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Radio Dayz
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Radio Dayz

The cast of The Flame of Love in Radio Dayz
.
Korean: 라듸오 데이즈
Year: 2008  
Director:

Ha Gi-Ho

 
  Writer:

Kim Hyun-Jung, Ha Gi-Ho (story), Sin Jung-Goo (story)

  Cast:

Ryoo Seung-Bum, Lee Jong-Hyuk, Kim Sa-Rang, Kim Roi-Ha, Oh Jung-Se, Hwang Bo-Ra, Ko Ah-Sung

  The Skinny:

A breezy comedy that eschews historical accuracy for a silly and entertaining farce, Radio Dayz marks the solid debut of first-time feature film director Ha Gi-Ho.

   
Review
by
Kevin Ma:

Korean cinema produces its first solid film of 2008 with Radio Dayz, a breezy comedy about the first days of Korean radio during the dark period of its Japanese colonial occupation. First-time director Ha Gi-Ho, directing from a script by Kim Hyun-Jung (Untold Scandal, Public Enemy), delivers a light comedy that possesses plenty of silly humor minus the overwrought melodrama that has plagued the Korean comedy genre for years. Even though some may attack the filmmakers for taking a serious historical subject and turning it into a farce, Radio Dayz is the type of breezy humor Korean cinema needs more of.

The cast is led by Ryoo Seung-Bum, doing his best imitation of Bae Yong-Joon as Lloyd, the easygoing director of the new Seoul radio station in the 1930s. Lloyd is a resourceful man who almost never gets nervous about anything and smiles through just about any situation. However, with few paying subscribers, he's struggling to make the station relevant, and is stuck with having to report censored news by the Japanese, working with misfits like an ex-giseang, and having only one announcer for every program. Suggested by his boss to do a radio drama to entertain the paying audience, Lloyd meets with a writer who offers him a melodramatic drama called The Flames of Love. Unlike the usual two-hour radio dramas, The Flames of Love aims to hook the viewers by becoming an action-driven series that runs only 20 minutes a day.

Once on the air, nothing turns out the way Lloyd and the writer expect, as they have to deal with senseless improvisation from their pretentious star and bad voice acting from the non-professional cast. Through an audition, Lloyd brings in K (Lee Jong-Hyuk), who has a talent for making artificial sounds to spice up the drama. Little do they know that K is actually a freedom fighter who plans to use the show to spark a rebellious movement through the airwaves. He's not a very good freedom fighter though; K and his own ragtag group of misfits have done little but raid mail trucks full of love letters instead of important Japanese documents. The drama, with its over-the-top love triangle, begins to pick up popularity throughout the city. However, with popularity also come censorship and forced product placements.

The best way to approach Radio Dayz is to not see it as a film based on historical fact, but a comedic allegory on today's television dramas. The dramatic twists Lloyd employs in The Flames of Love, such as the reveal that the two lovers are half-slblings, are similar to the ridiculous and far-fetched character relationships seen in television dramas today. With bickering stars looking for more lines and editorial pressure from the executives, Ha and Kim suggest that such today's TV drama practices go as far back as the beginning of serial dramas. While the satire is not biting enough to reach brilliance, Radio Dayz will certainly earn a smile from those who appreciate a bit of media commentary in their comedies.

That's not to say that the film only works on a satirical level. Despite taking place in a dark period of Korean history, Radio Dayz is perfectly content with evoking nostalgia for some of the better days of colonial occupation. With radio still in its infant stage, some of the improvised techniques the radio station staffers use provide some of the film's most amusing moments. Even the Japanese, usually cast in a dramatically evil fashion, are portrayed as dictators who are just kind of mean. The goal of the filmmakers is obvious not to provide a historically accurate look at the evil Japanese conquerors, but rather how something as trivial as a radio drama can bring people together in celebration. In that context, Radio Dayz works just fine.

Much of the film's comedic success is also attributed to the cast. Even though Ryoo's constant smile takes a bit of time to get used to, he does eventually reveal a charm that makes him a hard character to hate. The rest of the radio station staff, especially Oh Jung Se and Hwang Bo Ra as the drama's two stars, give immensely likeable comedic performances without going over-the-top. The performances are especially important in a film where the cast spends most of the film inside a room, and Ha uses them splendidly. With the breezy jazz-driven score, an excellent ensemble cast, and a funny script, Radio Dayz is certainly the best feature film debut in Korean cinema so far this year. Even though the filmmakers may not be completely true to history, lighten up - it's only a movie. (Kevin Ma, 2008)

   
Notes:

• This review is based on the theatrical version, which is the only version with English subtitles.

Availability:

DVD (Korea)
Region 3 NTSC
Premier Entertainment
Two-disc Special Edition
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Korean Subtitles (Theatrical Cut only)
Various Extras

 

image credit: hancinema.net

   
 
 
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