The teaser posters for the upcoming Korean film, Mujeokja, have just been released. I’ve been keeping an eye on this film for two reasons: (1) it’s the remake of one of the most beloved Hong Kong movies of all time, A Better Tomorrow (“ABT”), which catapulted Chow Yun Fat to super-stardom in Asia, and (2) it stars my favorite robot Song Seung Heon, the Korean Adonis Joo Jin Mo, as well as Kim Kang Woo and Jo Han Sun.
I loved ABT when I watched it as a teenager, its violence was stylized but not posed, its story was emotional without being melodramatic. I highly doubt the Korean version could match both the execution of the original (a John Woo film when John Woo was at the pinnacle of his creativity) and the acting chemistry of the leads (the aforementioned Chow Yun Fat, Ti Lung as his best friend, and a young Leslie Cheung as the sheltered younger brother).
Nonetheless, I’m still highly interested in the remake (it’s title: Mujeokja, means The Invincible One), because hope is a good thing to have. But I do have one hilarious quibble with the teaser poster – why is Song Seung Heon chewing on a lollipop stick? For those of you who’ve watched the original, Song Seung Heon plays Chow Yun Fat’s character, whose iconic tic is that he chews on a matchstick. He also uses a cigarette to light bills on fire.
Which is why when I see this picture of Song Seung Heon, I get the urge to laugh at both his attempt to look sleazy (which is way off base, since the Chow Yun Fat character was never sleazy, but rather had shady insouciance galore), and his chewing on a lollipop as opposed to anything else that is more menacing. But I love the look in Joo Jin Mo’s eyes – its tortured and rife with hidden depth.
Okay, I lied, I have another quibble with the teaser poster – why do the four guys look like they have a fire lit on their ass? I thought the posters for the upcoming K-drama Athena were highly stylized, this appears to be shot by the same photographer and photoshopped by the same editor. Eh, give me Chow Yun Fat toting two machine guns and chomping on a ciggie any day. It’s sad that an 80s poster could look so much more interesting than something done with considerably more money and technological savvy.
I wished that Lee Min Ki had stayed onboard in the original casting to play the part of his younger brother, now played by Kim Kang Woo. Lee Min Ki can do angry, bitter, and frustrated so well (from what I saw in Be Strong Geum Soon), and Kim Kang Woo gives off a cold, detached vibe that does not work for this headstrong, fiery character. However, I’m still looking forward to this movie. It’s either going to be an unique and worthy remake, or a crappy movie that may still be worth watching for the eye candy contained therein.