Monday, June 9, 2014

Review: Mutt Boy (2003)

Mutt Boy (Review)
Kwak Kyung-taek/Jung Woo-sung/2003
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"....a handful of laugh out loud moments... surprisingly dark, though..."

Chul-min (Jung Woo-sung), nicknamed Strayed Doggie or Mutt, lives his life wandering his small rural neighborhood and getting in and out of trouble with the law and some thugs...

Mutt Boy has a really straightforward story. It starts with Chul-min as a child, who has a difficult time feeling for recently deceased mother and develops a strong relationship with a dog, who he calls Stray Dog or Mutt. Ironically, everyone knows Chul-min as Stray Dog or Mutt. Really early on, Chul-min's dog suffers a horrendous fate, which actually makes him feel what he couldn't with his mother. The rest of the story follows Chul-min as his great fighting skills get him a group of similar friends, he meets a girl he might like, and continues to get in and out of trouble. The ending was good; not very effective or resolving, but good.

Mutt Boy is a blend of drama and comedy. The drama really focuses on Chul-min and his problems; how he'll prove himself to everyone. It's cliché, but many of the scenes building up the drama are original. The humor is occasionally lighthearted, but I think it leans more towards a black comedy. Nonetheless, it has a handful of laugh out loud moments. There's a scene at a "massage" parlor that really had me laughing; and the wannabe Bruce Lee fight was hilarious. Some of the plot points were surprisingly dark, though, like the fate of Chul-min's dog. On that very same point, the film doesn't really have a strong focus until after this scene; the scenes before have purpose, but it just doesn't feel consistent until Chul-min's dropout life.

Jung Woo-sung is good; he's charismatic and genuine, although a couple of scenes feel overacted. Uhm Ji-won shares less screen time, but she's also great. The music gives the film a distinct vibe, helps build its identity. Otherwise, the film is technically very well made and up to par with the standard. Director Kwak Kyung-taek delivers a funny and entertaining film; it is occasionally too dark, which messes with the consistency of the mood, but it's generally well made.

Overall, Mutt Boy is an entertaining drama/comedy. Its plot is straightforward and somewhat cliché, but it has plenty of original laughs and some surprising dramatic moments. Definitely worth seeking if you're a fan of the genre or lead actor.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood, very brief nudity. (although I mention a "horrendous fate" for Chul-min's dog, there is no violence towards animals in this film, only an implication.)

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