Review: ‘Crazy First Love’

Popular actor Cha Tae-hyeon, who shot to fame as the sappy vis-a-vis in "My Sassy Girl," reinvents his screen persona in "Crazy First Love." The noisy student comedy-romance set South Korea's B.O. tills ringing this summer (2.3 million admissions). Offshore biz looks largely limited to paid-up members of Cha's Asian fan club.

Popular young actor Cha Tae-hyeon, who shot to fame as the sappy vis-a-vis in “My Sassy Girl,” reinvents his screen persona in “Crazy First Love.” The desperately noisy student comedy-romance set South Korea’s B.O. tills ringing this summer (2.3 million admissions). Offshore biz looks largely limited to paid-up members of Cha’s Asian fan club.

Thesp plays unruly country lad Tae-il who, in a funny opening on a bridge in Busan, publicly declares he’s been tricked out of marrying his childhood sweetheart, Il-mae (Son Ye-jin), by her father, Yeong-dal (TV vet Yu Dong-geun). Yeong-dal, who’s also Tae-il’s teacher, puts various obstacles in Tae-il’s way until finally agreeing to let the youngsters marry. But by then, Il-mae has decided to marry a Korean-American businessman (Lee Byeong-uk), so Yong-dal teams with Tae-il to change her mind. First half has genuinely comic moments involving all three leads, but pic increasingly becomes a platform for Cha acting up a storm and striking physical attitudes. Son (from “The Classic”) is largely stuck in a reactive role, while even Yu’s wry dignity disappears in the later going. Tech credits are clean.

Crazy First Love

South Korea

Production

A Cinema Service release of an IM Pictures presentation of a Popcorn Film production, in association with Story Bus. (International sales: Cinema Service, Seoul.) Produced by Han Seong-gu. Executive producer, Choi Wan. Directed, written by Oh Jong-rok.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Jeong Gwang-seok; editor, Go Im-pyo; music, Choi Seong-uk; art director, Yun Hae-jeong; costumes, Um Ho-jung. Reviewed on videocassette, London, July 26, 2003. Running time: 102 MIN.

With

Cha Tae-hyeon, Son Ye-jin, Yu Dong-geun, Seong Ji-ru, Lee Byeong-uk, Shin Seung-hwan, Ha Ju-heui.
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