Director: Ma Dae-yun
Cast: Kwone Sang-woo, Oh Jung-se, Rhee Min-jung, Park So-i, Kim Jun
Runtime: 1 hr 53 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Coarse Language)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures and Clover Films
Opening Day: 5 January 2023
Synopsis: Life turned upside down! "PARK Kang", a top scandal maker and the most sought-after actor who has brought in over 10 million at the box-office, enjoys a lavish, single life. However, the only thing he has to embrace on Christmas Eve is his Best Actor trophy he had won at the year-end acting awards. He clings to his only friend "JOE Yoon," who deals with his mess as his manager, has drinks with him, then catches a taxi to go home. The next morning, "PARK Kang" wakes up in an unfamiliar house and gets hugged by two kids he's never seen before. His first love, "Soo-hyun," whom he had broken up with 10 years earlier for his acting career, nags him non-stop and smacks his back hard. Not only that, his best friend and manager, "JOE Yoon", has become the hottest box-office sensation and taken over his life... What kind of absurd situation is this? Confused by his life turned upside down, "PARK Kang" suddenly remembers something that the taxi driver said the night before... "If you had the chance to change your past choices, what would you do?"
There are many body swap movies – you know, the classic plot of a character waking up one fine morning to find himself or herself in another person’s body (bonus points if there is a switch in gender as well). This brings about a variety of possible genres: comedy (the most common), drama, action, and in some cases, horror. Notable examples include Big (1988), Freaky Friday (1976 and its 2003 remake), The Change-Up (2011), The Hot Chick (2002) and Your Name (2016).
Evidently, we are not tired of this wacky body swap trope, because we didn’t feel dread watching this Korean movie about a famous actor who gets up one day realising that he is living as a commoner with a wife and two kids. While it isn't technically a movie about swapping bodies, the concept is somewhat similar. It's about a character switching life with another person so he can learn a life lesson.
We suspect one main reason why this movie is so enjoyable because it features Kwone Sang-woo, the Korean oppa who stole millions of hearts with his starring role in the 2003 TV series Stairway to Heaven. Here, he plays Park Kang, a popular and haughty actor who is also plagued by scandals. But like real life, good looks seem to allow celebrities to get away with many things and still remain adored by fans. Obviously, Park Kang does not see the need to settle down despite the romantic involvements with other women. Elsewhere, we are get to meet his manager Joe Yoon (Oh Jung-se), a hardworking man with a family to feed. We also learn that Joe Yoon once had dreams of being an actor himself.
After a night of drinking and a strange conversation with his cab driver, Park Kang awakens to find himself in the body of a commoner. He is living in a modest apartment and there is a woman named Soo Hyun (Rhee Min-jung) who is supposedly his wife. And there are twins in the house, demanding for things like every kid would.
And what follows is a series of familiar but still enjoyable sequences that range from funny to heartwarming. Along the way, Park Kang would learn how to care for others other than himself, and develop a bond with his family. It is particularly touching to see the once selfish man forging a relationship with the kids. Seeing how the top notch actor take on the role of a multi tasking manager naturally brings laughs as he fumbles in his initial tasks. It also helps that the character is portrayed by the handsome Kwone, and the filmmakers did not miss out the opportunity of including shirtless scenes for the actor to show off his bod.
What seems like a wasted chance was how the 113 minute seemed to pay less attention to Joe Yoon. The guy who had earnestly tried to make his way into showbiz (and failed) deserves more screen time, and it would have been interesting to see how he adapted to the life of a famous celebrity after the switch. Perhaps the filmmakers felt it was a surer bet to focus on the heartthrob (especially since he is played by Kwone), and give the viewers a romantic ending that would make them swoon over the good looking couple.
(A familiar movie about a how haughty dude learns an important life lesson. With enough laughs and heartwarming moments to keep you entertained, it also helps that eye candy is served in the form of Korean oppa Kwone Sang-woo.)
Review by John Li