Eversky.org A Dose of Asian Pop Culture & Entertainment

6Jan/080

My Tutor Friend (2003)

My Tutor Friend

Korean Title: 동갑내기 과외하기 (Donggabnaegi gwawoehagi)
Vietnamese Title: Co Ban Gia Su
Genre: Romance, Comedy, School
Starring: Kim Ha-Neul, Kwon Sang-Woo, Kim Ji-Woo, Gong Yoo
Screenwriter: Choi Soo-Wan
Director: Kim Kyeong-Hyeong
MPAA: PG-13

Synopsis
Choi Su-Wan (Kim Ha-Neul) in her second year at a university agreed to be tutor for a rich family in order to relieve her mom's financial burden. She has troubles in the past of keeping her tutor job because she usually end up hitting her students due to frustration. However, she determined to keep her new tutor job because it will help pay for her entire semester in the university. Kim Ji-Hoon (Kwon Sang-Woo) is Su-Wan's new student. Ji-Hoon is the same age as Su-Wan, 21 years-old, but due to his continuously rebellious acts and constant fights with classmates he is in the process of repeating his third year of high school. Will Su-Wan last in her new tutor job and what new ways will Ji-Hoon find to make his new tutor leave her job?
Source: Eversky.org

Rating: B- (Good)
Rewatch Factor: Medium
Comment: This movie received a lot of comparison with another famous Korean romance comedy, "My Sassy Girl", and I certainly can see the reason. For being a light-hearted movie, this movie is not strong in the plot arena. However, there is a lot of charms in the movie that continue to keep the viewers interested. Kim Ha-Neul portrayed perfectly the quirkiness and sassiness side of her character and Kwon Sang-Woo fulfilled his role as a rebellious guy with a hard-to-please personality. As for the plot, there is not much of it, that's why I do not bother to delve into the reason for the movie's lack of focus or the unnecessary/unrelated scenes presented in the movie. Take it for what it is and you will enjoy the movie more because it is simply an entertaining movie--nothing more and nothing less.

Side note: I don't know if this is just me, but it is so weird to watch this movie again and seeing Gong Yoo in a minor role. No matter how hard I tried, I cannot pictured him as the character that he played in this movie. At last, he is destined for more greater things than as a side character in this movie.

6May/070

Collage of Our Days (2003)

Collage of Our Days

A.K.A.: Love Collage and Collage of Our Life
Japanese Title: 恋愛写真 (Renai Shashin, Love Photograph)
Genre: Drama, Romance, Psychological
Screenwriter: Kaoru Ogawa
Director: Yukihiko Tsutsumi
Starring: Matsuda Ryuhei, Hirosue Ryoko
MPAA: PG-13

Synopsis
Makoto (Matsuda Ryuhei), an aspiring photographer, falls in love at first sight with the bright and enigmatic Shizuru (Hirosue Ryoko) during his university days. Inspired by Makoto's photographs, Shizuru becomes interested in photography and seeks guidance from Makoto. In such a short time, her quick progress results in many maginificent photos causing Makoto to grow jealous. Soon enough, his jealousy was too much to bear when Shizuru won a prize for her photos causing their relationship to break. Before leaving, Shizuru makes a promise to him to visit her once he has fulfilled his dream of becoming a successful photographer. Three years after their separation, Makoto receives a letter from Shizuru with her photos, but days after, he learned that she was already dead for over a year. Not admitting this, Makoto set out for New York with one of Shizuru's photos in hand in order to find her...and himself.
Source: Eversky.org

Rating: A- (Great)
Rewatch Factor: Medium
Comment: Love Collage, also known as Collage of Our Life, is a surprising film and it has a lot to do with its title. Despite one of its title being Love Collage, this movie is far from being one of those romantic and sappy movies about boy-meets-girl. It isn't an ordinary love story. Rather, it is more of a movie about a journey Makoto takes to find Shizuru, who represents himself in a way.

The movie is more about Makoto with his relationship with Shizuru as a backdrop. Makoto, before meeting Shizuru, is just taking photos for the sake of taking it. His photos are pretty, but lack life, just like him. Once he meets her, he is not only amazed by her beauty but her personality that is so full of life, what he's been lacking all this time. He couldn't help but be enraptured by her. Shizuru's way of taking photos is different from Makoto. She jumps into the scene with her camera and captures its life while Makoto uses his camera as a barrier and takes picture of what he sees, and not what he feels. Being around Shizuru, he realizes his flaws in photography.

With her absence, Makoto lacks the one thing that makes him feel alive: Shizuru and her photos. Her pictures affect him in such a way that he feels that he's living in a different world--her world. He yearns for that feeling again three years after their separation leaving him stranded in New York, looking for his dead ex-girlfriend. He's truly searching for himself deep down. He's searching for the one thing that makes him feel complete.

The movie is classic in the way that it presents Makoto and his journey of finding himself in an ex-girlfriend who's been dead for over a year. However, the movie loses its way near the end with the climax that has a rather maniacal feel to it that really turns me off and just ruins the pace that the movie had. The climax really strays the movie from its initial purpose. However, the movie manages to come back to its initial purpose in the ending and manages to answer the question presented in the beginning of the movie. There are some racial stereotypes that needs to be overlooked for the sake of watching this movie. Not to mention, Ryuhei's English in this movie is a bit monotonic. The acting from both Ryuhei and Ryoko is superb nonetheless and brings this movie to life.

Overall, with its flaws, this movie is still a beauty on its own if a person forgets about the out-of-place climax. The movie is less about love and more about a journey through life.

12Jan/070

9 Souls (2003)

9 Souls

Japanese Title: ナインソウルズ (Nain Souruzu)
Genre: Drama, Psychological, Life
Starring: Matsuda Ryuhei, Harada Yoshio, Yamada Mame, Kunimura Jun, Chihara Koji, Itao Itsuji, Kee, and Onimaru
Screenwriter: Toshiaki Toyoda
Director: Toshiaki Toyoda
MPAA: R

Synopsis
Nine prisoners manage to escape from prison in hopes of finding a secret treasure whose location was revealed by the tenth prisoner that was taken away by the prison guards. Together all nine of them, each guilty of different crimes, goes out into the real world. While being careful not to get caught by wearing weird disguises, often dressing in drag, and taking on obscure identities, each of them realize that the journey is more than it seems. Each prisoner has his own dreams and troubles that he escaped from previously, and now that they're back in the real world, they must learn to face every single of them. A journey that's less about the treasure and more about the prisoners making up the loose ends in their life as well as finding that special something to make them whole again.
Source: Eversky.org

Rating: A+ (Masterpiece)
Rewatch Factor: High
Comment: At hearing the words "prison break" one might think that this movie is like The Shawshank Redemption. However, this movie takes on a whole different turn with a not-so-happy yet surreal outcome. This movie is a really awesome movie but it takes patience to watch this movie, especially the first forty minutes. The first forty minutes are very slow-paced and it's very easy for anyone to be frustrated and confused at the amount of lead characters. The first forty minutes of this film is like the opening of an adventure as the director lets the viewer in on each character, what motivates them, what they want from life, and the various details of their crimes. However, there is still that ounce of mystery to every single character because in the end, it's difficult to say whether or not one truly understands them. Despite that, the introduction contains some tiny and necessary details that just adds more to the brilliance of the movie.

After the forty minutes is when this movie really begins and it is when the viewer will truly see the masterpiece unveiling before his or her eyes. It is so easy to be sucked into this movie as one watches as each character tries to make up the loose ends but still couldn't escape from the vast scrutiny that society gives them. From here on do the viewer truly learns why each prisoner decides to escape, whether to see a loved one or to atone for their past sins. It seems the only one that doesn't fit into this circle is Michiru (Matsuda Ryuhei). There are many scenes in this movie that are so surreal, breathtaking, and heartbreaking. That's not to say that this movie is entirely serious. There is a bit of humor in the movie especially when the characters dress in drag and some of the dialogue is very funny. What adds more to this movie is the strong performance by the lead actors and once again, I am impressed with Matsuda Ryuhei's acting once more. Because of Ryuhei's character role, one who rarely speaks and rarely does anything, he fades into the background easily, but once it is his time to shine, he changes from a typical wall flower to a different man altogether. To sum it up, this movie combines surrealism, psychology, and human struggles all in one masterpiece. If you are expecting kick-ass action from this film, you will be disappointed. Instead of action, this film takes a pyschological approach on what makes a person simply a person. Anyone and everyone need to see this film, and not just once either.