The 2003 movie Singles comes from South Korea and it is dubbed as the Korean version of Sex in the City. The film is about four single twenty-somethings who are quickly approaching thirty. Life is about sex, work, friends, and trying to make something of oneself before turning the big 3-0. The movie was very popular; it was recognized at multiple international film festivals.
Na Nan (Jang Jin-Young) is the primary character. She is twenty-nine, and soon to be thirty. In the beginning of the story, her life is almost perfect. She has a great job; she is a fashion designer at a hip company called 1492. Her goal is to take the next step, which is tying the knot with her boyfriend before she turns thirty. Unfortunately, Nan's life comes crashing down--her boyfriend dumps her for no good reason and she is demoted. Nan's new job is manager at a Chili's restaurant, which is not the direction she had hoped for her career.
At Nan's side are her two best friends, Dong-mi (Jeong-haw Eom) and Jeong-jun (Lee Beom-su). Dong-mi is sultry vixen and a successful business woman with a bad relationship history. She is far from shy and not afraid to go after what or who she wants. Despite, she is not without morals. After Nan's loses her job, Dong-mi is sexually harassed by her boss. She decides to keep her self-respect and leaves the job. Jeong-jun is Dong-mi and Nan's male best friend. He shares an apartment with Dong-mi, and has had a slew of bad relationships. Women walk all over him and he does not do a good job handling it.
Together, Nan, Dong-mi, and Jeong-jun make up a trio of twenty-somethings who are approaching thirty. While life seems good at first, they all find out that life may not be what they had hoped for by the age of thirty. With all of their lives being affected for the worse in one way or another -- Nan being demoted and losing her boyfriend, Dong-mi losing her job, and Jeong-jun's girlfriend telling him she wants to see other people -- this cheery trio keeps on living.
Nan's life slowly starts to pick up when she meets Soo-heon (Ju-hyuk Kim), a guy who works for Unos Securities, which is on the floor above where Nan used to work. They start a relationship. It is shaky in the initial stages, but becomes serious. Dong-mi tries to start her own company. Jung-joon tries to pick himself up after losing his girlfriend and be the kind of man she wants. Throughout the rest of the story, Nan, Dong-mi, Jeong-jun, and Soo-heon continue through the final years of being twenty-somethings and find new that they have stances on life when the unexpected happens.
There are several different things that make Singles a great movie. The cast is superb. Lead actress Jang Jin-Young is simply delightful. She is a great character, as the very cute and easy to like heroine. Her romantic interest Kim Joo-Hyuk fits in well. He has great chemistry with her. Um Jung-Hwa fills her role well too as the sultry, confident woman, and Lee Bum-Soo is the perfect selection as the guy with the opposite personality of Um's character. Having these two play roommates worked out for the best. All in all, the four leading characters are very strong, and their simple interaction will make you smile.
Another strength Singles has is the storyline. It is not overly complicated, nor is it is melodramatic or soapy. Instead, it is rich with simplistic detail that really brings the characters to life. The writing and dialogue are also fantastic. The cast carries their interactions well and they have some great situations in the first half of the film.
Overall, Singles was a delightful surprise that despite the advertisement of being the Korean version of Sex and the City, it is more than that. I admit my experience with Sex and the City is limited to the first and second seasons, but I enjoyed the characters and the flow of Singles much more. It is a fun film that is entertaining, engaging, humorous, and dramatic.
This release is given in anamorphic 1.78:1 ratio widescreen color. The picture quality is excellent, providing a clear and clean picture with minor color distortions and compression artifacts. Both dark and bright colors are represented very well.
The audio is given in two formats, Korean 5.1 surround and 2.0 stereo. The 5.1 track is overkill, as the stereo track is more than sufficient for the presentation. The tracks are dialogue driven and have limited use of the surround/stereo capability. The music sounds good; it is dynamic and vibrant. For non-spoken language options, there are subtitles in English and Chinese.
For extras, there are a few items. First, there is a trailer and teaser for Singles included. Second, there are two ten minute sneak peeks for Peppermint Candy and Turning Gate. There is also a Singles Reference Note booklet. It contains interview commentary with director Kwon Chil-In, Jang Jin-Young, Um Jung-Hwa, Lee Bum-Soo, and Kim Joo-Hyuk, as well as facts relating to the cast, movie, and Korean culture. I thought it was interesting for a quick look, but it would have been much more effective as a featurette.
The South Korean film Singles is about four twenty-somethings who are going through the ups and downs of that crazy thing we call life. The movie has both comical and dramatic tones, and it works. The cast is excellent in their roles and they have a great chemistry together. The story is simple, but it is simple in a good way and each moment is very fun. For those looking for a strong film with great characters, Singles is a must. It comes Highly Recommended.