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Original Title:
Daehanminguk heonbeob je 1jo

South Korea 2003

Comedy, Drama

Song Kyeong-shik

Ye Ji-won
Lim Seong-min
Lee Mun-shik
Nam Jin
Choi Eun-ju
Kim Yong-geon

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First Amendment

Story: Ko Eun-bi (Ye Ji-won) is a prostitute and takes pleasure in doing her job. Working with a relatively nice boss at a brothel, she and her girls live a lot better than many other harlots. Nevertheless, she is taking offense at the fact, that society discriminates against them. When one of her friends gets raped and brutally beaten up, whereas the police doesn't seem to be willing to investigate the case, Eun-bi's patience snaps. With her colleaugues she comes up with a plan: she is running for the National Assembly!
Since it is election time, the girls collect 300 signatures, scrape some money together and so Ko Eun-bi actually is running as a new candidate. Eun-bi is very honest, but she soon has to realize that in politics no one plays fair. One of her opponents who has to be taken very serious, even supports her in her election campaign without her knowing, for her to steal the votes of another competitor. However, it doesn't work out as planned, because Eun-bi gets more and more popular. When Eun-bi's friends even start to play hardball and make use of their skills as prostitutes, Ko Eun-bi actually becomes a competitor who shouldn't be taken too lightly anymore. But can she really win the election?

Review: Prostitutes going into politics? Why not, when there is even a porn star who managed to do that in Italy. The picture "First Amendment" draws also forces us to reconsider if it wouldn't be better to replace any politician by a prostitute. Latter are by far more honest and even work out as an eyecandy!?

To say the least, the life of prostitutes we get to see here is rather questionable. A nice, fuzzy world of good, in which (almost) everyone is liking his/her job. What made these women participate in this business? Most likely it must have been hardships or problems of any kind. What about drugs, violence, desperation? In "First Amendment" all of this takes a backseat. Apart from one raping scene at the beginning, everything fits perfectly in this warm and cheerful world and the film takes us on a merry and lighthearted trip. When a mother sees her daugher prostitute herself on TV and talks with her about the disgrace she is letting her family live through, then this is the only moment of drama in the whole movie. And still, these scenes just don't work out, because the actors all portray one-dimensional stereotypes so that in the end you can't take these moments serious.

Besides the somewhat colourless, yet sometimes likeable characters only the two main actresses stick out. Lim Seong-min as prostitute Kang Se-yeong who actually has plenty of grey matter and wants to become a reporter, is as convincing as Ye Ji-won as the oftentimes serious and honest Ko Eun-bi, even if her character lacks some depth at times.
The two politicians give more variety to the character ensemble and together with the third rival of Ko, a trivial guy who wants to get voters on his side with his rather unorthodox speeches, they provide us with some decent laughs.

With a solid direction, nice dialogues, a good amount of eroticism and good-looking actors the film without a doubt chooses a safe path. On a positive note, the way the movie makes fun of the politicians is really nice. Sadly, the satirical aspect of the movie can't make up for the incredibly predictable story and the ending.
Of course, the movie every now and then also goes for some tears, but unfortunately it does so in a very non-believable way. The sentimental scenes and the message, that prostitutes are humans, too, feel very contrived. Latter can be seen in numerous dramas which are a whole lot better than "First Amendment" and so the picture the filmmakers draw just remains absolutely implausible.

Moreover, it would have only benefited the movie, if it would have been shortened down a bit. As it is the film has its lengths and can't really keep up the viewer's interest, especially since we know from the beginning how it all will play out, eventually.
If it's one of those boring days again, you might want to watch this simple and insignificant comedy. However, the satirical wink that from time to time pops up concerning politicians is one of the movie's strengths that doesn't get the impact it deserves. At the bottom line "First Amendment" is a half-baked product that is also running too long.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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