Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sin Han-sol - Garoojigi aka A Tale of Legendary Libido (2008)

"A Tale of Legendary Libido" (Garoojigi), directed by Sin Han-sol, is loosely based on "Byeon Gang-soe Tale", one of the most notoriously decadent and sexually provocative theatrical songs which took its current form in the late 19th century.

Byeon Gang-soe is a Joseon-era version of Austen Powers, as he has an amazing sexual energy. The original tale, transmitted by word of mouth, was documented and extensively edited by Shin Jae-hyo (1812-1884). Many of the explicit sexual descriptions were cut out in the process; nevertheless, the extant version contains imagery and expressions that are shockingly frank about sexuality, even by today's relatively liberal standards.

The challenges facing director Shin were obvious. First, the highly inflated and exaggerated metaphors throughout the risque story could not be easily revised for mainstream moviegoers, including some adults who are not familiar with the sex comedy genre. Second, the theme has been adapted for the big screen several times, with ho-hum responses even from the targeted B-movie audiences who wanted just cheap laughs, plenty of nudity, and meaningless sex.

Despite the enormous challenges to such a project, director Shin can be credited for impressive casting. Not only the top-notch talent Bong Tae-gyu, but also veteran actors such as Oh Dal-soo and Yoon Yeo-jeong signed on to the movie for some reasons -- a far more intriguing mystery than the overflowing sexual energy of the film's central character. Bong Tae-gyu plays Byeon Gang-soe, a loner in an obscure mountainous village in the Joseon period. He makes a living, barely, by selling Korean cakes on the street, but wherever he goes, he is jeered by scantily clad village women. Byeon, it turns out, has become a laughing stock because he lacks sexual energy.

no pass