In Korean with English & Chinese Subtitles
Director: Lee Han
Starring: Kwong Sang Woo, Kim Ha-neul
RunTime: 1 hr 56 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films
Opening Day: 8 June 2006
yet a stunt who's dreaming to be an action star like Jackie
Chan and Dalrae who is another actress wannabe have been friends
for 11 years. But as Ji-hwan comes dating with a different
girl, their relationship starts seesawing between a mere friendship
and a love.
Kwon Sang-woo and Kim Han-nuel team up again after 2003’s
My Tutor Friend, which unassumingly went on to be one of South
Korea’s most successful romantic comedies of recent
times. It not only solidified that genre’s popularity
with Korean audiences, it also made big stars out of its 2
leads. Reaching back into past collaborations can be a risky
ordeal but the pair’s fantastic rapport made Almost
Love one of the most highly anticipated new Korean movies
of the year and made their onscreen affinity its primary focus
for audiences. Fortunately, that is not a problem at all.
In fact, it’s the film’s saving grace.
shines as the first among equals with her effervescent portrayal
of the kind and shy girl-next-door, Dal-rae who is an aspiring
actress with a debilitating stage fright. She manages to stifle
her radiant beauty, seen in her past films to complete her
underplaying the character, she’s the antithesis of
Kwon’s over-the-top and animated performance of Ji-hwan,
a deluded but charismatic stuntman who dreams of emulating
Jackie Chan and writing a screenplay for the definitive action
movie. They have been best friends for 12 years, with the
requisite teasing and meaningless quarrels. As their relationship
with their significant others grow, both Dal-rae and Ji-hwan
find that their own relationship has begun to strain.
expected, the scenes with Kim and Kwon are the most appreciated
and honest in the film. Exuding playfulness with a hint of
flirtation, both actors bring warmth and charm to their roles
that could have been carelessly sacrificed for more gags and
trite dialogue. Extending their versatility, they have intense
scenes to enact in the film’s ensuing foray into melodrama.
blossoming relationship throughout their younger years are
shown through flashbacks into memories that the characters
share with other characters through anecdotes and written
notes. Employing the use of child actors, the scenes in these
flashbacks are largely endearing and effective.
film’s first half is a light-hearted and occasionally
clever affair, a great sign for a smooth finish for any romantic
comedy. Its predictability was never going to be a thorn in
this genre. However the winning formula was unexpectedly penciled
out during its halfway mark when it violently and somewhat
reluctantly shifts into heavy dramatics. While the beginning
moved along quickly with a fun and brisk pace, the route to
its conclusion is a chore, stretching its runtime to about
fans of My Tutor Friend and fans of the 2 leads might appreciate
the opportunity to witness them in slightly different situations
together. As well they should be, as both actors do conquer
the more than subtle shift in their characters’ tone
and exposition, especially in Kwon’s silent struggle
with his feelings and newfound situation. It was a job competent
enough of masking the unconvincing and wholly unsatisfying
twist in the story.
a hit in its native South Korea, it might not have the draw
for many overseas audiences with its lack of a fluent plot
and strange shift in genre but the onscreen chemistry between
Kwon Sang-woo and Kim Han-nuel is undeniable and hard to replicate.
The film belongs to them and their next cinematic pairing
will no doubt be one that will have audiences buzzing.
chemistry between the 2 leads, coupled with a few genuine
jokes save the film from stumbling over its awkward pacing)
by Justin Deimen