Korean with English and Chinese Subtitles
Director: Oh Dal-gyoon
Cast: You Seung-ho, Kim Hyang-gi and Dal-I
RunTime: 1 hr 40 mins
Released By: GV and Encore Films
Official Website: www.encorefilms.com/heartypaws
Day: 15 March 2007
Chan is an 11-year-old boy who lives alone with his
younger sister, So-i. Though he’s young, he’s
tough and hates losing. He loves his younger sister so much
that there isn’t a thing that he wouldn’t do for
her. For her 6th birthday, he decides to give her a dog that
she’s been longing to have. One early morning in winter
when the world is still dark, he sneaks into a house of an
old couple and steals a newly-born puppy for his sister.
happy with the dog that she wanted so badly, So-i names it
Maeum, literally translated as Heart. Maeum eats a lot and
plays cute, exaggerating pain when a bee stings it. The dog
and she become really tight with each other, and Chan is happy
that the dog takes care of her while he’s gone to school.
They thought that happiness with the new family member would
last forever. However, something unexpected happens one day,
and the relationship between Chan and Maeum is in ruins. What
on earth happened?
Man's best friend has had countless of movies made
about relationships, loyalty, courage, and almost all things
positive, celebrating our canine friends' strong attributes.
Hearty Paws follows in the footsteps of such movies, and from
the onset, milks its predominantly "cute" factor
in having the winning combination of children and puppy.
actor You Seung-ho, best remembered for his role in The Way
Home, has grown up quite a bit, and plays Chan, the big brother
of So-i (Kim Hyang-gi, with those adorable ever-so-pinchable
cheeks). Chan and So-i are a pair of siblings abandoned by
their mother, and left to their own devices even though they
are staying with their relatives. The first third of the movie
establishes the tight knit relationship they share, and at
times will get on your nerves with So-i's incessant crying
and whining. But for (cute) dog lovers, Hearty the labrador
retriever, as a puppy, will certainly tug at those heartstrings,
and some may wistfully wish to have a pet like that.
goosebumps take a break after something
unexpected happens (don't watch the trailers if you
don't wish to find out prior to the movie), and
thereon, the storyline resembled the Charles Dickens'
classic Oliver Twist, with the den of thieving
children, a female artful dodger, and a Fagin
equivalent who chases Chan all the way till the end,
seeking revenge. The similarities are so obvious, that
for those familiar with the story, the movie's
narrative will begin to disengage itself, and go on
autopilot, if not for the addition of Hearty's role,
and even then, you'll come to expect the usual
of abandonment is key in Hearty Paws, and
the characters in the movie become victims of being
stranded and cast aside by loved ones - the mother's
selfish actions on her children, and Chan's blame,
change of attitude, and the breaking of master-dog
vows with Hearty, which is probably quite painful to
watch, given the love-hate relationship formed, with
the dog that has endeared itself to the audience with
its sheer determination and dogged (pardon the pun)
perseverance in regaining acceptance and forgiveness.
and reconciliation forms the last act, in
which the melodrama builds to a crescendo, with so
much of heartfelt weeping, it's difficult for those
soft at heart not to shed a tear or two, so remember
to have some tissue handy.
award can be given to a canine, then Dal-i,
which played Hearty, deserves one. Whether it be
coated in grime, or fresh from a bath, it was quite
amazing to see how the filmmakers managed to coerce
what I would say a brilliant performance from it, with
its soulful eyes and little nuances. But there were
areas that were let down, though of no fault by the
dog itself, but by the filmmakers' failure to realize
that dogs are colour-blind, and in trying to milk sad
scenes, the liberal use of cheese which generated
unwanted laughter at the most inappropriate of times.
its familiar storyline, and plagued by an indecisive ending
(it just goes on), Hearty Paws still makes a decent movie
by sticking to melodramatic formula, and doesn't take much
to appeal to dog lovers.
(Every dog has its day, and Hearty the labrador retriever
lifts this movie from melodramatic formula with its antics
and cute factor)
Review by Stefan Shih