Marrying the Mafia
Director: Jung Heung-Soon
Cast: Jung Jun-Ho, Kim Jung-Eun, Yoo Dong-Geun
Marrying the Mafia was the highest grossed film in Korea in 2002. Not only did it push The Way Home down to the 1st runner-up position, it also beat all of the Hollywood blockbusters with a theatrical run that lasted for longer than two months.
What is so special about this movie? The story is quite typical. Dae-Suh (Jung Jun-Ho), a young and promising college graduate who has bright future, has accidentally slept with Jin-Kyung (Kim Jung-Eun), the daughter of a gangster family. He is forced by her father to marry her as he and Jin-Kyung's brothers all believe that Dae-Suh is the one who will bring honors to their family, and so they try their best to get them together. This explains why the Korean title of this movie is called "Family Honor". If you are a Korean film regular, you'll probably have the same initial reaction as me, thinking that the plotline is quite similar to the box office hit of 2001 My Wife is Gangster. In both films, An innocent man is compelled to marry to a woman who has mafia connection. What distinguishes this movie from My Wife is Gangster is the character of the female lead. Kim Jung-Eun is different from Shin Eun-Kyung as she is not the leader of the gang family, nor does she possess any martial art ability. Her character is rather more gentle and tender. The furious and destructive temperament is left to his father and three brothers. Since there are quite a number of characters, the story is quite fruitful, in addition to the major love plot between Jung Jun-Ho and Kim Jung-Eun, there is also an interesting sub-plot about Jin-Kyung's brother (Yoo Dong-Geun) and his wife. Relationships among Jin-Kyung and her brothers are also well depicted.
Without doubt, this movie is quite entertaining. The jokes are well articulated as well as the flow of the narrative. However, in terms of creativity, I think it is not innovative at all. There is absolutely no new ideas, the main plot simply follows the cliche of the screwball comedy genre - the two protagonists start out as an odd couple and then gradually develop an intimate relationship. Everything is just too predictable. The reason why it is well received in Korea is probably because of the nature of the jokes. I believe some of the jokes can satisfy the fantasy of most audience. For instance, when Dae-Suh and his friends are threatened by gangsters in a bar, he quickly phones Jin-Kyung's brothers. The brothers come and beat the gangsters bad. On the one hand, what Dae-Suh does serves the purpose of a kind of fantasy fulfillment, and on the other hand, it also helps to release the daily pressure of the audience.
Jung Jun-Ho is a very popular actor in Korea right now, his new films were coming out one by one in 2002. His charisma fits the requirement of the role and it proves to be very successful. However, to me, Kim Jun-Eun and Yoo Dong-Geun are even more eye-catching. Kim Jung-Eun's range is quite broad, she can be a soft and passive girl in one scene, and suddenly turns to a vicious and bitchy type in another.
It is sometimes very difficult to estimate the taste of the audience. The success of Marrying the Mafia is probably a surprise to many film critics. Certainly, it cannot be considered a miracle, as the quality of this movie is not that low actually. Nevertheless, if you talk about new elements or sincerity, it is definitely not as enlightening as The Way Home or Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance.
The DVD version is a rare 3 disc set. Disc 1 is the feature film, disc 2 the bonus materials, and disc 3 the original soundtrack CD. Good news for lovers of this movie is, the price of this 3 discs special edtion is just the same as most other regular DVDs.
Cool guy(s) - Kim Jung-Eun, Yoo Dong-Geun
Reviewed by: Kantorates