Yoboseyo again from the land of the Morning Calm where, if you didn’t know, and I doubt you care, I spent a couple of my high school years. Yes, I am not your average cat. Of course this could mean I’m below average, but not average nonetheless. This time we’re going to deconstruct Yong-Hwa Kim’s romantic comedy ‘200 Pound Beauty’ which I found hugely entertaining, but I’m not quite sure of the message behind it. So, I must warn you that this review will have SPOILERS in it, so stop now if you don’t want to know what’s going to happen.
Hanna Kang (Ah-Jung Kim – in a fat suit) is obese. And if you’re fat in a movie, and you being fat in the movie is a plot point, then chances are you’re clumsy, oafish, overly sensitive can’t find love and DESPERATE not to be fat anymore. Hanna’s life isn’t really so bad though. Because of her sweet voice, she makes a decent living as a phone sex operator and she’s the voice behind slim and sexy pop singer Ammy, who couldn’t carry a tune in a burlap sack. Ammy also hates Hanna, which is just insane since Hanna is her meal ticket. Hanna also has serious love crush on her and Ammy’s producer, Sang Jung (Joo Jin Mo), who is very sweet to Hanna but as we will find out, it is not because he has any real feeling for her, but because he understands how valuable she is to his enterprise.
Despite warnings from her best friend that it’s is better to let this crush of hers fall to the wayside, Hanna holds out hope. And when Sang invites her to his birthday bash and sends her a dress to wear (So Hanna thinks) she’s convinced that there is an opening there into Sangs’ heart. Problem is the dress is a good five sizes too small,
and Sang didn’t send it. So when Ammy shows up in the same dress looking quite resplendent, we know who is behind this wicked prank. Sang is none to pleased with Ammy’s prank and pulls her into the bathroom to give her the business, letting Ammy know that they need to be nice to the fat ugly girl, his words now, and to paraphrase, they are simply using her. Wouldn’t you know that Hanna was in the toilet hearing this, and decides to end it all as life has lost all of its meaning.
But in a stroke of movie luck one of Hanna’s phone clients is a master plastic surgeon, and through some heavy handed ‘convincing’ he transforms Hanna from a 200 pound slob into a 45 kilo goddess. Now back in circulation after a year of healing, Hanna has become Jenny, and Jenny finds that being a pretty girl certainly has its advantages. Combine Jenny’s earthy, natural beauty with Hanna’s golden vocal chords and Jenny is on her way through the stratosphere, but has she forgotten where she came from? Hell to the yes she has. But will she be able to find her back to Hanna? Hmmm….
Other than being too long at close to two hours, and Lord knows there’s no romantic comedy that needs to come close to that kind of length, ‘200 Pound Beauty’ was very entertaining. Actress Ah-Jung Kim, who, at least to me, has a passing resemblance to the lovely Chinese actress Shu Qi, is a stunningly beautiful young woman and considering her relative inexperience as an actress, handles the dual complexity of the roles of Hanna and Jenny with style and substance. Not to mention the young lady does all of her own singing in the film and she has been blessed, along with her obvious beauty, with a very strong singing voice.
The film raises some compelling issues, such as the behavior that men have towards women of beauty and this disregard we show to women who are not beautiful, and how in numerous instances Jenny was able to accomplish things, and have things occur that Hanna would never come close to accomplishing. Most of these scenes were done with humor, but the message was there nonetheless.
But at the end of the day though, what was director Kim’s ultimate message? Might I add that this film was crafted with the typical sky high production values and skill that one has come to expect from films coming out of South Korea. Obviously, Jenny will discover the error of her ways and learn that plastic surgery was not the answer to her ailing heart, nor will it gain her entry into Sangs’ heart either, but when all is said and done, Hanna is still a stunning goddess, she is a bigger star now than she was before (though the script does throw some haters at her as well), and though she seems no longer interested in Sang, he is now hers for the plucking any time she pleases, and her life is just exponentially better now that it was before she had the surgery done, and that’s a fact. I just found it a little unsettling is all, even though it appeared that director Kim tried to adjust it, the underlying message of plastic surgery is good, and being fat is bad remained.
Regardless, this was a fine, expertly crafted film. Kim certainly knows how to shoot a concert scene, that’s for damn sure and there was a nice comic turn from actor Lee Han Wi as the plastic surgeon which was priceless. All in all, despite being too long, ‘200 Pounds Beauty’ was still a pretty damn good show.