Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Hwang Jin Yi/ Hwang Jini- the movie


Cast:
Hwang Jin Yi/황진이 (Song Hae Kyo/송혜교), Nom Yi/놈이 (Yoo Ji Tae/유지대), Hee Yorl/희열 (Ryu Seung Ryong/류승룡)
Director: Jang Yoon Hyun/장윤현
Festive Films website
Official site
Webzine site
Hwang Jin Yi MV
Hwang Jin Yi Trailer
Interview & photoshoot
Limited edition DVD from Yesasia

There has been much comparison between Hwang Jin Yi the movie and Hwang Jin Yi the drama. Of course, neither were the first in their attempts to showcase this legendary Korean giseang but they were the most recent. I believe Song Hye Kyo's movie version may have been announced first, taking 4 years to complete and costing 9.5 billion won. It was a lavish production. However, the drama Hwang Jin Yi (starring Ha Ji Won) aired on TV first...and unfortunately left a rather deep impression on most viewers.

I think a lot of research has gone into this movie and it shows in the details for the settings and costumes. Contrary to many viewers, I actually found the costumes very rich, despite the rather less than vibrant colors. The movie also had the rare approval of the North Korean government to film part of it in Mt Kumgang, which is loved by both North and South Korea. The movie version is said to follow closely a book written on the life of Hwang Jin Yi by the famous writer, Hong Sook Jung.

I have yet to watch the drama version, so I guess I can perhaps make a little more unbiased opinion.

Synopsis:
Hwang Jin Yi is the daughter of a aristocrat family, raised and taught everything that a well bred woman should know...

Nom Yi is a slave in the house. Both Jin Yi and Nom Yi are very close, having grew up together. Once, when they were young, Jin Yi persuaded Nom Yi to bring her outside to the streets to take a look. Nom Yi was punished and banished from the house for this.

Years passed, both are now grown up...but the Hwang family has fallen on hard times with the passing of her father. An arrangement to marry off Jin Yi to a very rich family was made. And Nom Yi, after wandered the world (and sort of became a gangster) came back to the family and became a steward for the family...to be near his beloved Jin Yi.

Just as she was about to prepare herself to live a life of a dutiful, submissive wife to a rich man, news leaked out that her mother is actually only a maid in the house (to be precise, the personal maid to the mistress of the house, whom she thought was her mother). The wedding was called off immediately.

It was then that she found out her own mother had become a giseang after leaving the family.

Hwang Jin Yi was devastated....

Her whole world, the only world she knew...came tumbling down overnight.

She decided she had 3 choices...3 roads to take..

1)to pretend as if nothing had happened and became the mistress to a respectable family
2)to become a slave like her mother
3)to become a gisaeng and have control over her life.

Offering herself to Nom Yi......she asked that he becomes her procurer (I think the rather crude term would be pimp)...her protector...

Thus began the life Hwang Jin Yi (or Myong Whol, her gisaeng name), the most famous gisaeng in Korean history.

Nom Yi...after staying by her side for a short while, could no longer bear to see her living her life as such...and left her.

Years later...Hwang Jin Yi is now an accomplished and most sought after gisaeng in the country.

The new magistrate, Hee Yorl arrived and she is called for....and a game began between the two of them...to see if men could be bought down by Hwang Jin Yi....


Nom Yi, after leaving Jin Yi, became the leader of a group of robin hood bandits.

Paths of the 3 characters crossed... which could only end in tragedy with the interplay of lust, power and love.

Thoughts:
There has been mixed reviews about this over in Korea....

But personally, I felt it wasn't too bad...the movie was ok. But I do agree that the direction and the storyline was probably not strong enough and did not do justice to the extensive work done in trying to accurately portray that part of the era.

The director wanted to show the darker side of Hwang Jin Yi..and yet...and yet...he did not quite succeed in this area. Hwang Jin Yi, according to all records was a strong woman, not in the sense of power. But rather she could manipulate the men through her talents, wit, intelligence and social skills. In fact a tagline for the Korean movie poster was:

A 21st century woman living in the 16th century

However, I do think it provided a nice alternative to the drama and gave a different perspective. One of the more emotional scene would probably be the jail scene, where Jin Yi and Nom Yi confirmed thier love for each other. It was done well and did bring a little tear to my eyes.


Son Hye Kyo has improved alot since I last saw her in 'Full House' and I'm glad she chose to do this difficult movie to stretch her acting skills instead of doing another light weight movie like 'My Girl'. But I guess because of her age, there are still some emotions she could not bring across well enough...though she did managed to bring out the cold, haughty feel of Hwang Jin Yi. I would say she has done a good enough job to the best of her abilities. And I have to concede that she is beautiful.



And Yoo Ji Tae...what can I say. I think he belongs to the same class as Lee Jung Jae--the sort of men who just naturally look like 'men' without trying too hard to be a hunk....if you know what I mean. Just watch the scene where Nom Yi walked unafraid and nonchantly into the magistrate's office ...surrounded by soldiers ... ahhh....

Having looked through his filmography, I realised that I've actually seen quite a few of his movies...including one of my favorite- 'Ditto'. This has the same storyline as the famous 'Il Mare' starring Lee Jung Jae, but in my opinion, 'Ditto' was a better movie though 'Il Mare' provided the eye candy.


And Ryu Seung Ryong, unfortunately, seems to be rather left out of the movie's publicty credits. Which is a shame as I found his performance as a hypocritical, with a cruel streak and power mad magistrate rather good. It was a pity he wasn't allowed more focus as the character was critical to the whole storyline.


I'm just curious about one point though...after going through so much trouble to film on the famous Mt Kumgang...how come it's only for the last 3 minutes? I must admit...it is truely breathtaking...but judging from the photos that I see on the net, I wouldn't have mind seeing more. ^^


Btw, there is a promotion on with Shaw cinemas.

They are giving away a Hwang Jin Yi notebook (which is rather nice) for every 3 tickets booked. Only at Lido, Shaw on the 6th October.
Also got Missha hampers to win if you book through Shaw's website...Wheeee.....

Others:
Sigh...there will be no TWSSG this week because of the North/South Korea summit....How am I going to wait for another wee....????? *Tiffany biting nails*

5 comments:

taro said...

Hi Tiff
I just came back from shaw for Hwang Ji Yi. It quite different angle about her story. But I like it too. It's more focus on her love, and all those black & white feeling match with the story line.
Good movie, happy can watch it. :)

amanda han said...

Hi, Tiff

I like Ditto but my favorite ji-tae's movie is One fine Spring day.
The most emotional part was that ji-tae whispered to eun-su 'How could love be altered?'. I cried a lot, this movies is still one of my favorie.

tiffany said...

Hi Taro.. glad you enjoyed it. I guess you're in Singapore, just like amanda.. ^^

tiffany said...

Amanda..

I didn't quite like One Fine Spring Day...I prefer Christmas in August, followed by April Snow.

But Yoo Ji Tae was good. ^^

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know the true name of the Giseang in the scene where one of the drunk aristocrat says, "youre late, you deserve a spanking..." She's also the Giseang that always seats to the left and pics on Hwang Jin Yi...