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Film Review: ‘Wedding Palace’

Loud, frenetic action drowns out the charms of Christine Yoo's debut film.

With:

Brian Tee, Kang Hye-jung, Bobby Lee, Margaret Cho, Stephen Park, Joy Osmanski, Jean Yoon, June K. Lu. (English, Korean dialogue)

Too many stretches of “Wedding Palace” are so garishly lit and broadly overplayed that they seem more cartoonish than the actual animated sequences that pepper the live-action production. That’s a pity, since this indie romantic comedy is not without its minor charms during its infrequent quiet moments. Theatrical prospects appear dim for helmer Christine Yoo’s debut feature, a mostly frenetic concoction about a Korean-American advertising exec who’s pressured by his parents to marry before falling victim to a family curse. But the pic might provide some amusement for simpatico auds in home viewing platforms.

After years of hearing horror stories about what happens to any male in his family who fails to wed before turning 30, 29-year-old Jason Kim (Brian Tee) is more than a little rattled when he’s left standing at the altar by Jinnie (Joy Osmanski), his impetuous (and unfaithful) fiancee. But he quickly recovers from his trauma when, after flying from Los Angeles to Seoul on business, he meets the lovely Na Young Song (Kang Hye-jung).

It’s love at first sight for the pair, and their fondness for each other only intensifies after Jason returns to L.A. They eagerly sustain a long-distance romance through texting, video chats and, during a playfully silly fantasy sequence in which they have co-starring roles in a glossy musicvideo. But when Na Young travels to L.A., Jason’s parents are less than impressed. More complications arise when Jinnie arbitrarily decides that, hey, maybe Jason is her Mr. Right after all.

Working from a script she co-wrote with Robert Gardner, Yoo surrounds her modestly engaging leads with supporting players who have been encouraged to feast on the scenery and act at the top of their lungs. Yoo’s heavy-handed satire of Korean ethnic stereotypes is laced with more than a smidgen of affection, but that doesn’t make all the mugging and shouting any less wearying.

Lensers Ernest Holzman and Jun Young Kim enhance the pic’s overall air of stylized unreality, especially during scenes set in latenight, neon-colored Seoul.

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Film Review: 'Wedding Palace'

Reviewed online, Houston, Sept. 26, 2013. Running time: 98 MIN.

Production:

A GoGoGo Entertainment release of a Stem Gen and RNL Bio presentation of a GoGoGo Entertainment production. Produced by Christine Yoo, Derek Lee, Brian Tee. Executive producers, Jonathan H. Kim, Derek Draper.

Crew:

Directed by Christine Yoo. Screenplay, Yoo, Robert Gardner; story, Yoo, Derek Draper. Camera (color), Ernest Holzman, Jun Young Kim; editor, Draper; music, Woody Pak, David Benoit; music supervisors, Yoo, Pak, Chaotic Content; production designers, Hillary Gurtler, Yo Han Lee; sound, Zsolt Magyar; animation directors, Kim Jong Soo, Kim Lee Young; associate producer, Cho Kahyun; assistant director, Cassandra B. Laymon; casting, Jory Weitz. 

With:

Brian Tee, Kang Hye-jung, Bobby Lee, Margaret Cho, Stephen Park, Joy Osmanski, Jean Yoon, June K. Lu. (English, Korean dialogue)

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