Monday, March 07, 2005

.:Two Film Reviews:.


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My Wife Is A Gangster
If that's my wife, I'd want to be mobbed by her, too.

If I could put it in the simplest way I could, “My Wife Is A Gangster” is one of those role reversal films in the tradition of “My Sassy Girl”, where the lead female character is the strong link in the equation. This film follows the story of the gorgeous Eunjin, regarded as a legend in the Korean gangster circles for her amazing skills with knives.

Despite her tough exterior, Eunjin has a heart of gold, and loves her sister, Eunkyo, very much. Because her sister is dying, Eunjin accedes to her sister's request that she get married, and after much difficulty finding a guy gullible enough to marry her because of her brash ways, she finally finds government employee Kang Su-Il, who may be extremely dense and annoying, yet is quite an amazing husband for Eunjin, as he at times provides as her foil, despite his meek personality in contrast to Eunjin's domineering behavior.

The marriage seemed to be doomed even before Eunjin said “I do”, mainly because she mistreats Su-Il and refuses to have intercourse with him. However, when Eunkyo asks Eunjin to have a child before Eunkyo dies, Eunjin naturally gives in to her sister's request, resulting in a funny sequence of love scenes between her and her husband. While all this is going on, Eunjin's gangster underlings are settling matters on her behalf, which also results in quite a deal of comedy, all the same.

Soon enough, Eunjin and Su-Il begin to get along, after he finds out that she is a gangster. However, Eunjin recently got involved in a conflict with another gangster, White Shark, whose underling she stabbed with a chopstick for being an annoying bastich. White Shark challenges Eunjin to a knife fight, with Nanman, a Japanese knife fighter, as his representative. Eunjin defeats Nanman by turning him into a eunuch.

In any case, just when the marriage was beginning to look good, and just when Eunjin was finally pregnant, Romeo, one of her top people, was killed by some random punks. Unfortunately, Romeo's co-gang members thought it was Nanman's doing, and proceeded to start an impromptu gang war with them, forcing Eunjin to face White Shark's men. Nanman gets revenge on Eunjin, which results in her miscarriage. Her husband then decides to take matters into his own hands by confronting White Shark and he succeeded by sheer blind luck.

First of all, if you're looking for action, this film has quite a bit of that, and it really works. Eunjin is as deadly as she is pretty, and her charm is in that beneath all of her grit lay a heart of gold. Eunjin's character was definitely a pleasantly fresh look on a gangster.

On the other hand, her husband, Su-Il, is equally endearing, if only for the fact that he really tries his best to make the marriage work, and how despite his being such a pushover, he still knows how to stand up for what he believes in. His whole chivalry schtick helps to push his character further, and enhances the experience of the film. These two characters really shone, and the other characters in the film, such as Nanman and Eunkyo, have their own appeal.

What I further liked about the movie was the brand of comedy, as being completely uninitiated to relationships, Eunjin's earnest attempts at seduction were extremely hilarious, and other elements of the story were definitely top-notch with the comedy. The play on emotions was a very delicately mastered balance of comedy, drama, and action, which is something most Korean films always try to do, yet not all of them succeed at it.

In the end, I think that “My Wife Is A Gangster” is definitely one of the most unique films I've seen, and I certainly loved watching every minute of it.

Marcelle's “Fun” Evaluation: A+
Marcelle's “Critical” Evaluation: A+


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My Wife Is A Gangster 2: The Legend Returns:.
The least they could do is justify the film's title, but nooooo....

Eunjin is back, and she's better than ever.

No, not really.

“My Wife Is A Gangster 2” is a sequel to the original film that was one of my favorite films from Korea. Unfortunately, as a sequel, the whole concept of “continuity” seemed to have been completely ignored in this film.

The story starts with how Eunjin, in a fight with other gangsters, lost her memory, only to be working in a restaurant instead, run by Yoon Jae-Chul. Inasmuch as the premise sounds good, one is left wondering why there is no mention of her husband in the first film, and what the Hades happened to the guy, as he turned into a gangster at the end of the first movie.

That being said, Eunjin's life was dramatically altered over the next two years as an amnesiac, while her right-hand man looks for her all over in Korea in vain, which makes me wonder about the power of the Mantis gang, as two years of searching in Korea should turn up something, especially when you're part of a legendary gang.

While Eunjin still had her skills, her memories weren't there, which results in some mishaps while her boss tries to court her, and some weirdo stalker. At one point, she actually intercepts a bank robbery, and she becomes the president of the chamber of commerce by virtue of it.

Unfortunately, while all of this is happening, it turns out that White Shark was still alive, and he was the one behind all the harassment going on in Eunjin's new home. It was inevitable that they would cross paths, and now, the second confrontation begins...

Notice my lack of enthusiasm in telling you how the movie goes. First of all, this film doesn't even feel like a sequel, mainly because they never seemed to give much regard to the things that happened in the first film. Moreover, some characterizations have completely been torn apart. White Shark was originally a ruthless bastich of a gangster. In the sequel, he's now a blithering moron with long hair. Fans of the first film don't have much going for them in the second, barring a cameo from Zhang Ziyi which did nothing to advance the plot, whose pacing was too fast for its own good.

Secondly, for a film called “My Wife Is A Gangster 2”, the guy whose wife is a gangster seems to be missing from the whole equation, with no explanation of what happened to him. Inasmuch as one might argue that Eunjin's boss, Jae-Chul, is her “husband”, and her problems with his daughter provided the much-needed human drama, I personally felt betrayed that they seemed to have thrown away all respect for the original film.

The only thing going for this film is that it still has good action, and a decent story with some of the characters who made it to the sequel, barring White Shark. Truth be told, this film was a disappointment from top to bottom, and I didn't even quite enjoy it enough to let its gaffs slide.

If you liked the first film, don't expect much from the sequel. I know my grading will be harsh, but I can't feel compelled to give it anything higher...

Marcelle's “Fun” Evaluation: C
Marcelle's “Critical” Evaluation: C-

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