In Korea with English & Chinese Subtitles
Director: Kwak Jae Yong
Cast: Shin Mina, On Ju Wan, Yu Gun, Im Ye-jin,
RunTime: 1 hr 58 mins
Released By: Encore Films & GV
Official Website: www.encorefilms.com/mightyprincess
Day: 18 September 2008
Sohwi seems like a normal college girl but she is actually
the only descendant of a prestigious martial arts family.
Her martial arts skills are unsurpassed but she decides to
give up martial arts after she falls head over heels in love
with Junmo, the charismatic captain of ice hockey team. Her
father enlists the help of her childhood friend, Ilyeong,
to persuade her to continue with martial arts.
Meanwhile, the evil Heukbong attempts to conquer the martial
arts world by killing one master after another. Sohwi's father
has a showdown with Heukbong but the battle leaves him fatally
injured. On the brink of her father's death, Sohwi decides
to revenge her father's death. Can our mighty princess win
the evil Heukbong?
There are many moments in this latest Kwak Jae-Young comedy
that I couldn’t help but burst out laughing. There are
also several other moments where all I could do is stare at
the screen in incredulity.
Yes, My Mighty Princess feels like two different movies in
one. And indeed, duality is very much part of its premise-
its lead character, Kang Sohwi, may seem like a normal college
girl on the surface but she is in fact the descendant of a
martial arts family.
Yet again, therefore, the prolific director of "My Sassy
Girl" returns with a premise that fits squarely with
his tried and tested formula of comedy. Like his other movies
"Windstruck" or the very recent "Cyborg She"
(which graced our local screens just a month ago), Kwak’s
recipe for hilarity lies in subverting traditional female
gender stereotypes. Here, on multiple occasions, the indomitable
Sohwi rescues the handsome captain of the male ice hockey
team whom she has a schoolgirl-like crush on.
Kwak is then to Korean comedy what Judd Apatow is to American
comedy. Both directors have created a particular comedic style
that has been proven immensely popular with audiences. And
My Mighty Princess is proof of a seasoned comedy veteran at
Sohwi’s determination to get the guy of her dreams,
Junmo, is milked for great laughs. Ditto the back and forth
between Sohwi and her childhood friend, Ilyeong, whom her
father enlists to convince Sohwi to continue the illustrious
heritage of her family. And our first acquaintance with the
other three martial arts masters of the clan that Sohwi’s
father belongs to is a priceless scene in the movie, the result
of a perfect blend of action and comedy.
But Kwak likes to inject melodrama into his comedies for added
emotional resonance and My Mighty Princess is no exception.
Unfortunately, his attempt at fleshing out the back stories
of the pugilistic world which Sohwi and Ilyeong’s fates
are intertwined with are at best unnecessary, at worst needlessly
While the first half of the movie makes for brisk comedy,
the pace of the latter half slows down considerably due to
much drama and histrionics. The culmination of which is the
climactic battle between Sohwi and her foe, shot beautifully
in an open field of flowers, ultimately bogged down by Kwak’s
overly liberal use of slow-mo shots which borders on poeticism.
Luckily Kwak’s deft touch as casting is once again spot
on, because it is the actors that carry the movie through
from start to end. Like Jun Ji-hyun in "My Sassy Girl",
Sin Min-ah not just inhabits the role, but also defines her
character Sohwi in the movie. She proves not only capable
of working her naturally expressive face for great comedic
effect, but also overcoming the script’s clichés
to portray convincingly the tragic elements of her character’s
Credit too goes to On Joo-wan (as Ilyeong) and Yoo Geon (as
Jun-mo) who hold their own against Sin min-ah’s Sohwi.
Both actors are also great eye candy for the girls, and one
particular scene, where Ilyeong strips down to his knickers,
will leave many swooning (at least I know my friend next to
me in the audience did).
Two years was how long it took Kwak to film this movie, his
bold attempt by adding martial arts to his otherwise familiar
blend of comedy. The result of which leaves My Mighty Princess
a tad uneven, the dramatic pathos of Sohwi and Ilyeong in
the pugilistic world not sitting too well with the many inspired
moments of hilarity between them in the real world. Nevertheless,
it is Kwak’s deft hand at comedy, and his actors’
great comedic timing, that make this a mightily entertaining
(Despite its flaws, this Princess is Mightily entertaining,
and certainly deserving of a royal welcome)
Review by Gabriel Chong