With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

ACF 1832: PUNCH streets today

CJ Entertainment
5 Points Pictures
Punch / Wan-deuk-i
Directed by LEE Han
South Korea, 2011, 107 minutes
Two-Disc Special Edition
SRP: $29.99

DOH Wan-deuk (YOO Ah-in) doesn't have much good going for him. As soon as he was weaned as an infant, his mother (played by Jasmine LEE) left him and his father. His old man (actor PARK Soo-yung) is a hunchback who performs as a dancer at the Chariot Cabaret with his partner, Min-ku (KIM Yung-jae), a sweet if slow-witted younger man. Not only poor financially, Wan-deuk is also a poor, unmotivated student who is almost a senior in high school. His homeroom teacher, LEE Dong-ju (Kim Yun-seok), is eternally on his case, not just at school but also at home, since he is also Wan-deuk's neighbor. The one thing that Wan-deuk, a rather sweet and well-intentioned youth, is really good at is fighting.

Wan-deuk (left) and his teacher Dong-ju

This coming-of-age story about an at-risk young man is based upon the 2008 novel Wan-deuk Yi by KIM Ryeo-ryeong. The book, a best-seller, was unanimously selected to receive the first-ever Changbi Prize for Young Adult Fiction.

Director LEE Han has made some of Korea's most beloved and heartwarming films (Lover's Concerto; Almost Love; Love, First). With Punch he has produced a tender and touching tale of a young man trying to find himself, aided by his tough taskmaster of a teacher and neighbor.

Martial arts writer Ho-jeung (right) and her foul-mouthed brother

Each of the significant characters in the film is interesting, clearly defined and well portrayed. Besides the five already mentioned, there are three others. Ho-jeong (actress PARK Hyo-joo), another neighbor, writes martial arts novels and lives with her brother (KIM Sang-ho). He screams curses at Wan-deuk and Dong-ju whenever they disturb him, which happens frequently. Yoon-ha (KANG Byeol) is a lovely, bespectacled classmate of Wan-deuk and a romantic interest develops between the two of them.

There is over an hour of video extras on the second disc. These include:

- Story Before the Movie
- About the Characters
- “Hey You, Doh Wan-deuk!”
- Music Story
- Deleted scenes (with on/off director commentary)
- Poster shoot video
- Image gallery
- Original South Korean trailer
- Director and cast bios
- Liner notes
- 5 Points Pictures trailers.

The feature film offers the choice of either monochrome (nicely outlined white) or duel colored English subtitles. Personally, I prefer the latter as I find they make it easier to discern what is said by different characters.

Punch could be described as either a comedic drama or as a dramatic comedy, depending upon how it resonates with each particular viewer. In any case, it's a delightful film that touches one's heart. The plethora of extras on the second disc further make it a most worth-while acquisition.

ACF Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; highly recommended.

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