Lee Byeong-heon, a South Korean filmmaker, debuted with the feature Cheer Up Mr Lee in 2013, which subsequently came to win the Audience Award at Seoul International Film Festival. A couple of years later, he released his second movie entitled Twenty; a coming-of-age film which brought him wide recognition among the foreign as well as domestic audience. However, before moving behind a camera, Byeong-heon has worked as a writer, script editor and actor.
Twenty, starring one of the biggest stars of the young generation and the Korean TV, Kim Woo-bin (Friend: The Great Legacy, The Heirs, School 2013), Kang Ha-neul (Empire of Lust, Dong-ju, The Heirs) and Lee Junho (Cold Eyes), is a youth comedy which revolves around a group of friends who graduated high school and turned 20. It is also a film about embarrassing moments of the aforementioned protagonists. The biggest draw towards the film is Chi-ho (Woo-bin); a tall, affluent, handsome and always pretentious boy who has no plans for the near future and constantly tries to get girls – not mentioning he already has one, So-min (Jung So-mi). Dong-woo (Lee Junho) is an artist who is forced to look after his big family while his father is in prison. Kyung Jae (Kang Ha-neul), on the other hand, is a nerd who makes a fool of himself the most; he makes it awkward between him and his senior colleagues while being drunk and suffers from a one-sided love.
Conversations about adulthood and sexual relations are cleverly written into the script and filled with great humour. Byeong-heon came up with the good idea of hiring young actors who actually are in their 20s to play the leading roles. In addition, he avoided the typical high school drama which is notoriously seen in Korean TV dramas and occasionally in feature productions. It is not even a classic romantic comedy since the female characters are secondary in the film; it is definitely a good buddy comedy which will make you laugh for over 80 minutes. I’m not afraid to say that Twenty is the Korean answer to American Pie, a teen sex comedy from 1999 directed by Paul and Chris Weitz. Even though there are visible differences in the films’ narrative, the one thing which connects these two are stories of young guys entering adolescence, which I definitely enjoyed more in Twenty. The reason behind it is simple, Twenty is funnier and less vulgar, and it actually tackles realistic and up-to-date issues that the young generation has to deal with in the modern world. I can’t hide the fact that I know Woo Bin and Kang Ha-neul from various TV dramas which, unfortunately, I disliked. However, after seeing both in feature films, I must acknowledge that the two young men have great potential as actors; though I am not convinced that the TV Dramas would help them in achieving that. Twenty is Woo Bin’s 4th feature film, 8th for Kang Ha-neul (soon we will be able to see him on the big screen in Happy Facebook) and 4th for Lee Junho, who is well known for being a member of the idol group 2PM.
There was one issue with the film though; the slow motion fight scene, which occurs at the end of the film, is too long and will make you fidget in your seat. It is entertaining for the first 30 seconds, however after that it becomes tedious. Having said that, the scene was fantastically captured on a steady cam and very well edited by the renowned film editor Nam Na-Yeong (I Saw the Devil, Mother, The Good The Bad The Weird). In general, the film was really interesting and fun to watch – Byeong-heon is a good script writer, and for that reason only I do hope he comes up with another amusing feature soon.
Writtten by Maggie Gogler
Edited by Jess Murray