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Shinsukki Blues
  |     review    |     availability     |


Region 3 NTSC
KD Media

2-Disc Set
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Korean Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Korean subtitles
Various extras

Year: 2004
Director: Song Hae-Sung
Cast: Lee Sung-Jae, Kim Hyun-Joo, Lee Jong-Hyuk, Kim Chang-Wan, Shin Yi
The Skinny: Some off-color humor and Lee Sung-Jae's performance make Shinsukki Blues an enjoyable comedy, but the inconsistent characterization, hackneyed direction, and maudlin emotions send everything into a tailspin. Half of this movie is good, but that means that the other half isn't.
by Kozo:

     Lee Sung-Jae isn't Korea's most handsome actor, but he's certainly no slouch in the looks department. Still, what's vanity before art—or a oddball comedy made for the masses? Lee goes ugly for Shinsukki Blues, a loaded comedy about a complete bastard named Shin Suk-Ki (Lee Jong-Hyuk), an amoral Master of the Universe lawyer who runs mergers and acquisitions in a large conglomerate. He signs off on a shady deal to send a portion of the staff packing, the means being some legal sleight-of-hand designed to fool average non-legal folk (you and me, basically) into thinking the firings were on the up and up. You can count that as Suk-Ku's first karmic mistake.
     Karmic mistake #2 occurs when Suk-Ki beds impossibly pure-hearted receptionist Seo Jin-Yung (Kim Hyun-Joo, who appeared in the Hong Kong film Star Runner), and promptly drops her like a used tissue. Then, in your standard movie plot device, he gets his fortune told at an appearing/disappearing bar, and gets into an elevator accident with another guy named Shin Suk-Ki (Lee Sung-Jae). This other Suk-Ki is his total opposite: a kind-hearted, but clumsy, dorky, and irretrievably hopeless lawyer who does pro bono work and lives in squalor. The big hook: the two get their minds switched, handsome Suk-Ki gets stuck in ugly Suk-Ki's body, and his own handsome body is left to lie in a coma. Ain't payback a bitch?
     The problem: this isn't payback. Newly dorky Suk-Ki takes his plight in remarkable stride. Sure, he gets angry and upset, and mugs and makes faces like he's the second coming of Rowan Atkinson. But before ten minutes are through, Suk-Ki is already resolving to make the best of his plight. The going is rough, and includes the occasional greed-motivated backslide and some minor insensitivity, but it seems as if Suk-Ki turns over a new leaf EXACTLY when he gets stuck in his new ugly body. When Jin-Yung shows up needing legal assitance to sue her firm (She was fired under shady circumstances. Hmmm.), Suk-Ki is eager to help, and starts to realize the error of his ways mighty quick. A bit too quick, actually. There's a lot of time to fill here—Shinsukki Blues clocks in at a whopping 110 minutes. If he goes from bad to good in less than about forty minutes, that's still an hour left to twiddle your thumbs. Do the math.
      If you're not getting the primary problem with Shinsukki Blues, then we'll spell it out for you: this movie has screenwriting issues. The first half of the film details Suk-Ki's plight, and it's moderately funny reversal-of-fortune stuff punctuated by Lee Sung-Jae's amusing physical pratfalls. The off-color jokes and toilet humor may not be for everyone, but they get the job done. The problem occurs with the second half of the film. A change is supposed to register within Shin Suk-Ki, but it seems to coincide too closely with his less desirable new body. Lee Sung-Jae is funny, and can clearly act, but it seems as if nothing about the script reflects one guy being put into the other's body. We're told that Suk-Ki of the Lamborghini looks is now stuck in a beat-up Pinto chassis, but that fact doesn't seem to register onscreen. The old Suk-Ki was a major crapbag of a human being; why doesn't he seem to be one when he's ugly—even if it's for an extra twenty minutes?
     Once that inconsistency registers, Shinsukki Blues hits the skids—fast. Jin-Yung is no less problematic a character: she's beautiful but insanely angelic, and seemingly has nothing to with her time but hang out with a buck-toothed dope. When he's stuck in his new body, Suk-Ki seems surprised that nobody liked him. Let's get this straight: he was an intelligent and amoral bastard, and he's surprised that nobody liked him? Shinsukki Blues has its fantastic elements, but the characters shouldn't be one of them. Granted, the filmmakers go for an irreverent, quirky tone, but that's not enough to make Shinsukki Blues a quality motion picture, especially when it gets syrupy and obvious (Filled with regret, Suk-Ki cries in the rain. *Yawn*).
     Even worse, the film neglects to answer basic questions, and we don't mean the "how can they switch minds" question. Of more importance is, "What the hell happened to the real ugly Shin Suk-Ki?" Is he stuck in handsome Shin Suk-Ki's body, or has he floated into the ether? Answering that question required some thought from the filmmakers, but apparently they were too busy with quick gags and cheap emotions than logic or narrative need. When Shinsukki Blues is over, you may still be happy, but only if your brain decided to boycott the film, and left you with no rational facilities for the full 110 minutes. Even commercial movies need to take some responsiblity. According to the script, Shin Suk-Ki learns to take responsiblity. However, the filmmakers apparently didn't. (Kozo 2005)

image courtesy of Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen