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[HanCinema's Film Review] "Over My Dead Body"

2012/04/14 | 2184 views | Permalink

Wu Seon-ho makes his feature-length film debut with "Over my Dead Body", a black comedy about a mismatched trio as they attempt to steal and ransom the corpse of a money grabbing capitalist. Wu claimed the comedy award at the 4th Mise-en-scene Short Film Festival with "My Really Big Mike" and managed to recruit an interesting mix of actors to take part in this run around heist flick.

Ever since I saw Ryoo Seung-bum in "The Servant" I have to say that I've become a fan. His processes a range of persona's that brings weight to any given feature and his role in "Over my Dead Body" cannot be overstated. Having him strut his stuff in soft yellow cotton pajamas and acting all sorts of silly and manic is an entertaining sight all in itself. Luckily though, his eccentric antics are paired with a plot that, although not entirely original or as clever as it might have you believe, makes for yet another solid chapter in his filmography.

Ryoo is accompanied on screen by Lee Beom-soo ("Salaryman") and the cool and rough-edged Kim Ok-bin ("The Front Line" and "Thirst"), both of which help to anchor the action and act as counters to Ryoo's clumsy and off the wall character. While Ryoo is a comedy act just by himself, Kim and Lee's characters (Han Dong-hwa and Baek Hyeon-cheo) entertain more through the situations they find themselves in, as their characters appear to be more reactionary than Ryoo's character's infectious ability to spark humour.

What bring these three together are their schemes to dig themselves out of their own sticky financial situations. Ryoo's character, Ahn Jin-oh, is in serious trouble with a loan shark (Ko Chang-seok as the emotional and stereotypical Korean gangster) and attempts to cash in on his life insurance policy to pay off the brute. Meanwhile, Han Dong-hwa and Baek Hyeon-cheo scheme to steal the corpse of a greedy capitalist in order to ransom off the body. The dead man was head of a pharmaceutical company that attempted to steal a recent break through the company produced worth millions of dollars. In his plot to riches, he had Baek's former boss (and Han's own father) hospitalised for his efforts to expose him, as both Beak and Han's father worked and developed on the artificial skin research project that has been stolen from the company.

But their plans go wildly a stray and when new information comes to light, the trio is forced to work together to pull of the heist while dodging gangsters, the law, as well as battling each other. The set-up probably took longer than I would have liked, but once the pieces were in place the ride is as thrilling as I could have hope for, although not quite as smart. With heist films there is that moment near its climax where details become revealed to the audience that we weren't initially privileged to. In "Over my Dead Body" these moments of enlightenment failed to trigger my appreciation or interest, as they lack that moment when that you realise that you've been cleverly deceived. The film's tie-ins weren't as praiseworthy or memorable, and there was really nothing that screamed brilliant. Sure, this film's bread and butter is light satire mixed with some dark comedy and glazed over with social commentaries, but the spine of this heist flick just wasn't robust enough for my liking.

"Over my Dead Body" is currently enjoying some great success at the box office, a point especially worth praising when you consider the current competition from both local and international studios. For what it is, "Over my Dead Body" delivers with its sharp pacing and captivating tempo, lead largely by what Ryoo brings to any film, but also through some choice moments of conflict and tension. If a light joy ride is what you're after, you can't really go wrong here with Wu Seon-ho's sound debut effort.

-C.J.Wheeler (chriscjw@gmail.com)

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