Seok-Won makes his feature film debut with My Boyfriend
is Type-B, a film that takes the ready-made, but
paper-thin premise of blood type theory and spins
that conceit into an entire movie. Thankfully, Choi
employs two actors that make the gimmicky premise
work, idols Lee Dong-Geon and Han Ji-Hye, both hailing
from the popular K-Drama Sweet 18 and rumored
to be dating in real life as well.
Lee Dong-Geon portrays
title character Young-Bin, a handsome, macho, but
totally obnoxious young man who begins the film by
breaking off a relationship in a most ungentlemanly
way: after waiting in a parked car so Young-Bin won't
get a ticket, the girlfriend reads him the riot act
upon his return, prompting Young-Bin to slip into
the driver's seat, break up with her, and speed off,
leaving his new ex-girlfriend stranded in the parking
lot. From the get-go, Young-Bin is not exactly a class
On the opposite side
of the spectrum is the beautiful Han-Mi (Han Ji-Hye),
a meek university student looking for true love, but
never seeming to find it. As is typical in this kind
of film, the two meet purely by chance: Han-Mi accidentally
text messages Young-Bin before literally bumping into
him. Han-Mi, feeling that their fortuitous meeting
is a sign that they might be destined for one another,
decides to pal around with Young-Bin and see if there's
any chemistry between them. Taken by Han-Mi's sincerity
and her willingness to pick up the check, Young-Bin
jumps at the opportunity.
But Han Mi's cousin,
Chae Young (Shin Hee) isn't quite so enraptured with
Young-Bin and tries to dissuade Han-Mi from pursuing
him. The thing is, Chae Young is a professional dating
consultant and a strong subscriber to blood type theory.
According to her, any relationship between the mismatched
duo would be doomed to failure because Young-Bin is
a type-B male, which supposedly makes him arrogant,
hardheaded, and generally a jerk, whereas Han-Mi is
a type-A female, one who supposedly can't help being
timid and obedient. But while Chae-Young predicts
impending doom, the happy couple try to give love
a shot, ignoring their supposed blood type incompatibility.
But will they succeed?
As with any romantic
comedy, there are ups and downs for the new couple,
and the actors do well selling what is essentially
formulaic fluff. Han Ji-Hye does a fine job portraying
the ridiculously nice, cute as a button Han-Mi, but
she really shines in scenes where her character finally
stands up for herself and stops being such a doormat.
Actor Lee Dong-Geon acquits himself rather well in
the somewhat challenging part of Young-Bin. It's a
tricky role to pull off; the character has to be annoying
enough so that the audience can recognize that there's
a problem, but at the same time, he has to be charming
and sincere enough for viewers to feel that there's
something salvageable in the relationship.
is a balance that is struck throughout the picture
- Young-Bin goes from the sweetest guy in the world
to complete jerk and back again, sometimes in the
space of one scene. In some respects, Young-Bin is
somewhat of a repulsive character. He's notoriously
cheap, selfish, and pouting, with a laugh that's more
than a little bit annoying. And it doesn't help that
Lee Dong-Geon seems to enjoy smirking in a manner
strongly reminiscent of Edison Chen. But thankfully,
Lee is a much better actor than Chen.
And oftentimes, Young-Bin's
jerky behavior seems to have an underlying purpose,
usually related to romance or just plain common sense.
Young-Bin seems genuine in his affection, and beyond
the hackneyed displays of romance (flowers, singing,
etc), he's also prone to some unique forms of chivalry.
When a teaching assistant bullies Han-Mi, Young-Bin
takes revenge, but in a totally unexpected and utterly
hilarious way. Another thing that gives the character
more dimensions is the fact that Young-Bin is struggling
to make ends meet, a situation which would put a strain
on any relationship, incompatible blood type or not.
Yet even as one can see justification or at least
an explanation for Young-Bin's actions, there's also
the sense that he's doing it for self-serving purpose,
even when he's being "romantic." This tension
between his true feelings and his selfish nature will
probably keep viewers guessing, perhaps even after
the credits roll.
Of course, these kinds
of movies are predictable: boy meets girl, boy loses
girl, boy fights to get girl back. There's even some
crying (In a Korean film? No way!). But here, there
are more than a few variations on that traditional
theme sprinkled throughout the film to keep things
interesting. Although a somewhat ludicrous childhood
trauma is used to give Young-Bin a chance to prove
his love to Han-Mi, it's refreshing to see that even
in the "happy ending," things aren't tied
up quite as neatly as one might expect. There's the
suggestion that even if they do reconcile, Young-Bin's
personality traits will always be an issue. In its
finale, the movie seems to acknowledge that relationships,
even those built to last, are hard work. How refreshingly
realistic! Although by no means high art, My Boyfriend
is Type-B is a glossy, overall enjoyable diversion
involving pretty Korean people who overcome their
problems in the space of ninety minutes. Whatever
your blood type, that's gotta count for something.
(Calvin McMillin, 2005)