News and reviews, contemplations and considerations of Asian films and filmmakers. With the occasional piece on manga, dance, music, or whatever else Asian that might be of interest. Written by Dr. Stan Glick, a columnist for Asian Cult Cinema magazine.
With Hong Kong director PANG Ho-cheung after interviewing him in 2012
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
ACF 1401: MY GIRLFRIEND IS AN AGENT reviewed; free screening tonight in New York
54 Varick Street, on the corner of Canal Street, NYC
Near the A, C, E @ #1 Canal Street subway stops
All seating is first-come, first served
The Korean Cultural Service's series of three rom-coms continues tonight with a freescreening of MY GIRLFRIEND IS AN
AGENT, a Korean variation of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. It starts off with AHN Soo-ji (actress KIM Ha-neul) in a white wedding gown posing for photographs with her groom. Except she's actually working undercover on a stake-out for the Industrial Security Team of NIS (National Intelligence Service).
Soo-ji in action
A high speed chase on water ensues in which -- surprise -- she executes an amazing move and captures the bad guys. In the midst of all this, she gets a phone call from her boyfriend LEE Jae-joon (KANG Ji-hwan). He tells her that he's breaking up with her and leaving the country. She runs to stop him at the airport, but is grabbed by security forces there because of the gun strapped to one of her thighs.
Following this, the film's credits start to roll, accompanied by some Mission Impossible theme-like music. Indeed, a connection with that series will play out much later in the movie. The story resumes three years later. Soo-ji's working cover is now as a travel agent, and she's starting to date Sung-joon, a handsome fellow who seems like a good prospect. Meanwhile, Jae-joon has returned to South Korea and is working with the overseas operations section of the NIS Harimao ("fearless tiger") Team. In a typical instance of inter-agency rivalry and secrecy, neither of these divisions know what the other is up to. And it turns out that they're both working on the same case, but coming at it from different directions.
Jae-joon on the floor and in trouble
Naturally Soo-ji and Jae-joon encounter one another and their mutual feelings are rekindled. But the situation is complicated, to say the least, as neither can reveal what they really do. Lies, suspicion and distrust ensue, the same factors that led him to leave her three years earlier.
Will they be able to surmount these difficulties and finally find true love with one another? Will they be able to thwart the sale of a biochemical weapon by Dr. Roh (Soo-ji's target) to Victor, a Russian agent being trailed by Jae-joon?
Soo-ji and Jae-joon prepare to "foil" the bad guy
This being a rom-com, the results are not all that unpredictable. But it's how the film gets there that matters, and MY GIRLFRIEND IS AN AGENT does so in fine form. Both leads are well-suited for their roles, and there's a nice contrast between Soo-ji's significant experience and Jae-joon's hilarious ineptitude as he tries to break into field work from the research end of operations. The movie also does a nice job of using seemingly insignificant things to set-up important developments later on.
MY GIRLFRIEND IS AN AGENT is a delightful romp in the realm of rom-com espionage. ACF Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars, highly recommended.