Scoring with the kids
A Barefoot Dream
Cast: Park Hie-soon and Francisco Varela
Running time: 121 minutes ONCE a rising soccer star, Kim Won-kang (Park) now finds himself dodging loan sharks.
He flees to the newly independent nation of East Timor, where he thinks he has struck gold with his latest endeavour – a sports equipment store specialising in football boots. He soon discovers boots are the last thing that impoverished local children need, even though they are their goods of desire.
So, to keep his business from folding, Kim cooks up a microfinancing scheme – in which the children get to buy their dream boots by paying off their debt in instalment at a dollar a day.
This, of course, sparks the anger of the locals, especially the resident “football coach”. He challenges Kim to a football match, with each training his own team of young footballers.
Kim, however, slowly comes to care for his young wards, and decides to sign them up for the Youth Soccer Tournament in Hiroshima, Japan, in the hopes of improving their miserable lives. Hence, begins his own new lease on life as he struggles to raise the funds and backing he needs to reach their goal.
Based on the real life story of a former South Korean soccer player who coached the East Timorese children’s team to an international championship, A Barefoot Dream is inspiring but inevitably sappy.
The upside is that the film realistically depicts the ugly, ignorant foreigner who does not only rescue the hapless locals but also gets rescued by them.
Still, despite its cloying saccharine taste, you cannot help drinking in all the feel-good moments. Recommended for cynics. Petty Romance
Cast: Lee Sun-kyun and choi Kang
Running time: 117 minutes UNCONVENTIONALLY, this romcom oozes with sex. Unconventional for a South Korean mainstream movie that is – or maybe just from what I’ve watched, which are, more often than not, chaste. (The independent films are a different story though.)
But before you call the moral police on this, don’t sweat, it is all in the talk, not action.
Just like aspiring writer Da-rim (Choi), who is hired by manhwa (comic) illustrator Jeong Bae to collaborate with him for an adult comic writing competition. She claims to be a sex columnist but her carnal knowledge is really limited to what she has gleaned from academic theses and the Kama Sutra.
Still, things get steamy as Da-rim tries to bluff her way through: “Was Harry Potter written by a wizard?” she challenges her co-author. Before long, the offbeat couple falls for each other.
I’m a new fan of Choi (currently starring in Protect The Boss), so I find her absolutely lovable as the geeky Da-rim. Her zaniness creates an interesting fodder for her equally larky co-star Lee Sun-kyun, making them a delight to watch together. Spiced up by risqué animated-popups – when they both talk shop for their hot comic Killer Instinct – Petty Romance is one fun frolic of a film. The Fugitive: Plan B
Cast: rain, Lee Na young, Lee Jeong Jin and daniel Henney
Running time: 20 episodes X 60
minutes IF the United Nations ever needs a PSA for global communication, The Fugitive: Plan B is perfect.
First, it stars Rain, arguably Asia’s biggest star. Second, the characters understand one another no matter what language they speak. And I thought multi-tongue communication only happened in the Galactic Senate of Star Wars – in this K-universe, A speaks in language A to B, and B answers in language B. But no communication breakdown what so ever! If that is not disorienting enough, the mind-numbing action and histrionic spy-caper plot will leave you comatose.
And this is supposed to be Rain’s comeback hit to South Korean drama!
For what it’s worth, Rain is ideally cast as an international PI who is hired by a mysterious woman, Jin Yi (Lee Na Young), to find someone called Melchidec. What he doesn’t know is that Jin Yi has a bloody past – her family was murdered – and she is on the hit list too. They soon get caught in a dangerous web.
This synopsis is only the abridged version though; the series lays on the subplots like an ugly Malaysian at a buffet to give you instant indigestion.
Luckily, Rain rises above the goo. Plan B will keep you content while Rain is away for military service in the next two years, but if you ask me, it’s better to watch his Full House again. The series is airing on 8TV. n The DVDS are distributed by PMP Entertainment and the shows are in Korean/mandarin with subtitles in English, Malay and Chinese.