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[Herald Review] Makers of ‘My New Sassy Girl’ bow heads

Sequel to “My Sassy Girl” offers aimless story despite pan-Asian production

The 2001 film “My Sassy Girl” featured a comically rowdy relationship between the mild-mannered Kyeon-woo, played by Cha Tae-hyun, and “the girl,” played by Jun Ji-hyun (Gianna Jun). Beautiful, unpredictable and slightly disturbed, the girl became an iconic figure in Korean pop culture. When the film became a pan-Asian box office hit, it propelled Jun to regional stardom and inspired several remakes.

No such icon appears in the much weaker sequel “My New Sassy Girl,” which stars Cha and a new love interest played by Victoria Song of K-pop girl group f(x).

The new film starts out with the old sassy girl deserting Kyeon-woo to become a Buddhist nun. Heartbroken, he drinks the days away when he encounters a new girl, played by Song -- also referred to as “the girl” -- who is equally sassy and strangely familiar.

It turns out that she was Kyeon-woo’s first love whom he had promised to marry as a young boy. The girl has returned from China to fulfill that promise, and takes his hand in marriage.

Victoria Song (left) and Cha Tae-hyun star in “My New Sassy Girl” (Little Big Pictures)
Victoria Song (left) and Cha Tae-hyun star in “My New Sassy Girl” (Little Big Pictures)

In the new girl, Kyeon-woo finds a wife who is childlike and sweet but who also slaps him with a wet towel when he steps out of line. The story of their marital life is aimless, frantically featuring everything from skydiving to cosplay.

The film is a collaborative production between Korea’s Sincine and China’s Beijing Motianlun Media. It blatantly targets the Chinese market, featuring plenty of Chinese dialogue delivered by Song, who is a Chinese national and stars in the ongoing Chinese drama series “Ice Fantasy” as female lead Li Luo.

“At first I tried to make a big story featuring cultural elements ... but some cultural themes were too sensitive to address. ... I think it’s still difficult as of yet for one story to appeal to all Asian countries,” said director Jo Geun-sik, talking about the difficulties encountered in creating the story at a press conference Wednesday in Seoul.

Jo confessed he has been heavily criticized for breaking up the iconic couple of “My Sassy Girl,” directed by Kwak Jae-yong.

“We considered killing her off ... but decided it would be too sad. We needed for her to be gone for Kyeon-woo to meet a new love interest.

Victoria Song stars in “My New Sassy Girl” (Little Big Pictures)
Victoria Song stars in “My New Sassy Girl” (Little Big Pictures)

“I think that those who really loved the first movie could be unhappy with this one. I apologize for that,” he said.

“I feel bad doing this film alone without Jun Ji-hyun,” actor Cha added. “I know many will be disappointed, but I hope many others will enjoy the film.” 

The film is set for local release on May 12. It opened in China on April 22.

By Rumy Doo (