Sunday, November 18, 2007

My Sassy Sunuvabitch...

Look at that. I mean it. Just... look at that poster. Well, I guess all of my denial and fussing and pinching myself to awaken from this nightmare hasn't worked. It's actually happening. One of my all time favorite films has been remade for United States audiences. The original Korean "My Sassy Girl" is an unbelievably moving and hysterically funny film. Yeah, I know. How could a film called, "My Sassy Girl" be any good? I had my doubts, also. Thing is, I was hooked on scenes from the movie before I even knew what the film was. I saw the trailer back in 2001 (on a Korean edition of the Japanese "RING" movie) and it had no English in it. It looked so bizarre that I watched it a few times just so I could let what I was seeing sink in. A little while later, I did some research, found the english title to the film and bought the DVD as an import. I was immediately and completely captivated, completely unprepeared for the emotional roller coaster I was about to be riding on. Since that initial viewing, I've watched the film so many times that I'm able to quote it in English (the film is in Korean) and I can tell you what's happening in the film just by listening to the soundtrack. I bought the film on DVD and VCD several times over in different editions (Including one encased in a Time Capsule Egg bank! I think I have 5 or 6 unique versions of the movie.) and even fan subtitled a special copy featuring the best translations from all of the versions I own for my own use. That's usually the version I show people for thier first time viewing. It's a permanent part of my psyche and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Well, I can tell you, a remake of a film I cherish makes my feathers ruffle. "My Sassy Girl" is such a film that is so perfect, it can't be improved upon. Every scene, scripted line, spoken inflections, physical nuances and soundtrack cues are done according to the will of the Heavens. There is no way in this Universe that a remake of "My Sassy Girl" could have any useful purpose, except greed for the rights holders of the films.

What's that? It's in English with actors Americans can identify with? Screw you and anyone who needs that criteria to enjoy a movie. I'm an American of German/Irish/English heritage without a whit of Korean speaking ability and I was and am entirely enamoured with the movie. I believe anyone with a brain and a soul would be, too.

The plot, in short, is as such (and it's based on a serial blog that was put on the Internet, so it's a true story, sorta)... A young man named Gyun-Woo, fresh from military service and in college, encounters a drunk girl in the subway one evening as he's on his way to visit his aunt. The Girl (who has no name in the film) vomits all over an unsuspecting passenger and, before fainting out-cold, reaches out to Gyun-Woo and calls him "Honey". Everyone on the subway car assumes it's his girlfriend and they make him carry her off the car. He ends up carrying her on his back to a hotel, where she can sleep her drunk off. While she's passed out in the hotel room, he is mistaken as a rapist and sent to jail (how is too involved for this short synopsis... see the movie). The next day, he receives a call from The Girl to meet him and explain himself. She is revealed to be an obnoxious bully that verbally berates and physically abuses him, threatening him with outbursts of "Wanna Die?". Somehow, he reluctantly becomes her boyfriend and he puts it upon himself to find out why she acts the way she does so he can heal her emotionally. The result is a funny, shocking, at times heartbreaking, but ultimately sweet and winning romance.

It's the two leads that make it work. Cha Tae-Hyun is spot on as Gyun-Woo, the poor guy that becomes the object of The Girl's affections and rage, but it's Jun Ji-Hyun (now known as Gianna Jun) that stokes the fire in the film. Her alternately tempestuous and vulnerable performance as The Girl takes what is a good romantic comedy to begin with and turns it into a masterpiece of Romantic Cinema. People always talk about how great "The Notebook" is. "My Sassy Girl" grabs that movie, screams, "Wanna Die?" at it and throws it over a cliff.

Here are some pictures from the Original Movie:

What (not) to do when you meet a drunk girl on a train.

What was he supposed to do; Leave her in the terminal???

...And this is what being a gentleman gets you these days...

Clubbin'! High School Style!

Yeah... this is the point in the film where I start blubbering like a baby.
Seriously. I'm welling up just looking at the photo.

Here are some promo shots and the original poster for comparison with the remake poster above.

In comparison, here are some shots from the upcoming remake:

Unfortunately, that's all the production stills I have for this film right now. These stills show that the filmmakers have done their homework (I can tell you immediately what scene each photo is from), but, damn if the lead casting is completely unsatisfying. Elisha Cuthbert is a good actress and she does stand apart from other actresses in that she has more range than most, but she's going to have to be at least incredible to at least match what Jun Ji-Hyun did in the original. Jessie Bradford... well he just looks like a stoic pretty boy. I can see no character in his face. Make the comparisons between the two leads in both films. The photos from the original look alive and vibrant, the remake photos look bland and, well, typically American. Y'know. Lifetime movie stuff.

The movie was scheduled for a fall 2007 release, but now it seems like it'll be next year.

Meanwhile, Gianna Jun Ji-Hyun is going to be starring in the live action adaption of "Blood: The Last Vampire". I'm looking forward to that, if for nothing else, to see her on the big screen.

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