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Original Title:
Yeokjeone sanda

South Korea 2003

Comedy, Romance

Park Yong-woon

Kim Seung-woo
Ha Ji-won
Kang Seong-jin
Lee Mun-shik
Go Ho-kyung
Lim Chang Jung

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Reversal of Fortune

Story: Kang Seung-wan (Kim Seung-woo) works at an investment corporation. Unfortunatey, everything in his life just goes terribly wrong. Since he has been investing in the wrong stocks, he not only has to sell his house and live at his sister's home, but there is also a gang looking for him, because he lost their money, too. Kang just wants to get away as far as he can and so he drives at fullspeed into a tunnel. There he sees a car heading the other way, but the thing is that he sees himself in the car! Kang causes an accident, his car overturns, yet when he comes to his senses again he hasn't even a scratch.
Even better, he now is part of a world in which he is a celebrated golf-professionalist! Although he suddenly is a rich man and doesn't have to worry about his former problems anymore, Kang has to find out that there are quite some other problems he has to get along with in this life. His wife Ji-yeong (Ha Ji-won) wants a divorce and this even though Kang actually just met her. Concerning interpersonal relationships Kang's twin of this strange parallel world seems to have done everything wrong that there is to do wrong. Kang not only has to try to save "his" marriage, but also has to deal with an upcoming golf tournament. Worst of all he didn't have a golf club in his hands since he was 13...

Review: "Reversal of Fortune" works its way forward from a nice idea, even though not that original anymore, and eventually becomes a romantic drama. Sadly, the story just feels way too contrived. Because under the surface we can make out, albeit relatively late, the well known man-falls-in-love-and-fights-for-his-woman story. This is unfortunate, as the movie begins with introducing us to Kang's catastrophic life and how he hopelessly tries to get on his feet again. This is interesting and amusing to watch, however it all gets relativized, when the love story kicks in. It's not that the love tale isn't told good enough, it's just that you can't deny the feeling that there has been a breach of style here. Even if it might sound strange, without the standard love story the movie could have become better than this!

There is a little bit of a confusion about the parallel world Kang is thrown into. Is this one part of the future, an altered past or is everything just different in this world? The decision of Kang as a child to quit professional golf seems to be the road fork, that set his life on the unfortunate route and lead his alter ego to wealth as he decided to go on with playing golf. Golf has an important role in "Reversal of Fortune", but it luckily isn't in the movie's center, instead seamlessly and without being disruptive blends into the rest of the story.
Nevertheless, there has to be spoken out some criticism about the introduction. In fact, we get a good and summarizing look at Kang's sad life, but there are just too many faces and names thrown at us, so that you can't possibly remember them right away. As we are then part of the "parallel world" we get to understand why director Park Yong-woon bothered to introduce so many persons at the beginning. This is because now we meet old faces again, in new roles, naturally. Sadly, it's pretty hard to sort everyone to his respective "twin" straightaway.

Aside from a nice aha-effect at the end, the love story doesn't deliver anything new, but at least it has the Ha Ji-won bonus on his side. She can't show everything she is capable of concerning her acting skills, but she gives a solid performance. Mainly, she is allowed to look gorgeous, of course.
Kim Seung-woo on the other hand can come up with quite some multilayered character and is absolutely convincing as Kang. Being a kindhearted loser he manages to do in the life of another one what he failed to do in his. He has success and wins "his" wife's heart over again. Kang doesn't mature in the way that he becomes a new person, but he nevertheless grows up.
"Reversal of Fortune" also comes up with some well casted supporting roles, in which oftentimes the actors do give a credible performance in double roles. In a short cameo we even get to see Lim Chang Jung ("Sex Is Zero").

Kang's life, as a matter of fact, is a drama, yet his story is told with a sometimes amusing and cheery undertone, so that in the end the movie proves to be more of a comedy, of course. There are no jokes that will have you rolling over floor laughing, but you will have to smile every now and then. The love story might be what every fan of the genre was hoping for, especially since as already mentioned Ha Ji-won is part of it. However, the romance also deprives the movie of its quality. It would have been nice if the love story would have been dealt with in a more subtle way.

Storywise, there are also some other flaws. We never get to know how and why Kang is able to travel between the worlds, yet this also doesn't seem to be of any importance. Why he had to head back to his home world at the end and not any time sooner, also remains a mystery. Maybe the scriptwriter did get aware that he had to come to an end, eventually... And then it all comes to a Happy End, which is not surprising at all, since the movie is made according to the conventional fomula.
It's unfortunate that we don't get to see anything of Kang's twin and how he is struggling with life, being a poor and wrecked investment manager. The movie could have dealt with both lifes of the two Kangs easily and it would have made the film so much more interesting. At least, we in fact get to see some scenes of the other Kang's life while the ending credits roll over the screen, even though this is nothing more than a nice try to compensate for what the movie missed to deliver.

"Reversal of Fortune" is an entertaining comedy romance and even has some approaches to be more than that. Sadly, first-time director Park Yong-woon couldn't bring out all of the movie's potential and so there is only a somewhat interesting story, good actors and some nice ideas. Nonetheless, the film is a little bit more than your average stuff and so it can be warmly recommended at least to fans of the genre.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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