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The Legend of Seven Cutter
   |     review    |     notes     |     availability     |   


Ahn Jae-Mo and Yun Eun-Hye in The Legend of Seven Cutter.
Year: 2006  
Director: Kwon Nam-Gi  
Producer: Lee Joon-Il  
  Cast: Ahn Jae-Mo, Yun Eun-Hye, Lee Jeong , Jeong Jun-Ha, Hyun Young, Park Seul-Gi, Cheon Myeong-Hun, Park Hyo Jun
  The Skinny: A new transfer student is mistaken for a legendary schoolyard tough guy in this muddled, but surprisingly amusing high school comedy.
Review by Calvin McMillin:

     The Legend of Seven Cutter kicks things off with a rain soaked, Matrix-inspired action sequence, as described by a hyperactive, rumormongering student at Seonggji High School. The young man tells the story of Jung Han-Soo, a legendary badass in black, who bravely faced off against a group of notorious street thugs and lived to fight another day. Outnumbered thirty to one, Han-Soo easily decimates the competition, leaving the worst punishment for the gang's leader, giving him a seven centimeter slice courtesy of his particular weapon of choice: a boxcutter. Nicknamed "Seven Cutter" thereafter, Han-Soo becomes a celebrity of sorts, one who just so happens to be transferring to Seonggji High School this semester. Or is he?
     Thanks to a Three's Company-style misunderstanding between school principals, a misbehaving, but righteous (and rather silly) young man who also happens to be named Jung Han-Soo (Ahn Jae-Mo) is mistakenly believed by the entire school system to be the aforementioned delinquent from hell. The principal, the teachers, and even the students are all wary of Han-Soo, and he has a tough time making friends. In one corner, there's Sung-Gi (Lee Jeong), the Seonggji High's top dog, who's itching for a fight, but not without the help of his deluded, skinny henchmen. And if that weren't enough, Han-Soo also runs afoul of the school's resident tomboy, Min-Joo (Yun Eun-Hye), who's not only an ace boxer but a physical knockout to boot. After a few run-ins with Min-Joo that make him look like a pervert, Han-Soo resolves their conflict by pretending to have a crush on her, even though he actually likes the snotty "pretty girl" of the school, who - it should be noted - has next to no personality nor any substantial allure whatsoever. Added tension ensues when the thirty thugs who took a beating from the real Han-Soo come looking for our hero in an attempt to settle the score. Just as Han-Soo falls for Min-Joo, the bad guys kidnap her. But are they trying to exact revenge on the wrong man?
     While watching The Legend of Seven Cutter, I was immediately struck by how very few of the main cast members look even remotely like teenagers. Perhaps that's meant to be part of the joke as was the case with the thirtysomething teenagers in Cromartie High School, but here, the contrast doesn't elicit any laughs. Instead, it just comes across as a terribly distracting case of miscasting. As a result, Ahn Jae-Mo makes for a less than stellar lead, partially due to the fact that he looks considerably older than his teenager role, but mostly because of his inability to overcome the film's spotty characterization of Han-Soo. Ahn has practically zero charisma when playing the goofy comic lead (the personality seen mostly in the film's first half), yet is surprisingly compelling as the more traditional leading man - as evidenced when his character grows a backbone to defend a kid who's been picked on at school. But these moments are few and far between early in the film, which makes the transition seem jarring and out of character. Worse, the script calls for Han-Soo to unnecessarily deceive the good-hearted Min-Joo (simply for cheap romantic drama), which basically makes his character come across as an unlikable cad. Someone like Stephen Chow could have easily handled these abrupt transitions of character without losing the audience's support, but needless to say, Ahn Jae-Mo is no Stephen Chow.
     The plot and overall tone of the film are haphazard to say the least. Literal toilet humor involving a cell phone and a bowel movement as well as a shoehorned plotline between an unattainably sexy teacher (Hyun Young) and the interminably ugly and moronic PE teacher, Mr. Koh, seem gratuitous and slapped together. Sometimes, it's unclear what kind of movie the filmmakers wanted The Legend of Seven Cutter to be. Gross-out farce? Romantic comedy? Action flick? School drama? While many films easily synthesize all of these various genres, The Legend of Seven Cutter comes across as a somewhat poorly constructed mishmash.
     And yet somehow, IT STILL WORKS. Confusing, I know. When the film is going for comedy, the lowbrow humor hits more often than it misses, including such memorable bits as a hilarious pants zipper/fishhook scene, an out-of-nowhere men in drag sequence, Han-Soo's scene-stealing Sailor Moon cosplaying brother and a "What the hell?" live octopus in a man's boxer shorts prank. Despite EVERYTHING woefully lackluster about this film, there's a certain charm on display. Han-Soo's evolution into a "defender of the little guy" at his school tugs at all the right heart strings, Yun Eun-Hye is intensely likable thanks to her My Sassy Girl-inspired shenanigans, and the unexpected camaraderie that emerges among Han-Soo, Sung-GI, and his two mindless minions is surprisingly endearing.
     The Legend of Seven Cutter is by no means a great film - and I've probably mentioned more bad than good in this review - but somehow, someway, it does manage to entertain despite its huge flaws. For those who like these sorts of Korean films, this film would probably make for a good double feature with the similarly-themed, but superior comedy, See You After School. (Calvin McMillin, 2006)

Notes: • Hong Kong movie alert! The film that Han-Soo and Min-Joo go to see on their first date is none other than Infernal Affairs. Woo hoo.
Availability: DVD (Korea)
Region 3 NTSC
iVision Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Korean Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1, 2.0
Removable English and Korean Subtitles
Making Of Featurette, Promotional Photo Shoot, Intevierws, Trailer, and Music Video
 

   
   
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