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My Assy Remake

December 9, 2009

This is a guest post by Nick Mann.

In order to write the following post and to confirm my hypothesis that the 2001 Korean smash-hit My Sassy Girl is a movie that shouldn’t have worked, I actually subjected myself to the 2008 American My Sassy Girl re-make. This film featured Canadian hottie Elisha Cuthbert as the title character and Jesse Bradford as the love interest.  Cuthbert earned herself a bit of fame previously in the movie The Girl Next Door and television series 24. I never saw either, but based on her performance here, I wonder how she ever made it so far as an “actress”.  Bradford is every bit as bad.  If nothing else I commend the film’s consistency – the acting is uniformly terrible. It feels like a TV movie-of-the-week.

The actors can’t be held solely accountable, considering what they had to work with.  The script eliminates key scenes (like the night on the town in high school uniforms) and keeps things the original could have done without (like the hostage taking in the amusement park).  All of the obtrusive narration remains in the American version and for some reason; they added an unbearable philosophy major friend for the male character to pour his heart out to, conveniently explaining how he feels rather than going to the bother of conveying anything to the audience by actually acting.

The original certainly runs a bit long, but the re-make is only 90 minutes and so while the Korean version has time to unfold naturally, in the American every scene is condensed down to essential information to forward the plot.  As a result the little developments in character and the emotional climax of the movie become far too predictable.

One thing about the film and its production did intrigue me however… I watched this movie on YouTube and thought I had clicked on the wrong link at first because the first studio logo featured was CJ Entertainment – one of the major production companies in Korea.  I thought the link had taken me to the Korean version by mistaken but in fact CJ must have been one of the producers of the remake.  This inspired a number of questions such as: How much did CJ had to do with the plan to make an English version?  Was this project proposed by American studio executives or Koreans? And who put most of the money forward to make it?

I believe Korean filmmakers are starting to court international markets and are aspiring to produce on a Hollywood scale.  At least that was my understanding at the release of D-War – a ridiculous blockbuster where ancient dragons are unleashed to wreak havoc.  It was a big-budget Korean movie, but the cast was largely English.  If anything that film was worse than it sounds.  I wonder if the My Sassy Girl re-make was another ill-advised foray along similar lines.

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