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Fasten Your Seatbelt - Movie Poster
Original Title:

South Korea 2013


Ha Jeong-woo

Jeong Kyeong-ho
Kim Jae-hwa
Choi Kyoo-hwan
Kim Gi-cheon
Kim Byeong-ok
Han Seong-cheon
Ko Sung-hee
Son Hwa-ryeong

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Fasten Your Seatbelt

Story: Ma Joon-gyoo (Jeong Kyeong-ho) is a famous Hallyu star, who after his newest movie has become very popular in Japan, too. He is going back from Japan to Seoul, but the flight has some surprises in store for him. Not only is one of the stewardesses ticked off at him because he walked out on her, he is also harassed by several passengers because of his popularity and the two pilots don't take their job that serious, fooling around all the time. And this even though a typhoon is running wild, which turns out to be a serious problem. Because of the high wind speed landing seems impossible, but the airplane hasn't enough fuel to circle around in the sky forever either. Slowly Joon-gyoo realizes that maybe he should treat his girlfriend nicer and should refrain from being entangled in countless scandals in the future. But is that resolution enough to pray away the impending catastrophe? Not only the passengers become more and more agitated, but the crew as well. Maybe the passengers experience the last minutes of their lives...

Review: It's always interesting to see an actor try his hand at directing and writing a screenplay. Quite a few times the end product managed to surprise. Unfortunately, "Fasten Your Seatbelt" isn't such a case. Being a pretty straighforward comedy the movie simply lacks that special something and the setting in an airplane can't change that either. That's a pity as this small enclosed space stands as a stage on which all participants need to interact, a premise that has a lot of potential. But sadly the characters introduced aren't interesting enough. On several occasions you get the impression that a certain momentum is supposed to be created with the gags and the high pacing, but it never really kicks in after all. At the bottom line this makes the comedy fall short of what it could have been.

Fasten Your Seatbelt - Film Screenshot 11

Actor Ha Jeong-woo ("The Terror Live", "The Berlin File") is one of the most sought-after performers in South Korea these days. Maybe that's why he thought it is time to try something new for a change. "Fasten Your Seatbelt" is his debut work as a director and he even wrote the screenplay himself. However, it would be exaggerated to claim that he proves to have talent. He isn't that bad, but his comedy still has some pecularities that won't work out for most. For instance there are the dream sequences or the way some of the characters act that, to put it mildly, seem rather unnatural. Sure, "Fasten Your Seatbelt" is a comedy, but there still should be maintained a certain amount of plausibility.

Fasten Your Seatbelt - Film Screenshot 12

You want another example? A flight controller endangers the lives of all passengers when he doesn't help the pilot landing the plane because he has been stripped of all his money by him at the last poker evening and accordingly is sulky. That the pilots drink and smoke in the cockpit and don't even wear any pants is all in the realm of possibility on the other hand, although it is very disconcerting. The chemistry between the individual passengers is odd as well. They may interact with one another, but there still seems to be a wall between them. At least the stewardesses show some warmth with their constantly kind nature, even though they bitch about the passengers in secret. Yet, the protagonist seems particularly emotionally distant. It is difficult to connect to him.

However, especially the Hallyu star could have made a sociocritical tone shimmer through the movie as well. With a lot of imagination this may even be the case, but all in all the comedy underachieves in this respect, because with more elaborated characters the contrast between the individuals from different social classes enclosed in the plane could have created a nice comedy mix with an explorative subplot. Jeong Kyeong-ho ("Running Turtle") embodies the everything but likeable star that constantly gets on the front page of magazines with his scandals and still is adored by everyone. By the way, the character is actually based on Ha's good friend and acting buddy Ryoo Seung-beom ("The Suicide Forecast") who was scared to death during a similar flight in real life.

Fasten Your Seatbelt - Film Screenshot 13

"Fasten Your Seatbelt" may try to create some tension, but the film's tone is lighthearted to such an extent that you simply can't believe that the plane might crash in the end. The high pacing prevents boredom from creeping in, but it also feels forced. Ha had his actors rehearse some of the scenes several times in order to shoot them in one go without a cut. This in fact manages to create some momentum, but it still remains a fact that those scenes, or rather the movie in general, lacks substance. That's nothing bad in a comedy, but the gags are very much limited to only a few good ones. There may be some absurd scenes that turn out to be funny - and some things in the dialogues may get lost in translation - but in the end it's not enough to deliver more than just diverting evening entertainment that is very soon forgotten.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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