26 March 2006

oh ki-hwan's seon-mul (last present, 2001)

every now and then, australian tv uncovers a string of surprises. for instance, oh ki-hwan's debut film “last present” is on sbs (australia's multicultural broadcasting station) tonight. i had the pleasure of watching this korean film before, so i am watching it again. and i am not disappointed. yong-gi (lee jung-jae) is a struggling comedian trying to break into television. after losing their first baby, yong-gi appears suspicious of his wife, jung-yeon (lee young-ae). in time, he learns that jung-yeon has a terminal illness. yong-gi compromises himself professionally by taking in discomfited roles just to make ends meet. in particular, he needed money for jung-yeon’s herbal medicines. yong-gi also hires a couple of comic con men to track down jung-yeon's old school friends and a mysterious high-school love so she can meet them again before she dies (she gets to meet many of these old friends as the film progresses). but unknown to yong-gi, jung-yeon was preparing a “last present” for him. it turns out that yong-gi is jung-yeon’s mysterious first love.

a korean friend says that park jung-woo (the film’s screenwriter) wrote the script when his mother was dying from cancer. oh ki-hwan translates this experience by extracting committed performances from lee jung-jae and lee young-ae. lee young-ae is totally understated while appearing anemic and haggard. no hysterics here. quite impressively, she is deglamorized from her off-screen “crush ng bayan” persona. lee-jung-jae is equally magnificent. he renders simultaneous nuances of slapstick and heartbreak throughout the film. there is total cohesion between the lead performers, particularly in scenes where lee jung-ae’s character competes for tv’s king of comedy title. meanwhile, minimalist musical scoring enhances the narrative’s mood and color. the over-all effect is gripping. good intentions and genuine emotions run through. in the end, oh ki-hwan pulls it all together.

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seon-mul (last present, 2001)

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lee young-ae
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lee jung-jae

3 comments:

subrosa said...

hey cousin wendell - my dad is in the philippines right now building their retirement home(!!!), and my mother will be joining him on may 22nd. how often do you get home? when my parents begin spending more time in philippines, you can expect us (me, my brother and sister and family) to be visiting home more frequently.

maureen said...

hello..just blog hopped saw yer post about last present. loved the movie ^_^

i was surprised na pinoy po pala keo. ahehehe. ^^;

Anonymous said...

hi! I am eden...matagal ko nang gustong mapanuod ang movie na 'to. do you know where I can possibly watch it? please help. salamat =)