the end of the movie the viewer will have no choice but respect the character of the horse and readily admit that he is one tough son-of-a-gun.
The racing scenes themselves are perhaps the best ever committed to celluloid. The camera-work hits you from lots of different angles. I loved the wide shots from ground level, with the camera rolling alongside the great beasts to allow the speed, grace, and power of the horses to shine through. This is especially true during the night-time finale under the lights, which has an even greater sense of intensity.
It is important to understand that this is a very mainstream Korean film that is very marketable to western audiences. I personally prefer the weirder stuff, but a great film is a great film. This is easily one of the best films of 2006, if not THE best drama of that year. I do not say such things lightly. See this now!
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