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Hi, Dharma

So high-concept it's almost begging for a remake, "Hi, Dharma" is a sprightly character-cum-action comedy in which five cocky gangsters find humility and co-existence while hiding out in a Buddhist monastery. Developing into a well-drawn comedy of manners, pic provides an acting field day for its leads.

With:
With: Park Shin-yang, Jeong Jin-yeong, Park Sang-myeong, Kang Seong-jin, Kim Su-ro, Hong Kyeong-in, Kim In-mun, Lee Weon-jong, Lee Mun-shik, Ryu Seung-su, Kim Yeong-jun, Im Hyeon-gyeong, Kweon Oh-min.

So high-concept it’s almost begging for a remake, “Hi, Dharma” is a sprightly character-cum-action comedy in which five cocky gangsters find humility and co-existence while hiding out in a Buddhist monastery. Developing into a well-drawn comedy of manners, pic provides an acting field day for its leads. Released Nov. 9 on 212 South Korean screens, movie set an all-time first-weekend record, grossing $4 million, with a current cume north of $15 million.

High-octane opening, in which sharply dressed gang boss Jae-gyu (Park Shin-yang) and his colleagues flee the city after a snafu, is atypical of the movie, which settles down into a well-lensed but no-frills style as the hoods take refuge in a remote monastery and engage in physical contests (soccer, kung-fu, etc.) with the monks that prove brute force isn’t everything. Occasional jokes, such as a clapping game centered on the number three, don’t translate, and some of the humor depends on recognizing name actors (Park, Jeong Jin-yeong as a bald monk) sending up their images. But as both sides learn from each other in a combative, unsentimental way, pic inventively builds on its premise. Running time contains little flab.

Hi, Dharma

South Korea

Production: A Cineworld Entertainment presentation of a KM Culture production. (International sales: Cineworld, Seoul.) Produced by Lee Jun-ik. Executive producer, Park Mu-seung. Co-producers, Oh Jae-hong, Park Do-jun, Kim Yeon-don, Kim Su-gyeong, Kim Gwang-su. Directed by Park Cheol-kwan. Screenplay, Park Gyu-tae, from an original idea by Lee Myeong-seok.

Crew: Camera (color), Park Heui-ju; editor, Kim Sang-beom; music, Park Jin-seok, Shin Ho-seob; art director, Oh Sang-man; costumes, Lee Hwa-suk. Reviewed at CGV 1, Pusan, South Korea, Nov. 11, 2001. Running time: 95 MIN.

With: With: Park Shin-yang, Jeong Jin-yeong, Park Sang-myeong, Kang Seong-jin, Kim Su-ro, Hong Kyeong-in, Kim In-mun, Lee Weon-jong, Lee Mun-shik, Ryu Seung-su, Kim Yeong-jun, Im Hyeon-gyeong, Kweon Oh-min.

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