Saving My Hubby 

Director:  Hyeon Nam-seob
Year: 2002
Rating: 7.0

Country: Korea

This is the end I think of my Korean comedy run. These were all from prior to 2010 when I could still afford to buy Korean dvds. I had never gotten around to seeing them for some reason. But with all the things going on some light silly absurd films were just what I needed and they filled the breach. None of them were great but they had their moments. This last one is a genial romp through nighttime Seoul that reminded me a bit of Adventures in Babysitting which is a film I loved when I saw it years ago. This doesn't quite get there though. The set up takes too long and then it stops short of just pushing the possibilities of the comic opportunities. You think ah, here it comes and then it runs off in another direction - literally at times. This needed to ratchet up the chaos to like Buster Keaton Steamboat Bill levels but instead it keeps it down to earth and within the realms of realism.

Geum-soon and her husband Joo-tae are dealing with their baby and having a hard time of doing that and keeping the apartment orderly and with Joo-tae going off for his first day of work. Geum-soon was a former top volleyball player who hurt her shoulder and had to retire. I mention that because her overhead smash comes in handy later on. On the first day of course the husband has to go out drinking - and drinking - and drinking - and during this his parents call to tell them they will be arriving in the morning. Then the film finally kicks in - passed out on the street he is taken into another bar, woken up and told he owes them a huge amount of money for his drinks.

He has no money and so the crooks call Geum-soon and tell her she better get over there with money or her husband will have his legs broken. Be careful when you go out drinking in Korea! So she sets off with her baby girl strapped to her back to the red light/bar district of the city. And everything goes wrong with a gang chasing her through the streets all night for an accident, she loses the baby, saves a woman from being molested, gets pushed off the roof of a building, begins a gang war, diaper changes and saves her hubby. A good night's work but there should have been more. It just never reaches for the sublime and isn't either as funny or frantic as you want it to be. This is a film that should have had you cheering her as she gets in and out of scrapes. And the antics of the drunk husband get to be too much. Why does it seem have Korean film has to have a drunk scene?

But it has Bae Doo-na as the heroine and that was an extra point or two from me. Bae Doo-na is the cat's meow as far as I am concerned - easily my favorite actress in Korean films. She has high cheek bones that quickly narrow down to a sharp chin creating this impish pixie face with slightly protruding teeth - it is far from the classical sleek chiseled face that most Korean actresses have these days - but it is a face that constantly delights. She is so expressive as her face is an emotional roller coaster and every one of them feels real. Her acting skills have clearly been recognized outside of Korea and she is probably the best known Korean actress in the West. She has been in two Bong Joon-ho films - The Host (the archer) and Barking Dogs Never Bite, also Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and then in the West she was in Cloud Atlas, Jupiter Ascending and the TV series Sense8. There is now a Korean TV series on Netflix that she is in - the terrific Kingdom about zombies in a period setting. But my favorite film of hers and one I would recommend to everyone is the Japanese film Linda, Linda, Linda where she plays a transfer student in Japan and helps start up a band. Wonderful film. So yes, Bae Doo-na is very cool.