"This was a comedy, and some parts were amusing, but I have a feeling some of it was lost in translation."
Hi, Dharma (2001)
Literally: Let's Play, Dharma
AKA: Hi, Dalma
Director: Park Cheol-Gwan
Producer: Lee Jun-Ik
Writer: Park Gyu-Tae
Cast: Park Shin-Yang, Jeong Jin-Yeong, Park Sang-Myeon, Kang Seong-Jin, Kim Su-Ro, Hong Gyeong-In, Kim In-Mun, Lee Won-Jong, Lee Mun-Sik, Ryu Seung-Su, Im Hyeon-Gyeong
Running Time: 95 min.
Plot: A group of gangsters take refuge in a Buddhist temple to get away from danger. Though the master permits their stay, they are not welcomed by the monks. As a solution, both camps agree to go through a series of games to decide. The games not only bring to them a good decision, but also build between them enlightenment and friendship.
Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com
EQUINOX21'S REVIEW: What happens when a bunch of gangsters on the run decide to hide-out in a Buddhist monastery? In Hi, Dharma you get to see for yourself exactly what happens. There will never be two more different groups of people than monks and gangsters, so you can just imagine the kinds of things that might take place.
When Jae-gyu's (Park Shin-yang [Kilimanjaro]) gang gets into trouble and become wanted men, they take it upon themselves to hide out at a monastery. When the head monk (Kim In-moon) gives them a week to stay at the monastery, the second-in-charge monk, Chung-myung (Jeong Jin-Yeong [Guns & Talks]), has no choice but to go along with it. One week turns into two, and two into three, but the gangsters are still allowed to stay at the monastery. The monks don't get along with the gangsters, and vice versa, but they both go along with the situation. Through their competitions (they must win to be allowed to stay longer), they ever so slowly begin to form the bonds of friendship.
I liked this movie a lot more than some other movies where two people or groups are forced together and ultimately become friends. In Hi, Dharma it takes the entire movie for the friendships to really grow, instead of taking only a matter of 20 minutes or so. The movie IS about the building of the friendships. This was a comedy, and some parts were amusing, but I have a feeling some of it was lost in translation. There was enough to make it enjoyable, but the real treat were the scenes of the bourgeoning friendships. Unlike some other movies of this nature, Hi, Dharma is wrapped up nicely.
This is a fun movie, with not too much violence, unfortunately not enough translatable comedy, but good camaraderie and a new spin on an old plot idea of opposites being thrown together and becoming friends. You should check this one out before the rumored Hollywood remake (how many Buddhist monasteries are there in the US anyway?) is made. Hi, Dharma is fun stuff all around.
EQUINOX21'S RATING: 8/10