[DVD REVIEWS]Guns and a girl from a banner year

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[DVD REVIEWS]Guns and a girl from a banner year

The year 2001 was the best ever for Korean cinema, with domestic films outdrawing Hollywood for the first time. "Friend" was the monster hit, but a string of other films was what made the year so successful. Two of them are reviewed below.

"Guns and Talks" ("Killeo-deul Eui Suda," 2001)

Directed by Jang Jin. Starring Shin Hyun-joon, Jung Jin-young, Jung Jae-young, Shin Ha-kyun and Won Bin.

A heartwarming film about the old-fashioned goodness of assassins? Well, that's what you get with "Guns and Talks," a film with more talking than guns. This is the story of four good buddies who are guns for hire. They're not the sharpest knives in the drawer, but they're the best assassins around. When not on assignment, they watch the morning news - not because they are news addicts, but because they are all infatuated with the anchorwoman.

After accepting an assignment from a gangster, the four get drawn into the web of a sly police detective (Won).

Aspiring to be like "Pulp Fiction," another film about bickering killers, this movie falls short. The action scenes are few and the bickering is rarely witty or insightful. As for any message, "People will always want other people killed, that does not make the hit men bad guys" is either the most morally vacant one in memory, or a sign of just how tongue- in-cheek the filmmakers are.

In a normal year, a film that pulled in more than 2.2 million viewers would be a hit, but last year it was only good enough for seventh.

"My Sassy Girl" ("Yeopgijeokin Geunyeo," 2001)

Directed by Kwak Jae-yong. Starring Jeon Ji-hyun, Cha Tae-hyun

"Friend" may have been huge, but "My Sassy Girl" was last year's real phenomenon, at least for younger viewers. The year's second-biggest movie in Seoul, "My Sassy Girl" comes in a "director's cut" format as a DVD, with a second disk containing extras.

Gyeon-woo (Cha) is a lazy, unambitious college student. One evening while riding the subway, he spots the unnamed sassy girl (Jeon), drunk out of her mind. She wreaks havoc then passes out, but not before making the people in the subway think she is Gyeon-woo's girlfriend. He is mortified, but before he knows it he is drawn into the vortex that is the eccentric woman.

"My Sassy Girl" takes the dubious award for the worst subtitled DVD I have seen in Korea. While the English itself is poor, stage directions are included with the dialogue. The subtitles read "Gyeon-woo (looking concerned): Drunk girls disgust me," and "(people around them in commotion)." Bizarre.

Actually, "director's cut" is something of a misnomer as the director signed off on original version. This is likely a gimmick to boost sales. The extra 20 minutes does little but hurt the flow of the film, killing its energy and turning it flat.

But the DVD also contains many "hidden" menus, so if you hunt around, you can find some surprising bonuses.

by Mark Russell

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