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Kim Pu-Reun and Lee Jeong-Woo cheat in Cheaters.
AKA: One Night Stand  
Year: 2007  
Director: Park Seong-Beom  
Writer: Park Seong-Beom  
  Cast: Choi Won-Young, Ko Da-Mi, Lee Jeong-Woo, Kim Pu-Reun, Ko Hye-Seong, Kim Young-Ae
  The Skinny: A bunch of young, hip urbanites sleep around, completely unbeknownst to their partners in this superficial sex comedy from writer/director Park Seong-Beom. An intriguing narrative structure and an ample dosage of skin just aren't enough to make up for the film's bland characters, unfunny jokes, and complete lack of any real point for existing.
Review by Calvin McMillin:      In real life, cheating on one's significant other is usually a serious no-no. And in the world of cinema, sexual infidelity is often treated in a similar fashion, as it has been the topic of a great many successful dramas from all around the world. It's also been a subject ripe for comedy, and that seems to be what writer/director Park Seong-Beom is aiming for in Cheaters, his aptly-named 2007 film centering on the sex lives of six hipper-than-hip Korean urbanites. Rather than going about things in a straightforward, middle-of-the-road manner, Park utilizes a clever narrative technique as well as ample doses of skin and sex to weave his intersecting tale of woefully unfaithful lovers. But amidst all the lies and debauchery, does this movie have a point?
     To properly answer that question, we must first look at its story. After beginning with some "man on the street" interviews that introduce the theme of infidelity, the film sets its eye on a young couple, the seemingly nice Choi Suk-Ho (Choi Won-Young) and the innocent-looking Chai-Young (Kim Pu-Reun). Although she keeps agreeing to meet him for dates, Chai-Young often seems aloof and preoccupied with her cell phone. Even worse, every time it seems as if their relationship is taking a step towards intimacy, she comes up with an excuse to halt everything to a standstill. Clearly, Chai-Young has a man on the side, and our sympathies extend to the hapless Suk-Ho, as he continually professes his love to someone who is clearly not that into him.
     But that's only a fraction of the story. After a while, the story resets, this time retelling certain events from Chai-Young's perspective where we learn - surprise, surprise - she's sleeping around with a guy named Sun-Soo (Lee Jeong-Woo). After showing her side of the story, the film then switches to Sun-Soo's perspective, and so on. I won't spoil the movie by recapitulating every plot detail, but other characters are introduced throughout the film, including a pretty photographer named Ji-Yon (Ko Da-Mi), Suk-Ho's pal from work, Young-Soo (Ko Hye-Seong), and a third woman (Kim Young-Ae), whose identity will probably make you have a lot less sympathy for supposed "nice guy" Suk-Ho.
     From a purely narrative perspective, director Park does employ an intriguing storytelling technique, as characters and situations that seem to be rather straightforward are revealed to be anything but the second, third, and fourth times around. The Korean film Everybody Has Secrets utilized this trick to much success, but as inventive as it may seem at first, the device becomes both repetitive and tedious here as the film progresses. Aside from a few genuine surprises, there's nothing particularly fascinating about seeing events from all these multiple perspectives, as any genuine "Aha!" moments are few and far between.
     In a refreshing change of pace from the overly chaste "pure love" subgenre of romantic films, Cheaters does try to capture the audience's attention with a liberal helping of nudity and sex. But thanks to the film's light tone and otherwise interchangeable characters, it all comes across as a bit too staged and thus, sorely lacking in any genuine eroticism.
     In truth, the movie is plagued with a number of interrelated problems. For one thing, Cheaters doesn't really know what it wants to be. It's by no means a complex drama, but it's not exactly a breezy comedy either. There isn't really any humor to be found in the film. Not even lame wacky shenanigans are in effect. One of the biggest issues is that most of the characters are shallow and totally repugnant as human beings. Of course, characters need not be "good people" for a film to be enjoyable, but should a) be interesting or b) serve a purpose to the story. The characters in Cheaters do neither of these things.
     When all is said and done, you do not sympathize with them as characters. You do not laugh with them or even at them. The filmmakers don't seem to know what to do with these characters besides forcing them to jump through narrative hoops. The film doesn't even want to condemn the "cheaters" until the very last moment, but even then, the result is rather muddled and ultimately lost in the mix.
     What is the point of the movie? If one compares the actions of the characters with the interview footage that begins and ends the film, the film's real message seems to be that cheating is both inevitable and basically okay since "everybody does it." If you actually buy that, then Cheaters is likely just the movie for you. And if so, please stay away from my sister.
     All joking aside, if you have a fondness for unconventional narratives or simply think pretty people getting naked constitutes a good time at the movies, then Cheaters is probably right up your alley. The rest of us, however, will just feel - you guessed it - cheated. (Calvin McMillin, 2007)
Availability: DVD (Korea)
Region 3 NTSC
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Korean Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Korean Subtitles
"Making Of" Featurette
  Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen