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January 08, 2008

My Sassy Girl

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Yeopgijeogin Geunyeo
Kwak Jae-young - 2001
Box of Fun Region 3 DVD

I'm not sure which bothers me more, that the first new film of 2008 is a Hollywood remake of an Asian horror film, or that this particular remake is of one of Takashi Miike's lesser efforts. February brings us the Tom Cruise produced remake of the Pang Brothers' The Eye. While the remakes are primarily aimed towards an audience that doesn't know, or care, that these are Hollywood remakes of Asian films, I have to wonder how many people are seeking out the original films because they are being remade?

I might not have bothered with My Sassy Girl had I not known that a Hollywood remake was due later this year. I am comforted to know that unlike The Lake House, the remake of Il Mare, which had a too old Sandra Bullock, the English language version of My Sassy Girl has the more age appropriate Elisha Cuthbert substituting for Jun Ji-hyun. But what really distinguishes Jun is her eyes which bulge out at the incredulous suggestion that as the titular character, she is to be challenged.

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My Sassy Girl starts off like a Korean version of the kind of film Ashton Kutcher would have appeared in a few years ago. A young man, Gyeon-woo, spots a young woman inches away from falling into the path on an oncoming subway. While both are on the subway, it becomes clear that the girl is extremely drunk, at one point vomiting on the head of one of the subway passengers. Mistakenly identified as the girl's boyfriend, Gyeon-woo finds himself taking the girl to a love hotel for the night to get her off the street. From there the relationship, more of a chaste, idiosyncratic friendship develops.

The title literally is translated as "Bizarre Girl". Sassy may be too misleading a description. Obdurate and bossy come a bit closer in fitting the girl, who like Joan Fontaine in Rebecca, remains unnamed. Jun's performance keeps this character some might find obnoxious, endearing instead. Some of the humor also comes at the expense of Tae-hyun Cha, the frequently hapless suitor of the girl.

What little I could glean from IMDb indicates that the upcoming remake will be have changes from the original version. What may make this film of some interest is that the new version is directed by Yann Samuel, who debuted with Love Me if You Dare. The French film was about two friends, male and female, that constantly dared each other with increasingly risky challenges. In some respects, there is a similarity to the girl's challenges to Gyeon-woo in My Sassy Girl with the game playing of Love Me if You Dare. That a French filmmaker is remaking a Korean film for a primarily American audience may be typical of Hollywood - by reworking an Asian story that can be easily transposed to the U.S., with a filmmaker who has learned his craft elsewhere - risk free Hollywood continues its flight from the slightest hint of originality.

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Posted by peter at January 8, 2008 12:20 AM

Comments

This Movie is BADA§§!!!

Posted by: Raina Yang at February 4, 2008 07:35 PM