June 11, 2011

Run 2 U: Pop, Pop, Pop Music; Flop, Flop, Flop Movie

There's a point midway in Kang Jeong-su's Korean-Japanese hybrid Run 2 U, where bisexual singer-songwriter Hitoshi (Kazuya Takahashi) and his hooker-turned-pop-star female lover Kyeong-a (Chae Jeong-an) scream frustratedly at the ocean to explain why their lives are so frickin' hard. It's ridiculous, as is much of the movie yet it's also oddly poignant, as the rest of the movie is not. A spot-on depiction of youthful exasperation at a world that won't let your dreams come true post haste, this anguished cry at the universe also unintentionally echoes the internal wail of viewers foolishly sitting through the entire film. Though filled with unexpected plot twists, like a tragic gay love story involving a trigger-happy thug (Tetsuo Yamashita) who likes to check out his buddy's buns in the gym shower, Run 2 U really has a lousy storyline and should've been made as a 90-minute music video, not a needlessly bilingual film.

Dramatic closeups — a finger pushing an elevator button, a hand holding a white telephone receiver — could've played out as hyper-meaningful symbolism apropos of VH1 and MTV. It's easy to picture Kyeong-a strutting around in her turquoise fan-plastic raincoat and rapping about drugs, pimps and poverty. Considering that two of the main characters are singers, the R&B treatment would've allowed Hitoshi's inner monologues, here whispered like Barry White intros, to build to soulful meditations on love — found, lost, and reborn. Why Run 2 U never actually crosses over to kinetic pop is a mystery. Seductions at the disco. High speed races on the freeway. Even a music video shoot! Does anybody else see major opportunities for a groovy soundtrack and some lip synching? I'm not sure how to deal with Massako (Maju Ozawa), the mafia daughter in love with the gay boxer, except on the editing room floor. Considering how bad she is, revamping this movie as a hip-hopera means having a legit reason to cut her part. That's what they did in the music video recap that's an extra on the DVD. And yes there really is one. And no, it's not very good either.

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