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13 May 2020

K Movie Review: A Millionaire's First Love (2006)

I try to watch Hyun Bin's films and dramas alternately. Ideally, I would prefer to watch everything chronologically but I also need a breather from watching dramas. 


Next on my Hyun Bin list was his film A Millionaire's First Love released in 2006, prior to the release of The Snow Queen. 


Story


Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Millionaire%27s_First_Love


The story revolves around Kang Jae-kyung (Hyun Bin), the grandson of a rich hotel owner who has passed on already. Jae-kyung's parents died in a car accident and he was raised by his grandfather. He became a troublemaker and his grandfather's will stated that he had to move to a remote province and finish high school there if he wanted to get his inheritance. 


Jae-kyung had no choice but to relocate. He wanted to stir trouble at his new school so he could move back to Seoul right away. However, he grew fond of his new friends eventually. And he fell in love with his classmate Choi Eun-hwan (Lee Yeon Hee). It's revealed later on that Jae-kyung and Eun-hwan were actually childhood friends. The two fell for each other. But problem was Eun-hwan had an incurable heart problem. The couple tried to make do with the little time they have together. Unfortunately, Eun-hwan passes away even before their graduation. 


Cast/Character


Apart from action, restrained drama, pitiful, and pacute/kilig scenes I mentioned in my CLOY review, one other thing that Hyun Bin does really well is playing the jerk/asshole character. He makes a very credible asshole. We've seen this in Kim Sam Soon. But that was quite an extreme/over the top case of being a jerk. In this film, we see just the right amount of cockiness. Jae-kyung was an asshole without being extremely abusive. He did have some harsh words to say against Eun-hwan but they paled in comparison to how harsh he was to Sam Soon. 


I adored his lovesick moments here. Making girls' hearts flutter definitely comes naturally to Hyun Bin. Here we get a glimpse of those kilig stolen glances that we loved so much in CLOY. 


I loved how Hyun Bin handled his role as Capt. Von Trapp in the orphanage's adaptation of The Sound of Music. It was so amazing to see him act while acting. I'm not sure if I'm making any sense here. I'll try to explain. Eun-hwan played the role of Maria. During the play, I just saw Eun-hwan. I didn't see her acting the part of Maria. But when Jae-kyung came on stage, I totally forgot that he was Jae-kyung. He internalized and brought to life the strict persona required by Capt. Von Trapp's character. It was as if I was watching a two-layered acting. 


Lee Yeon Hee had the right amount of cuteness to play the role of Eun-hwan. She was mostly sweet and gentle but firm when needed. Her patience with Jae-kyung was admirable. And she should really be commended for helping Jae-kyung find his purpose in life. I felt her fear of dying and her desire to spend more time with Jae-kyung. 


The other actors were okay. The doctor in The Snow Queen had a few scenes here as Jae-kyung's friend. The tall guy friend of Jae-kyung reminded me of the ballerina dude in Spin Kick (I checked and they were different actors). 


What I Liked


The actors were perfect for their roles. They didn't go the overacting route as I mentioned above with how Jae-kyung's cockiness was handled. This is what I was saying about The Snow Queen where you can be a bitch without yelling too much. Or you can show a jerk without being extra abusive. 


Sorry if I keep comparing this to The Snow Queen. But it's the most recent one I've watched so I can't help it. I also preferred the way they handled the medical aspect here. I complained about how The Snow Queen tended to be too technical about the medical stuff. Fortunately, this film did not make the same mistake. They just stated Eun-hwan's condition without going into the details. Very few people would understand and be interested in it anyway. 


As I noticed with other Korean films, music was used here sparingly too. Perhaps they want to maximize the limited time they have by using dialogues instead of wasting it on music. K dramas on the other hand probably use music as  a filler in addition to helping evoke emotions in its viewers.


What I Didn't Like


The film was not that bad but it was not good either. One reason I feel this way could be because the story had a lot of similarities with The Snow Queen - rich-poor couple, rekindled relationship from their childhood, an illness, death. It was just all too familiar and too recent for me that I didn't really see anything new and interesting in this film. 


But my bigger problem was the confusing transitions the film had. I understand that everything had to be squeezed in to two hours. But I felt that the transitions were quite rough. One scene Eun-hwan is terribly ill and has to be brought to the hospital then she'd look completely fine in the next one. One moment Jae-kyung is yelling at Eun-hwan and asking her to leave, then on the next scene, Jae-kyung is giving up his inheritance so he can get cash to buy the orphanage for Eun-hwan. 


As much as I really, really love Hyun Bin, I’m hesitant to be in a relationship with him. His on-screen girlfriends all seem to have issues - mental health problems in Ireland, cancer in Kim Sam Soon and Snow Queen, then heart problem here. Perhaps we can take our relationship off screen just to be sure. :) 


Over-all, I find this film just okay. I'd watch it because of Hyun Bin but probably not because of the story. 


Oppa says...3


Noona says...3.5


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