Review: 2012 Korean Film Festival and Glove

Tickets for all the films being screened at the 2012 Korean Film Festival

The 2012 Korean Film Festival was a fabulous showcase of Korean film and a great introduction to Korean culture for all who attended. Both the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Toronto and CJ Entertainment deserve a pat on the back for a wonderful weekend of films.

The first thing film goers – even those who were not attending the film festival – saw when entering the main portion of the cinema was a table staffed by friendly representatives of the Korean Consulate with information on Korea and Korean film. Those of us who were attending the film festival were greeted again by more representatives of the Consulate and of CJ Entertainment. Their friendliness was a wonderful start to the festival.

Opening night – Friday – was a little different from the rest of the festival as it seemed like everyone from the Consulate was there. There were welcoming speeches by Consul General Kwang Kyun Chung and a Senior VP from CJ Entertainment America. As well, we were reminded in a gentle yet funny way to turn off our cell phones before the film started.

One consistent thread – since I watched all five movies, it was easy to notice – throughout the event was the promotional film that audiences could watch while waiting for the movie to start. It was called “The Beauty of Korean Style” and it’s a nice showcase of Korea for those who aren’t familiar with it or its culture. I even learned a few things and I lived in Korea for three years! For example, I didn’t know they make clothes from hanji (Korean paper). I would love to see them.

Actually, there were several elements that were present at all showings – like the friendly people – but I didn’t actually clue into one of them until the second movie on Sunday. Yeah, I’m slow sometimes. It took me a while to understand why they were only playing the trailer for Helpless before each of the other films but I finally did. It’s coming out at Yonge-Dundas AMC officially on the Friday the 11th so if you weren’t able to see it at the film festival, you still have a chance to see it.

The only thing I was surprised at was none of the viewings I attended were full, not even opening night. Most were 1/2 to 2/3 full which was a shame as all of the films were definitely worth watching. But perhaps it was different on Saturday? Toronto, you need to come out and check out Korean films when you have the chance… you never know what you might experience.

All in all, it was a fabulous showcase for Korean film but let’s let the films speak for themselves. Keep reading for my review of Glove (글러브). My reviews of Nameless Gangster (범죄와의 전쟁) and Helpless (화차) will appear on Thursday; while my reviews of The Front Line (고지전) and Spellbound (오싹한 연애) will appear on Friday. (I’ll add links as they go live.)

Tickets for the opening night screening of Glove

Glove

*Spoiler Alert*

Glove was based on a true story of a group of hearing-impaired high school baseball players who want to compete against other high school teams. Kim Sang-nam (Jeong Jae-yeong), a hot-tempered professional baseball pitcher, is sent to coach a team of hearing-impaired players in order to avoid media coverage of his recent involvement in an assault case and hopefully get reinstated. At first, he doesn’t want to be there and doesn’t think they can play, but as he spends time with them he starts to believe that they can play the game. However, it’s not as simple as just believing in them.

I’ll be up front with you all. I knew I was going to love this movie for two reasons – I generally love sports movies and I’m a sucker for heartwarming true stories. So I went into it with really high expectations and Glove didn’t disappoint me. I loved it.

But this review is based on more than just my personal opinion of how much it rocks – I talked to several others who’ve watched it, both guys & girls – and Glove appealed to everyone. It’s very well-acted; I was especially impressed with the actors who played the pitcher (Jang Ki-beom) and the catcher (Kim Hye-seong). The main actor, Jeong Jae-yeong – whose character was the washed-up pitcher at the end of his career Kim Sang-nam, played the ass well too. It was fun watching him start to care again. And I liked the female teacher, Na Joo-won (played by Yoo Seon)– she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind or stand up for her students.

It’s definitely a tear-jerker – especially for someone like me who cries at the drop of a hat – so bring tissues. I’ve long ago come to terms with the fact that I cry easily to I NEVER go to the movies without tissues but a couple of guys I talked to said they teared up too and all of the girls said they did. The scene where they were running back to the school, behind and then in front of the bus, after the loss was so heartbreaking. Tears were literally rolling down my cheeks. I know I said I was a softie but this is one scene that even guys said that was an emotional scene. But it was very well done.

But don’t let all my talk of crying deter you. Glove is more than tears and tissues. It’s definitely funny in parts, which is a nice balance to the heavy emotional parts. And not all of the emotional parts were sad, some were cute and happy too – like when the young catcher was getting on the bus and tells one of the female students that his next home run will be in her honour. So cute! It was also nice to see a character – Kim Sang-nam – who starts off being so angry and uncaring blossom into a good person. What can I say; I’m a sucker for a happy ending.

I don’t want you to think that Glove is a piece of fluff where everything works out in the end. It’s not. It was interesting to see bribery in the movie, especially as bribery in sports in Korea (and elsewhere) has been in the news recently. But I don’t want to give too much away, you really should watch it for yourself.

When the movie finished, I felt drained… so much emotion, so much crying… but in a good way. Okay, that probably doesn’t make much sense but the film, for all that it is very emotional, is a fabulous film. It definitely did justice to the real events that inspired it. So yeah, I was spent by the time it finished but it also left me with a happy, sometimes-life-does-work-out feeling.

If you haven’t seen it yet, go see it! You won’t regret it. Just bring lots of tissues.

Rating: **** out of 5

Did you see Glove? What did you think?

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday - this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it's taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I'm the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

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