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Ko - production in Busan
  • by Pierce Conran /  Jul 28, 2020

  • 2004
     | 117 MIN | Romance
    CAST SON Ye-jin, JUNG Woo-sung
    RELEASE DATE November 5, 2004
    CONTACT CJ Entertainment
    Tel +82-2-371-5500 
    Fax +82-2-371-6340 

    The early 2000s were the heyday of romantic dramas in Korean cinema and John H. LEE’s A Moment to Remember (2004) surely ranks as one of the genre’s most memorable offerings. It features JUNG Woo-sung and SON Ye-jin in some of their most iconic roles, and offers a twist on the popular terminal illness melodrama, but more than that, it embraces Hollywood codes in a way that differentiated it from its peers. Not unlike the earlier ground-breaking romantic comedy My Sassy Girl (2001), slow motion effects, action set pieces and some glossy product placement are liberally peppered throughout the film, separating it from the softer romantic tales that Korea had been known for.

    Su-jin (SON Ye-jin) is a career woman who, just after having been dumped by her married lover, bumps into the handsome Chul-soo (JUNG Woo-sung) in a convenience store and mistakenly believes that he’s snatched the can of coke she bought but left at the cashier’s desk. Soon after, she visits a construction site for one of her father’s developments and meets Chul-soo again, who turns out to be the foreman on the site, a carpenter with aspirations of becoming an architect. The two grow close and before long fall in love and get married. But after a period of blissful married life, Su-jin begins to show signs of memory loss. When her condition worsens, she receives a troubling diagnosis - early on-set Alzheimer’s disease.

    A Moment to Remember (2004) came out when the Korean film industry was beginning to be recognized as a sophisticated commercial machine, and benefits from the glossy stylings of New York University-trained director John H. LEE, who had cut his teeth as a director of music videos and commercials, not unlike iconic Hollywood stylists such as David FINCHER. The wordless meet cute between Su-jin and Chul-soo occurs at a convenience store doorstep and occurs over a can of Coca-Cola, cracked open and guzzled in slow motion by Su-jin. Early on in their courtship, Chul-soo stops a motorcycle-riding thief, who just nabbed Su-jin’s bag, dead in his tracks with his jeep door, with the bike spinning in the air, once again in slow motion, and the car door scattering across the road in a hail of sparks.

    Yet beyond its visual panache, A Moment to Remember (2004) also offers a timeless tale of romantic devotion, anchored by a pair of compelling lead performances. JUNG was already a seasoned pro, known for his bad boy roles such as Beat (1997), and has an easy rugged charm here, yet it is SON who stands out in a career-defining turn, building on the successes of the previous romantic hits Lover’s Concerto (2002) and The Classic (2003).

    As the heyday of the theatrical romantic drama waned, all the major talent of A Moment to Remember (2004) have expanded their cinematic repertoires. Director LEE recently made the Korean War film Operation Chromite (2016), JUNG is now a major action star, and will be back on screens this week in Steel Rain2: Summit, and SON has split her time between dramatic (Be With You, 2018) and thriller roles (THE NEGOTIATION, 2018).
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