June 22, 2014

A Tale of Legendary Libido: Dick Jokes and Slowpokes

Jeon Soo-kyeong stars in a number of empty-headed movies but whenever there's a vacuum, she expands to fill it up. In the middling comedy Little Black Dress, she's a hack writer dropping zingers like the best of screwball Hollywood's peroxide blondes. In the even worse The Perfect Couple, she plays an amoral journalist whose mastery of slapstick is equally vintage. This time around in the raunch romp A Tale of Legendary Libido, Jeon plays a lecherous bar owner who's one of many townswomen who go from ridiculing rice-cake street-peddlar Byeon (Bong Tae-gyu) for having a small penis to pining for his shlong once it's miraculously enlarged. Amid sight gags of cascading pee-streams and Three Stooges-style violence [like when Byeon has a fire on his crotch stomped out by his brother (Oh Dal-su)], Jeon milks the comedy for all its worth. As per usual, she doesn't have many lines but she gives great reaction-face and when she gets a moment to sing, she sends chills up and down your spine.

Bong isn't quite as effective at making the most out of a little. As the bumpkin cursed with a tiny dick, he's a bit clueless and so emotionally scarred by his tryst with a cackling, nymphomanical harridan (Yoon Yeo-jeong) that instead of giving us permission to laugh at him, we're stuck feeling pity at first, and indifference soon after. Later, he doesn't make the most out of a lot either. Magically transformed into the neighborhood stud, he's just as sullen and just as dull. You never witness his delight in finally being hung. You never find satisfaction in watching him over-pleasure women who spurned him in the past. His heart (and his hard-on) ultimately belongs to another (Kim Sin-ah) -- a nearly brainless former sex slave whose sad history is unexplored and whose skill at synchronized swimming is unexplained. As sex comedies go, writer-director Shin Han-sol's A Tale of Legendary Libido barely gets to first base. It has the feel of a comedy at most.

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