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Preview: Mr. Kim Bong-doo

Posted March. 20, 2003 22:16,   


There is nothing new about the idea of a city sleeker forced to face a new life in a rural village and then learning the true meaning of life. It has been a repeated theme of family comedy.

`Mr. Kim Bong-doo,` set to be released on March 28, reminds the audience of last year`s hit `Going Home,` a moving story about a smart city boy and his homely grandmother living in a remote village. Yet, this movie tries to catch the two birds through the relationship between a vulgar teacher sent from Seoul and simple-hearted students countryside.

It lacks details and there is also something missing with main characters, but if you like a story that makes you laugh and cry, you find the movie okay.

Kim Bong-doo is a vulgar teacher who likes to meet rich parents living in the big city. Being caught receiving money, he is sent to a small primary school in a remote rural village. There are only five students and no rich parents.

Seeking ways to get out of this small village, he gets inspired by a bargirl who says casually, `You have to get rid of children to close the school.` Then, he crafts a plan to transfer children to other schools. To carry out his scheme, he is suddenly kind to his students and their parents.

Cha Seung-won plays a single leading role in this movie for the first time. He wears a fake smile to students and plays a go-stop game by himself. He seems to be in his prime years of comic act.

Meanwhile, aside from Kim Bong-du, other characters were not clearly portrayed. Bong-du`s father served as a janitor in school in the past, and now a man called Chunsik (Seong Ji-ru) is working as a janitor in the school to which Bong-du has transferred.

In a scene at the start of the movie Bong-du driving a car is confronted by Chunsik driving a cultivator on a narrow road. This scene makes you expect that something bad will happen between them. However, Chunsik does not play any important role to the end.

Amid the poor plot and characterization, episodes surrounding Bong-du living in the country give an impression that this film is boring.

The portrayal of children in the country as too good looks somewhat artificial, but this movie teaches us faith in something pure. When children hold out an envelope that contains money made by cutting branches in the mountain, Bong-du reproves them with tears welling up in his eyes.

However, the strategy to induce tears from moviegoers goes too far in the last scene showing the commencement ceremony.

Fun & Happiness, the production company of this movie, plans to reduce the number of scenes portraying the commencement ceremony because of people`s complaints that nowadays students in elementary schools do not weep or cry at the ceremony at a preview. Jang Kyu-sung, who made his debut with Funny Movie, directed the film. Admission for 12 years or older

Hee-Kyung Kim susanna@donga.com