The Beast and the Beauty

Director: Lee Gye-byeok
Year: 2005
Production Company: Sio Film Inc.
Running Time: 96 minutes

In most ways, “The Beast and the Beauty” doesn’t really distinguish itself from the myriad of other Korean romantic comedies that have flourished since “My Sassy Girl” except for two things – the very personable performances from the loving couple and a few quite funny moments. This makes what otherwise is a fairly silly and conventional plot a small pleasure to watch. It has in fact a sassy girl warning her boyfriend of his impending death if he doesn’t straighten up his act, a bit of a milk toast male love interest, cuddly gangsters, an overly handsome rival and a love that is meant to be no matter what obstacles lay in the road to romance.

Hae-joo (Sin Min-ah) is blind and beautiful – and exceptionally cheerful for someone in her condition. Her mom has told her that some day a prince will arrive and waken her as in Sleeping Beauty – she buys the fairy tale. And it appears that he has arrived. She plays the piano in a small jazz band and one evening after work a car picks her up and takes her home – she assumes it is a taxi – and oddly this same taxi appears whenever she needs a ride to or from work. In fact, it is Dong-gun (Ryoo Seung-beom) who has completely fallen for her and he is just pretending to be a cab driver. Eventually, she figures this out and instead of thinking he is a weird stalker soon to be psycho, they begin a lovely virginal friendship. Since she is blind he figures what is the harm in describing himself as a handsome stud – but then she gets an eye donor and afterwards sees not dead people but what Dong-gun really looks like and appears to be appalled. Thus starts the real complications.
He pretends not to be Dong-gun but a friend who tells her that her boyfriend is on a business trip to Hawaii – and in the meantime feeling that he is beastly looking, he plans on getting surgical help in making himself look more handsome – this leads to further complications as does a rival (Kim Kang-woo) who appears on the scene and who looks exactly as Dong-gun described himself. His attempts to do harm to the rival only backfire and bring that couple closer together. All this is a bit odd – a play perhaps on Chaplin’s “City Lights”, but it is hard to believe much of it because Ryoo Seung-beom who plays the beast isn’t at all bad looking – not classic good looks by any means but far from a beast – I mean the guy has been a lead in films like “Arahan” and “Crying Fist” so how bad can he look and they do nothing to make him ugly other than a tiny scar on his forehead. Even so – both actors are great to watch – Sin Min-ah who played the young woman in “Bittersweet Life” falls in that adorable bucket in which Korean actresses seem to have perfected. It is little more than a sweet feel good romance but a very amiable one to be sure.

My rating for this film: 6.0


Previous films from Director:

This was his debut film.

Assistant Director: Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Old Boy