BOP tries to maintain neutrality in discussing future movies, but there are some projects that excite us so much we don't even bother acting impartial. 2008 will see the release of such a project. It is a re-make of the 2001 Korean insta-classic, My Sassy Girl, the only Korean title to date that has hit the number one spot in Hong Kong box office. Given that the 2001 release is one of the most popular foreign films of the 2000s for some of our staff, it's readily apparent why the English version of My Sassy Girl has us counting down the days until its release.
Loosely based on an early Internet serial by Kim Ho-sik, the My Sassy Girl story is truly a phenomenon unto itself. Its author was one of the first online scribes to appreciate the power of the medium, and he capitalized on this by recounting the quirks of his relationship with his college girlfriend. The indescribably funny works proved so popular that a compilation was made, and that novel quickly became a bestseller in Asia.
For those of you who missed Chris Hyde’s review of My Sassy Girl awhile back, the gist of the story is that a young man named Kyun-woo happens upon a very unusual inebriated woman at a subway. There, in the dark of night, this drunken woman proceeds to behave as if she is his girlfriend. While the passengers on the train accept this behavior, Kyun-woo is confused. After all, he doesn’t even know the girl’s name. For that matter, she acts as if she doesn’t even have one. When he begins to exit the train, the others on-board berate him for not caring after the drunken girl. Helpless to object, the dutiful young man scoops her up over his back and carries her a couple of miles to a hotel room.
When the opportunity finally arises to ditch this wild child, Kyun-woo finds himself unable to leave her side. Already, she has wrapped him around her little finger. Their subsequent encounters reveal The Girl’s complexities as she veers wildly between being an obnoxious, ferocious instigator and a wounded, lonely woman desperate for human contact. In the end, a deft bit of storytelling reveals why she is so jaded as well as why she is hopelessly drawn to Kyun-woo. The movie's ending is one of the most satisfying denouements this author has ever had the pleasure of witnessing. My Sassy Girl stands as one of the most believable romantic comedies of our era with The Girl standing out as an instantly iconic movie character.
In adapting the movie for American release, great care was taken to find a woman who could portray a crazy, bossy woman whom audiences would still adore. Upon the release of 2004's The Girl Next Door, the choice became clear. While that project earned only $14.6 million, its lead actress, Elisha Cuthbert was nothing short of a revelation in the titular role. She somehow managed to make a porn star a sympathetic (and incredibly sexy) character. So, the kind people at Gold Circle Films politely asked her to drop the Next Door moniker and simply be The Girl here. The results are expected to be wildly positive. Meanwhile, the Kyun-woo character will be played by The West Wing's Jesse Bradford. BOP would have been happier with Emile Hirsch, but that's probably in the area of a legally actionable duplication of The Girl Next Door. Director Yann Samuell makes his Hollywood studio system debut on this production using an adapted screenplay by Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! scribe Victor Levin.
At the time of its release, My Sassy Girl became the biggest box office hit in the history of Korea in addition to its noteworthy Hong Kong performance. There is no reason to believe an adroitly handled North American adaptation won’t prove equally successful. The universality of this romantic comedy is readily apparent, and BOP has full confidence that this project is one that cannot be bungled. Don't blow this for us, Samuell! (David Mumpower/BOP)