"As goofy as the film's structure may seem, it's bound to hit your sensitive spot at some point."
- Mighty Peking Man
My Sassy Girl (2001)
AKA: Yupgi Girl; Bizarre Girl
Director: Kwak Jae Young
Cast: Jun Ji Hyun, Cha Tae Hyun
Running Time: 137 min.
Plot: This is based on the "true" events of Ho-sik Kim's life that he posted on the Internet about his meeting with a strange girl and him being shamed into helping her. The two develop a bizarre relationship, as the girl forces Kim to do things against his own will for her own amusement. Kim, feeling responsible for the girl, dutifully obliges.
Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com
ALEXANDER'S REVIEW: Gyeon-woo, the main character in "My Sassy Girl," is a slack-jawed, pink sweater-garbed, whiny little bitch. He falls in love with a rubber-faced, knobby-kneed bully who spends much of the film torturing this hapless loser and making decisions that are so bizarre and counter to common sense that she comes off looking not quirky, but rather psychotic and weird.
I wanted to like "My Sassy Girl." Really. I've seen only a handful of Asian films in the past year so I was hoping to pique my interest in the genre again by watching a film I'd been dying to see based on the many, many glowing reviews I'd read. But Jesus, I haven't seen a movie with characters this grating since I watched "Closer" and the slightly less depressing "Sideways" back-to-back on DVD. (A lot of loathsome characters in THAT double bill, I tell ya.)
Who are we supposed to root for in "My Sassy Girl"? Gyeon-woo? Um, no. He's in his mid-20's; lives at home; gets routinely beaten by his mom; wears pastels and a man purse; frosts his hair; drinks to excess (but calls "sassy girl" a drunk); pouts...A LOT; is a "playa"; and falls for this "sassy" freak despite her abusive behavior (she slugs him in the jaw repeatedly and even pushes him into the ocean and watches passively as he flails away, unable to swim) AND her YEARS-long resistance to his glacier-paced "advances." I mean, they don't even kiss. What a pussy.
And "sassy girl"? If we knew anything about this enigma we might possibly care about her. Instead, all we know is that she is in her mid-20s, her father's an alcoholic, her boyfriend suddenly passed away, she's rude and sadistic and is an absolute fucking LOON. God, I hope in the impending American remake they dial down this character's schtick, because it got tiresome after awhile. The film became more a chronicle of the evil shit she does to girly-man Gyeon-woo than an exploration of these character's "relationship." (Which pretty much amounts to her making him do progressively humiliating tasks like wearing her high heels in public. And to what end? We're to believe she's testing his adoration and being flirtatious, but it's obvious throughout the film she is not in love with him and is merely using him to overcome her grief, and doesn't "come around" until years later.)
I'm not even going to bother with the army deserter, the rampant womanizing and alcoholism, the time capsule, the vomit, the contrived conclusion or the lack of any exposition or character back-story. Like everything else about this movie, it's all pointless.
(For a film that features a quirky lead female, yet handles its relationships and character development far more humorously and adeptly, check out Johnnie To's "Needing You" instead.)
ALEXANDER'S RATING: 6/10
EQUINOX21'S REVIEW: What is it about this movie that makes it so endearing to (most) everyone who sees it? I just don't know. It's a romantic comedy, but with a twist. Part of it must have to do with the behavior of "The Girl" (played by the beautiful Jeon Ji-Hyun). In a largely conservative South Korea, The Girl (we're never given her name) is loud, tough, and assertive, far from the norm. When she meets Gyeon-woo (Cha Tae-hyun), she's drunk and teetering on the edge of a subway platform, about to fall into the path of an oncoming train. Gyeon-woo pulls her back, saving her from a potentially gruesome death. From the beginning he's quite taken with her, as she's "his type", however he's completely turned off by the fact that she's so drunk. When, in her drunken stupor, she puts him in another situation on the train it begins their strange, and often funny, relationship.
I'm not sure why the movie works so well, but it does on all levels. The romance aspect isn't overpowering, nor is it enough to turn away viewers who aren't interested in a romance type of film. It's enough to keep you interested, through all the ups and downs of the relationship. The comedy also works extremely well, you will find yourself smiling and laughing the whole way through this one. There are tons of funny situations, and usually you'll just laugh at poor Gyeon-woo and the messes he finds himself in.
The acting from the two leads was absolutely spectacular. I don't think I could envision either role having been filled by anyone else. The chemistry between the two, even during times of tension, could be felt. Besides, it doesn't hurt that Jeon Ji-hyun is so gorgeous.
See this movie because it's funny, touching, and will make you feel good. Few other movies I've seen can instantly brighten your entire day as My Sassy Girl can. It's a welcome addition to that list.
EQUINOX21'S RATING: 10/10
MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S REVIEW: Kyun-woo (Cha Tae-hyun) is an average care-free college student who loves to drink, hang out with friends and pick up on babes. One night, after having a few rounds with his pals, he comes across a beautiful girl (Jeon Ji-hyun) at a train station. Kyun-woo is instantly attracted to her, but only one thing stops him from mackin' on her: she appears to be drunk. This is an ultimate turn-off for Kyun-woo since he thinks chicks that get wasted are unattractive. Even though he has lost interest in her, he continues to to observe her every action. Strange and grotesque events take place that keep him in wonder about this odd encounter. Soon after, he's forced to take the drunken girl to a hotel where she passes out for the night. Thus, begins the story of one of the most unlikely and wackiest forms of "relationship" ever put on screen...
Here is not the perfected tale of a confused love affair as seen in Aubrey Lam's "12 Nights". Nor is it the cupid-like romantic gesture of Johnny To's "Needing You". "My Sassy Girl" is an extremely odd tale of coincidence, fate, loss, true love and LOTS of weird shit in between. At times, it has the feel that it should be on the National Lampoon's label, at other times, it's strange bits of melodrama and dreamy romance throw you off the map. As goofy as the film's structure may seem, it's bound to hit your sensitive spot at some point. It's also guaranteed to give you some nice laughs and sweet, unexpected surprises.
The two stars have chemistry that's just as balanced as the Yin & Yang symbol. Their outstanding performances were equally important as the direction and fresh script, which made this film a solid piece of entertainment.
"My Sassy Girl" is based on stories by Ho-sik Kimwhich were posted on the Internet in "diary" form. The stories were so interesting and gained so much attention that they were made into this movie. Currently, this film is in pre-production to be made into a major Hollywood film. All I gotta say is, don't wait for the Hollywood version, grab the Korean version now and get ready to appreciate a fantastic film!
MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S RATING: 9/10