This time, something I have been promising you for a long time, another crossover with our good blog buddy Nekoneko over at her Litterbox! It’s been a busy couple of months for the pair of us, and we have both really struggled to get in sync to do this, but luckily we have managed to make it before 2012 closes its door on us. This is the same format as we did for “War of the Arrows” – we both put up our own reviews on our own blogs, but then comment on the reviews of the other. Sounds complicated I know, but it is pretty simple (and just to remind you, you can look here and here). So let me first welcome our special guest, and then get on with a little look see at the latest movie under our consideration!
Welcome back Miyuki, good to have you come visit us again! It would be churlish to ignore the strange co-incidence around this movie for us – you sent me an email suggesting that it is something we could joint review, almost minutes after the package delivering my DVD of it landed on my doormat. If only we knew it would take us months to get to this point!
Hahaha!! It did indeed seem as if we’d never manage to co-ordinate things. I wonder if all the gremlins bedeviling us both these last couple of months are signs of that impending Mayan Catastrophe? Hmmmm? 😉
“Miss Conspirator” revolves around our heroine, Cheon Soo-ro (Go Hyun-jung), a cartoonist who suffers from an extreme anxiety disorder, barely able to leave the house, and even ordering food on the telephone brings her into a state of absolute panic and near paralysis. As the film opens, things are about to get tougher for Soo-ro as her sister, who she lives with, is about to move to Japan for a while, leaving Soo-ro with only her medication for support. Then, a change meeting with a rather unlikely Nun at the airport brings her into contact with a drugs deal that is about to go badly wrong. No mere exchange of stimulants and cash though, it seems that this one involves a couple of competing gangs, a rather angry Big Boss, and as it eventually turns out, a bunch of Police Officers who see this as their big pay day. Then we throw in the undercover cop “Red Shoes” (Yu Hae-jin), who rather complicatedly seems to be involved not only with all aspects of this plan, but is also assigned to look after Soo-ro (albeit not necessarily for normal Police Protection reasons). It won’t surprise anyone to know that things get even more complex when Soo-ro and Red Shoes start having feeling for one another. The whole plan falls apart, and a majorly traumatic event befalls our heroine – leading her to formulate a plan where she plays the role of another underworld boss – determined to play everyone against each other, and extricate herself, and maybe this huge amount of money from the web of corrupt individuals.
To be up front about this, I knew little about the film when I ordered it, which is quite unlike me. I was basically seduced by the cover image – a Korean girl in a bright yellow tracksuit (a la Bruce Lee) holding a Gun. Sadly, that is where my problem with the whole film begins to start, as at no point is anything like this promise delivered on! Then again, maybe it just serves me right for being so easily attracted to sweet candy!
For me, it was the Trailer… I usually get excited by a film if the Trailer for it can promise something clever or exciting and make me intrigued enough to want to track it down. Well…. That and this one sounded like a fun little “caper” film with some deliberate slapstick moments thrown in, something different from my usual fare that I’d hoped Carolyn might like too. It had been a while since I’d seen a film like that, although they were common when I was growing up…. “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, World!!” springs to mind. Loved that one as a girl…
I did love the opening credits though, a smart animated sequence basically telling the general idea of the film in a smart stylised fashion. It evoked a feeling of films from the 1960’s, and really attracted me to the general feel of the movie. In fact whole opening 15-20 minutes of the film were a lot of fun, introducing us to Soo-ro and her anxiety fuelled life, her Psychiatrist, and her meeting with the real Miss Go, dressed as an unlikely Nun, at the airport. Only when Miss Go is taken out of the film (in a method which is just getting to be so cliché it is past boring even), that things really rather lost their way and struggle to live up to these expectations of mine.
Ahhhh… the animated beginning and ending sequence! I did really like those, although when seen with the rest of the movie, it was like they belonged in an entirely different film. A pity, since that was the film I’d wanted to see when I picked this up. Mmmmm… and Miss Go herself… I was so darn disappointed to see her killed so quickly. I think the plot could have easily included her as yet another party menacing our heroine and both complicating and confusing the other factions… perhaps dying nearer the conclusion as a way of sewing up Soo-Ro’s escape at the end.
The whole plot is at once both overly complicated and just too simple. Everyone wants their hands on the money! And everyone is double crossing and double-double crossing to the point where not only was I getting a little confused, but I had no idea if there was anyone I actually wanted to win! Then the is that big Elephant in the room – the film decides to hardly explain what exactly our original Miss Go (The ‘Nun’) was actually doing and why she even vaguely involved Soo-ro. We also have a IA Officer with a comedy Stutter (the ‘comedy’ being it was a fake stutter to make him seem harmless and detract suspicion, only for him to then actually not be able to stop doing it), who seems to flip flop sides without any actual reason to. The whole thing just seems a little too incomplete, or not quite thought out enough.
I definitely agree. Outside of Soo-Ro herself , we aren’t given any reason to want to see any of the others succeed in their own schemes. I think making the police more sympathetic… and less willing to simply kill an innocent woman for profit… might have added to a viewers enjoyment as you wonder just who will end up winning. I’ve always felt that having a cast of characters that are people you want to like as a viewer makes you “invest” more in a story rather than just “sit through” it.
On the plus side we do have an amazing performance from Go Hyun-jung. She really is quite an interesting actress, not only for her work as an actress, but also for her personal life. She is quite a big deal TV Star-wise, starring in one of the original great K-Dramas, “The Sandglass”, as well as some more recent fare such as Daemul (where she plays a Female South Korean President). However, her marriage and subsequent divorce seems to have really put the skids on her career, to the extent that this is first real feature film lead role, even though she is just tipping 40. It is really good to see her have this opportunity though. Even better, is that she is excellent. If I have a problem with her at all, is that this performance is just too good for this film!
I’d also agree here. If anything, Miss Hyun-jung definitely shines as the quirky Soo-Ro. Given that the bulk of the story hangs directly on her shoulders it wouldn’t have succeeded even as well as it did without her. Here’s hoping that she gets the chance to do something else to showcase that talent on the big screen sooner rather than later. Unfortunately I don’t get the chance to see much Korean TV, even though it’s readily available on DVD. (Darn the crazy price of authentic Korean media these days….)
Yu Hae-jin plays opposite her, and this is the core issue with the film. He usually plays comic roles, and is a gifted comedian (see Woochi). Yet here he seems miscast, as some kind of uber-cool loner. It is a casting guilty of not playing to the Actor’s strengths. More worrying is that he simply has no spark with Go either. Their relationship goes exactly the way you would expect it to in this kind of film, but I never once believed in them as a couple.
Mmmmm. Yes. They never really did gel as a valid romantic couple, but I’m also sorry to say they never captured that feeling of becoming friends either… although the little sequence where Red Shoes found her cartoon drawings of them made me tear up a bit and hope that they somehow could make that happen. Sometimes the poignancy of “near romance” can be as satisfying as romance itself, but the plot really never gives that a chance to happen either. Too bad.
On some levels, the film does work, at times it is a little amusing, and the performance of Go is a total joy. The problem is that it is not as smart or clever or even as funny as it not only wants to be, but that it should be. The final nail in the coffin is that it uses the old “I pretend to shoot someone, only to find that it was all a fake setup” not just the once, but a second time a mere 10 minutes later. A film that simply disappointed, but I will give it a mild Recommendation.
I’m thinking we both had pretty much the same reaction to this one as well. It’s definitely not a bad film… but it’s not a success either… falling into that bland collection of stories you will only vaguely remember a few years after you’ve seen it.. Ah, well… there’s always next time. Until then, it’s been fun visiting with you all here at “Things Fall Apart”, and here’s to hoping we’ll be able to do it again with maybe a film we both lose our minds over.
Hmmmm? I hear the Koreans have made their own version of “Towering Inferno”…. (Hint! Hint!! 😉 )
I am assuming you mean “The Tower”, the new Son Ye-jin film, which seems to mix up “The Towering Inferno” with a dash of “Die Hard” (What with the whole Christmas eve thing going on). Sounds like a good plan, even though could be a while before it arrives on DVD. Then again with our recent tardiness it is probably ideal! But, just to keep our public interested, I’ll do the whole trailer thing!
[2012 Korea movie] The Tower – 타워 Trailer Eng – YouTube