With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Saturday, July 21, 2012

ACF 1564: FINDING MR DESTINY is now available on DVD

Finding Mr. Destiny / Kim-jong-wook-chat-gi
Directed by CHANG You-jeong
Starring: LIM Soo-jung and GONG Yoo
South Korea, 2010, 112 minutes

This delightful Korean rom-com recently became available on DVD from CJ Entertainment and 5 Point Pictures. And while the film marks the cinematic directorial debut of CHANG, she is no newcomer to the material. It's a film adaptation of her hit 2006 musical entitled Finding Kim Jong-wook which had over 1,000 performances.

Ji-woo (LIM Soo-jung of A Tale of Two Sisters and I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK) is single, in her thirties, and the stage director of a new musical called "The Last Show." She's also romantically stuck, unable (or unwilling) to get past the memory of her first love, whom she met on a trip to India ten years earlier.

Ji-woo in India

Gi-joon (GONG Yoo from the film She's on Duty and The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince TV series) is also single and in his thirties; he works for a travel agency. At least he did until he was fired for spending more time telling prospective customers of the perils of travel (such as tsunamis) than about its joys. He then decides to open the First Love Agency, a one-man operation dedicated to helping clients find their long-lost first loves.

When Ji-woo rejects the marriage proposal of a young airline pilot, her father secures Gi-joon's services to find the mysterious man from the India trip so that her daughter will either find her "Mr. Destiny" in him or realize that it's time to move on.

Using her talents and experience from the live stage, CHANG has quite successfully crafted a most enjoyable tale in a medium that's new to her. Both leads are terrific in their respective roles. LIM, who previously played dark, depressed characters, is wonderful as a bright, bubbly young woman; her comically expressive face is a joy to behold. GONG, in his first film since completing his military duties (making it his first in five years) shows that he has not lost his acting chops. His performance as a very straight-laced, earnest young man who gradually loosens up under Ji-woo's spell demonstrates beautifully nuanced evolution.

Ji-woo and Gi-joon check out a Kim Jong-wook who might be Ji-woo's first love

The single disc DVD has terrific bonus features. The roughly 30-minute making of featurette is far better than most. While there are a few of those "this was the greatest experience I've ever had" type of comments, they sound pretty sincere and heartfelt. More importantly, this extra has a lot to say about the film's roots as a stage play, which made me appreciate the film even more. And when's the last time you could say that about a film's DVD extras? There's also a music video of star GONG Yoo recording the song "A Second First Love," a Q&A with director CHANG, a filming on location in India Q&A (Finding Mr. Destiny was the first Korean film with on-location shooting done in India), and more.

Bottom line: Finding Mr. Destiny is a charming romp about the vicissitudes of romance with fine performances by its two leads and supporting cast. It's also most auspicious directorial debut for director CHANG.

ACF rating: 3 out of 4 stars (solidly recommended) for the film, and a separate 3.5 out of 4 (very good) for the DVD extras.

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