Mr. Lee vs Mr. Lee (2007): Wow, This Is Kind of Boring and…Oh

My mom recommended this 2007 Korean movie (directed by Kwang-jin Shim) to me.

And by “recommended,” I mean that she made me watch it.

You may think this is a heartwarming comedy, but it’s not. In fact, it’s the opposite.

Mr. Lee (Lee Dae-Geun) is an old, old man who is trying to reunite his family to hold a memorial service for his wife, who had passed away three or four years earlier. However, it seems that he had had a falling out with his two sons and daughter, but he seemed to be trying to make amends by bring them all together for the first time in seemingly several years. However, his third son is missing and there seemed to be no way to get in contact with him.

So at the memorial service, his daughter and older son show up with their spouses and they wait for the third son; a man called Agent Koo is currently searching around in an attempt to find him.

I’m not gonna lie. I thought it was really, really boring for the first hour or so. I almost gave up about forty minutes in, but I told my mom I would watch it, so I kept going.

Basically, the first hour consists of the family talking to each other, with the occasional angry outburst, some of which involve conflicts with Mr. Lee’s daughter, who is a devout Christian and refuses to bow in the traditional manner for her mother’s memorial service. Later, it gravitates towards the missing third son’s apparent failure in his business that his siblings and his father had given him lots of money for, which ultimately led to not enough money for the treatment of the mother.

This is Mr. Lee and his family. In order from left to right: Mr. Lee, his Christian daughter, his daughter-in-law, the husband of the Christian daughter and the attempt (and failure) at comic relief, and Mr. Lee’s oldest son.

I may have had a different take on this first half of the movie because I was under the impression that this was supposed to be a comedy, and this wasn’t funny at all, despite a few attempts at comic relief by the daughter’s husband, who often says the wrong things at the wrong time.

I was bored.

And then they had That Scene.

I want people to watch this, so I will not tell you what That Scene is. Besides, you’ll know when it comes up if you watch the movie.

That Scene completely changed the mood of the movie. And the plot too. I was really bored and then after That Scene, I was just really, really sad.

With just this scene that lasted less than a minute, I was suddenly struck by a wave of sadness. The movie just all of a sudden became really sad. Not the tear-jerker sad, but a pitiful, sympathetic, helpless sadness that slowly got worse and worse as more is revealed.

Not many movies have such strong turning points like That Scene. While watching it, while you are staring at the screen for those few minutes, it doesn’t seem like much. In fact, it was just a couple of very simple phrases, some bows, and that was it.

But then, it hits you, and suddenly, the entire movie just became the saddest thing ever.

Conclusion: Mr. Lee vs. Mr. Lee starts out almost unbearably boring, especially if it is mistaken for a happy comedy about a family as the cover suggests, but That Scene will make the entire movie worth it. 6.5/10


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