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Comedic talents team up for ‘Cheer Up, Mr. Lee’

Cha seung-won is a rather peculiar presence in the Korean cinema scene. Standing 188-centimeters tall without a hair out of place, his model-turned-actor looks like a slick James Bond villain, but he has left a lasting mark as a funnyman in early to late 2000s.

The actor will appear in his first comedy film since 2007 as an overgrown man-child in the upcoming “Cheer Up, Mr. Lee.” He plays the protagonist Cheol-su, who comes face-to-face with a daughter he never knew existed.

“I’ve always loved comedy ... . Even though I haven’t appeared in a comedy film in a while, I think I did comedy in ‘Believer,’” said Cha during a press conference in Seoul on Wednesday. His character in the 2018 thriller was an unorthodox, unhinged mob boss with an unpredictable edge, whose wacky attitude treads a fine line between funny and creepy.

“Cheer Up, Mr. Lee” (NEW)
“Cheer Up, Mr. Lee” (NEW)

“I’ve been wanting to show a broader spectrum in the next film, and the producer (of ‘Believer’) recommended this film, saying that it would make a great ‘human comedy.’ I had no pressure since it was already my favorite genre.”

Teaming up with Cha is Lee Gae-byok, whose relative short list of filmography includes 2015 hit comedy “Luck Key.” In that film, he cast talented character actor Yoo Hae-jin in the leading role and cooked up a hilarious fish-out-of-water story.

“This film is ‘warmer’ and funnier than ‘Luck Key.’ Innocent and weird Cheol-su meets up with his daughter, who appears out of nowhere, and embarks on a fun trip,” Lee said, adding that it was an honor to work with Cha, whose heydays in the early-2000s led to many comedy gems like “Kick the Moon,” “Jail Breakers,” and “Teacher Mr. Kim.”

“The basic element of comedy is having good actors. I think (the audience) can expect something very different from ‘Luck Key,’ an evolved sort of comedy.”

Joining the cast is another actor from “Believer,” Park Hae-jun, an actor known for playing a baddy, who said he wanted to make a film that can show his kids.

Child actor Eom Chae-yeong will play the protagonist Cheol-su’s daughter who has a crucial impact on his life, with the cast commenting on how much she has in common with the character.

Jeon Hye-bin, along with veteran actors Kim Hye-ok and Ahn Gil-kang will also appear in the film.

“Cheer Up, Mr. Lee” will hit the local theaters next month, during Chuseok holidays.

By Yoon Min-sik