June 7, 2008

Jungle Juice: Stupid Is as Stupid Does

Take out all the curse words in Jungle Juice and you'd be left with a silent movie colorized with Dayglo spraypaint. This cornball comedy's two numbskull-punks (Jang Hyuk and Lee Beom-su) cuss if they're bragging, cuss if they're clowning around, and cuss if someone's smacking them silly...which happens pretty often. The non-stop profanities and the aggressively bloody slapstick which, true to the word's roots, really does involve equal parts slap and stick, quickly gets tedious given the lack of plot in the meandering first half. By the time an actual story emerges -- involving stolen cocaine, intra-gang warfare, and a prostitute who goes by the name of Meg Ryan (Jeon Hye-jin), writer-director Cho Min-ho has his work cut out for him in terms of winning over an audience. That he does even partially is kind of amazing. The final halfhour is tight: multiple storylines intertwine and the goofy highjinks take on unexpected gravitas. In the end, it's still a stupid buddy pic with yuk-yuk gags and actors making silly faces but you're also clued in to the fact that Cho's capable of much more. He's the class clown who's smarter than he'd like to admit. Hey Cho! There's nothing wrong with being brainy. Try it sometime.

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