Like many other sports, baseball is a game of communication. Catchers are yelling which base to go, the crowd screams when someone hits a home run, and coaches constantly shout what to do when the players are at their bases. It’s also a sport of accumulated team effort. Having one great pitcher cannot make a strong team.
Director Kang Woo-suk’s new film, “Glove,” tells a story of 10 young baseball players who cannot communicate the way most players do. Based on the true story of a junior baseball team at Chungju Sacred Heart School for the Deaf ― a Catholic school for hearing-impaired children and teenagers in Chungju, North Chungcheong Province ― the film offers a touching portrayal of young souls who grow up through the sport and the many tough challenges they face.
The movie begins as Kim Sang-nam (Jeong Jae-young), a former pro player who used to be the shining star of Korean baseball, gets kicked out of the pro league due to repeated assault and battery charges against him. To improve his public image, Kim’s devoted manager and friend Charles (Jo Jin-woong) suggests Kim coach the Catholic school’s baseball team. Kim reluctantly agrees, and eventually goes down to Chungju to coach the kids. Touched by the boys’ genuine passion for the sport in spite of their poor skills and abilities, Kim starts to train the team hard for the boys’ ultimate goal: winning at least one game in the national junior competition.
|Actor Jeong Jae-young (far right) stars as a former pro baseball player who ends up coaching a team of hearing-impaired teenagers in director Kang Woo-suk’s new film, “Glove.” (CJ Entertainment)|
Director Kang Woo-suk, who has made a dramatic turn from his last film, “Moss,” an intense suspense thriller, said he wanted to make “Glove” as if it were his first time making a movie.
“I found myself wanting things that were more intense and stimulating while making ‘Moss,’” said Kang at a press preview held at CGV Wangsimni in Seoul, Monday.
|Director Kang Woo-suk. (Yonhap News)|
“And I really didn’t enjoy that process. I even said ‘I’m not making any more movies after this one.’ But making ‘Glove’ healed me, and as a result I think my next movies will be more receptive and flexible.”
Throughout the movie, the boys fight against not only prejudice but unwanted pity. Their desperate efforts to prove their worth, while trying to overcome their disability through the harsh training, inevitably reminds the viewer of characters of Kang’s former film, “Silmido” (2003). The highly successful military film told a story of 31 social outcasts and criminals who were secretly and severely military trained by the government on the island of Silmido, off the coast of Incheon, in plans to execute then-North Korean leader Kim Il-sung in 1968. Similar to the boys in “Glove,” the 31 men in “Silmido” desperately participate in the training, feeling almost grateful that their skills are actually appreciated somewhere, even if it’s a fatal military project.
Yet unlike the “Silmido” characters who meet a tragic end, the boys in “Glove” break out of their shells and form their own voices. As their school teacher Joo-won (Yoo Seon) says in the movie, the young players hadn’t been used to working and living with others before playing the sport, largely because of their disability.
“It’s hard enough for them to take care of themselves!” Joo-won says in the film, criticizing Coach Kim for training the boys too harshly.
But with many tears and plenty of sweat, the boys eventually learn to communicate with each other, with their own signs and methods, and most importantly, trust one another while playing the sport. Such progress, though certainly not easy, gives a touching portrayal of human hope. And it’s not just the boys. Kim, who had struggled in spite of his success, regains his passion for baseball and becomes something more than he is at the beginning of the film.
The young actors who played the 10 players spent three months at Chungju Sacred Heart School for the Deaf, attending classes and playing baseball with the real-life players. Jang Ki-beom, who stars as the team’s only pitcher, Cha Myeong-jae, gives a notable performance as a young teenager who suffers from both his disability and a deep sense of helplessness. Unlike his teammates who were born with hearing impairments, Cha lost his hearing while attending middle school.
“When they talk, the kids at the Catholic school always look into each other’s eyes,” said Jang at the press preview. “It was their special way of communication and it touched me in a lot of ways.”
The movie’s theme song, “The Best,” is jointly sung by Huh Gak, the winner of 2010 Superstar K Season 2, and John Park, the same show’s runner up.
“Glove” opens on Jan. 20.
By Claire Lee (email@example.com)
<새영화> 1승을 향한 집념..'글러브'
영화 '글러브'의 지향점도 감동의 드라마다. 한때 최고의 투수였지만 퇴물로 전락한 코치와 무엇하나 제대로 하지 못하는 청각장애우들이 엮어가는 전국대회 1승의 이야기.
프로야구 최고 투수 김상남(정재영).
잦은 음주폭행으로 구설에 오른 그는 결국 징계위원회에 회부된다. 발등에 불이 떨어진 상남은 사건을 무마하려는 매니저이자 오랜 벗 철수(조진웅)의 계획에 따라 청각장애 야구부의 임시코치를 맡는다.
예상했듯 야구팀은 엉망이다. 별 볼 일없는 투수와 타자로 이뤄진 팀은 연습경기에서 0-32라는 믿기 힘든 점수 차이로 패할 정도다.
하지만, 온 힘을 다해 공을 뿌리는 학생들의 모습에서 자신의 어린 시절을 본 상남은 냉소를 걷어 던지고 진지하게 아이들을 바라보기 시작한다.
강우석 감독이 메가폰을 잡은 '글러브'는 본격 스포츠 영화다. "글러브(GLOVE)에서 G만 빼면 사랑(LOVE)"이라는 상남의 말처럼, 영화는 야구에 대한 사랑이 넘쳐흐른다.
스포츠를 주제로 한 상업영화답게 영화는 눈물샘을 자주 자극한다.
정재영의 연기는 이제 물이 올랐다는 말이 부족할 정도다. 진지한 장광설에 이어진 망가지는 코미디를 그만큼 자연스럽게 할 수 있는 배우가 과연 충무로에 얼마나 있을지 의문이다.
'이끼'에 이어 정재영과 호흡을 맞춘 유선도 밝고 화사한 분위기를 영화에 얹어주며 조진웅의 물기 섞인 코미디도 감동을 더한다.
대중성을 지향하는 강우석 감독의 작품답게 중간 중간 소소한 웃음거리들이 풍부하다. 주로 정재영의 코미디가 빛을 발하는데, 영화 중간 어느 로맨틱코미디를 패러디한 장면은 포복절도감이다.
1월20일 개봉. 전체관람가. (연합뉴스)