Friday, December 26, 2014

Catching Up with Jo Seung-woo

My love for Jo Seung-woo is no secret. So as a fan, I do try to keep up with his works. But it's been frustratingly difficult to do so. Aside from the surprising enter to dramas, he's only done movies and musicals. I can't do anything about musicals, unless someone wants to fly me out to Seoul. But I can do something about movies. Somehow. It takes a while, but it happens.

So for Christmas day, since I wasn't really doing anything, I decided to watch the more recent Jo Seung-woo movies I haven't watched which are Perfect Game and The Peach Tree. If you've been reading my blog for a long time (and I mean a loooong time), you'd know that I covered these movies a while back. And since neither of them are that popular, it took some time to find English subs online. And by long time, I mean 3 years. It's a tough life.

Instead of boring you with reviews, I decided to just casually talk about them both in one post. Truthfully, it's because I have very little things to say about either of them. They were okay movies that were just not up my alley. The highlight of both is Jo Seung-woo for me, surprise surprise. Everything else was pretty meh. Except a bit where Park Seo-joon showed up, but I'll talk about that later.

So first up, Perfect Game. Here's a disclaimer: I'm not a fan of sports. I don't know any of the terminology they were using (ball point? Isn't that a pen?). I don't know who the hell Lotte Giants or Haitai Tigers are (thankfully this is a typed out post because I totally got them mixed up). I mean, is this what I have to do to watch a beloved actor's work? Yes. Yes it is.

It's not a terrible movie, and there were scenes not involving Jo Seung-woo that got me feeling something. They even managed to make baseball, a sport I personally find boring, to be somewhat exciting. I say somewhat, because it really wasn't that exciting. I haven't watched too many sports films (see: disinterest in sports) but I would imagine this to be like any other sports films out there, Korean or otherwise. There are heroes to root for, a rags to riches-esque story line, lots of fired up fans burning buses, the necessary heart warming game that changed everything. I could see this movie as something a lot of baseball fans would love to see.

But that's the problem. I feel like it's too much of an insider movie. It's a movie very much geared for people who loves a ball game. Others would instead feel disconnected or even confused about all the hullabaloo surrounding the event. I mean it's just a bunch of men throwing balls at each other, for goodness sakes. Plus, there doesn't seem to be any particular plot, especially those surrounding the main characters; Korea's best pitchers Sun Dong-yeol (Yang Dong-geun) and Choi Dong-won (Jo Seung-woo) battling out over a 4-plus hour game. Spoiler alert: everyone wins. Even South Korea as a nation. Or something like that.

The only remotely interesting story was that of Park Man-soo (Ma Dong-seok) who plays one of Haitai Tigers' backup catcher (is that the correct terminology?) who has been professional for 20 years but has never played a game. He then becomes a crucial player in the game, first hitting a home run, then playing as the game catcher. Man, I really sound like someone who has never watched a game, don't I? Anyways. Sadly his story is very minor. It probably should've been bigger than the whole element of a news reporter in the form of Choi Jung-won whose role I'm sure is mostly so there's a female "lead" in the movie. *roll eyes* This movie could've done more without that and more of the bromance between Jo Seung-woo and Yang Dong-geun. That would've been perfect.

It's not that I didn't enjoy the movie at all. Those sweaty Jo Seung-woo scenes are what fangirl dreams are made of. But the story never really drew me in. It may be because I'm unaware and uninterested in baseball, or because of the absence of an actual story line. I'm sure it's a strong combination of the two, and the outcome is not that good. But it's worth it because of, you guessed it, Jo Seung-woo. Also, Park Seo-joon had a bit role in the sauna scene when he was still known as Park Yong-gyu. He wasn't as sculpted as he is now, but it's just fun to see him in one of his earliest roles. And you know, the more Park Seo-joon the better.

Next we shall talk about The Peach Tree, the odd sophomore film directed by actress Goo Hye-sun. Like I've said in a previous post, I've never watched any of her directorial works. But with recent news of the actress taking an extended leave from her director chair, I can understand the criticism. The Peach Tree tries really hard to become a whimsical fantasy fare but, like Perfect Game above, it lacks in the most important component of a movie: a plot. It doesn't help that, unlike Perfect Game which had characters we can at least attempt to root for, The Peach Tree had characters that were just downright questionable. They were one-dimensional personas not helped with uneven and barely there development. Of all of them, Nam Sang-mi's Seung-ah was the worst. Not sure if its the writing, directing, or acting choices, but if Seung-ah was real, I just hope she wouldn't be abducted forced to become someone's living sex toy. Her life choices are nothing short of disturbing.

Although, I do think Goo Hye-sun could become a rather excellent music video director. Her lack of ability in storytelling and character design was slightly masked by creating the right ambiance for each scene. My eyes and ears were delighted with the sensations they're receiving. She set up the table very prettily. Sadly the meal itself was lackluster.

It doesn't help that Jo Seung-woo got the end of the deal, or rather the back of the head. He played the unfortunate Siamese twin who only has a face somehow, but no control of the good stuff like the hands and the feet and the penis. What a sad life he got. At least he had a pleasant personality.

I was quite disappointed with both of these movies, if you couldn't tell. It's probably somewhat upsetting for the man himself. Then again, how can you top something like Marathon or Tazza or The Classic? Those movies come once in a long while. Maybe he'll get a little bit luckier with The Insiders, a soon-to-be-released movie also starring Lee Byung-hun about corruption in the Korean society. No Jo Seung-woo stills yet, which is bummer. I'll probably have to watch that and just pray it's not gory. So now I still have H, where he plays a convicted murderer, and Low Life, pretty self explanatory, though I don't think I would watch either. Maybe the latter if I can find it. There's also YMCA Baseball Team but I caught on early that Jo Seung-woo only cameo-ed or else I'll have to survive yet another baseball movie.

As a fan, I'm not sure what other projects I want to see him in next. I feel like he's covered a pretty good ground allowing him to show off his acting muscles very well. The projects might not do well every time, but it's a guarantee that he'll be amazing nonetheless. Is it a stretch to want him in another drama? Mostly for the convenience and abundance of footage. I just hope he'll be back on screen, any screen, in 2015. Let's make a prayer circle together, shall we?


  1. Hey conan!

    I've watched pretty much all of JSW's work except for YMCA Baseball Team, H, Peach Tree and Horse Healer(-because why?!?!) but although he's one hell of an actor, I only actually liked Tazza and GG14D. *Le Sigh* Really hoping The Insiders is good and is a hit because the man deserves it! :D

    Would love to see him in a musical though! Did you hear he's going to be reprising his role in Jekyll and Hyde for the show's 10th year anniversary? Anyone who gets ticket for that is a lucky duck!

    1. For me, the ones I liked the most was The Classic (for sentimental reasons) and Tazza (that movie is downright fantastic). I don't think any of the ones I've watched are terrible, but his ratio is more weighed on the mediocre, which is so sad! I'm a bit wary of The Insiders too though since Lee Byung-hun is having a scandal atm. But maybe the movie will be good, although I'm not really into the plot that much. At least he has a ton of success on stage, but I wish I can see him in that. Oh, the woes of an international fan!

    2. How could I forget about The Classic!? (But similar to you, my appreciation for the movie was more due to sentimental reasons...)

      I'm actually conflicted about The Insiders as well. I actually find the plot to be interesting but while I absolutely love JSW, I'm not the biggest fan of LBH (especially not after this scandal)! I want to support JSW but just wished his co-star was someone else...

    3. Totally. Or better yet, make another movie/drama! Am I asking too much?