AsianMovieWeb logo
Original Title:

South Korea 2011

Drama, Romance, Comedy

Kwak Gyeong-taek

Kwon Sang-woo
Jeong Ryeo-won
Ma Dong-seok
Jang Young-nam
Kim Hyeong-jong
Lee Mi-do
Song Bong-geun
Kim Jin-goo

Search AsianMovieWeb


aka Pained

Story: Nam-soon (Kwon Sang-woo) is a debt collector. However, his boss (Ma Dong-seok) doesn't use violence against the debtors but instead beats up Nam-soon for his incompetence of collecting money right before their eyes. This approach is actually meeting with success and Nam-soon doesn't even bother. Since an accident he doesn't feel any pain. Then, one day he is supposed to get the money from the street vendor Dong-hyeon (Jeong Ryeo-won). But she is owing money to people even worse so she isn't imtimidated by Nam-soon's approach at all. Nevertheless, when the debt collector turns up at Dong-hyeon's landlady and is paid her deposit she is thrown onto the street. She confronts Nam-soon and the two get to know each other better. The girl is temporarily moving into the debt collector's home until she has completey paid off her debt and Nam-soon finds out that she is suffering from haemophilia.

Review: How can you drive a romantic drama, that you are actually showing some goodwill because of its two charismatic characters, completely against the wall? "Pain" is the sad answer to that question. The premise of the movie is very interesting and revolves around a man who can feel no pain. What consequences this has for his emotional perception is almost absolutely disregarded, instead the movie approaches the subject with a little bit more humor. That's not necessarily something bad, but the refreshing about it is almost completely washed away by a more serious drama undertone. Whether "Pain" wants to be a serious tearjerker or maybe more of a comedy is never really apparent, but in the end the comedic scenes are responsible for the drama elements to become completely ridiculous.

The story of the film is based on a manga by Kang Pool ("Hello Schoolgirl", "Ba:bo") who wrote the screenplay as well. You can also tell on several occasions in the movie. There are constantly abstruse events standing in the center, for example the two main characters being tied together for a short while by some superglue, and the premise of the story is also a bit over the top. A man who can feel no pain is regularly beaten up and after that always stands up as if nothing happened at all - as if being invincible. The consequences of this kind of physical abuse of your own body are never depicted. Since pain is a warning signal of the body and Nam-soon is actually not receiving it there in fact should be some severe health problems for him.

Aside from this actually being a heritable illness and Nam-soon showing symptoms only after a tragical accident which costs the lives of his family, and the fact that during one scene it is hinted at that you also don't feel when being touched, there are also some plot holes and logical mistakes in regard to Dong-hyeon who suffers from haemophilia. That is because it is in fact possible to lead a rather normal life with haemophilia and she certainly isn't one of only a few who managed to get past their twenties. You can actually have some fun finding all these mistakes in the movie, but then again it isn't that difficult at all since they are already causing some unintentional laughter anyway.

Nonetheless, there is also some humor to be found in "Pain" apart from those scenes. The only unfortunate thing about some pretty funny moments is that they also seem artificially constructed. Therefore, the funniest scenes are those which feature a cheaply produced drama/action show in the movie, for which Nam-soon signs as a stuntman. Which brings us to the question why actor Kwon Sang-woo ("More Than Blue", "Once Upon a Time in High School") with his physical screen presence isn't doing any action films!? He plays his part in "Pain" pretty adequate, yet he sometimes lacks some real rough edges. Jeong Ryeo-won ("Two Faces of my Girlfriend", "My Name is Kim Sam-soon") on the other hand makes up for that with more charisma and her character is actually just hiding her fear under a sassy-girl surface.

All in all "Pain" manages to create some nice chemistry between its two actors and the romantic story that is built up is also quite nice. But what director Kwak Gyeong-taek, who is responsible for such macho-oriented films like "Friend" and "Typhoon", is pulling off after that is almost unbelievable. While the premise of two individuals who suffer from a rare disease and find one another is at least somewhat believable (which is because we nowadays have a pretty high level of tolerance concerning such plots in Korean movies) Kwak is suddenly making use of one cliché after the next and in the end destroys his whole movie by that. You are starring at the screen in disbelief and just want to cry out that he has to stop, but it's already too late. "Pain" is thus one of those movies that should be watched until the last third only.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
Buy this movie:

Yesasia Logo