The Korea Herald


[Herald Review] ‘Killing Romance,’ a stress-relieving piece with kitschy comedy and nonsensical characters

Actors say improvised scenes, comic-like old jokes between friends overcome film’s nonsensical plot

By Kim Da-sol

Published : April 15, 2023 - 16:01

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Lee Sun-kyun (center) and Lee Ha-nee from “Killing Romance” (Lotte Entertainment) Lee Sun-kyun (center) and Lee Ha-nee from “Killing Romance” (Lotte Entertainment)

Director Lee Won-seok’s upcoming fantasy comedy “Killing Romance” revolves around three characters -- chaebol scion Jonathan Na (Lee Sun-kyun), former superstar Hwang Yeo-rae (Lee Ha-nee) and long-time test taker Beom-woo (Gong Myung).

The plot starts with Yeo-rae abandoning her actor career after receiving critical reviews for her bad acting. She leaves Korea to go on vacation and lands in Quala Island, where Na is waiting to save her life -- and her heart.

The couple ties the knot and returns to Seoul, but Jonathan Na, a self-centered character who only cares about how Yeo-rae looks to others, locks her inside a huge mansion and even controls what she eats to make sure she doesn’t gain weight.

Yeo-rae, who decides to kill Jonathan, coincidentally meets hard-core Yeo-rae fan Beom-woo who lives next door and is the only member among the family and relatives that has failed to enter Seoul National University.

The plot seems flat but with kitschy comedy scences, vivid-color outfits, set design and computer graphics as well as musical-like scene changes and impromptu ad-lib lines, the film offers unprecedented joy, as if one is reading the comic book.

Director Lee, known for his kitschy element in comedy films like in 2013 romantic comedy “How to Use Guys with Secret Tips,” has returned with similar concept but different joy of comedy film in six years.

Lee Sun-kyun (Lotte Entertainment) Lee Sun-kyun (Lotte Entertainment)

Lee Sun-kyun, an established actor from “Pasta” (2010), “My Mister” (2018) and “Parasite” (2019), said starring in “Killing Romance” put a 180-degree spin on his image, as a lovely villain but hilarious character.

Lee said he did not have much to worry about his image or reputation for featuring in this comic flick, as he personally enjoyed working with director Lee Won-seok as well as actors Lee Ha-nee and Gong Myung, who have experience starring in hit comedy film “Extreme Job” (2019).

Lee told The Korea Herald in an interview in Seoul on Wednesday that he wanted to have a fun role after ‘Parasite.’

"I normally do the acting by looking deeply into the character, but Jonathan is a character that does not need such effort, because I’m allowed to do anything I want to do through Jonathan,” he said.

Lee said he helped devise the character and even suggested funny ideas for certain scenes. He had to wear hair extensions for four months and tried smoky eyeliner makeup for the first time for the role.

“I just tossed ideas like friends would do for playing around with jokes,” he said, adding that he has been a great fan of the director for a long time and had a lot of faith in Lee Ha-nee, who has shown versatile acting abilities, including in comic roles.

As the film repeatedly plays old school K-pop songs -- H.O.T’s Happiness and Rain’s Rainism -- as the character’s theme song, not just Koreans but overseas fans can hum along to the popular song and follow the catchy lyrics.

“Killing Romance” opens in local theaters on Friday.