Friday, March 23, 2007


Failan (Song Hae-sung, 2001) - 8.5/10

**may contain spoilers

Cecilia Cheung in a Korean drama? Works for me. A Korean drama that manages to stay away from the over-the-top sappiness found in most Korean dramas. What happens when two people bound by an arranged marriage never meet? Failan, starring Cecilia Cheung and Choi Min-sik (Oldboy) -- play Failan and Kang-jae -- whom they discover a connection and feeling they have for one another through photographs and letters.

Kang-jae, a gangster who loses the respect from other members, seeks to find meaning in his life. After a life of time in prison, violence, and living an apathetic life. The first part of the film showcases the life of Kang-jae and the cruel world he inhabits. Failan (the titled character) is an immigrant from China visiting Korea after her parents' death, hoping to find her aunt, her only remaining relative. Failan discovers her aunt has moved to Canada, and with no money, her alternative to stay in Korea is through an arranged marriage.

At this point in the film, the film changes to a poignant and emotion filled piece. Failan struggles to cope in a new place, a new culture, a new language. While Kang-dae seeks out Failan after learning of her death. As an audience, learning the death of Failan through the half-way point does not detract from the emotional aspect. Its an interesting take in the film as we know of her death before being introduced to her character. And for this reason, we are presented a film that shifts in time and focus on the moment of Failan's struggles and Kang-dae's journey.

For all the misery and burden Kang-dae carries with him, he realizes the appreciation and respect he receives comes from someone he's never met. The tragedy lies in being too late to close that gap.

No comments: