[Spoilers] Movie Review: 'Helpless'
The Korean box office hit 'Helpless' (Korean title: 'Hwacha') opened in select theaters across North America last week.
> Plot synopsis
The film is based on the Japanese novel 'Kasha' (English title: 'All She Was Worth'), which was written by Miyabe Miyuki. Lee Sun Gyun plays the role of Jang Mun Ho, a veternarian who is engaged to Kang Sun Young (played by Kim Min Hee). One day, as the couple is on their way to visiting Jang Mun Ho's parents, they pull over at a rest stop. When Jang Mun Ho returns to his car after buying coffee for his fiancee, he finds the door unlocked, the engine running, and his fiancee no where to be found.
As he begins his search for her, he is led to one dead end after another. The most shocking revelation is that Kang Sun Young was not really Kang Sun Young. Jang Mun Ho's fiancee was living under the name and social security number of another woman.
He turns to his cousin Kim Jong Geun (played by Cho Sung Ha), a former police investigator, for help. As the story unfolds, Kim Jong Geun is convinced that his cousin's fiancee is a criminal in hiding, but Jang Mun Ho seeks to prove otherwise.
> My opinion (Note: This reflects the opinion of the author, and not necessarily those of allkpop.)
My first impression of 'Helpless' came from watching the movie trailer before the movie was released. The trailer portrayed the movie as somewhat of a thriller, and the scaredy cat that I am, I was turned off even though I was a fan of Lee Sun Gyun. After watching the film in its entirety, I realized that this film was much more of a mystery than a thriller.
If 'Crucible' was like a 2-hour long episode of 'Law & Order', 'Helpless' is like a 2-hour long episode of 'C.S.I.'. 'Helpless' leads viewers into the mindset of Jang Mun Ho as he frantically searches for his missing fiancee. Like 'C.S.I.', each time the viewer feels like they can predict the ending, the story twists and turns into unexpected directions.
'Helpless' was excellent in all the technical aspects of the film. In fact, the movie's director Byun Young Joo was recently awarded Best Director at the 48th Paeksang Arts Awards. I find that many suspense films in Korea tend to overuse dark lighting and eerie music to create a mysterious atmosphere. This movie was able to carry the suspense without doing so.
My only complaint lies in the movie's conclusion. Since I don't want to spoil the details, I'll just say that I wish the movie ended either 20 minutes sooner or 20 minutes later. Twenty minutes prior to the end of the movie, I was content with how the story progressed. However, the final 20 minutes left me feeling like I needed more of an explanation or story development.
All in all the movie was better than I expected, but it won't be making its way to my list of favorite Korean movies. If you are interested in the movie, I say go ahead and watch it. Just make sure not to set your expectations too high.
'Helpless' is currently playing with English subtitles in select theaters in California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Washington, and Canada. More information is available in our previous article about the movie's North American release.
Official Movie Trailer
Greetings from the cast
'Helpless' is currently holding a giveaway event in which you can snag a copy of Miyabe Miyuki's Japanese best-selling novel personally autographed by the cast and director of the film. Check out the event page on the 'Helpless' Facebook page for all the details.
Note: This article does not reflect the opinions of allkpop, only of the author.
Photos & Video: Helpless
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