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Original Title:
Sad Movie

South Korea 2005

Romance, Comedy, Drama

Kwon Jong-kwan

Lim Su-jeong
Jung Woo-sung
Shin Min-a
Cha Tae-hyun
Yum Jung-ah
Lee Ki-woo
Yeo Jin-gu
Kim Seung-cheol

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Sad Movie

Story: Su-jeong (Lim Su-jeong) is a sign language translator at a news channel. Together with her boyfriend, firefighter Lee Jin-wu (Jung Woo-sung), she lives in an apartment. The two have a nice relationship going, but Jin-wu doesn't seem to be ready to do the next step. Moreover, Su-jeong is worried about her boyfriend every day, because she fears that something might happen to him while on duty.
Su-jeong's sister Su-eun (Shin Min-a) works at an amusement park, where she is approached by artist Sang-gyu (Lee Ki-woo) who would like to draw her without her Snow White costume. But Su-eun doesn't want to take off her mask as she fears she might get closer to Sang-gyu. This fear is because the artist doesn't know that Su-eun is deaf-mute and has a small sear on her face.
Jung Ha-suk (Cha Tae-hyun) is jobless and gets dumped by his girlfriend Choi Suk-hyun (Son Tae-yeong), because she thinks that he is irresponsible and just not ready to enter real life. Ha-suk begs of her to get a 3-month lasting reprieve and promises to change. In fact he even manages to find work. By chance he gets the idea to earn money with partings. He conveys the unhappy message and is payed for it by the ex-lover of the recipient.
Little Hui-chan (Yeo Jin-gu) has a diificult relationship with his mother Ju-young (Yum Jung-ah). However, this changes when Ju-young is hospitalized after a car accident. Now she has more time to spend with her son. The little boy also gets his hand on the old diarys of his mother and he finds out a lot about her and himself. Yet, just when everything seems to take a turn for the better Ju-young has to find out that she has cancer...

Review: "Sad Movie" has a top-class cast and four apparently seperate stories that nonetheless overlap every now and then even if this is the case in a mere insignificant way.
The unoriginal title already gives us a hint: We have to expect a sad trip into the life of several individuals. Of course, it's all about love in its many different facets. Yet, at first it somehow seems that the movie isn't really a drama, but more of a well-done comedy-romance, that can score with some nice details. The underlying feeling is joyful and there are even some fine jokes in the movie. Nevertheless, this all leads to the movie's biggest sore point...

In the last half hour the film absolutely lives up to its title. Whatever there is to go wrong you can be sure that it will go wrong in the end. Two of the storys are resolved quite acceptable. There is no happy end, but no unbearable bad ending either. It's just bittersweet. "Sad Movie" would have done well to do so with the two other storys, too. Instead with every story it gets worse and worse until it all has its climax in a melodramatic disaster, eventually.
The breach of style is just too extreme and even if one did avoid to go for some cheap tears in an all too obvious way, you can't help but to feel cheated somehow. The movie didn't aim for this ending right from the start, but instead we are overrun as if one wanted to show us that the title of the film is in no way meant ironically. Sure, some of the highly sensitive minds will shed a tear or two, but most viewers will just be so baffled that powerful emotions won't come up at all.

This flaw of the movie is the more unfortunate as the rest of the movie is full of good efforts. Kwon Jong-kwan who had his mediocre debut with "S Diary", proves that he has learnt a lot since his last movie. He tells the different tales in beautiful pictures and at the same time manages to situate the individual storys in a well-balanced ratio. The several shifts between the seperate story threads don't feel disruptive and in general the pacing of the movie is just perfect. So it's not that much of a bother that the crossovers between the different storys feel a little bit too forced most of the time.
The love storys are also done quite well. Real emotions, no cheesyness and a lot of small details distinguish "Sad Movie" from similar flicks. Even if the story isn't that original, e.g.the story of the mother suffering from cancer feels much like your typical "Disease of the week"-story, it stands out with upright sincerity.
A little bit more inventive is the way Jung Ha-suk makes a living. To be the messenger of seperation messages naturally delivers enough opportunities for some funny and emotional moments.

A definite plus of the movie are its actors. Cha Tae-hyun known for his role in "My Sassy Girl" does give the most impressive performance of them all. And this even though his character seemingly isn't elaborated as good as some of the others are. Yet, Cha makes up for it with his skills. As a human sandbag he doesn't only convince the viewer in the funny scenes, but he does also and especially make some great efforts on the emotional level.
Lim Su-jeong ("A Tale of Two Sisters") portrays the woman who finally wants to push her boyfriend for a wedding as well as Jung Woo-sung ("Musa") plays the though firefighter with a soft core. Shin Min-a ("Madeleine") gives an outstanding performance as deaf-mute Su-eun, who oftentimes even outshines the achievements of Cha Tae-hyun. Especially the scenes with her in her awful Snow White costume and the "Seven Dwarfs" are hilarious. The rest of the cast does also do a good job, yet persons like the artist or most of all the female cashier remain just too shallow.

Even though there are some points to be criticized about the depth of the characters, this gets relativized because of the fact that we are aware that you couldn't have done it better in a 2-hours movie with that much characters. Actually, "Sad Movie" manages easily to introduce the several characters to us in a matter of minutes and switches between them without having the viewer loosing track.
Nonetheless the movie also has some logical mistakes and some scenes feel too contrived. This might be seldomly the case, but they can spoil the fun. As an example, there is the question: Where did the firefighter get the camera from? Those who have already seen the film will have to agree with me that there are some of these small downers.
The music also deserves to be mentioned as it fittingly accompanies the events. However, there is also a downside to be found here. With time the repetitive style will become somewhat annoying.

"Sad Movie" is not a perfect movie at all, although there are some good efforts into this direction. The joyful-serious narration, the credible emotions and an excellent cast make Kwon Jong-kwan's work a nice movie experience, which is only spoiled by a stark and unpredictable ending. If in a dark-nihilistic Hong Kong Thriller eventually all goes to hell, then this is ok and even the way it has to be. This is also the case with dramas that are consequent until the end. But why a apparently well-done rom-com suddenly has to make a turn into such sadness will remain a mystery...
Nevertheless, this is a good movie that stands out from the masses and is worth watching.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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