Kwon Sang-Woo: Peter Kim Kyu shik
Ha Ji-Won: Yang Bong hee
Kim In-Kwon: Thomas Shin Sundal
Kim Il-Wu: Father Yang [Bonghees Uncle]
Kim Seon-Hwa: Sister at the church
Reviewer's Thoughts before watching the movie
I had really high expectations for this movie as it starred the hunky Kwan Sang Woo, who was renowned for his role as Cha Song Juh in 2004 drama, Stairways To Heaven.
It also had the female star of the MBC drama, Damo, Ha Ji Won, who had left a deep impression on me since her last drama, Memories of Bali [which I coincidentally also reviewed].
Booked at Cathay Orchard for 1705, I was almost late for the show thanks to some unforgiving weather but thankfully, made it in time to catch the opening and not miss any scenes.
Kim Kyushik is a pious acolyte seeking to become a fully-fledged priest. Due to some incredible bad luck, he and his acolyte buddy, Thomas Shin, are banished to a small church in a remote time as punishment for dropping the tabanacle on the floor during Mass.
Disheartened, Kyushik and Thomas make their way to the town. They bump into Yang Bonghee, a vivacious Korean girl who has been studying abroad in the US, at a drink stall.
Kyushik and Thomas arrive at the small town where they are to serve under a priest, Father Yang, who is the uncle of Bonghee.
Kyushik is cleaning the church when he stumbles upon a sleepy Bonghee.
She was sleeping in the church because she had mistaken wine for water previously [when Kyushik first met Bonghee at the drink stall].
Half-drunk, she attempts to drink the holy water before it is wrestled away from her hands by Kyushik, who firmly believes that holy water should be used for much more nobler purposes than quenching ones thirst. In the struggle, Bonghee falls onto Kyushik and they accidentally kiss, a scene that is seen by the Sister of the church.
Kyushik later begs for forgiveness in front of Father Yang, for he feels he has committed a cardinal sin, as priests or priests-to-be should avoid any bodily contact with the opposite sex.
He also bugs Bonghee, trying to hint that he is sorry for having kissed her, but to the outgoing Bonghee [not forgetting she was half-drunk], she doesnt even recall the incident and isn't bothered about it.
Trying to get her forgiveness, he follows her to her appointment with her fiancé to be [the person she returned to Korea to get married to], only to have her fiancé ditch her.
Bonghee, now broken-hearted, returns to her uncles church and requests for money for the air-ticket back to the US. However, her uncle, being a priest, does not have any personal cash. The next day, she volunteers to help out at the orphanage in the church for a month to earn the necessary amount for the air ticket back.
Her first task is to drive the kids to school, something that she does so well, but dangerously she swerves and changes lanes as if she owns the road, and frightens the kids in the van, but more importantly, almost scares the small-gutted Kyushik sitting beside her to death.
After which, Kyushik encounters one of the kids scolding vulgarities and he is incensed that the young kid is so rude. He finds out that Bonghee has been the source of the kids flowery language and is even angrier.
He rushes to confession and Father Yang tells him that Bonghee was sent to them by God for a reason and gives him the task of getting Bonghee baptised.
Kyushik tries everything in his means to help Bonghee get associated with the religion. However, Bonghee is too concerned about enjoying herself to even care about him.
He even follows her to a disco where Bonghee is chilling out and in turn he becomes the star of the show because he is wearing the clothes of a pastor and is mistaken by the clubbers that he is Mr Matrix [think of what Neo and Morpheus wore in the Matrix].
Bonghee eventually gets drunk again and pisses off a bunch of gangsters in the club before being saved by Kyushik. They are chased by the gangster, until Kyushik, with Bonghee on his back [shes drunk remember?] is forced to enter the motel with her.
He decides to book a room but chooses to stay outside as it is not good to be seen with a lady in a motel meant for soliciting.
The next morning, Bonghee leaves the motel and sees Kyushik outside with his bike. Realising that he has spent the entire night with her, she is touched and has a better opinion of him from then on.
The catechism lessons with Bonghee continue until she has finally mastered the basics to get herself baptised.
Kyushik finds himself falling slowly for Bonghee and even buys her a pair of high heels as Bonghees old pair has fallen apart. However, as he is about to give it to her, he sees that Bonghees fiancé-to-be approach her, hoping for a recoincilation.
Kyushik is heartbroken. As all his life, he thought he was destined to be a priest and finally when he meets a girl who might change all of that, she might get married to another person soon.
Finally, Kyushik has to choose between becoming a servant of God and the woman of his life .
Personally I found this movie be quite disappointing. Perhaps I had too high expectation for starters.
Having watched Stairways to Heaven & Memories of Bali before this movie, my impressions of Kwon Sang Woo and Ha Ji Won were that they were two of the better Korean actors/actresses out there.
First, I felt that the director could not decide whether he wanted Love So Divine to be a comedy or semi-melodramatic movie. The initial stages of the movie are funny, filled with slapstick jokes pulled off well, thanks to the bubbly Kim In-Kwon, who plays the buddy of Kyushik, Thomas.
Kim In-Kwon, who was also seen in the successful comedy My Wife Is A Gangster, filmed in 2001, in some way saved the movie for me.
However, in the later stages of the movie, it gets a little draggy and some parts, rather cheesy to be quite frank.
There is a scene where a marriage is taking place in the church and suddenly, the choir [which is made up by Bonghee, Kyushik, Thomas and other acolytes] starts singing and dancing with the church. That scene really killed it for me. Frankly I was quite embarrassed to even look at the screen.
I guess the director was trying to show that even priests/religious people, whom we always take for granted as extremely serious people, can have their fun side, but the way it was done was... well lets say I felt it could have been better portrayed.
Kwon Sang Woo, of course, didnt disappoint his fans out there. Personally his performance in Love So Divine was quite flawless, and he played his comical and emotional side dutifully in this film.
The same would go for Ha Ji Won, who plays the wilful Bonghee.
The problem with Love So Divine lies completely with the director and the storyline. My guess would be that the makers of this film decided that the star factor of Kwon Sang Woo and Ha Ji Won would be enough to cover the fragility in terms of plot and storyline.
For fans of Kwon Sang Woo, this movie shouldnt disappoint if you discard your expectations of him acting to his awarding-winning role of a fervent lover in Stairways To Heaven. Just try to keep in mind that Love So Divine is a comedy, not so much a melodrama [although the ending proves me wrong].
For Ha Ji Won, its a similar role that shes been in before, similar to the one she played with Kim Jae Won in 100 Days with Mr Arrogant, although she has been struggling recently to emulate the form she had in Damo.
Hopefully her next movie, Ki Da Ri Ajushi' aka Daddy Long Legs, with Yun Jung Hoon will be a better one.
If theres anything I wish to say about Love So Divine its that it could have been better and knowing that the cast was such a capable one with proven acting records, I can point my finger at the scriptwriters, director and the producers of this movie.
I rate it a 2.5 out of 5 stars, and unless you are die-hard fans of Kwon Sang Woo or Ha Ji Won, I suggest that you give this movie a miss.
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