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Marrying the Mafia
Given the fact that Marrying the Mafia set records for Korea in terms of domestic gross I figured it would be something special. Having seen and loved previous record holders like Shiri and Joint Security Area I had hopes that this movie would be worth watching. After watching it though I have to admit that I don't see any reason why this movie would take the top spot.
Typically romantic comedies (successful ones at least) try to piece together a decent story with chemistry between characters and some funny bits. Unfortunately for Marrying the Mafia the story is kind of a mess, most of the characters don't really click and what's supposed to be amusing just really wasn't. The theme of the movie may be funny by itself, but it's been done before and done better.
The story here is that one fateful night two complete strangers wake up in bed next to each other buck naked and no clue about what happened. This is the beginning of the end for Dae-seo (Jun-ho Jeong) because little does he realize that he just spent the night with the daughter of a renowned mobster. Without any clue of what happened Dae-seo and Jin-kyeong (Jeong-eun Kim) try to prove to her father that they didn't have sex and to leave Dae-seo alone. Not only does he not believe them but considering that Dae-seo went to Korea's most prestigious university he sees it as a way to strengthen his goon family and orchestrates a marriage between the two.
This happens very early on in the film and the rest of the movie is spent watching the plotting and scheming to get the two "love birds" together. There are quite a few subplots that get in the way of the big picture and even quite a bit of blood and violence considering this is a romantic comedy. The entire concept here feels contrived and forced upon the viewer and no matter how hard I tried I just couldn't buy into any of it.
For everything the movie sets up it doesn't really use the resources available and often distracts you from the main story. At some points the humor is spot on with the situation the two main characters find themselves in and at other points it's completely random. Think random wire-fu fight scene between Jin-keyong's brother's wife and the woman he's having an affair with. The movie becomes a borderline parody of itself and once that happens it loses almost all of its credibility.
The acting is fine enough although at times it seems that the actors don't know exactly how to portray particular scenes. Performances will go from a perfect fit with the personality type to completely out of context of everything we learned of the character to that point. The weak pseudo relationship between Dae-seo and his girlfriend is one of those and they bounce back and forth between maybe they care about each other and then acting like total strangers. It just makes a lot of the interactions between the cast awkward and doesn't do a lot to assist the film.
Probably the main problem I had with Marrying the Mafia was the movie's pacing which was sporadic at best. Things start out very quickly and things move relatively fast but once it hits the middle of the story it slows to a crawl and that's when all the unnecessary stuff happens. The other issue is because the movie starts to drag when it comes time to wrap things up the ending feels like a last minute thought.
Overall I'm pretty confused about how this movie topped box offices in Korea considering much of it is sloppy filmmaking. The concept is fine and some bits of the movie are entertaining. It just feels like much of what happens was an afterthought while they were filming and even the actors didn't know what they were supposed to be doing or "feeling".
Marrying the Mafia is presented with a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and for the bulk of the film it looks pretty good even though there are some flaws with the material. In many scenes there is some noticeable grain that works its way into the image and there is a decent amount of edge enhancement as well. The video contains some specks in the brighter shot scenes and the image seems to jump between soft and sharp rather frequently.
One thing that I have noticed with a lot of Asian movie releases is that it seems different types of film are used during the production process. Often times while watching Marrying the Mafia the image quality, tint and overall look will completely change for no apparent reason. It's not even like its an artistic thing because it doesn't happen in dramatic scenes. Instead it just appears to be a different camera or lighting source.
Marrying the Mafia comes with two audio options for you to pick from. The first is original Korean 2.0 with optional English subtitles. The second is 5.1 English surround, which features a decent mix of audio with some directionality but a lot of the sound comes from the front channel. The two tracks feature vastly different dialogue from what the subtitles say to what the English dubbing says. That's not saying that either one is better than the other though. The English has some questionable voice work but the subtitles can get pretty annoying with slang used for the mobsters. You can expect to read a lot of "dat" instead of that and "dis" in place of this.
Even though ADV has ported the film over for a region 1 release we don't get any special features aside from a handful of trailers. Not that this movie is all that much of a masterpiece that we need a behind the scenes featurette, but I'm sure there were plenty of outtakes or something that could have been added.
For the top box office grosser in Korea, I was pretty disappointed with Marrying the Mafia, mostly because I was hoping for more. The movie is very poorly paced with not a lot of chemistry between the characters. There are a few laughs, but for being billed on the cover as "Korea's #1 Comedy" the chuckles are rather rare and often times because of completely random events. The video and audio qualities are passable, unfortunately no extras means a boring barebones release. I would say that a lot of this film is wasted potential because there could have been so much more done with the material. Rent It