DANGEROUSLY EXCITED directed by Koo Ja-hong is a cool and very watchable Korean comedy that ultimately failed at the box office (claiming just over 200,000 admissions last July), but its critical reception was largely very positive. Korean film journalist Darcy Paquet complimented main actor Yoon Je-moon’s efforts here, saying his role was “one of the most memorable screen performances of 2012”. However the film flopped in theaters and appeared only briefly in the top ten. DANGEROUSLY EXCITED had to compete with the likes of “The Amazing Spiderman” (4.8M admissions), “Deranged” (4.5M), “The Dark Knight Rises” (6.3M), and two weeks later “The Thieves” was released with its 12.9 million admissions haul. Last year’s summer blockbusters and foreign favorites strangled the film’s hope of box office success, they simply muscled Koo Ja-hong’s second feature into accepting just 214,083 admissions.
Dae-hee (Yoon Je-moon) is a quirky bureaucrat who knows just how to live life in the middle lane. When he’s not impressing co-workers with memorized facts and trivia, Dae-hee enjoys the trouble-free romance of bachelorhood and solitude. At work, he does just enough to keep himself at the top of the promotion pile and generally just takes everything in his stride—nothing ever too exciting to rock the boat.
Dae-hee’s monotonous existence is un-welcomingly threatened when a group of Hongdae youths infiltrate his specially crafted safety bubble with the power of rock and roll. The group has a performance coming up in Seoul’s trendy district Hongdae, but when they get evicted and conned out of $1500, the group looks to Dae-hee for help who feels both obliged and professionally pressured into lending a hand.
The classic ‘fish out of water’ tale seems an appropriate tag for this little gem of a film, one that has just a splash of dry irony to keep it fresh. Dae-hee was ‘brought to life’ by Yoon Je-moon, a former stage actor whom himself has held more supportive roles in his own career. His blank and passive expressions accent his character’s many idiosyncrasies and social insecurities perfectly. While Dae-hee may have mastered climbing up his department’s ranks, his social skills are limited to what he is able to research, memorize, and regurgitate. This is a man with ability and talent, but little internal motivation and drive. It might seem hard for a character such as Dae-hee to win over audiences’ sympathies, but in the end the film’s solid storytelling and situational humor won me over will little resistance.
Ko Ja-hong’s “Dangerously Excited” is Korean comedy with a difference. It is wonderfully dry humour and its intriguing logline surprises and holds till the end. It’s tight storytelling at its best, yet at the same time the film never rushes and manages to take its time. Moments are held just that little bit longer than expected, and one feels that the story is just causally driving itself—so you just need to sit back, relax, and enjoy. With a relatively unknown director, a lead lacking perhaps some star power, and a release date from hell, “Dangerously Excited” deserves some more consideration. While some of these factors may not have been easily changed, I do feel that the promotional material (trailer, posters, etc.) really failed to capture the essence and charisma of Ja-hong’s work here. There were so many great visual moments in the film that I don’t think were captured in the film’s trailer and, especially, in its rather dull promotional poster. Sometimes it’s hard not to judge a book by its cover, and if you are a fan of Korean comedies and/or dramas “Dangerously Excited” might just be a refreshing change from all the slapstick antics that usually occupy the genre.
– C.J. Wheeler (@KoreaOnTheCouch)
|No Rating, 101 minutes|
|Director: Koo Ja-hong|
|Cast: Yoon Je-moon, Kim Byul, Sung Jun, Kim Hee-jung|
|Screenwriter(s): Koo Ja-hong|
|Producers: Jung Hye-young|
|Cinematography: Oh Jae-ho|
|Score: Jang Young-gyu|
|Editor: Kim Woo-il|
|Language : Korean with English Subtitles|
|Production companies: Mapofilm|