Kang Ji Hwan’s Fantasy Movie Choices
Kang Ji Hwan recently shared his favorite “fantasy” movies with 10Asia. He had a solid year, winning the Best New Actor award at the Grand Bell Awards, with the blockbuster, My Girlfriend is an Agent and starring in the Telecinema Project, Love is Blind.
One of the reasons why this stood out to me is that one of his picks, Edward Scissorhands is one of my all time favorites. And his mention of Johnny Depp‘s sad eyes reminded me of Kang Dong-won, his namesake from Duelist. (Although I think So Ji Sub would be a perfect fit to play Edward in a Korea remake. Haha. You can see where my mind’s at these days…)
- There are two ways for an actor to be competitive on TV and film: amazing good looking or a fabulous actor. Of course an actor isn’t satisfied with just one of these qualities, but usually you can put them into either one the category. The reason for Kang Ji Hwan‘s popularity is due to the fact that he can’t be put in to one of these classic categories.
Kang Ji Hwan is an actor with a great smile and good acting skills. But he’s someone who surpasses his looks and acting. There may be actors who are better looking or a better actor but it’s hard to think of someone who can pull off his Hong Gil Dong in Hong Gil Dong, Sun Woo Wan in Capital Scandal, and Jae Jun Yi in My Girlfriend is an Agent. It’s not just because he was able to admirably portray these characters. Whether trudging along as Hong Gil Dong with a knapsack in tow or seducing women with his sleazy character during the Japanese occupation, he fit these characters like a glove. It’s difficult to find an actor who can pull off a hard role, but even more difficult to find an actor like Kang Ji Hwan who can pull it off with pizzazz. So it’s probably not a coincidence that he enjoys imaginative films.
These are films that have stimulated his imagination, from spectacular movies to those that are out of the normal establishment. Just like his roles, which have captured more than the reality of characters who are pushed away by society, these movies are fantasies which push the boundaries of reality.
1. King Kong | Peter Jackson
“It’s a movie that I saw in the theater with my friend and the cheers just came out. They endured hardship while filming at a skeleton island in the midst of dinosaurs and colossal bugs. The scene where King Kong and the dinosaur fight over the woman was as strong as any action movie. That doesn’t mean that the King Kong’s love shown in the 2nd half of the movie was boring. It was the first time that I was able to experience emotions from an animal.”
If you follow Peter Jackson‘s filmography, the gap between his crude special effects/B-rated films, Bad Taste and Braindead, and the Lord of the Rings series is dizzying. King Kong is a synthesis of these two Peter Jacksons. It’s wearing the blockbuster label on the outside, but the confrontation between man and King Kong makes it more touching than spectacular. It can be felt through the peculiar narration that Peter Jackson brings in to King Kong’s desire to protect Anne (Naomi Watts.)
2. Edward Scissorhands | Tim Burton
“Movies can leave you with different impressions. And in the case of Edward Scissorhands, it’s Johnny Depp‘s sad eyes that leave a lasting memory. It was heartbreaking to see someone who had the warmest of hearts not being able to touch anyone because of his cold scissorhands. It was the first time that Tim Burton‘s overactive imagination and Johnny Depp‘s ability to express Burton’s character met in film And afterwards, they also worked together in Sleepy Hollow and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but I think their first film together was their best. I still look forward to their projects together, including the upcoming Alice in Wonderland.”
Edward Scissorhands is as a romance movie, remembered for the scene where Edward makes it snow by creating the ice sculpture. But it’s still prototypical Tim Burton as seen by the neighbors who look at Edward with pity and superiority and the depiction of those who look on with more interest than necessary. The movie shows the innocent love story between Edward and Kim (Winona Ryder), one that rises above the rule of society and grants freedom from this world’s existence. That is why this movie is a true fantasy.
3. Secret (Himitsu) | Takita Yojiro
“It’s a movie where he becomes passionately obsessed with the female lead, Hirosue Ryoko. It’s similar to Lee Hyung Hun‘s Addicted, which was released around the same time. The story itself is pretty obvious. But just like the issue of sleeping with someone, the film had a sensitive side which the actors were able to capture with their delicate acting. Most people probably know the scene, but I still remember the agony I felt from the reversal at the end.”
The current movie, Into the White Night, is also based on the novel by the Japanese mystery writer, Higashino Keigo (just like Secret.) Due to a bus accident, his wife Naoko dies, but her soul move into the body of their daughter, Monami (Hirosue Ryoko). Heisuke (Kobayashi Kaoru) has to watch his daughter, yet wife, grow up and at the end decides to choose the life of her father, all the while questioning what it means to love. Monami returns to herself in the 2nd half of the film and the results are easy to predict for any mystery lover, but the sorrow that the reversal causes is difficult to watch.
4. The Truman Show | Peter Weir
“After watching this movie, I kept looking around, thinking that this could also happen to me. The life of an actor is one where we need to show ourselves, so there are times when things that I want to hide get revealed. It’s a job that can bring as much stress as acclamation. The Truman Show flips this idea, where a normal man finds out that he’s actually a world-wide beloved actor.”
The end of the 20th century brought us movies that made us question the realities that we can see with our eyes: Matrix, Dark City, and this movie, The Truman Show. If the first 2 movies starts the question at hand, The Truman Show reveals the voyeuristic attributes that the media contributes to society, providing an answer to that question. The onset of reality TV shows, has shown that it’s not a baseless anxiety.
“From Men in Black to I, Robot, to The Pursuit of Happyness, Will Smith is an actor who doesn’t disappoint. And this movie, I am Legend, is the same. It’s a satisfying movie. As the lone survivor of the world which has been infected with a virus, Will Smith overflows the screen with the tension needed to fill an hour of screen time.”
I became the lone survivor. And the rest of the living became vampires. Based on a horror novel with the same title, these 2 statements are enough to dampen a person’s heart. The lead character, Neville is a scientist who has to fight against mutants in a city with a desolate future. The film is without question, a blockbuster, with the legendary confrontation between man and mutant.
“When I first received the script, I was nervous. There were lines like, “Oh, my goddess” in it.” Kang Ji Hwan’s new film, Love is Blind, is a romantic comedy from the joint Telecinema project with Korean directors and Japanese scriptwriters. It’s a cartoon like story where a man sees an ugly woman as a beauty, due to an accident. Even though he confesses that he thought the dialogue to be overly cheesy, Kang Ji Hwan is one of the few who can pull off saying, “Oh my goddess” with sincerity to the ugly woman, Lee Jia. As noted above, he’s not the most handsome or the best actor. But, he’s diversifying the kind of characters that he can bring to life, bringing joy to the viewers. And we’re able to reap the benefits of enjoying the multitude of characters whom the actor Kang Ji Hwan can create.