Whew!! Well… November is gone and it slipped right by yours truly without me really getting much of anything done. And…. there’s a sizable list of things this wee lady should have accomplished last month… Like this oft promised… and waaaay, waaay overdue… collaborative review with our fellow Korean film fan Stephen (aka Elpeevio) of “Things Fall Apart”. But… just when things look lost, I finally worked up the gumption to buckle down and finish this one. No, really!! ;)
Well, I am not going to let you take all the blame here Miyuki, I have been pretty rubbish myself at getting my side of things sorted as well, but seems as if we have finally made it. So as our Korean friends would say, “Fighting!”. And thank-you for inviting me again.
Our synopsis? How’s this: “Ever since a near drowning accident when she was a child, Soo Ro (Ko Hyun-Jung) has suffered from an severe anxiety disorder, and often has panic attacks when she’s around people. Thrown into yet another one when her beloved sister goes away on a trip, a kindly yet mysterious nun helps her out. Soo Ro agrees to make a somewhat suspicious delivery for the nun in return for her kindness, but when she gets to the hotel room of the recipient – she walks right into a murder scene! It turns out that this nun is actually the notorious criminal go-between known as “Miss Go”, and Soo Ro just gets herself mixed up in a drug dealing operation. She manages to get out of the hotel alive, but now both the cops and the mob are on her tail all mistaking her for the real “Miss Go”!
Yep… not a ghost, alien, monster, or ninja in sight this time out, just what I’m hoping would be a suitably wacky comedy romance caper for a nice lil’ change of pace. Was that what I actually got? Not to mention… did I like it? Well… guess you’ll want to “Read On” and find out just what your Favorite Catgirl…. and “Special Guest Star Reviewer” Stephen thought of this one. ;)
Haha, Guest star indeed. This one is a bit of a change of pace for both of us really. I haven’t looked at a wacky comedy romance caper for an absolute age.
Now it’s fairly clear that this one isn’t the usual cup of tea that shows up here at the ol’ Litterbox. Nope…. not by a long shot. Still, while the scary stuff is my ordinary choice movie-wise, I actually do like other types of films too… sometimes even some surprisingly literate, “artsy” types of films. Is “Miss Conspirator” one of those? Errrrr…. Ummmmm…. not really. It is, however, a nice little “caper” film with some action, comedy, and romance thrown in to spice things up along the way.
Let’s be honest, isn’t my usual cup of tea either, although I do object when you usually advertise me as one of those more interested in these more “artsy” films! ThingsFallApart is open and welcome to all kinds of movies! However our joint reviews do tend to try and hit the middle ground (something we must change for next time).
Directed by Park Chul Kwan,who also directed 2001′s popular gangster comedy “Hi Dharma!” and starring actress Ko Hyun Jung, star of the Korean television series “Queen Seon Duk” and “What’s Up, Fox?”, “Miss Conspirator tries to capture some of the madcap feeling of films that remind me of some of the old Bob Hope romantic comedies like “My Favorite Spy”. You remember those… take one slightly goofy lead character and push them out of a familiar comfort zone and into the most outrageously dangerous predicaments to see what sort of crazy antics will ensue.
Its an interesting one because Director Park had a huge local hit with “Hi! Dharma!”, but hasn’t made another film for over a decade. And Ko Hyun Jung is a massive TV Star (suffering and surviving the stigma of a high profile divorce and a corporate blacklisting due to who her husband was – go google it), but rather surprisingly, this is he first feature film starring role. At the age of 40. I’m applauding!
This time out, it’s a socially isolated cartoonist given the old “mistaken identity” plot and forced to keep herself one step ahead of a triad of interests while learning that she has more strength than she ever thought possible hidden waaaaay inside herself. There’s a romantic angle too… as the somewhat mousy Soo Ro falls for the dangerous charms of undercover cop “Red Shoes” (played by Yu Hae Jin).
Many films like this one try to balance the style of comedy, action, and romance to achieve their success, story-wise. Sadly,although I really wanted to like this film in that way, I have to say that for the most part it struggles to find that “special balance”, never quite striking it in a comfortable and easily enjoyable fashion.
I have to agree. In fact, this mix up of genres and styles is usually the big selling point of Korean Cinema, and after enjoying the opening sequences, the film really failed to deliver a satisfying feast even given some rather delicious ingredients.
There are some really great moments. The crazy way Soo Ro first becomes enmeshed in danger, discovering the murder victim in his hotel and subsequently escaping through a combination of grit and dumb luck as both the mob and police stumble around the crime scene…. so close to capturing her, and yet always just missing her. Classic… Her discovery of the Mob’s stolen money in a locker at the train station…. dodging her pursuers with only the help of Red Shoes on her trusty cellphone to guide her out. Really funny, and very suspensefully done. So… what brings this one down for me?
I was impressed by these sequences as well. In fact the film worked at its best when Soo-ro is on screen. Other than the visually impressive animated credits, the film really loses the enjoyability factor only when she is off-screen. Which happens way too often.
Hmmmm? I think my biggest disappointment was in the romantic setup between Soo Ro and the roguish Red Shoes that shows soooo much promise early on only to somehow crash and burn by the third act… and never recover. Yes, yes…. I know that Red Shoes betrays Soo Ro for the money, but since when has that ever really stood in the way of true romance? Seriously…. There are moments when you can sense a really connection between the two… a chemistry that told me they should have ended up together despite everything, but ultimately they don’t. And that’s a shame…. even if it plays into the film’s final moments in which the transformed Soo Ro shows her sister she’s strong enough to stand on her own…. and maybe even show the world a thing or two. I think I still would have liked a romantic reunion to go with it. Just my personal feeling, but there you go. Basically… the darker moments of this story, and there are a few… are a bit too dark and sad to truly fit the theme and in my feeling, bring the story down, leaving you a bit too blue to fully enjoy the finale.
I will go a little further. There just is no spark at all between our leads. I simply did not buy the romance angle at all, and that betrayal, not wanting to spoil too much, was potentially way more than selling her out for the money – it had a potentially fatal impact – and call me an old romantic… but riding off and leaving her is unforgivable (even if he did come back eventually). On the other hand, maybe I am glad that they didn’t hook up after this, the really important thing is that Soo-ro is able to overcome her trauma and start to function properly.
Actress Ko Hyun Jung captures the essence of both the eccentric shy home-body Soo Ro as well as the ultimately brilliant, slightly dangerous,and surprisingly capable “Miss Go” she eventually transforms herself into. Yu Hae Jin’s “Red Shoes” is that credible “Bad boy with a Heart of Gold” that works well as her romantic interest. Most of the rest of the cast put in solid work too to ultimately make “Miss Conspirator” a passably entertaining, if somewhat confusing film worth an evening’s entertainment on Movie Night. It’s unfortunately not a film I’ll long remember with oodles of fond memories, but it wasn’t a bad film either and sits in that middle ground of cinema goodies that just missed it by a hair. All in all…. I’d have to give “Miss Conspirator” 3 “Meows”, It just isn’t in the same league as other earlier Korean efforts like my personal favorite,2001′s “My Wife Is Gangster” (조폭 마누라) or the equally good comedy caper 2007′s “Femme Fatale” aka “Happy Killing (죽어도 해피 엔딩).
I’ll agree with you that Ko Hyun-jung is pretty excellent, but other than a few moments here and there, that was it for me. As you will see over in my review, the film delivered mostly disappointment an a number of levels. Like you say, it isn’t horrible bad, but just unmemorable. If I did such things, the I think maybe I would award it 2 of your “Meows”. There are far better films in this genre available. Like “My Wife is a Gangster” (bar the really horrible and cruel 5 minutes where a pregnant woman is beaten up).
The DVD? It’s Korean…. and so that means a Region 3 NTSC widescreen format with almost perfect English subtitles for our viewing enjoyment. Right now, it’s available in a deluxe 2 disc “First Pressing” format for around 30-36$ US, but I’m pretty certain it’ll show up with a much easier on the pocketbook price when HK gets a release. That’s when this wee Catgirl suggests the average Gentle Visitor spend their hard earned money…. you’ll probably thank Stephen and I for having waited. Seems we were both fairly disappointed this time out…. :(
Trailer, you say? Yep, got ya covered and here it goes.