I think I must be a Cha Tae-hyun fan. I don't watch a lot of korean movies but the ones I do, most of them starred Cha. Otherwise, I'm just a fan of his movie projects - they all seem delightful and heartwarming, plus I can always count on him to provide the laughs.
Hello Ghost is a movie I've been wanting to watch for some time because I love the premise - happy, non-scary ghosts turning the life of a mere mortal upside down? Guaranteed for laughs. And I got those and more...
The movie starts with Cha's character (Kang Sang-man) trying unsuccessfully to commit suicide in a rented room by swallowing some pills. Undeterred, he makes another suicide attempt by jumping into the river, just as the police were in the vicinity trying to lug another heavyset man out of the water. Heh. Talk about a busy day.
He wakes up, disappointed to be alive, in the hospital, but his life is about to turn topsy-turvy. Well, anyone's would if they are followed around by four ghosts. First up is an older man, with slicked-back hair who chain-smokes at every opportunity, played by Go Chang-seok (whom I adore since his stint in 2D1N).
Second would be the Crying Lady ghost, played by Jang Young-nam (Dalja's spring, Vampire Prosecutor), who cries all the time, sobbing into a hanky and hidden in the cabinet of Kang's psychiatrist when they first met. His appointment with the psychiatrist ? Hilarious.
He wakes up in the middle of the night and encounters his third ghost - the perverted grandpa.
It is only then that Kang realizes belatedly he's haunted by ghosts. The ghosts wants to share the use of his body. Kang faints, belatedly. Hah.
He wakes up to find his fourth unwelcome guest - a kid. This time however, he manages to catch on quickly after taking in the blank faces of his psychiatrist and nurses.
He consults a medium who informs him he has to fulfill the ghosts' wishes if he wants to send them away. Only then he's free to do whatever he wants - er...like committing suicide.
The ghosts follow him home and even though they're quite a burden, he thinks wistfully that for the first time in his life, he has guests - though he wishes that they are human.
The director chose to portray the ghosts and Kang as separate entities even though the ghosts were supposed to possess Kang. Kang sees the ghosts in their original form and most of the time we do too. But the other characters in his life doesn't and that made for much hijinks.
|Cha as the sweet-toothed kid ghost|
|Cha as perverted grandpa|
|Cha as the crying lady ghost|
For someone who wants to die, he's rather pissed that the ghosts are "abusing" his body - smokes, alcohol, sweets... But the ghosts retaliates by turning his house into the freezing northpole. Kang finally gives in and offers to fulfill their requests.
Perverted grandpa wants him to find a lost camera and return it to its rightful owner, who's a patient in the hospital where Kang Hye-won's Jung Yun-soo works as a nurse.
Kang falls in love with her at first sight. I squirmed in embarassment watching perverted grandpa "help" Kang make a move on Jung. It's one way to leave an impression. LOL.
Next, Kang brings the ghost kid for a cartoon movie where he bumps into Jung who's out with a hospital patient. They share a date of sorts while he gobbles down plates of Jajangmyun and the ghost kid wins him a humongous candy.
The chain-smoking ghost wants Kang to help him steal a car from an old junkyard, where they cross path with its drunken owner (An Gil kang) pining for his wife, who left him. The car he wanted turns out to be an old cab and the ghost brings Kang to the sea. Reluctant at first, Kang enjoys the trip much to everyghost's delight.
In fact, Kang is slowly discovering the pleasure of daily life and forgets about his own loneliness and depression. The crying ghost is last and her wish is to cook for someone she loves. Since she doesn't have anyone she settles for Kang.
In the meantime, Kang suffers a setback in his relationship with Jung and he reverts back to his self-destructive self. And since he's managed to carry out the ghosts' wishes, he asks to be left alone.
Once alone, he again attempts to commit suicide, this time by inhaling carbon monoxide in the car. But he fails again, though this time, it is by his own choice. Happier times flash through his mind and for the first time, he has something precious to hold on to.
Kang seeks out Jung again, but memories of the past trickles back to him...
I shall stop here because I don't want to reveal the twist at the end. It's really sweet and sad and I cried buckets. Cha is an amazing actor and I love how the story ties up everything at the end. All I can say is it's a happy ending, sort of, despite the tears. They are good, satisfying tears...not the heartbroken kind.
To be honest, the soundtrack is so-so since I came away with nothing stuck to my mind and the movie might seem a little slow at times (It's about 111minutes long). By the end, you won't really mind because everything happens for a reason, which is like the trend for every korean movie ever these days. But it's done alright in Hello ghost, so I didn't mind the obvious manipulation. Hello ghost is a movie with a balanced combination of comedy, a simple love story and most importantly family love.
I loved it. And my guy who could never tolerate all those fluffy rom-coms, grudgingly conceded it was good too.
Rating: 8.5/10 (on my enjoyment scale)