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Original Title:
Geunyeoreul moreumyeon gancheob

South Korea 2004

Comedy, Romance

Park Han-chun

Kim Jeong-hwa
Yu Kong
Nam Sang-mi
Baek Il-seob

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Spy Girl

Story: A north Korean female spy (Kim Jeong-hwa) is sent to South Korea to find an agent, who embezzled north Korean money. When she finally meets her contact person Park Mu-sun (Baek Il-seob), she takes on the identity of his daughter Park Hyo-jin and starts working in a Fast-Food-Restaurant, where she believes the agent she is looking for gets something to eat every once in a while.
However, for the local boys, because of her astonishing beauty Hyo-jin becomes their new "Angel", who is worhsiped on a website with several pictures. Hyo-jin doesn't like this sudden publicity at all. She wants the site to be shut down. The boys are are alright with that, if she goes on a date with Choi Ko-bong (Yu Kong), who fell in love the first time he saw her. In order to maintain her identity Hyo-Jin has no other choice than to agree to the terms of this deal...

Review: Our fascination for Asian cinema has its origin in the fact that we get to see movies that show us stuff we don't get to see from Mainstream-Hollywood-Blockbusters. Yet, "Spy Girl" once more proves that Korea is also capable of producing trivial mainstream-kitsch...
The love story of the two main protagonists feels forced and is predictable. Along with that we of course also get lots of predictable jokes as well, of which not a single one is really working out. The highest of feelings is a smile the viewer is coerced of. At least, there is always a happy mood throughout the whole movie. Nevertheless, a Happy-Life movie can't arouse any feelings, if there is nothing it offers besides a nice mood. And "Spy Girl" in fact lacks in a lot of aspects...

First of all, there are the characters, who are all very shallow and without real life. However, the worst of all is that the chemistry between to two main protagonists just isn't right: How is there supposed to be a believeable love story like that?
Kim Jeong-hwa is a new face in the genre, and really a beautiful one at that, but she can't save the movie from its mediocrity. Sometimes it even looks like she is trying to portray a character, but she eventually has to fail doing so, when there is nothing more the script provides her working with.
Then there is also Yu Kong, who is way too one-dimensional and is just getting too little on-screen time.

One of the movie's biggest sore points are the wasted opportunities. Especially, the espionage-theme gives you more than enough possibilities to generate some funny scenes. Yet, there aren't even any typical wacky role-confusions to be found in "Spy Girl". The only thing you could give the movie some credit for, are some narrative efforts. The story is told from a future point of view and the perspective also shifts between Ko-bong and Hyo-Jin.
Park Han-Chun's directing is more or less solid, which is no wonder as he is seemingly inspired by several other Korean rom-com movies.
Anyway, the movie lacks something essential: the heart. Somehow, everything seems to be filmed without any real effort or care for details, just wanting to make some quick money.

The funniest scenes in the movie are those with family Park, especially those with the father, who though being a northKorean spy, has perfectly adopted himself to the capitalistic life in South Korea, filling in lotto coupons in a planing of the next mission. Besides that, the jokes are corny and never really funny.
At the end, the focus lies upon the love story between the two main characters. But actually you are not interested in it at all. An ending that feels artificial does cap it all and finally releases us into freedom.

Except of a good-looking actress "Spy Girl" has few to offer. Sure, you won't be bored watching the movie, but it wouldn't make any difference if you would just turn it off and do something more meaningful, e.g. taking the garbage out or doing the dishes.
If you can't get enough of the Korean mainstream rom-com stuff, then the movie might be worth seeing. However, if you are not a fan of the genre you shouldn't bother wasting your time with it.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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