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6/45 - Movie Poster
Original Title:

South Korea 2022


Park Gyoo-tae

Go Kyung-pyo
Lee Yi-kyung
Eum Moon-suk
Lee Soon-won
Kwak Dong-yeon
Kim Min-ho
Park Se-wan

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6/45 - Film Screenshot 1

Story: Park Chun-woo (Go Kyung-pyo) is doing his military service near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and has a fun time teasing North Koreans over loudspeakers. He only has a little over three months left to complete his service, when he finds a lottery ticket. As he finds out that the ticket has the winning numbers on it, he is beside himself with joy. But his luck does not last long, because a gust of wind blows the lottery ticket over the border to the north. When Chun-woo crosses the border one night in order to look for the ticket, he runs into the North Korean soldier Ri Young-ho (Lee Yi-kyung). He found the lottery ticket and is willing to give Chun-woo ten percent of the winnings if he cashes in the ticket. The South Korean soldier is outraged and refuses, but the two arrange another meeting for further talks. However, Chun-woo is then summoned to his captain (Eum Moon-suk), who wants to know why he crossed the border. When the captain learns about the truth, he agrees to help. In the meantime, Ri's superior (Lee Soon-won) on the North Korean side finds out what happened, too. He decides not to kill Ri and his friend Bang (Kim Min-ho), who is also in on the secret, for being traitors to their country, but to start talks with the South Korean soldiers for the money. It seems impossible for the two parties to negotiate a deal that everyone's happy with, though...

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Review: "6/45" was an unexpected success in Korea and, in a sense, rightfully so. It's quite unusual to get a comedy that doesn't work within the framework of the romantic genre and moreover even takes place on the border between North and South Korea. The movie certainly received quite a bit of praise from both critics and viewers, but unfortunately, you cannot really call this comedy very well-done. Because of its extraordinary premise and some nice ideas, I would have liked to find "6/45" better than I actually did. But a big problem is that the characters are too flat, and the movie keeps losing its focus. This means that the story, which is actually not very complex, shoots in all directions, and even though that also means that it always has something new to offer, it sadly lacks a structure that holds everything together.

6/45 - Film Screenshot 5

Basically, however, you quickly realize that this comedy can get quite absurd at times. This already starts with the lottery ticket, which seems to be controlled by a supernatural entity of good fortune. But it is also reflected in the humor, which entails, for example, creating a specific atmosphere for the farm animals in order to improve their reproduction rate, even including a small, improvised disco ball. In addition, there are other scenes, such as the one with a North Korean, who drunkenly performs the dance of a Korean girl group - because after all, the North Koreans have to be optimally informed about the South - which might as easily have fallen into the category of "cringe", but those scenes always somehow manage to turn the corner at the very last second. Maybe not always, though, as the only female soldier, of course from the North, defends herself against some aggressive advances with a whole tirade of "Those times are long gone" or "We live in an equal society", while she deals out blows and delivers a shoulder throw as a final argument. The whole thing is just hackneyed and seems rather unlikely in the communist North. Scenes like those lack subtlety.

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This problem runs through the whole movie. Which means that everything is painted in very broad brushstrokes. The characters are mostly caricatures, and of course, the North Koreans are portrayed like machine parts who have no sense of humor. And that's exactly what the humor builds on every now and then, even though it is obvious that the story will eventually show us the human side of the protagonists from the North. It's quite hard to become interested in the characters' lives, but at least the chemistry between them works. What is surprising, though, is the fact that director Park Gyoo-tae ("Bunt") does not use as many colorful images as you would have expected. Therefore, some scenes between the North and South are surprisingly suspense-packed, even though you can't imagine that any of the soldiers would actually pull the trigger.

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Of course, there simply have to be some nods to Park Chan-Wook's "JSA", but basically the movie chooses a rather carefree tone, and as is with similar movies aims at making you realize that the North and South are actually able to temporarily put their differences aside and work together for a common goal (which of all things is "money" here!). However, the story moves forward at a breakneck pace, but without always making clear where exactly it wants to go. The initial hero of the story, played by Go Kyung-pyo ("Seven Years of Night"), soon fades into the background, and at the latest when the six men all go their separate ways to put their plan into action, the flick loses any coherence. In the little stories that are then told parallel to one another, things only seem to happen in order to lead to the next humorous scene.

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Unfortunately, though, what we are missing are real laughs. Sure, some things are so absurd that they make you chuckle, but that's about it. Towards the end, all episodes get strung together quite quickly, and we get a morally unproblematic ending, in which our heroes, naturally, have also learned something: that respect and even friendship between the North and South are possible. While you have to give the director credit for not suddenly pushing the drama and making things unnecessarily tragic, the humor is still too shallow, and the characters are simply too flat. On the positive side, though, the setting seems fresh, and the comedy has its very own charm. Even though that charm mostly includes chaos and lack of focus, the movie still has its heart in the right place. The bottom line is, that there would have been potential here, but in the end, all that's left is a pretty decent comedy.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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