Movie Review: 200 Pounds Beauty (2006) (Korean With English Subtitles)

Posted: July 16, 2013 in Comedy, Romance
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200 pounds beauty

Han-na Kang (Ah Jung Kim) is an overweight woman with a beautiful voice, she uses her voice to sing for the slender, beautiful Ah-mi (Seo Yun Ji) a Korean music superstar.  Han-na has a secret crush on Ah-mi’s producer, Sang Jun (Jin Mo Ju) but he is going out with Ah-mi, and is only pleasant to Han-na, because her voice is his meal ticket.  Han-na realizes she is fat in a culture obsessed with the waif look, and tries to take diet pills, but almost overdoses,  then she tries to kill herself in earnest by turning on a gas stove in her apartment.  Before she kills herself, she calls a plastic surgeon, and says she wants full body plastic surgery, the doctor agrees after a little blackmail, and a year later, Han-na emerges thin and beautiful, in her way of thinking.

The differences is almost immediate, she buys a car and the car dealer calls her gorgeous, Han-na gets into a car accident and the male police officers worry about her well-being and not the victim of the car accident.  Sang Jun is looking for a replacement for Han-na, and Han-na walks in calling herself Jenny, and her singing wins her a job, not as the voice of Ah-mi, but a pop-star rival of Ah-mi.  Han-na still has a crush on Sang Jun, but now Sung Jun is not impressed with her, because Jenny is now obsessed with her looks.  Ah-mi on the other hand is obsessed with finding Han-na, so much so that Ah-mi is staying with Han-na’s father.  Does Jenny tell Sang Jun that she is Han-na?  Does Ah-mi find out that Jenny is Han-na?  Does Sang Jun find out that Jenny is Han-na?

I like this movie.  First, it illustrates the obsession with weight in Korea, and most Asian countries.  It shows the pathos of being overweight in a country where uniformity is a must. Han-na tries to commit suicide, she dates a diet pill salesman who leaves her, she yells at Sang-Jun about not knowing what it’s like to love someone from afar.  But then the movie switches tone, Han-na becomes the superficial girl that used to be the bane of her existence, she says thing like “I cry pretty” she snubs her backup singer friend, she ignores her father, and becomes a stranger to those who loved her regardless of her weight.    I did not like the fact that they used plastic surgery as a short cut to weight loss.  It would have been better if they showed Han-na exercising and eating right to lose weight, if she’s away for a year, why not make the weight loss real?  But the theme remains be true to yourself, and when Han-na  starts straying from who she was, the relationship with Sung Jun becomes almost irrelevant, finding herself becomes paramount, and that’s why this movie is different from most rom-coms.

The writing is astute.  Sharp enough to view Han-na’s changed looks from society’s point of view.  Men can’t wait to help her, women don’t like her, and Han-na is quite full of herself, but not quite confident.  There are a few dumb fat jokes thrown in, but it more than makes up for its lapses by being sweet and touching.

The acting is very good. Ah Jung Kim is very good as the vulnerable, sweet, Han-na, white wearing a ton of prosthetic makeup, Ah Jung Kim is equally good  the equally sweet, if a little stuck up Jenny. Jin Mo Ju plays a very complex character, the viewer will have trouble figuring out if he loves Han-na or not, but it’s a solid performance. Seo Yun Ji plays the mean rival with flair.  The music adds to the fun of this movie, a cover of “Miss You Much” by Janet Jackson, a song called “Maria” a cover of the Blondie song, and a lot of these songs are sung by Kim Ah Jung, which means she sings pretty well in real life.

200 Pounds Beauty.  A heavyweight comedy.

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