Bleak Night: Broken

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Because I am not done with my Lee Je Hoon spree, I watched his darker piece, Bleak Night. Bleak Night tells the story of a broken friendship between three young boys. Ki-Tae, Hee-Joon (Becky), and Dong Yoon were three best friends who literally did everything together and ruled the school together. However, a break in their friendship started after Becky witnessed a private talk between a girl he liked and Ki-Tae. He became jealous and slowly isolated himself from Ki-Tae. Meanwhile, Ki-Tae who had chosen his friendship over this girl, was confused at Becky’s coldness. He tried apologizing a couple of times to Becky and to clear up the misunderstanding, to which all were coldly rebuffed. This provoked Ki-Tae into bullying Becky instead in his way of trying to make Becky react to him. This further alienated Becky to the point where Becky decided to transfer schools to get away. This depressed Ki-Tae a lot since he had really liked being friends with Becky. Meanwhile, Dong Yoon who had been friends with Ki-Tae since childhood was caught in between this stalemate. Ki-Tae in an effort to revive his pride, blustered and bullied others everyday. He wanted to keep up a strong front to hide the fact that he was extremely lonely as his family was never home. He only had his friends and pride to keep him going. After another incident where Ki-Tae went to far and broke up a romantic liaison between Dong-Yoon and a girl he liked, it was the last straw. With the girl ending up in the hospital and Dong-Yoon pissed at the situation, Dong-Yoon said the unforgivable words. Ki-Tae who had come to apologize for the situation, was rebuffed harshly by Dong Yoon as well. Dong Yoon said Ki-Tae was the source of all the misfortunes and should not have existed in the first place. Unfortunately, these were the words that broke Ki-Tae, who then committed suicide.

What is unique about this movie was that it was told almost backwards since it starts out with the funeral of Ki-Tae and a father who was trying to piece together what had happened for his child to commit suicide. As he visits the two friends, he can only get a watered down picture of their friendship and the events that had happened between them. The story is told in fragments and flashbacks. Becky’s perspective came first as we learn how he was bullied. Then Dong-Yoon, who had dropped out of school due to the suicide, told the second half which had broken Ki-Tae. Much of the story was up to your interpretation as to who was in the right or wrong, and the grey spaces in between. Ki-Tae is portrayed very sympathetically as a lonely boy who only knew how to bluster and bully, but ultimately treasured his friendships above his own life. What was tragic was that Ki-Tae did attempt to make amends and apologize, but it was the cold rebuffs from both his friends that pushed him over the ledge, literally. However, it is also true that his bullying tactics made him seem like a monster in his friend’s eyes. Although we already knew the ending, I still yearned that the misunderstandings could be resolved. Let’s just say I wished it was the School 2013 bromance route.

PS. Lee Je Hoon’s fierce portrayal of Ki-Tae was fantastic. His killer glares were intimidating, and when we saw those rare vulnerable parts where he tried to open up to his friends, it was heartbreaking. You both hated and loved him.

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My Paparotti – A TENor

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After watching Lee Je-Hoon’s fantastic role in Signal, I became interested in his other projects. Thus, I watched, My Paparotti, which is based on the true story of Kim Ho Joong, an opera singer who moved his audience to tears through his voice and troubled upbringing. Adapted into a film, Lee Je Hoon plays Jang Ho, a teen who is part of/head of a large gang, but dreams of becoming a tenor. Every since his grandmother died, he had wanted to fulfill her wishes of him singing on stage. However with his troubled lifestyle, he had been kicked out of four schools already. Finally, a fifth school decided to accept him into their music program. He meets Teacher Sang Jin, a past tenor who had a promising opera career before a vocal cord tumor shoved him out of performance forever. Both Sang Jin and Jang Ho have prickly personalities and of course they butt heads. Sang Jin thinks of Jang Ho as the trash of society because of his gangster lifestyle. Jang Ho doesn’t respect Sang Jin as a role model or teacher. However, slowly they begin to understand each other and compromise. Sang Jin becomes like a father to Jang Ho to the point where Jang Ho is almost integrated in his family. Jang Ho’s beautiful voice is molded carefully into performance standards by his new teacher. Sang Jin even tries to make Jang Ho’s Boss let him out of the gang by offering his own foot for exchange. Jang Ho is very moved by his teacher’s efforts and feelings. Thus, he decides to give up this lifestyle and not fight any longer. We see a real change in his attitude when rather than fight his attackers who trapped him before his concours, he only defended himself and focused on rushing to the competition as soon as he could escape. Although the competition itself was finished, his teacher fought for a chance for him to sing on stage.

I am very impressed with Lee Je Hoon’s acting. He is able to convey conflicting emotions very well. Furthermore, he does a great job lip syncing the opera parts which are sung by another artist. This is the second time seeing him play a “gangster” or “rough and ready” type role, with the other being Signal. I also enjoyed the touching dynamic he had with his mentor. The way they sang the non-opera duet was quiet moving and really conveyed their dreams and hopes for one another. Overall it is a great feel good movie with comedy and warmth.