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Posted March. 10, 2006 02:59,   


Before going into the details of the new movie “Daisy,” one thing to keep in mind is that the film is more or less like your traditional romantic movie.

It’s easy to mistake “Daisy” for an macho, action-packed, destiny-meets-love story, given the incriminating ingredients of director of “Internal Affairs” Andrew Lau, stars like Jun Ji-hyun, Jung Woo-sung, Lee Sung-jae, and a plot that goes as follows: “A conflict between a hitman and an Interpol officer who both fight for one woman’s love.” But the real movie proves to be much different.

The first thing to watch out for in this movie is, as hard as it is to see past the glittering names of A-list celebrities, the name Kwak Jae-yong, who wrote the screenplay. Kwak, who produced “My Sassy Girl” and “Windstruck,” is the person who’s trusted Jun Ji-hyun to come this far. Right here we can deduce two things from this. First, that Jun will still be as pretty as ever, and second, that the love story will be pure, and maybe even prepubescent.

Artist Hye-young (Jun Ji-hyun), who draws portraits on the streets of Amsterdam, receives daisies from an anonymous person daily. Drawing a portrait of that someone in her heart, one day she meets an Interpol officer Jung-woo (Lee Sung-jae). Hye-young is convinced that Jung-woo is the one and falls in love, but Jung-woo hasn’t the heart to tell her that it’s not so. The real secret admirer is a professional hitman by the name of Park-ui (Jung Woo-sung), who loves Hye-young from afar, until he is given a picture of Jung-woo as his next target.

From a visual aspect, “Daisy” does a spectacular job. The moderately romantic yet gloomy atmosphere of the Netherlands painted the fate of the main characters with dark tones. The nervous, high-strung camerawork illustrates the taut and dangerous tension between the characters.

The camera moves from the shoes of Jung-woo to Park-ui, and the visual magic that director Lau conjures up from his first-person viewpoint makes the compassion in all of us surge into the maelstrom that is their destiny.

The problem with Daisy is that although the scenery has a pathetic beauty that is touching, the love is by comparison, weak and translucent.

The movie leads us on with its profound tag line: “He delivers flowers, but he also delivers death.” But behind the grandiose words, their love is not animated enough to be considered fatal or touching at all. The reason why this movie keeps getting more egocentric as it tries to tell their love story is because of the limitations of the original screenplay. We know that they love each other already; we’re just never allowed to know why.

Jun, whose picture-perfect yawning is reminiscent of a commercial, was and is attractive, but she can’t put off the real deal of acting forever. After all, we’ve all seen daisies wilt and wither away when their time comes.

Daisy is playing in theaters now, for ages 15 and up.

Seung-Jae Lee sjda@donga.com