Repechage (1997) / Comedy-Romance
aka Love Repechage
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably PG-13 for language and adult situations
Running Time: 84 min.
Cast: Jang Dong-kun, Kim Hee-seon, Lee Jin-woo, Kim Shi-won
Director: Lee Kwang-hoon
Review published June 6, 2006
I had to look it up. "Repechage" is a French term that literally means "re-fishing", whereby some of the non-winning competitors in a race (usually rowing) are allowed another chance to compete to move on to the next round. Knowing this, you should have little problem seeing where this South Korean movie is going once it is established that the two main protagonists, zoo vet Mun-gyu (Dong-kun, Taegukgi) and photographer Eun-hae (Hee-seon, The Myth), are both possibly victims of cheating significant others.
I should add that anyone that has ever seen a romantic comedy will know where the film is headed as well, regardless of the title's translation. Repechage might be sweet and innocuous, but it's also a grand waste of time, as we must endure nearly 90 minutes of filler before finally seeing where we know the movie will eventually go since the outset.
Most romantic comedies follow a basic, easily understood formula (some might even claim it rips off the Meg Ryan/Matthew Broderick film, Addicted to Love, released the same year), but they also generally have funny moments in between to justify the time spent exploring them. Repechage frustrates not just because there's so little of interest every step of the way, but because it is exceedingly redundant. It's mystifying how these two "friends" can't seem to accept, or even to figure out, that their relationships are over, continuing to spy and antagonize their former partners out of sheer jealousy, despite the fact that they want to be accepted back.
We all know that Mun-gyu and Eun-hae will end up with each other in the end, but the makers of this film either must think we're absolute morons, or that the audience would refuse to accept anything that deviated from rote romantic comedy formula.
Repechage's only assets are its attractive cast, lively soundtrack, and colorful appearance, and if that's all it takes to keep you mollified from the inanity of it, perhaps you'll enjoy this film much more than I was able. I found it to be devoid of interesting ideas, lacking in passable humor, and I'm astonished at the amount of stupidity given to its main characters. In fact, they are so dumb and naive, you'll wonder why their former lovers had stayed with them so long.
©2006 Vince Leo