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Original Title:

South Korea 2005

Comedy, Romance

Cheon Se-Hwan

Yeon Jeong-hun
Park Jin-hie
Cho Seong-guk
Jo Mi-lyeong
Oh Yun-a

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Love in Magic

Story: Woo Ji-hoon (Yeon Jeong-hun) is a successful magician, who is admired and loved by women. He sees the town as his own hunting ground and he always manages to end up in a hotel room with a different girl every night.
"By accident" Ji-hoon's friend one day visits an internet site, on which a sex-video is watchable, that has been captured with a hidden camera. One of the two "main actors" is Ji-hoon! As fast as he can Woo tries to find his female partner from that time. Koo Hee-won (Park Jin-hie) is a teacher now, and almost collapses when she hears about the sex video. However, soon she braces up and comes up with a plan. They have to find the original video and those who made it as soon as possible.
While Woo Ji-hoon and Koo Hee-won search the whole town for the room of that certain night, the two get closer again...

Review: Once again a romantic comedy from Korea. To make a long story short: "Love in Magic" isn't the breakthrough we are in strong need of to finally escape the wave of familiar love stories, yet it isn't an awful film that steals our precious time either. For genre-fans this flick is just what they were looking for.
So...that's it... Is there anything else you want from me?
Fine, if you insist I will take a closer look at the movie...

Basically, the story doesn't sound that bad. The thing about the sex video is amusing and promises a cheerful mood, yet since the whole movie is build upon this video, there are some problems that arise. Why is this video so horrible? Ok, Woo Ji-hoon is Korea's David Copperfield and a video like this would harm his reputation and image for sure, but for what reason is the world falling apart for young teacher Koo Hee-won? To get this straight, the two didn't had this video made with their consent, but have been filmed secretly. Yeah, of course it's embarrassing when Hee-won's pupils see her in a video like this, but what a difference would it make if she would finally find the ones responsible for the video? Someone of the millions of male teenagers will have a backup of the video on a harddisk or CD/DVD, that's for certain. And then the video will pop up again! Welcome to the fantastic world wide web...

Apart from logic mistakes here and there "Love in Magic" actually is quite nice. The characters are likeable and the two main protagonists have been casted well. Yeon Jeong-hun convinces as the arrogant magician and playboy, who always gets what he wants, until he is finally opening his eyes and slowly starts to realize that his life can't go on like this. When he meets his old love again and remembers the days they shared back then he becomes more and more soft.

Park Jin-hie plays the female counterpart with a few nice facets. Especially her appearances in the flashbacks look completely different than what we get to see of her in the present (not only in a visual sense). This way she shows us believably that she is a grown-up woman now. Her love for a good friend proves to be a unrequited one, naturally, and so she also seems to be interested in her old boyfriend again. But at first we don't get to see much of it, as Koo Hee-won having the upper hand orders Woo Ji-hoon around.

Let's get back to the flashbacks again. Why do they have to be inserted in the movie so arbitrary? This makes the movie so much more confusing. At some points, you even don't know who is where and when. That Park Jin-hie has a completely different hair styling in the past doesn't really make it easier for us. That's the more annoying when you suddenly retrospectively realize that we weren't in the present narrational-wise just now. Even though the story is quite simple first time director Cheon Se-Hwan did put a lot of confusing moments like these into his debut movie.

Then there is, of course, also the question what the movie has to do with magic? You could have replaced the magician with an actor or a sportsman and it wouldn't have made any great difference. Actually, we get to see a little magic show and every now and then the main protagonist plays some magic trick, but this is of no importance for the story whatsoever. The movie with its title raises expectations that it can't answer in the end and this is really a shame. As a matter of fact, magic and the world of tricks is a nice means to an end to initiate some confusion and misunderstandings, but one just didn't make use of that.

Anyway, there are some funny moments and the chemistry between the two main actors is just right. And this might be all that's important for some viewers. We see lots of stuff we have seen over and over again already, like Ji-hoon giving drunk Hee-won a piggyback while it rains, but a few nice scenes like the magic croaking duck or the SMS-scenes nearly can be almost original.

"Love in Magic" could have been much more. A confusing way of narration and the lacking covering of the magic-theme are standing in the way, tough.
At the end, and here I'm repeating my words from the introduction, this movie is nothing more than a meaningless, but worthwhile comedy romance that will be especially appealing to fans of the genre.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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