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Never thought I'd rush to watch a movie purely for Seung-beom Ryu, but after his explosive outing in last year's anti-Cinderella Man boxing film, Crying Fist, I couldn't resist. Surely he was fun to watch in both Conduct Zero and Arahan, but after his performance in CF he placed himself on a whole new level.
The film starts out with some overly indulgent romance scenes of a blind girl (played by Min-a Shin) telling us what a wonderful boyfriend she has. However the film suddenly changes its course, revealing things to be humbly opposite. Her relationship gets quickly retold by her boyfriend (Seung-beom Ryu), who's job is to dub voices for monsters on Power Rangers type shows. Similar approach of replacing sentimentally glorified scenes with jesting actualities was cleverly done in 2004's Someone Special.
The two are very much in love, although Hae-ju has never seen the face of her loved one. Dong-jeon took advantage of that fact and painted a different picture of himself to her, because of his insecurities. Not sure if carrying a small scar on his forehead and animating silly faces would grant Seung-beom the tag of "the beast", but one fact is presumed that he truly cares for his girlfriend.
Hae-ju soon learns that she'll be getting an eye surgery which would enable her to see. This terrifies Dong-jeon as he prematurely assumes that he would get dumped for not living up to the hype. He still decides to visit her in the hospital, but after stalling too long, he botches his grand entrance and ends up creeping out her and her family, then pretends to be someone else. As you can imagine such moments bare certain annoyances in comedies as always, but in an amusing way...if not overstretched.
The conflict heightens as a good looking cop (Kang-woo Kim) starts frequently courting Hae-ju. The story could have gone any which way from then on. From Dong-jeon romancing Hae-ju as that someone else or Kang-woo playing "the evil good looking guy, just wanting to get laid", but instead it kept Dong-jeon as the weakling with fuming jealousy and Kang's character as brave and confident.
The acting was good from all fronts, although the story would often test my patience with Dong-jeon's in-sensibilities to see how irrelevant his missing eyebrow was when possibility of losing his love was so close. Even after pushing such ticks aside, I felt that scenes without Seung-boom Ryu suffered from lack of comical substance which he was more than able to deliver. For example the scenes with the thug wanting to wipe out Jun-ha were very amusing, while Kang-woo and Min-a encounters offered lukewarm shtick.
This film did one thing right and that was not trying to force heavy sentimentality on its audience. Some funny references were made to past films involving the leading actors, as well as the continued fascination with Min-a's feet. The music for the most part felt strangely familiar and the usage of Oldboy's Cries and Whispers composition felt untapped and wasted. The final results will vary for most depending on their expectations of romantic comedies these days, but to me it felt like a fairly average, formulaic attempt, with handful of romantic discrepancies and a few good laughs.
In the end I don't even think Dong-jeon really knew Hae-ju that well, since he assumed she was the type to pick looks over love. Or maybe he didn't actually deserve her, if he could sleep at night knowing she was left in the arms of another, just because he was waiting for his right eyebrow to grow back. That's where the whole parody was, if only the film wouldn't have taken itself seriously (in the end) and had crafted a more bold, unconventional ending, it would've attained so much more over the rest of its kind.
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