Name – Always 오직 그대만
Running Time – 108 mins
Director – Song Il-gon
Actors – So Ji-sub, Han Hyo-joo
Genre – Romance, Drama, Action
Suitable for – Adults of all kinds, there’s romance and fighting, everyone’s tastes are covered!
This film was shown for the visit of director Song Il-gon for the ‘Year of the 12 Directors’ but was also the Korean Cultural Centre’s 100th film night! Congratulations KCC! Here’s to the next 100 films.
Warning *spoiler alerts!*
Plot (watch out for spoilers!):
Cheol Min (So Ji Sub) is a rather down and out guy, who spends his days doing odd jobs and trying to stay out of trouble. When he takes over the night shift as a parking attendant, he encounters a mysterious girl barging into his small booth who immediately starting to talking to him and handing him food. Confused, Cheol Min silently stares at her while the she continues to chat and talk about the dramas on the TV. Realising that this girl is blind, Cheol Min alerts the girl, Jung Hwa (Han Hyo Joo), that she’s mistaken him for the old man who previously worked there. Handing him the food, Jung Hwa heads off home, leaving Cheol Min wondering about this woman.
The next night, Jung Hwa returns to Cheol Min’s small parking attendant booth, hands him more food, and tells him to switch the channel to her favourite dramas. Over time, they become close and Cheol Min starts to form a close attachment with her. Her influence helps him to start to turn his life around, taking more pride in his appearance, jobs and life in general. However, Cheol Min is still very private about his past, and when Jung Hwa one day questions him about it, he tells her to mind her own business, saying she isn’t even aware of her bad haircut or when she has food down her clothes. Even though hurt by his words, she soon forgives him. When her boss tries to sexually assault her in her home, she is saved by Cheol Min. After this incident, they begin a relationship.
Even though they are very happy together, Cheol Min one day learns that the accident in which Jung Hwa lost both her sight and parents is one that he had a hand in. Devastated by this revelation, he does all he can to help Jung Hwa’s life run easily, though does not tell her his role in the accident. The couple soon discover that Jung Hwa’s eyes are getting worse, and she only has about a month before any future operations would be useless. The chances of getting a patient cornea transplant are slim to none, and the only other option is to buy corneas from the USA. The cost this operation is high and Cheol Min decides to tell Jung Hwa to go ahead with the operation and that he will pay for it, saying he has savings. However, the way he plans to get the money is through winning an illegal fighting tournament.
Having been sharpening his kick boxing and boxing skills since he and Jung Hwa became a couple, he has a good reputation in the ring, but an illegal fight is totally different. He must give up his identity to participate in the match, so there’s no coming back. Promising Jung Hwa that he will be there when she wakes up from the operation, he heads off to Thailand to fight. But how will the match go where the only rules are the winner is the one who isn’t knocked out or dies? And if he survives, how can he return into to his old life with Jung Hwa? The only way to find out is to watch!
This film has a lot of elements that will appeal to a whole variety of people. For the romantics at heart, the love story between Cheol Min and Jung Hwa is done wonderfully. The way that you can see their relationship develop, and how Cheol Min changes and tries to improve his life is great to watch. Han Hyo Joo’s portrayal of Jung Hwa as a blind woman is amazing. Equally compelling is So Ji Sub’s torso acting of Cheol Min, and the way this character observes Jung Hwa in close quarters. For the not so romantic, there’s hidden pasts, fighting, boxing and a lot of angst flying about – something for everyone. (And for the So Ji Sub fans out there, there are a lot of topless fighting scenes, just saying!)
For the guys (or girls) who prefer a bit of action, the fight scenes in this film are energetic and amazing. So Ji Sub took up boxing training for his role in this film, and you can really see all the effort he put in to prepare for this role. The choreography of the fighting is so well done, and looks completely natural; there are no dodgy punches or bits where you can see a stunt man. Some of the people in the audience found some of the fight scenes a little too brutal, and there are some scenes where you will screw up your face as you watch, but it’s utterly enthralling at the same time.
This film is quite a bit of a jump in genre and style from Song Il Gon’s past films, and those who are fans of his past works and watch this expecting something of a similar ilk might be a bit surprised. This is definitely very ‘Korean romance film’ genre in feeling, so be aware of this when you watch it. However, don’t think that as it is romance it’s not for you. Though there are a lot of typically Korean romance plot lines in here, intertwined pasts, illnesses, not realising who the love of your life is etc, it’s not too horribly sappy and the most hardened of romantic film haters should be able to sit through this film and like it. It may be a bit too lovey dovey at some points, but that doesn’t mean it’s not got substance to back it up. Although at some moments the plot feels a little cliched, it’ll still have you wanting to know what happens next.
The only thing to point out that feels a little off is the ending. It feels very abrupt and a bit out of place. Song Il Gon told us that he did not have full power over the editing of this film, and that he wanted to put in around ten more minutes that would have rounded the plot up better. He also said that the investors later agreed with him that the cut bit should have been put in the film. It’s not too late to watch this other ending however, you can find out what this extra ten minutes was in the DVD! Clever move film people, making us wonder what the other ending was! All in all, this is a good film, with great acting and an interesting plot.
I give this film…….
All images credit to Hancinema