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My Annoying Brother - Movie Poster
Original Title:

South Korea 2016

Comedy, Drama

Kwon Soo-kyeong

Jo Jeong-seok
Doh Kyung-soo
Park Shin-hye
Kim Kang-hyun
Ji Dae-han
Lim Cheol-hyeong

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My Annoying Brother

My Annoying Brother - Film Screenshot 1

Story: Doo-yeong (Doh Kyung-soo) is about the win the Judo gold medal for his country. However, in the end he loses and is hurt so bad that he loses his eyesight. His older brother Doo-sik (Jo Jeong-seok) sits in jail because of fraud and uses his brother's disability as an argument to be let out on parole. Still, he isn't seriously considering to take care of his brother. Moreover, Doo-yeong is everything but excited that his brother moves in with him, especially since he wants to hide from everyone because of his disability. When Doo-sik sees how depressive his brother is and that he even is hospitalized because of malnutrition he at first reluctantly starts to help him. Slowly but surely a bond of trust develops between the two, even though Doo-sik hasn't let go of his old, deceitful habits, yet. Furthermore, Doo-yeong's former coach Soo-hyeon (Park Shin-hye) turns up and wants him to continue his training and take part in the Paralympics. The judoka is everything but willing to do so and his brother supports his decision for the time being. Yet, Doo-sik is then told that he hasn't much left to live and so he wants to give his brother a meaning in life again.

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My Annoying Brother - Film Screenshot 4

Review: On paper "My Annoying Brother" looks like any other Korean drama which at first wants to earn sympathies for the characters on a humoristic level, only to make the drama hit you with all its might during the second half. This kind of viewer manipulation is cheap and has already driven quite a few interesting movies against the wall. However, it's different here. We are actually willing to be captivated by the predictable, yes actually even mandatory scenes of drama and shed one or two tears maybe. The reason for that being a fantastically written protagonist and his special relationship with his brother. We laugh and we cry and latter one only manages to work out because the dramatic scenes are standing in contrast to the constantly thrown in humor and therefore lose a lot of their clichéd nature.

My Annoying Brother - Film Screenshot 5

In itself the plot hasn't much to offer. After years, a lyer and con artist returns home to his brother in order to look after him. At least officially since that's how he gets out of prison on parole. Of course, we slowly but steadily get to see the good side of the older brother and his sense of responsibility grows by the minute. There in fact isn't a single thing you couldn't predict when it comes to the screenplay. However, to make up for that there are the dialogues and the characters who simply have just turned out great. Particularly Doo-sik is an incredibly interesting and also multilayered individual. But things easily could have ended up for the different sides of his character not to be put together in a coherent fashion. After all, the movie only offers little room to bring Doo-sik's u-turn on screen credibly.

My Annoying Brother - Film Screenshot 6

Fortunately, actor Jo Jeong-seok ("The Face Reader") achieves just that. The movie in fact stands or falls with him. And Jo doesn't make any mistakes. Be it in the dramatic scenes, in which he manages to squeeze out authentic tears out of nowhere which don't look as if they were flowing for a tearjerker, or the little nuances that make his feelings look so real. Next to that, his more tough nature is also responsible for breaking up clichés by constantly commenting them sarcastically, even if a tear is running out of his eye at the same time. In an elegant way the movie also sails around some apparent stereotypes within just an inch. But it's just those inches that prevent us from having to roll our eyes, but instead gladly lets us get carried away by the admittedly predictable trip of this drama.

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Maybe screenwriter Yoo Yeong-ah deserves more credit than you initially want to give her. Because there are in fact a few small lines and dialogues, that qualitywise set "My Annoying Brother" far above other tearjerkers. After all, she has also co-written "As One". There are parallels to that movie concerning the sports subject and the finale, too. What's interesting here is that the sports finale doesn't look as much out of place as it actually should. And despite a few clichés, some sad music (even though not as obtrusive as in other works) and the mandatory flashbacks we are spared the worst offenses in this genre like long hospital scenes. Moreover, Doo-sik's casual jokes will make you laugh with a tear in your eye.

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Doh Kyung-soo ("Unforgettable), of the boyband Exo, pales in comparison to his acting colleague, but the chemistry between the two brothers is there. Next to that there is also a funny supporting role played by Kim Kang-hyun (often only to be seen as part of the supporting cast as in "Whistle Blower), while Park Shin-hye ("The Royal Tailor) isn't put to good use. Still, in the end Doo-sik proves to be the movie's heart. Aside from that there is a lot to laugh about, making the running time of 110 minutes pass by almost too fast. And when the drama actually kicks in we gladly give in to it. It's interesting to see that there are in fact still good tearjerkers to be found, showing you that kitsch can be bearable and even put into a funny wrapping. The bad feeling that you have been manipulated to shed tears is not to be found anywhere here, although it actually should be and for most part this is the effort of the humor and a fantastic actor.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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