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Original Title:

South Korea 2010

Comedy, Fantasy

Kim Hong-ik

Kim Hyeong-gyoo
Han Jeong-woo
Lee Da-in
Han Ye-won
Kwak Min-ho
Na Tae-joo
Jo Deok-jae
Son Jin-hwan
Song Won-yong
Son Ho-young

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Story: Sim-dan (Kim Hyeong-gyoo) and his friend Eun-seok (Han Jeong-woo) go to High School and they aren't really two guys who can stand up to others. Therefore, they are constantly bullied by Cheol-seung (Kwak Min-ho). While Sim-dan tries to avoid running into Cheol-seung whereever possible he also spies on his secret love interest Mi-ah (Lee Da-in) who he is interested in for a few years already. During one of those trips he witnesses how the drunk girl Yoo-ri (Han Ye-won) is taken into a dark alley by a group of men. However, Yoo-ri turns out to be a vampire who not only sucks out her attackers but als Sim-dan who came to her rescue. Since she eventually realizes what his true intention was she decides to not let the boy die but instead turns him into a vampire. Sim-dan wakes up at home again and now has to get used to the physical change he undergoes. The class bully suddenly is no problem for him anymore and he even gets closer to Min-ah. In return he is plagued by the thirst for blood. Then Yoo-ri turns up as a teacher in order to be near Sim-dan. She still has a lot to teach him...

Review: "Hero" is a comedy, aiming for a younger audience, yet shouldn't elicit any associations with "Twilight" since the film isn't that corny after all, maybe apart from the ending. Basically, this is a pretty decent comedy that deals with familiar aspects, yet can make you laugh out loud every now and then. The most apparent thing, though, is that the film is constantly alternating between professionally shot comedy and amateurish teen flick. This doesn't refer to the humor but the actual story of the movie. It would have been better had it been eliminated from the screenplay. From a certain point onward we may be wondering where exactly the red thread of the story is to be located, that is since "Hero" can't really revolve only around Sim-dan and his new life as a vampire and his love interest in Mi-ah, but actually it would have been better had this been the case, because when the movie introduces its "actual story" everything becomes pretty unspectacular.

It's almost as if the scriptwriters towards the end became aware themselves that something was lacking. Therefore, at the last moment a story revolving around a vampire boss is pushed into the movie, who has been freed by grave robbers and is now making trouble. The finale is extremely rashly put together and looks as if one tried to raise the tension at all costs. However, that doesn't work out at all. Instead we have to wonder about how all the important characters of the movie suddenly come together more or less by chance in order to face the boss of the vampires. But the showdown is over as suddenly as it came around. The action doesn't look convincing either but that is a problem in the movie anyway. Still, until this point the filmmakers almost skillfully managed to conceal this fact and instead just gave us the results of certain confrontations. Sometimes this may have been a bit frustrating but all in all it was a wise decision as the action scenes of the finale sadly are proof of.

"Hero" also has its strengths, though. Sim-dan and Eun-seok are good friends and as it is the case anywhere around the world they are bullied by a rowdy because of them being nerds. When Sim-dan involuntarily becomes a vampire and the balance of power shifts this naturally gives him the chance to finally stand up to his tormentors. At the same time he finds the courage to approach Mi-ah. The only problem is that he - while becoming crazy next to her because of other reasons before - he now is driven mad when he is with her as he only can think of how good her blood must taste. Oftentimes he can't hold back and gets closer to her full of ecstasy, which in a funny way always looks like kissing attempts to Mi-ah that she is able to avoid at all times. You really can't criticize anything here. The characters are likeable and it is fun watching how the relationships between them develop. Even Sim-dan's friend Eun-seok and the bully Cheol-seung have enough personality to make us have an interest in watching them.

Eventually, the vampire who turned Sim-dan gets its onscreen time as well. The movie is full of handsome individuals anyway since obviously it is impossible for a vampire to look ugly, but Yoo-ri takes the biscuit. Actress Han Ye-won is extremely sexy and the movie knows how to make use of that at any time, laubably not in a cheap way. Especially here a true teen-flick would have done otherwise which is just why "Hero" is so surprisingly compliant for an adult audience as well. Yoo-ri has a different picture of good and evil and thus remains a bit unscrutable without ever seeming really evil. The chemistry between her and Sim-dan is just right as well so that we even have to ask ourselves why the movie didn't implement a jealousy motive including a love triangle with Mi-ah as an additional player. The reason for that might be that Yoo-ri already has her eyes on another vampire for 150 years now who just happens to work at the same school as her and tries to find an antidote for the vampire-illness.

Several plot holes aside there is a soundtrack that is most annoying since it often seems inappropriate and at other times is too omnipresent. At certain points it is also arbitrarily added to scenes so that the film unnecessarily gets something extremely amateurish to it. In fact, "Hero" was most likely produced with a low budget but a well-done cinematography and good actors that depict charming characters can hide that for most part. The humor is just right, too, and so "Hero" proves to be an entertaining comedy, which actually would have deserved a better rating if the ending hadn't been so incoherent and hapazardly done. It simply doesn't fit into the rest of the movie and the last scene proves to be outright corny. That's very unfortunate as until that point the movie had the viewer's goodwill thanks to likeable characters and despite some flaws. Entertaining in a way, but quality-wise the movie plays in two different leagues and therefore sadly isn't recommendable.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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