This would be my first movie review here. I don’t know how this would turn out, but please be with me till the end ㅎㅎ.
I’m not a good movie critic. Something critically unsuccessful, most of the time, has been very enjoyable to me. Whenever I watch a movie for the first time, I consider my own emotions rather than the movie’s emotional and technical aspects which I consider during the second and following watching times. I just downloaded the movie but I still have to watch it for the second time. I’m not the type of movie person who would download something that has just been released. At least 70% of about 200 movies in my hard drive includes movies that I’ve watched for more than 5 times, hahahaha.
As for Korean movies, I only watch something dark and twisted. One of the favorites would be ‘장화, 홍련 (A Tale of Two Sisters)’ which I’ve watched for more than 10 times. Then comes Park Chan-wook’s ‘Revenge Trilogy’ which includes ‘Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance’, ‘Oldboy’, and ‘Sympathy for Lady Vengeance’. I consider those 4 movies as one of the Korean movies I’ll never get tired of watching. I’m naturally jolly but in reality I’m a twisted, sick and psychotic person ㅎㅎ. Along those movies, I also have the five ‘Whispering Corridors’ movie, ‘Phone’, along some other horror movies.
It was not until 2012, when I first watched a melodrama film. We watched ‘건축학개론 (Architecture 101)’ during one of our Korean class days when our 선생님 had us watch a movie instead of having lessons. I found myself crying inside while watching the film, and though it was, I think, one of the best drama films I’ve ever watched, it didn’t took me into watching more dramatic Korean films.
Thanks to the annual Korean Film Festival 2013 that we have here right now which was organized by the Embassy of Korea and Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines, I can watch a lot of highly-praised, award-winning, box-office movies that were shown in Korea for the past year, FOR FREE. It opened with ‘늑대소년 (A Werewolf Boy)’ yesterday, and some other movies that will be shown includes the historical drama ‘광해: 왕이 된 남자 (Masquerade)’, a romantic comedy, dance themed film with Uhm Jung-hwa as ‘댄싱퀸 (Dancing Queen)’, the animated film ‘소중한 날의 꿈 (Green Days)’, the horror thriller film *THAT I SO WANNA WATCH* ‘연가시 (Deranged)’, and the ever sunny comedy drama ‘써니 (Sunny)’.
늑대소년 | A Werewolf Boy
Directed by: 조성희 | Cast: 송중기, 박보영
Running Time: 122 minutes | Release Date: September 11, 2012 on Toronto International Film Festival
“Love was the first human language he’d ever learned.”
Why did I watch the movie?
First, I was not planning on watching anything from the Film Festival except ‘Deranged’ and ‘Sunny’ but I did watch ‘A Werewolf Boy’ anyway because the mall carrying the cinema that will showcase the film is just about two splits and two cartwheels away from my office. Second, my Elementary 1 classmates who I love the most, pushed me into watching the film, even delaying their queue three times just to wait for me.
And see, movie festivals don’t happen 12 times a year, so it would definitely be a great experience whether I’d like the movie or not. And since it was chosen to be the first film to open the festival, I thought it would at least be awesome, or if not, way awesome.
How did the story started?
Which *spoiler alert* I thought was the only line that Song Joong-ki would ever deliver all throughout the film. The film started in present day, in USA, an old woman received a phone call regarding the sale of her old country house in Korea. She decided to revisit it first with her granddaughter before deciding on the house’s fate. In seeing the house, we flash backward 47 years before present, the old woman apparently was the teenaged girl, Suni (Park Bo-young), unpacking their things, transferring into their new house since her doctor found it better for her to stay somewhere outside the city for the betterment of her lung condition. Life had been very fine in the country until one day, she saw someone, a dirty and animal-esque being just outside their house. That boy can’t speak, nor even act normally (seen eating without manners, and behaving like a wild animal, occasionally 으르렁-ing whenever he felt he’s in danger). They eventually reported the boy’s whereabouts but the police was not particularly helpful and since the boy was about 19, he was too unfit for an orphanage.
How the story went?
Suni’s family had to take care of him instead. Her mom fed him, made him wear his late husband’s clothing, and helped him take a bath. As for Suni, who has been irritated with the sudden appearance of the boy, one day just decided to train him instead, by reading a dog training manual. She taught him how to ‘기다려!’ before eating, to wear his clothes, and to even speak, read and write. After every successful attempts in training, Suni would pat his head, and eventually her mom had given the boy Cheol-su (Song Joong-ki) as a name. Cheol-su didn’t seem to particularly learn how to speak.
Eventually, Suni became Cheol-su’s *we can somehow call it* master. They became very close and we could assume that he already fell in love with her, given the fact that she’s the only one who accepted him and treated him warmly and affectionately. But then, it didn’t end there. A lot of difficulties were yet to happen as the family inevitably found out about the real identity of Cheol-su, in turn the family leaving the house with Suni unable to see Cheol-su ever again.
How the story ended?
The person half-involved with the death of Suni’s father, and he the same person who bought the country house, Ji-tae (Yoo Yeon-seok) has long been waiting for Suni to notice him too. He had gone nuts trying to keep away Cheol-su from the family even going to ends by hurting the other neighbors and even Suni just to keep the boy away. In one instance where he almost abused Suni, Cheol-su saw him and by anger, turned into a wolf. It was the first time Ji-tae and Suni saw him turn into something different, which was not a very big deal with Suni, given the fact that they’ve been close for so long, and that Cheol-su still listens to Suni in his wolf self. And as the end approached, he turned into a wolf again in front of the police, Ji-tae, Suni and her family, finally killing Ji-tae for having caused too much trouble to Suni’s family and the neighborhood. Cheol-su carried Suni away, away into the forest, away from the commotion. When Suni found herself in the middle of nowhere, with the family and police now searching for her, she’s certain that Cheol-su would be killed if they stay together. *This was one of the parts when I’m crying so bad.* Suni had to hurt Cheol-su for him to just leave when finally Cheol-su said his first word… “가지마”. *Everyone in the cinema shouted and whooed, but I was just crying, lol*.
Suni’s family decided best to just move out of the country. Before leaving the house, Suni left a note, she asked for Cheol-su to wait for her as she will be back. But not after 47 years after, back to the present day, when she finally revisited the house. The den beside the house where Cheol-su was held safe was visited by Suni in the night after seeing a piece of candy stacked under the sofa. She saw blooming flowers and a glowing light and eventually, seeing an immortal Cheol-su, same age as how she left him. Suni had been living her life for the past 47 years and Cheol-su did wait for her. This part was super heartbreaking and as I don’t want to spoil at least everything, I’ll leave you to watch it for yourself. One thing though, is that Suni revoked her plans of selling the house to another owner.
As I was saying earlier, I care more about my own emotions rather than how the movie evokes the emotions and about its technical aspects since I would notice it the second time. I can never have the at least exact same emotion when I watch it again. I haven’t cried watching a movie for so long and this movie moved me to tears for at least three times. Good thing about my 누나 classmates though is that they don’t mind me crying even if they’re just all too ‘giggly and fangirly’ about some scenes that were more emotional to me than ‘spazz-worthy’. The movie was a craft assembled very nicely, though not technical about why he was a werewolf, why Suni’s lung condition exists, or how his father really died and what was Ji-tae responsible for about that. It was more on the story-telling, and Joong-ki’s brilliant portrayal of Cheol-su, who only had 5 lines all throughout the movie.
I’ve never fallen in love with the fantasy, the thought that werewolves or vampires might exist. Having watched the Twilight series and other fantasy-related materials, ‘A Werewolf Boy’ successfully had me wishing that beings like them should’ve existed. The movie was hearty, at times funny, and all the more heartbreaking. I can’t seem to think of remakes, how will they ever replicate the same emotion and the same feel of the movie. It was undeniably perfect. The ending was not all that cheesy and general happy-ending styled conclusion but every sad moments were healed. I definitely recommend everyone to watch this as this has surpassed ‘Architecture 101’ as South Korea’s top grossing melodrama of all time, and that fact says a lot how this movie deserves a 10/10.