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Forever the Moment
Forever the Moment

From left to right: Moon So-Ri, Kim Jung-Eun, and Kim Ji-Young in Forever the Moment.
  Korean: 우리 생애 최고의 순간
Year: 2008  
Director: Lim Soon-Rye  

Na Hyeon


Moon So-Ri, Kim Jung-Eun, Uhm Tae-Woong, Kim Ji-Young, Cho Eun-Ji, Park Won-Sang

  The Skinny:

Formulaic but solid, Forever the Moment is undeniably entertaining and a genuine crowd-pleaser. Based on a true story, though with some obvious fictional embellishments.

by Kozo:

Based on the true story of the 2004 Korean Women's Olympic Handball Team, Forever the Moment succeeds as an entertaining sports film with enough humanity and crowd-pleasing heart to satisfy. Director Lim Soon-Rye doesn't attempt a slavishly faithful dramatization of the real events, confining the film's accuracy largely to the set-up and climax, which sees the team enter the final round at the 2004 Athens Olympics with a shot at Korea's third Gold Medal in Women's Handball. That game is regarded as a classic, as the Korean team fought valiantly against the favored Danish team, sending the game into several tense and exciting overtime periods. A screenwriter couldn't come up with a more dramatic climax to a sports film.

The set-up is in many ways just as compelling. In real life, the team was led by veterans of previous Olympics, who banded together to reestablish Korea's dominance in the event (they previously won Gold Medals in 1992 and 1996, before faltering in 2000). The fictionalized film expands upon the situation, establishing the athletes as aging women dropping their unsatisfying post-Olympics lives in order to once again pursue Olympic Gold. Their obstacles to renewed glory include marginalized personal lives, disregard due to their age, and conflict with team's young-uns, who don't respect their experienced elders. Even though these women are winners, they're treated like losers because they're older and come with too much baggage, like families, debts, and presumably breaking-down bodies. Sure, they want to win the Gold, but they also want to display their mettle and answer all the naysayers. It's like the distaff sports version of Space Cowboys.

Well, maybe not. Forever the Moment isn't so egregiously commercial that it gets on a pulpit to sing the praises of the older generation. This is a film with standard, agreeable, and very winning sports themes, and the aging athlete angle makes for some juicy conflict as well as some interesting twists. Mi-Sook (Moon So-Ri) played professionally until her team dissolved, and finds little joy at her job (she's a clerk at a supermarket) or at home (her husband is in debt and on the run from the loan sharks). She's dragged back into the game because her old rival/friend Hye-Kyung (Kim Jung-Eun) is coaching the 2004 Olympic Team, and could use the team's previous best player on her side. Besides Mi-Sook, the team boasts two other veterans, goalie Soo-Hee (Cho Eun-Ji) and crazy-permed firecracker Jeong-Ran (Kim Ji-Young). The rest of the squad is young and undisciplined, and don't seem to care for Hye-Kyung's strict, traditional training methods.

The conflict reaches a head when Hye-Kyung is removed as coach in favor of Seong-Pil (Uhm Tae-Woong), an ex-Olympic and professional handball player who played in Europe. He shows up with scientific, hi-tech training methods and a hidden bias against the team's veterans, including ex-flame Hye-Kyung, who chooses to remain with the team as a player despite her demotion. Multiple emotions and storylines crisscross, involving friendship, pride, and that age-old issue, teamwork. Forever the Moment finds multiple ways - some well-developed and affecting, and others hackneyed and glib - to maximize the sports movie formula. The team starts fractured, but finds harmony; friends come into conflict, but reach understanding and affirmation; people ditch their foolish pride and find a common, greater goal. Nothing here is new or original - and frankly, that would be hard to accomplish. A formula exists because it's tried-and-true, and Forever the Moment hits its marks in a solid and entertaining manner.

The film does take some shortcuts on the way to its finale. The low point for the team comes when they lose an exhibition to a high school squad, but the fallout to that is barely felt. One minute they're down, but after another montage, they're back on top, streaking to the Gold Medal game versus Denmark. The rise of the team during the Olympics is handled quickly, and the filmmakers miss an opportunity for solid sports drama by glossing over the team's turnaround. Some subplots and details are still a bit too commercial, but when the film reaches its final moments, it earns its crowd-pleasing status. Though the outcome is known, the final match successfully creates suspense, and rooting for the women becomes very easy. The actresses help a great deal, sporting largely deglamorized makeup and costumes, and managing their roles with appropriate dignity and heart. The end-credit inclusion of actual footage and clips of the real-life gives the subject an added emotional impact, especially if one is already familiar with the events. Korean audiences will undoubtedly get more out of Forever the Moment than the rest of the globe, and the film's blockbuster status confirms its local appeal. However, the message here is universal, and well-earned. (Kozo 2008)

  Availability: DVD (Korea)
KD Media
2-Disc Special Edition
Region 3 NTSC
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Korean Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English Subtitles

image courtesy of Udine Far East Film Festival Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen