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Can`t Give Up on My First Love

Posted June. 26, 2003 21:41,   


As `Oh! Happy Day` was a movie for young actress Jang Na-ra, `Do Whatever for First Love` was a movie for actor Cha Tae-hyun. At least for his fans, it must be fun to watch Cha making fuss about his love.

High school student Tae-il (Cha Tae-hyun) likes Il-mae (Son Ye-jin), a friend who has grown up together since they were little children. Il-mae is a pretty girl who is a good-behaving and popular student. Her father Young-dal (Yu Dong-geun) is Tae-il`s teacher. Tae-il is a lazy student who skips classes and leads a gang.

To stop Tae-il from going astray, Young-dal makes a promise that `he would allow Tae-il to marry his daughter` if Tae-il becomes a good student like her. Then, Tae-il becomes a hard-working student, doing whatever it takes to make his dream come true.

Critics say that it is a move for Cha since his acting is the only driving force of this movie. Oh Jong-rok, a TV producer-turned director, had Cha in mind from the beginning of scenario writing. Watching Tae-il laugh out loud some times and cry other times over the way Il-mae reacts to him, the audience reaches a conclusion that Cha is the one for the role.

The rub, however, is that this movie is more like a `show` rather than a `movie.` The story is a mere tool used to set stage for Cha`s acting. There are too many far-fetched parts of the story. Tae-il disguises himself as a cleaning lady to keep a watchful eye on Il-mae after finding out she goes out with the young playboy president of her company. He pickets in front of the company, and appears out of sudden while they are having date.

Then, the movie takes a sharp turn from a comedy to a melodrama in the latter part after Il-mae explains why she cannot be with Tae-il, which is hardly convincing.

Director Oh, known for such hit TV series as `Happy Together,` `Take My Heart,` `Julliet`s Man` and `the Piano,` has made his Chungmuro debut with this movie.

Like his predecessors Hwang In-roi (a Man with Flowers) and Choi Yoon-seok (General Hospital, the Movie) who are both TV producer-turned directors, however, he seems to learn a bitter lesson that a TV success does not necessarily guarantee a movie success. Release on June 27, for aged 12 or over.

Soo-Kyung Kim skkim@donga.com