AsianMovieWeb logo
Original Title:
Chilgeup gongmuwon

South Korea 2009

Comedy, Action, Romance

Shin Tae-ra

Kim Ha-neul
Kang Ji-hwan
Ryoo Seung-yong
Jang Young-nam
Kang Shin-il
Jang Nam-yeol

Search AsianMovieWeb

Secret Couple

aka My Girlfriend is an Agent

Story: Soo-ji (Kim Ha-neul) works for the government as a secret agent. Her boyfriend Jae-joon (Kang Ji-hwan) doesn't know about that and is at some point sick of having to hear excuse after excuse from her, so he starts to believe that she isn't faithful to him anymore. He breaks up with Soo-ji and goes abroad.
Three years later Jae-joon comes back to Korea. Meanwhile he had completed training as a secret agent and now works under Weon-seok (Ryoo Seung-yong) on a case that involves the russian mafia who wants to get its hands on a stolen highly hazardous virus. However, Jae-joon is still a rookie which leads to some initial problems during his first undercover operations. But things get from bad to worse when Jae-joon by chance runs into Soo-ji during one of his missions. The two instantly are on at each other and risk that their cover gets blown. Eventually, the two decide to give each other a second chance, but the many secrets that go hand in hand with their job make a relationship hard to realize, even the more as the two are also working on the same case without knowing...

Review: Comedies like "My Wife is a Gangster" or "She is on Duty", whereas the first one even managed to become a trilogy thanks to the great work of its main actress and the fresh breeze it brought to the genre, have covered the comedy genre which actually focus more on jokes than a more or less funny romantic relationship. "Secret Couple" goes into a similar direction, yet apart from a few ideas simply isn't genuine enough and oftentimes tries too hard to be funny which then results in awkwardness. That's even worse as director Shin Tae-ra deserves some credit for the fact alone that he turned to comedy genre after his dark thriller "Black House", trying something completely new for him here. Sadly, the movie proves to be simple lighthearted entertainment which just lacks substance to really excite. More than anything else the script lacks a well structured plot. Therefore, "Secret Agent" will only be able to please fans of the genre.

Kim Ha-neul ("Too Beautiful to Lie", "Almost Love") plays the tough secret agent who struggles to find her balance between adrenaline-loaden chasing scenes and her more quiet private life. That's where the movie has its most problems. If petite women like Kim Ha-neul beat up the mafia and even have time for some somersaults or cartwheels etc. then I simply have to roll my eyes. How can you actually believe her to do such stunts? In fact, during those action scenes I always see the stuntman (or the stuntwoman for that matter) on the screen. Apparently, there also wasn't anyone involved in the action choreography who knew something about his work, resp. no one of the actors is skilled in that area which leads to the camera always being too close to the action so for you not to realize that there is actually nothing happening at all while the shaky camera distracts you from that very fact, too. Especially the showdown becomes downright boring. A film that centers around the lives of agents should provide us with some decent action scenes and that's where the movie fails completely.

Apart from that Kim Ha-neul delivers a solid performance. Nothing special really, but she certainly is wearing the pants in her relationship with Jae-Joon without looking like a "My Sassy Girl" clone. That's at least something.
Kang Ji-Hwan, lately to be seen in "Rough Cut", delivers a more complex portrayal and undergoes a nice change from the insecure boy to a serious secret agent. The chemistry between the two protagonists works out fine, so that there is nothing to complain about here. However, there are some problems concerning the story as it simply seems to have been come up with in a coffee break. Full of clichés and painfully one-dimensional which wouldn't be that bad in itself if this would have been made use of for some gags. But here the actual story becomes a mere peg to hang the story around Soo-ji and Jae-joon on. That's a pity and deprives the movie more than anything else of enough room for some spy movie-orientated jokes.

Nevertheless, there are a few nice gags of which only one in a hounted house on a festival is memorable, though, in which Jae-joon is having a gun battle with a russian gangster. The rest of the jokes takes place on a more shallow level and can't really excite you except you let yourself get carried away by the at times exaggerated joyfull mood of the movie. "Secret Couple" rather offers slapstick humor which doesn't always work out the way it was supposed to. The overall high pacing, the soundtrack that goes along with it well and the relationship between the two main characters are supposed to hide the fact that there isn't actually happening anything at all concerning the story and at the end a few incredible flimsy story developments lead to the case being solved in some way in the last remaining minutes. Added to that are some twists that can't be called inventive to say the least. Not to mention that it is a bit odd that two different secret agencies are working independently on the same case without even knowing about it. And please don't give me any cheap justification like: "But that's why it's called secret service!"

The ending summarizes it all once more. In an epilogue we are told how things will work out for the two in the future. That's the moment when the credits are rolling and the audience has already stood up from their seats, turning back to the canvas irritated because there might actually follow something important. But as it's always the case with these movies such scenes are simply made to create some good mood one last time so that the audience leaves the cinema with a good feeling and doesn't think that they wasted their money for some crap. Well, didn't they? "Secret Couple" only offers good entertainment to those who aren't that familiar with Korean comedies. Everyone else will find a meaningless comedy under the entertaining surface which leaves you with a bad aftertaste. Maybe you should be thankful to Shin Tae-ra that he at least didn't make his movie turn into a melodramatic romance. However, in the end all that's left to say is that you should come up with more than this in the year of 2009...

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
Buy this movie:

Yesasia Logo