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  A.F.R.I.K.A.  
 


(from left to right) Cho Eun-Ji, Lee Yo-Won, Kim Min-Seon and Lee Young-Jin
 
Year: 2002  
Director: Shin Seung-Soo  
Cast: Lee Yo-Won, Kim Min-Seon, Cho Eun-Ji, Lee Young-Jin, Sung Ji-Roo, Lee Je-Rak, Cho Yeo-Jong, Park Young-Kyu  
The Skinny: Passably entertaining "funky comedic action" picture about four girls who go on a media-hyped crime spree. The actresses range from engaging to shrill, and the film itself has its share of charms. It's also weightless and underdeveloped, despite the nearly two-hour running time.  
Review
by Kozo:

     Four young girls do the Thelma and Louise thing in A.F.R.I.K.A., which has been billed as "funky comedic action." It's certainly comedic at times, and there's the occasional action. And funky? Well...I suppose it could be funky. That doesn't necessarily mean it's really that good, though.
     Ji-Won (Lee Yo-Won) and So-Hyun (Kim Min-Seon) are two college students bored with their tiresome lives. Looking for some kicks, they take a short trip to the beach, and borrow a car from a friend for the drive. Unfortunately, the car provided turns out to be stolen from a low-level gangster who had just won some high stakes poker. Among the winnings were two guns which were won as collateral, which the girls immediately assume are toys.
    That fantasy is shattered when the girls accidentally discharge one round, and soon things escalate way out of control. They end up taking along two other girls (Cho Eun-Ji and Lee Young-Jin), and before you know it they're on a crime spree. Things like chauvanism, annoying previous employers, and general boredom send the girls into a tizzy, making them wanted fugitives AND media heroes. An Internet fan club is born called A.F.R.I.K.A. (Adoring Four Revolutionary Idols Korea Association), which extols the virtues of the daring four-girl gang. Sadly, the cops aren't in the fan club, and neither are the people who really own the guns. Not surprisingly, the latter party want the guns back.
     There's a charm to this action comedy that makes the film passably entertaining. The girls range from engaging (Lee Yo-Won shows charisma as the default leader) to shrill (Cho Eun-Ji overacts like mad as the ugly duckling), and the concept certainly has its attractions. Who wouldn't want to see four girls zipping all over Korea, buying cool outfits, robbing annoying people, and generally frolicking to a pseudo-grungy soundtrack? It's a fun concept, which helps make rooting for the girls rather easy.
     On the other hand, the film lacks major development. The girls seem to be one note characters, and their behavior occasionally taxes the consistency meter. We do get a lot of emoting concerning who and what these girls are about, but nothing too revealing happens. Their instant celebrity also seems cloying, and isn't a fully developed detail. Considering that the film oozes Korean film style (i.e., long takes, telling silences and deadpan absurdities), it would have been nice if the filmmakers had thrown in some actual character development. As it is, the film asks that we should care simply because the girls have been screwed over by evil guys, which really isn't a justification for a crime spree. And in saying that, I hope I haven't offended anyone who's been screwed over by an evil guy.
     Thanks to the slight framework for the "funkiness", the eventual intergroup conflicts and melodrama aren't very interesting. It seems we're supposed to gleam some universal truths about friendship and growing up and the power of the five-finger discount—or some stuff like that. The filmmakers throw some lessons at us, but they're not sufficiently compelling to stick. More fun is had with the guys chasing the girls; Sung Ji-Roo and Lee Je-Rak play the cop and gangster searching for their guns, and their absurd detours frequently steal the show. A.F.R.I.K.A. is occasionally amusing, but only as mindless fluff. Like I said before, it can be fun watching four girls hold up annoying people. However, I didn't end up buying what they were selling, and I won't be joining their fan club anytime soon, either. (Kozo 2003)

 
Availability:

DVD (Korea)
Region 0 NTSC
SRE Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Korean Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English subtitles

 

DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Fortex Group
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

 
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