'The Legend of Gingko' Leaves Viewers Cold, But Makes Good Initial Takings

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'The Legend of Gingko' Leaves Viewers Cold, But Makes Good Initial Takings

"The Legend of Gingko," directed by Park Je-hyun, has received a disappointing response from critics and moviegoers alike, despite the expectations raised by its star-studded cast and big budget. The movie is the ambitious third project of Kangjegyu Films, creators of last year's smash hit "Swiri." Like "Swiri," it was made with hopes of an international release in mind. Crowds gathered on Saturday at the Myungbo Theater in Chungmuro, central Seoul, the day of the movie's release. The excitement was palpable, but despite Kangjegyu's estimate that 168,000 tickets were sold over the first two days of its release - surpassing the 100,000 sold for "Swiri" - many of the moviegoers felt their hopes had been dashed.

"I was looking forward to it, so I came to Seoul to see it on the big screen," said Lee Min-ah, a civil servant working in the city of Suwon. "But disappointment was the main thing I felt after it was over. There was no delicately shaded portrait of love and humanity. It was no more than a third-class action film with a loose and rambling plot."

"Despite all the effort, the film was very poor in substance, and there wasn't much drama," said Yu Gi-na, a film professor and critic at Dongguk University. According to Ms. Yu, this was the result of a combination of a weak story line, an unrealistic set, and a lack of charisma on the part of the actors. She singled out Lee Mi-sook as the only actor to give a worthy performance. "Even in the fight scenes, the actors were far from being realistic and vivid," said Ms. Yu.

Kang Je-gyu, the film's producer, defended it, saying, "We all did our best to make the film our second blockbuster. A good movie can only be judged by good viewers."

"The Legend of Ginkgo," is the sequel to the 1996 hit "The Ginkgo Tree Bed." More than 4.5 billion won ($4 million) was poured into the production, and a detailed full-scale open set of 36 old-style houses was built specially near Mount Hwangmae in South Kyongsang province. Fashion designers created about 600 costumes of leather, fur and bamboo. The film stars five top actors, Kim Seok-hoon, Sul Kyung-gu, Choi Jin-shil, Kim Yun-jin and Lee Mi-sook.

by Kim Jae-seon

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