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South Korea 2004

Romance, Drama, Comedy

Kim Su-hyeon

Jang Sun-woo
Ye Ji-won
Park Seon-Woo
Kim Seok-hun
Jeong Jae-young
Kim Heui-jeong

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So Cute

Story: Jang Soo-ro (Jang Sun-woo) thinks he is a shaman, whose mission it is to make women happy. Together with his two sons Dog Nose (Park Seon-Woo), a truck driver and 963 (Kim Seok-hun), a shy motorbike lover, he lives in a shabby apartment complex. The two want to do something good to their father and get the prostitute Sun-yi (Ye Ji-won) into their house. However, she soon seduces every member of the family with her exceptional charm.
Gangster Kosigi (Jeong Jae-young) gets the task from his boss, to clear the run-down building complex and to drive away the local families. However, Kosigi finds out that he is also the son of Jang, being the product of one of the several escapades of his father. It's the first time for Kosigi to meet his half-brothers and his father. The gangster is catched in a moral conflict. On the one hand he doesn't want to disappoint his boss, but on the other hand he wants to spend some more time with his newly found family.
Of course, there is also Sun-yi, who meanwhile also makes eyes at Kosigi. Yet, at the same time there is also talking about a future marriage of Jang and her...

Review: Bizarre, odd, depressing, nonuniform and boring are the words that come to my mind, when thinking of "So Cute". Here, nothing is "cute" at all! The movie raises expections it can't live up to. If you think you get the 300th rom-com of the year, then you will be... disappointed. Because qualitatively the movie isn't even that! Actually, I would have prefered a colorful-happy comedy overloaded with cheesy moments! And I can't believe that I just said that!
There are movies that are so good, that you could write on about them forever and then there are the ones you just can't stop criticizing. "So Cute" is none of that. You are just happy that you can finally leave this movie behind... And so this review will be quick and easy.

It's hard to describe this movie. The most outstanding is its unusual dark-depressing atmosphere, that most likely wasn't supposed to be the way it is. The run-down flats and the anything but charismatic characters create a coldness and distance one has towards the on-screen events, that I have seldomly encountered before. In general, the setting is very unfitting for a romance. If you had to verbalize it in a rude way you could say that "So Cute" is a love flick with some drama aspects, taking place in bum-milieu. Yet, this just hits the nail right on the head....
Even more odd is the sometimes used kind of humor. It's more subtle, but at no time really funny. Anyway, that's no wonder as the different characters all behave very strange. To understand their behavior is nearly impossible and the viewer just can't weave a bond to them. We absolutely don't care about their fate and who'll finally get Sun-yi. Another reason for that is that Sun-yi isn't the center of the movie as it should have been the case.

Director Jang Sun-woo ("Resurrection of the Little Match Girl") gives his debut as an actor, but it's not possible to judge about his talent. The script fails in every aspect. Jang's character is colorless, as it is the case with the rest of the characters, and the religious/holy attraction, that he is supposed to charm women with isn't apparent either.
Let's just get to the worst part. Ye Ji-won ("First Amendment") is supposed to play a charismatic prostitute, who can wrap every man around her finger. She doesn't succeed in doing so. She appears to be dumb, non-charismatic, bitchy, nagging and unnerving. And this is also where the whole movie goes down the tube. Sun-yi's several episodes with the family members seperates the movie into a nonuniform whole. Moreover, there is never any real chemistry between her and the different persons.
At least there is one single positive thing to be found in the movie: gangster Kosigi, played by Jeong Jae-young ("Someone Special"). Jeong shows that he has no place in this movie as his performance is the only one that the audience gets interested in. Being a pretty brutal gangster, who likes to stab his victims, we slowly get to know his human side and sometimes there is even something like in-depth of his character to be found. His inner conflict between his loyalty towards his boss and his newly found found family is portrayed quite believeable.

Apart from Kosigi there is also the little girl Byeongari, who has a crush on Dog Nose and who can win over the audience with her clingy nature. A nice performance by Kim Heui-jeong.
The rest of the persons are bizarre and uninteresting. Technically, the movie is also only average. Only one scene that is done in one single shot, in which one gets too see a wedding party with lots of guest, and after a 360 degree turn there are only empty chairs left, can positively surprise you.
The worst thing about "So Cute" is without a doubt that in addition of being a comedy (?) it tries to be a serious drama. Life and love is explored through the eyes of the different characters, but the pseudo-philosophical and socially critical dialogues along with the artistically pretentious look don't add to the credibility of the movie at all. The end product is a cinamatic disaster, that mainly fails among many other things, because you can't sympathize with the characters even in the slightest, whereas Kosigi is an exception.

To go more into details is unnecessary and this review has already gotten longer than the movie deserves it. "So Cute" delivers no entertainment and doesn't get a more miserable rating only because of Jeong Jae-young's performance and a lot of good will. Anyway, this doesn't change the fact, that this movie is just horrible, boring and should be avoided by anyone.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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