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Film Review - ``The Moonlit Night in Shilla``

Posted June. 18, 2001 08:13,   


The film, ``The Moonlit Night in Shilla``, is a comic movie. Thus, if one watches it with seriousness, it can be a bit boring.

This film contains life stories of two schoolmates, Ki-Dong (Cha Seung-Won), who had been a gang-boss in a high school but became a teacher later, and Young-Joon (Lee Sung-Jae), a model student who later became a gang-member.

The film set up a gang-fight that took place 10 years ago on a moonlit night in Kyungju as a turning point at which the destiny of two heroes switched their lives in two opposite direction. The coward, who ran away from a group-fight in which almost all student of the school fought, becomes a gang-member. And the `fist hero` of the day, becomes a teacher after an intensive studying period.

These two friends in Kyungju are seized with a complicated emotion as they see their unexpectedly changed lives. In midst of this very complicated scenario, a love triangle among two the two heroes and Ju-Ran is inserted. And an episode of childish high-schoolers including Jong-Sup (Lee Jong-Su), Ju-Ran’s brother who wanted to become a gang-member, are mingled together.

This movie’s the `only` strong and fascinating point is, of course, its entertainment value.

It is a continuation of the ``Gas Station Attack`` by the director Kim Sang-Jin in 1999 (the number of audience in Seoul : 0.96 million). There is not much difference between the two films, but the limited space of the gas station has been expanded to Kyungju and more frequent encountering with the past is displayed.

In this film, even an action scene, which is expected to be violent, is sough out in a humorous way. Although `The Moonlit Night in Shilla` talks about the smoldering strife in the gang world as `The Friend`, its tone is different. While `The Friend` is a really a violent movie, `The Moonlit Night in Shilla` is a comedy.

Director Kim’s style to create laugh consists of sudden changes of situation and cartoon-style creativity which is at times a bit preposterous. The body of Ki-Dong, which was flying toward the gang-members, falls down to the surface in the midst of conversation. The boss of gang in Kyungju, blowing his own horn, is captured as a hostage. A police badge, a symbol of authority, is hackey-sacked by the people from here to there.

Even though the story of friendship between Ki-Dong and Young-Joon is inserted in the middle, no one wonders about the progression of the narration. Upon viewing the beginning, the conclusion is easily assumed.

But, the intention of the director was to entertain his audience with a sense of light heartedness, and he had achieved that goal. The original source of the entertainment is the Don Quixote style performance of Cha Seung-Won, who played the role of Ki-Dong. NC 15. Opens on 23th.

Kim Gab-Sik gskim@donga.com