masterly master lee

a home for forgotten and famous korean pulp, its heroes, its heroines, and its pulpeteers

Green Chair 녹색의자 2004 review

Park Chul-soo once, in 1995, made 301-302 and at the time Master Lee thought it was quite a cool film. Although the scenes of abuse were a little unnecessary at times, it had Hwang Sin-hye, and her beauty, silent defiance and suffering worked brilliantly. Although not much happened, there was a lot to be learnt (not enjoyed, mind you) from carefully observing the women. Park obviously felt he could get a similar effect here. After all, as in 301 302 we’re dealing with a seriously doomed relationship that is worth observing, or so Park thinks: Suh Jung plays Mun-hee who is 32 and therefore much older than her lover, Hyeon (Shim Ji-ho), who is 19 years old and therefore below the legal age of 20.

Mun-hee goes to prison, but as soon as she comes out, the two restart their relationship while Mun-hee does community service. It now appears as if Hyeon is playing with her, and Mun-hee merely suffering. This particular aspect of Park’s movie has great potential, but unfortunately, Park keeps going back to scenes filled with sex that tell no story. In fact, that the sex continues to be pretty good is all we’re “told”: the people are very much addicted to each other’s bodies, even though at some time there is some clear flirting going on between Hyeon and Moon-hee’s potter friend, in whose house they live for the remainder of the movie. We get virtually no background information on the two characters at all, and what we’re supposed to think of the relationship with the friend remains very unclear.

Master Lee’s patience began to wear very thin, even though the movie was much praised for its honesty. But isn’t honesty something that you get credit for after you’ve actually said something? To make matters worse, in the final scene the lovers suddenly decide to have a party to which they invite all the people that caused their initial doom: the police officer, the former husband of Moon-hee, the parents, and a young girl who’s stalked Hyeon for a long time. This scene is extremely patronizing in terms of both the actions of the lovers in the movie towards their uncomfortable guests – why on earth would they want to throw such a party? – as in terms of director Park’s attitude towards his audience, telling us that, really, love between adults is okay (as if we didn’t know). Master Lee found himself curling his toes, and thought of three things that could have saved this movie: 1) an actress who actually looks a little older than 20; 2) a little bit more story; and 3) the cutting of the final scene in which Hyeong reveals that he has great martial arts skills and subsequently does a quick backflip onto a roof. No, Master Lee did not ruin the movie for you by saying this; Park did all the work for him.

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