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A young student falls madly in love with a professor's daughter. Promised by the professor that he will let him marry his daughter if he graduates from university with a law degree, the student works hard and finally succeeds. When the time comes for the professor to fulfill his promise, his daughter suddenly announces that she will marry another...Written by
Typically overblown tragicomedy that signifies much of what westerners find inaccessible about Korean cinema.
CRAZY FIRST LOVE (2003) Directed by Oh Jong-rok. Typically overblown tragicomedy that signifies much of what westerners find inaccessible about Korean cinema and, to some extent, the Korean psyche. Let's call this lecture Misogyny and the Posessive, Overgrown Man-Child. To protect the virtue of his daughter (Son Ye-jin), an authoritarian high-school teacher (Yoo Dong-geun) sets - and keeps changing - unreasonable standards for the young slacker (MY SASSY GIRL's Cha Tae-hyn) who has loved her since childhood, then must work WITH him when she grows tired of their constant meddling and surveillance and becomes involved with another man. Korean men do not come off particularly well in this film (but then,that would depend on who you asked). They're either shallow gadflies or control freaks with maturity issues. How fitting, then, that the only way the male filmmakers could rationalize their crazed behaviour in the greater social theme of things is to slap the progressive-minded female lead with myelodysplastic syndrome, the same terminal disease - read punishment - that killed her mother at 18. Faced with her own immortality, and in a scene far, FAR too reminiscent of MY SASSY GIRL, we FINALLY discover why she couldn't be with the man who has gone to insane lengths to win her affection and why she COULD be with a lothario who will one day find happiness with yet another woman.
While it's tough to deny the calculation behind emotional scenes like those that end this film - and in Korean cinema scenes like these are legion - one can't shake the feeling that for Korean comedic cinema - indeed MUCH of Korean cinema in general - to truly move on and perhaps capture a larger international audience, Korean filmmakers may need to dispense with a great deal of the contrived, subtly misogynistic heart string manipulation that, ultimately, reinforces dated stereotypes about patriarchy, makes childish men look like pariahs and punishes women for thinking outside the box. People crying on mountaintops (and this film is has one!) are starting to wear thin. See also SEX IS ZERO for a similar treatment of these themes. 3
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