09 November 2020

K Movie Review: My Sassy Girl (2001)

My Sassy Girl will always be special to me because it was my first ever exposure to Korean entertainment.  Princess Hours was my gateway drama but I watched My Sassy Girl way before that. I probably watched it around 2002. I remember that I loved it because of Pachelbel's Canon. I recall an abusive girl and a very patient and submissive guy. All the rest were blurry. 

I remembered it again when I watched Hometown Flex and found out that one of its host, Cha Tae Hyun, was the lead actor in My Sassy Girl. 

I was in the mood for something romantic after watching all the released episodes of DoDoSolSolLaLaSol. I was still feeling giddy because of Lee Jae Wook and I needed help to get by until the next episode comes out. 

Story


The story begins when Gyeon Woo (Tae Hyun) rescued a drunk girl (Jun Ji Hyun, aka Gianna Jun) who was about to fall into the train tracks. I only realized that The Girl had no name when I started writing this. The two were an unlikely couple. 

Gyeon Woo was a carefree and immature guy who lacked confidence. Although he was already in his mid-20s, his mom still nagged him. 

The Girl, on the other hand. was an angry and abusive (both physically and verbally) one. She never backed down and she always spoke her mind (against predators and litterbugs to name a few). She seemed depressed about something but she never talked about it. 

Despite their differences, the two eventually got together. Nothing formal but The Girl did demand a 100th day celebration. The Girl asked Gyeon Woo to do crazy things and he always obliged. He had to give her a flower during her class and wear her high heels, among others. 

The Girl's parents did not seem to approve of Gyeon Woo, allegedly because she had no future with him. The Girl broke up with Gyeon Woo in a very dramatic and heartbreaking manner. They wrote letters to each other and they buried them in a time capsule beside a tree in some mountain. They agreed to meet again in two years to read the letters. 

Although he was probably very confused and hurt, Gyeon Woo respected The Girl's decision. He waited patiently for two years. He went back to the tree as per their agreement but The Girl never showed up. He read her letter and he found out that The Girl's boyfriend passed away. The day she met Gyeon Woo was her boyfriend's first death anniversary. She broke up with Gyeon Woo because she felt that she has not totally moved on from the other guy. Gyeon Woo reminded her so much of her boyfriend and she thought it was unfair that she would be with Gyeon Woo without healing fully yet.  

The Girl went back after a year and she learned that Gyeon Woo still visited the tree once in a while. The old tree was struck by a lightning and Gyeon Woo even planted a new one because he knew that The Girl would miss the tree. 

When The Girl finally felt ready to see Gyeon Woo again, she could no longer reach him. But you can't really fight fate. Two people meant for each other will always find their way back into each other. The Girl finally agreed to a blind date set up by the mom of her deceased boyfriend. Gyeon Woo finally agreed to meet his aunt who loved squishing his face because he reminded her so much of her deceased son. Gyeon Woo's mom had been nagging him to meet his aunt since the start of the move but he kept on making excuses. Yes, Gyeon Woo was the cousin of The Girl's deceased boyfriend. And by the time the film ends, the two were already holding each other's hands. 

The Good and Some Bad Stuff

Some people might find the verbal and physical abuse quite excessive. The film could have probably done away with some of the abusive stuff. However, if you consider the year when this film was released and the character of The Girl, it might be difficult to imagine The Girl not being that abusive. I somehow feel that her actions were essential to drive home the point that she was depressed and was using her anger to hide it. 

Some stuff did not seem logical. Like how Gyeon Woo managed to move to the other mountain when they were burying the time capsule. Or how Gyeon Woo managed to replant a full grown tree. But the good stuff were enough to make me ignore these things. 

I admit that the feeling I got after watching the film this time was different. Some 20 years ago, I probably still looked at the world with rose-tinted glasses. But I know better this time (I think). Although the feelings might not have been as intense as before, the film still gave me those good and swoony vibes. 

I was surprised that Pachelbel's Canon was not played as prominently as I remembered from the first time I watched it. Back then, everyone was so crazy about this music because of My Sassy Girl. It was apparently just played during that one scene when Gyeon Woo brought The Girl a flower in her class and then a bit towards the end. But I remain crazy in love with this music. It was still very soothing and pleasant to the ears. 

My other favorite part of the movie was when Gyeon Woo told The Girl's blind date about 10 rules he needed to remember if he wanted to date The Girl. That was just the sweetest. That was testament of how well he knew The Girl and how he deeply and truly cared for her. Even if he could not have her, he still wanted her to be happy. Here's a link to that scene. 

Gyeon Woo was not extremely good looking. But his kind and pure heart made him very endearing. It was so heartwarming to see man who was flexible enough to adjust to what The Girl wanted. He did not simply adjust but he even bent over backwards for her. It was not just with the physical stuff like wearing her shoes, carrying her home when she was drunk, bringing her flowers in class, etc. 

What made Gyeon Woo perfect in my eyes was his willingness to be The Girl's shock absorber. Although he was madly in love with The Girl, he remained grounded. He knew that The Girl was grieving about something. And he acknowledged that once her grief is cured, she might no longer need him in her life. He respected that she needed him and he was willingly there for her. But when his time was up, he did not resist.  And he never asked her to explain herself. The Girl never had to tell Gyeon Woo what she was going through. He just stood by her side, no questions asked. But as I mentioned above, Gyeon Woo is the ideal. Someone we all long for but would probably never meet in real life. 

I totally forgot about the serendipitous ending. And watching it again made me realize how brilliant it was. That seemingly harmless nagging by Gyeon Woo's mom for him to meet his aunt was apparently not irrelevant at all. It was a very essential part of the story. 

Would things have been easier for Gyeon Woo and The Girl if they met right away through the mom/aunt? I don't think so. It would have felt contrived. The Girl had obviously not moved on yet at that point. Gyeon Woo might have resented her for using him to move on from his cousin. And if they broke up after that initial meeting, their relationship would have probably been irreparable. There might have been no reason for them to get back together again because they might have hurt each other too much. I believe that the timing was perfect for everything that happened. This time around, there were no longer barriers that would get in the way of their love story. 

Yes, the feeling I got from watching My Sassy Girl was different this time around but it was still a beautiful one. This film is a great reminder that love (with a little help from fate) is a wonderful thing. Let me leave you with this beautiful song from the movie. 


Oppa says...4.2.

Noona says...4. 


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