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.