Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Review: Dachimawa Lee (2008)

Dachimawa Lee (Review)
Ryoo Seung-wan/Im Won-hee/2008
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...quirky, bizarre, and creative, with some great slapstick humor..."

Super spy Dachimawa Lee (Im Won-hee) is sent to recover and protect the fabled Golden Buddha statue, which holds valuable information regarding the location of other Korean secret spies...

Dachimawa Lee continues to follow the titular character as he attempts to complete his mission. Along the way, he'll be put through bizarre tests, like fighting his own partners using bizarre martial arts, use odd gadgets, like a firearm whose sole purpose is melee attacks (he needs a different firearm to shoot), and meet eccentric characters, like his lovely but clumsy partner Ma-ri. The main plot starts off a bit overwhelming and confusing, and it continues this way for some time. You'll eventually get what's going on, though, as it isn't too difficult -- the storytelling might be, but the plot is actually quite simple. The ending features a bizarre twist, or more like a few, and it's very funny; the very last few minutes added some confusion, though, it should've ended on the great note.

Dachimawa Lee is a spy-genre spoof film, much like Austin Powers or Naked Gun; I'm sure this film references Korean sources for its spoof, but I'm unfortunately not familiar. Anyway, the story may be unnecessarily complicated and convoluted, but the comedy is mostly spot on. It's quirky, bizarre, and creative, with some great slapstick humor, as well. Some scenes had me laughing out loud, others had me smirking with delight. Some of it is cheesy and a bit overdone, but it's overall very consistent. Dachimawa Lee is not Austin Powers, and that's good because it helps this film develop its own sense of identity and it's own brand of humor. There are also a few great action sequences; over-the-top, but very entertaining.

As for the acting, you shouldn't take it too seriously -- it's a spoof that pokes fun at genre characters and acting. Im Won-hee plays the titular character well, with such a hilarious performance. But, the real show stealer is Ryoo Seung-bum with a quirky and bizarre performance; his character also has the funniest scenes in the film, as well. The set design and costumes were also great in building the time period. Ryoo Seung-wan directs and co-writes Dachimawa Lee and does well in pulling the quirkiness from his cast and delivering consistent humor; the plot and storytelling could've used some fine-tuning, though.

Overall, Dachimawa Lee is a hilarious treat for fans of spoof films. The film had me laughing out loud, and had me smiling long after the film ended; in fact, I had a laugh writing this review simply remembering some scenes. The plot and storytelling are detrimental for those that want the complete experience, though, it's just too complicated and convoluted.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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