My Brother


Reviewed by: sukting

February 13, 2005

Rating: two-point-five

Foreword
This is Won Bin's fourth attempt at playing a younger brother role. The others are in the television serial "A Tough Man's Love", the movie "Guns and Talks" and the movie "Brotherhood". This is also Won Bin's last movie before he gets enlisted in the army for two years. He completed his masters in February 2005 - just in time to get into the army without worries in November. How does he fare in here?

Story - a very brief skeleton because it was quite uninteresting and predictable

There is a pair of brothers. The elder brother is Seong Hyun (Shin Ha Gyun). He is shy, stammers and has a cleft lip. Jong Hyun (Won Bin) is the handsome and tough younger brother. They are fatherless high school students and their mother raises them up single-handedly. Their father left them upon seeing Seong Hyun's flawed face after he was born. Jong Hyun was born a year younger and is 17 years old.

Jong Hyun is as good at picking fights as Seong Hyun is with his grades. Both are classmates. No one can stop Jong Hyun from fighting. Seong Hyun is fair looking, polite, and gentle. Many regard him as the model student. He is the scholar and the mother's pet. Naturally, Seong Hyun is his mother's (Kim Hae Suk) favourite because he is slightly retarded. He receives praises from her while Jong Hyun gets scolded repeatedly for being a rebel. He is just too hungry for her attention.

Seong Hyun tries hard to fulfill his mother's needs. Jong Hyun is jealous of him since young and becomes rebellious. He is unhappy over the unfair treatment and bullies him when he has the chance. Their growing up stages can be exciting and interesting.

Their mother is so unfair to both in their treatment. What she does to their high school uniform and lunchboxes - you will be baffled. Jong Hyun opens both lunchboxes to see what is inside. They get the same eggs and sausages. His mother chides him for being overly suspicious.

But Jong Hyun later overturns both lunchboxes. Seong Hyun's lunchbox has vegetables while he has none! His mother has nothing to say now. I really detest her for lying!

There is one memorable scene where Seong Hyun begs Jong Hun to call him elder brother - just for once and he will be contented. Jong Hun's reply is to take off Seong Hun's shirt off him and still says that the weather is cool. This is humourous but also sad.

Things become worse when both love the same female classmate, Mi Ryung. The brotherly rivalry intensifies tremendously. Jong Hyun makes use of Seong Hyun's poems to woo her. Upon knowing that Jong Hyun likes his girl, Seong Hyun quarrels with him at home. After this incident, Jong Hoon refuses to call him 'big brother'. The two fight with other classmates in the school compound. Because both are punished together, they get closer. These few scenes leave a deep impression in me. The whole movie boils down to one issue - jealousy causes a tragedy.

I don't really like the development as it becomes too forceful to squeeze tears from the audience. I will not go into detail because you can guess it easily. There isn't any surprise at all. The scenes of the mother, brotherly rival over a woman, the underworld boss and also the retarded neighbours are too fixed and predictable. Luckily both actors manage to complement each other to maintain some standards.

Introduction to characters

1. Seong Hyun - Shin Ha Gyun
I have admired Ha Gyun's acting from "JSA" to "Guns and Talks". A person having a physical flaw can be shown on the exterior. But the high difficulty comes. Ha Gyun relies on make-up to produce the cleft lip. His character is one who doesn't show feelings openly and has few spoken lines. Many times, we only get to see him showing emotions through suppressed gestures. This is hardly noticeable but he makes the character come alive. He might lack won Bin's dashing looks but his light smiles resemble Yong Jun.

2. Jong Hyun - Won Bin
Many feel that Won Bin's image is too idolized. Thus he is unable to bring out the rebellious image. He is just reprising his role in "A Tough Man's Love". He only uses his body movements and exaggerated outburst to show his acting. Actually I think he acts quite well although his expressions does show repetitions. Although he can be exaggerated at times, he does bring out Jong Hyun's emotions. On the surface, he reprimands his mother for being unfair. But he hides his concern for her. On the other hand, he pushes all his anger on Seong Hyun. But he doesn't notice that he has deep feelings for him. Won Bin uses his eyes and smiles to express the character's complicated feelings so this makes him likeable.

This movie makes Won Bin get away from his usual sunshine image. The quarreling scenes with his mother leave him red-eyed. The parting scene with his girlfriend leaves tears in his eyes and Seong Hyun's death makes him create a crying outburst. Many may wish to ask him the secret of his crying success!

3. The mother - Kim Hae Suk
I dislike this mother for her unfair treatment towards her sons. Both are her own flesh and blood so why make the difference so distinctly? In the eyes of Jong Hoon, he is like a reject or outcast. He has a sibling and close ones but he is distant from them. It is hard for him not to stir up trouble. At least this movie conveys a message - parents must not be unfair to their children.

Seong Hyun's weakness makes her pour all her love on him and he is her pride. Jong Hyun's wildness puts her in a fix. His stubborn nature makes her feel that there is a wall between them. He can resemble her ex-husband at times so she doesn't treat him that well.

4. Mi Ryung - Lee Bo Young
She only had a purpose in here - to cause conflict between the brothers. Her lines are limited and we can see that she is too pressured from working with two famous actors. As a newcomer, her acting is acceptable.

Interesting facts

During Won Bin's promotion in Taiwan, Ella from pop group S.H.E. was excited to meet him. She gave him presents and also a tight hug. The Taiwanese were astonished as Won Bin was only shy and not proud or hostile as reputed to be.

11 Jan 2005 was fondly remembered by Singaporean Won Bin's fans as the major triple one affair. Many were disappointed when he and Dong Gan didn't appear in 2004 to promote "Brotherhood". Thus some bought air tickets to get into the airport's restricted zone just to catch a glimpse of him.

Won Bin turned up on a terrible normal working day (and also school day) at 4.30 p.m. for the press conference at a shopping complex and 7 p.m. at the movie premiere. Won Bin is reputed to be shy so there will not be private sessions with his fans. I could not turn up for the first event because of work but how can I miss the chance of meeting one of the four Korean drama heavenly kings (the others being Yong Jun, Dong Gan and Byun Hun) in person??? Here comes my star chasing encounter again.

My working hours ended at 6.40 p.m. so I had no choice but to pay a pricy S$11 cab fare to reach the cinema. I had expected to see a crowd but was taken aback to see no one. I even thought I came to the wrong place. No barriers, no welcoming barriers - what happened? I was confused so I went to the second story of the Cineplex. The presence of some fans and the movie posters there cleared my doubts. This was unlike the warm welcome at the shopping complex having 1000 fans supporting him there. I was puzzled - why?

It could not be compared to Yong Jun's visit at the same venue in 2003. Probably because Won Bin had no fan club here and he appealed more to younger girls. Well, the lesser the number of people the better, isn't it? If not, how can I get to see Won Bin within an arm length distance? Won Bin turned up at 7.20 p.m. Before he came, I took a photo with the movie poster.

When he showed up to walk into the cinema, my vision was completely blocked by the presence of the director, the director's wife, his bodyguards and the make-up artistes who surrounded him. That happened within a few seconds. I only caught a glimpse of his back view upon realizing he didn't keep a crew-cut as seen in Hong Kong for "Brotherhood" promotion. He had short and curly hair this time. I made the wrong judgment and that caused me to miss him in the crowd. Luckily, he came out 10 minutes later out of the cinema and I managed to see his face this time.

Many have said that he resembles Japan's Takuya. That is very true! He looks 95% like Takuya in person except that he has a tall frame at 1.78m. Unlike others who said that he was unfriendly in person, he actually smiled at us when they called him "Oppa" - or elder brother in Korean. He left all of us spellbound. He looked as fabulous as in the photographs or posters. He was worth the wait and the money spent. This was the first time I spent so much money in a day and I could never forget it!

I didn't get to watch the movie on that day because the special premiere tickets were not sold to the public. I only rented the VCDs to watch it. I bought 10 photos for remembrance from professionals on the spot as they were very well-taken. These people were too much - wanting to sell them at S$1 each. They gave in when I insisted to pay at S$0.70 for each. I laminated them at my workplace as the glossy photos may lose their glamour within a few years. I gave a few to my colleagues and my friend, Gin. They could not believe my good luck. Nor did I!

Won Bin dislikes changing of script at the last minute. He doesn't think that he can handle any change. If he doesn't agree with the change, he will raise it out. This is being careful and some may say that he is fussy but he is past caring over it.

This movie had lots of fighting scenes. Won Bin didn't reject any of them and it was simple to him. In the first scene, his character had to fight against many. At first, the crew was afraid that he might get hurt. They were astonished with his skillful performance and this only took him 2 or 3 moves to throw his opponents on the ground. It was said that they were so shocked that they stared at him and praised him for being a natural action actor. All who know him well will know that Won Bin is athletic. He was one of the star team soccer players. To him, this was so much easier than kissing scenes.

Why? The only kissing scene by the river made him and Bo Young very embarrassed. He was so shy that his face turned red. This caused both to have wrong timings and unable to meet the director's expectations. Finally this first screen kiss of his had N.G.s more than 30 times before completion! Many will envy Bo Young for getting Won Bin's first big screen kiss!

Did Won Bin bully his real life elder brother? He never fought in his younger days but he thought he could win if he did it. He is the youngest brother in reality, having 2 elder sisters and two elder brothers. The real life relationship isn't mushy as in the movie. His brothers are as quiet as him. His whole family supports him quietly so he is independent. He will miss his family, friends and fans when he gets into the army.

Had he love someone secretly before? He didn't but only girls did. He was sure confident of his outlook to say this daringly! But who will doubt as he is handsome as a matter of fact? However, he confessed that his shy nature makes him unable to deal with female fans except to smile at them. What happens if his elder brother and he love the same woman? He would give up as brotherly ties mattered more to him. Did he cry often at home like a tap? He only did this in movies. He seldom shed tears in his life because there were little chances to make him cry.

Since he was publicly known as 'the flower man', he has the flowery looks. Which part of him is the most attractive? This is his unexpected answer - he thinks no part of him is attractive! Many nearly turned crazy when he promised to come to Singapore if he has the time. He felt honoured to be named as one of the heavenly kings and would work hard to be as successful as them.

This movie was the champion for 3 weeks. It showed brotherhood, love between mother and sons and also love. This is what Korean men face in the real life so it is called 'a movie that a Korean man must watch'. The Korean movie premiere had a rule that viewers must bring parents to watch together to have 2 free adult tickets. Won Bin brought his parents along to watch it.

Both actors are good friends after working together in "Guns and Talks". Both liked to joke and chat off the set. To fit in the mood for the development of the rival for a woman, both started to avoid each other. The working crew started to feel the tension between them and became nervous. They thought they had some miscommunication. Upon knowing their purpose, all were impressed that they were so professional.

Their wardrobe in the movie was put on a website. As they were not for sale, 15,000 hoped to win the 4 shirts that they wore. The others unable to win the shirts had to be contented to wear the same branded clothing that Won Bin shot for commercials instead.

Ha Gyun graduated from Seoul Arts University's acting faulty in 1993. He only acted in this movie in 2004. He was satisfied and promised all that they would never regret watching it. The title hints the two different brothers to make all realize that the importance of the close ones. All may stay together but will not know how to express themselves. The movie will help them to do it.

Ha Gyun decided to keep a low profile and suppress the character's feelings for this movie. Although Seong Hyun is a model student of noble character, he didn't want him to become special. He wanted him to be a normal person. He could understand Seong Hyun's feelings as he has a younger sister. He has tried his best to treat her well. Sometimes, she angered him and he was harsh to her. He tried hard to search Seong Hyun's specialty on himself to act it out.

Ha Gyun loved all the touching scenes in the movie. His most unforgettable scene was the fight in the rain with Won Bin on the street. They shot it for a whole month and it also became the most tiring scene for both of them. Won Bin's first movie was with him so both were close as brothers in real life. Both guys often meet up during their free time. Ha Gyun is 2 years older than him so he is indeed his 'elder brother'. He had lots of praise for Won Bin. Won Bin was as diligent as before and he was happy to be his friend or elder brother. Won Bin worked hard and was serious in work. Ha Gyun often hoped to be like him.

The two actors spent a lot of time photographing the posters. Their innocent smiles were commented by the Korean press as 'non-harmful and most natural smiles'. Won Bin's smile was pure while Ha Gyun looked like Mickey Mouse. Even the filming crew admitted that their bad moods turned well upon seeing them smiling. Their smiles were worth a million dollars.

Conclusion

Both actors gave impassioned performances. The movie has a firm grasp of their brother relationship. It shows the closeness between the siblings - the tension, love and the resentment. One is quiet while another rowdy. One is weak while another is strong. This makes a sharp contrast between the two. The deepest and unbreakable bond comes between the mother and her sons.

Since the director is responsible for "Brotherhood", you will know Seong Hyun's dying fate when he steps out of the house to replace Jong Hyun. Expect tears to flow again. I will call this 'buying tears' from the audience. Why use the same dose again repeatedly?

It is easy to see why Won bin took the lead role in this sentimental story about fraternal bonding. It offers him the chance to play both bad boy and good guy to charm his female fans. The plot is so similar to the old 50s Cantonese weepies and also Qiong Yao novels. It is just that the packaging is different to suit the times. The production values are slick and the storytelling is competent. However, the pacing is so flat. I am quite thankful that I didn't watch this movie in the cinema. This tale will bond only with Won Bin's fans who want to face time with their idol.

Sukting's ratings :

On acting : *** (Scale of 5)

On story : **1/2(Scale of 5)


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