Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Windstruck (2004)

Genre : Romance, Comedy, Crime, Action, Drama.
Language : Korean
Country : South Korea
Cast : Jeon Ji-Hyun, Jang Hyuk, Lee Ki Woo, Kim Chang-Wan, Cha Tae-Hyun.
Directed by : Kwak Jae-Yong
Run Time : 123 min
Release Date : 3rd July, 2004

Synopsis :
Windstruck” (Korean : Nae Yeoja Chingureul Sogae Habnida a.k.a. Yeochinso; Literally means, ‘Let me introduce (you to) my girlfriend’) is a 2004 South Korean romantic-fantasy comedy film starring one of the most famous Korean actress Jeon Ji-Hyun and up-and-coming actor Jang Hyuk. The film was a major success, ranking as the 8th-highest grossing Korean film of 2004.

In fact, some critics have retorted that ‘Windstruck’ is just another sappy version of ‘My Sassy Girl’. This is true, to a certain extent. However, you could say that Kwak's style of directing has been recombined to give a new bittersweet formula. It seems that Kwak has drawn from his experience in directing comedies such as ‘My Sassy Girl’ and melodramas such as ‘The Classic’, and decided to try both formulas in the same project. The result you get is – ‘Windstruck’!

Plot :
In an interesting opening, the movie has ‘Jeon Ji-Hyun’, standing at the top of a building, attempting to commit suicide, with ‘Jang Hyuk’ as the background narrator. It then moves on to a flashback and switches to a narrative mode to tell the story of the preceding events which eventually lead to the opening scene. Throughout the narration, we witness the encounters of our two protagonists and how they eventually end up together. There were a couple of hilarious moments and scenes which tickle the audience's funny bone!

The story of this movie revolves around Officer Yeo Kyung-Jin (Jeon Ji-Hyun), an ambitious young female police officer serving in the Seoul police department. One day while chasing a purse snatcher, she accidentally captures Ko Myung-Woo (Jang Hyuk), a physics teacher at an all-girls school, who was actually trying to catch the thief. Later, Myung-Woo discovers the stolen purse, but just as he picks it up, Kyung-Jin spots him and tries to arrest him again. Later, Myung-Woo was released as the real thief was caught by the police with the help of the sketch drawn by him!

Kyung-Jin is then given the job of escorting Myung-Woo who was volunteering for patrolling through a dangerous district, only to be distracted when she tries to break up a meeting between Russian Mafia and Korean gangsters. With Myung-Woo handcuffed to her, Kyung-Jin almost single-handedly brings down the two rival gangs (although she is helped when she accidentally causes the groups to start shooting at each other)!

The first half of the film, told from Myung-Woo's point of view, details the couple's growing attraction and love for each other, which climaxes with a trip to the countryside where Myung-Woo tells Kyung-Jin that if he were ever to die, he wanted to come back to earth as the wind. Kyung-Jin narrates a local folklore about the romance between a Princess and her Prince charming (pinky effect!) to Myung-Woo. Soon after, he is almost killed in a freak car accident, but Kyung-Jin saves his life.

The film takes a turn into the fantasy genre in its second half after Myung-Woo is accidentally shot dead by another police officer, Yeong-Ho Kim (although the situation is such that Kyung-Jin thinks that it was her shot that killed him) as Kyung-Jin chases after a notorious criminal, Chang-Soo Shin. Kyung-Jin falls into a suicidal depression over his death and attempts to kill herself several times, almost succeeding when she throws herself off a building, only to be saved when a giant hand-shaped balloon floats under her. Soon after, she experiences visitations from Myung-Woo, who appears as the wind, sending her messages and, at one point, he even appears in her dreams in order to give her the will to live after she is nearly shot to death by the same criminal.

Ultimately the film follows a similar path set out by the American film ‘Ghost’ with Myung-Woo and Kyung-Jin communicating and sharing one final gesture of love before he moves on to the afterlife. Myung-Woo said that he will whisper, when she hears him whisper in the wind, and she will meet someone with a soul like him. Myung-Woo told Kyung-Jin that he will always be beside her inside a book with a photo left by Myung-Woo in the restaurant before he rushed to meet Kyung-Jin who was chasing the insane criminal.

In the first half of the film, Myung-Woo told that his only memory of high school was his high school trip. The book and the photo is found and returned to Kyung-Jin in the police station. The photo showed that on Myung-Woo's trip, Kyung-Jin was also nearby with her friends. This proved Myung-Woo's "I'm always beside you!" was true to Kyung-Jin. Kyung-Jin rushed out to locate the finder of the book, ultimately ending up in the train station, where she is saved by Cha Tae-Hyun's character (credited as ‘The Guy’) from being hit by the arriving train. Myung-Woo whispered that ‘The Guy’ is the one with the soul like him. Kyung-Jin whispers that "he is always beside her!

Connections to ‘My Sassy Girl’ :
‘Windstruck’ shares the same leading actress and director as an earlier popular South Korean film, ‘My Sassy Girl’. As a result, ‘Windstruck’ contains several subtle references to the previous film. For example, a photo of Jeon Ji-Hyun from ‘My Sassy Girl’ is visible on Kyung-Jin's piano (while playing the piano). Plus the final scene of ‘Windstruck’, in which Kyung-Jin meets her new soul mate (played by Cha Tae-Hyun, the male lead from ‘My Sassy Girl’) on a train platform, is similar to the beginning scene of ‘My Sassy Girl’ and her character from ‘My Sassy Girl’ is distraught over the death of her true love!

Also, when Kyung-Jin is chasing Chang-Soo Shin in ‘Windstruck’, she tells a random citizen to act as a steppingstone to climb over the wall just like in ‘My Sassy Girl’, when she accidentally steps on a runaway soldier (played by the same actor) when she and Cha Tae-Hyun visited the amusement park during her birthday.

Jeon Ji-Hyun also plays the piano in both movies. However, "Windstruck" is not a full 'prequel' to "My Sassy Girl" in the literal sense of the term, but you can feel the connection between them!

Cast :
■ Yeo Kyung-Jin / Princess (Jeon Ji-Hyun a.k.a. Gianna Jun)
■ Ko Myung-Woo (Jang Hyuk)
■ Yeong-Ho Kim, Assistant Inspector (Kim Jeong-Tae)
■ Police Chief / Sheriff (Kim Chang-Wan)
■ Prince (Lee Ki Woo)
■ ‘The Guy’ at Platform / New Soul Mate (Cha Tae-Hyun)
■ Chang-Soo Shin, Criminal (Jeong-Ho Bin)

Ratings : = 7.1/10; = 4.1/5; = 9.1/10; = 5/5

[Source : Wikipedia, IMDB, RottenTomatoes, HanCinema, KoreanFilm, MovieFilmReview]

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