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'Highway Star' Has Several Holes

2007/02/15 Source

By Kim Tae-jong
Staff Reporter

The success of recent movies that center on music such as "Radio Star" and "200 Pounds Beauty" can be attributed to their successful appeal to the ear as well as the eye.

Because of its enjoyable music, the new comedy "Highway Star" has potential to follow its predecessors.

But as a comedy, it's a bit disappointing. Its clumsy story is loosely developed and doesn't produce many jokes, and its humor often seems to come from out of the blue.

Directed by Kim Sang-chan and Kim Hyun-soo-I, the film is about a rocker who makes it big in trot music, which is similar to melodramatic Japanese enka songs. (It's a sudden and amazing turn. Let's say Eminem suddenly wants to sing Frank Sinatra songs.)

In the film, Dal-ho (played by Cha Tae-hyun) is the lead vocalist of a rock band who has dreams of stardom but works in a rural club accompanying a trot singer.

One day, Mr. Jang (Im Chae-moo), the head of a shabby recording company, notices Dalho's talent and picks him up, promising him a chance to become a star.

The singer doesn't know that he has to sing trot songs until he has already signed a contract.

Dal-ho, who believes he was born to rock, has never taken trot seriously. But because he would have to pay a huge fine for breach of contract, he lets Mr. Jang train him.

As he learns about the genre, he begins to realize the beauty of trot, thanks to the helps of his colleagues, especially from Seoyeon, an attractive trot singer with a strong passion for music but little talent.

The most hilarious jokes come from the traditions of trot. The film pokes fun at the fashion, hairstyles and exaggerated stage moves that are associated with the genre.

Dal-ho realizes that what's important is not which genre he chooses but whether he sings with all his heart.

But he finds is ashamed of being a trot singer and dons a mask during he stage debut.

The strange tactic works for him. His voice rocks the nation, and his hidden face increases people's curiosity, doubling his popularity.

But he experiences identity confusion; there is no star Dal-ho without a mask.

"Highway Star" was made to attract moviegoers around the Lunar New Year holidays, the most lucrative time for comedies, but it has too many holes to be truly successful.

Many parts of the plot are loosely linked or missing. The romance between Dal-ho and Seo-yeon is poorly developed, and it is never explained why Mr. Jang has an intimidating tattoo on all over his body.

The last scene, which involves Dal-ho unmasking himself on a stage, looks similar to a scene in "200 Pounds Beauty", but the revelation has much less impact. Two and a half stars

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