Perfect Proposal / 은밀한 유혹 (2015) Korean Movie Review

Perfect Proposal /  은밀한 유혹 (2015) Korean Movie Review




Hello. This is Prof. AKIA with a lecture about a new Korean movie. The movie today is “Perfect Proposal” (2015) starring Lim Soo-Jung /임수정and   Yoo Yeon-Seok / 유연석. In Korean, the movie’s title is  “은밀한 유혹which can be roughly translated into “Surreptitious Seduction”.

I’m using large words here.
It is just “Secret Seduction”…


Introduction
When the theater darkened and the silver screen lit up, it felt like I was experiencing Déjà vu watching “Perfect Proposal /  은밀한 유혹” (2015).

I had seen this movie before!

In the early 80s, I watched U.S. & Europe joint production movies on cable which were sometimes badly dubbed in English on late Sunday afternoons. Those movies were set in exotic locations usually involving a yacht, tanned women, and murder. 

Murder!



“Perfect Proposal /  은밀한 유혹” (2015)  made me feel like I was transported to the past when I was watching those kind of movies… At least, initially it did.


The Plot
Perfect Proposal” (2015) has a down-on-her-luck Korean “waitress” stranded in Macau being tempted into a scheme by the bastard son of a “billionaire” reclusive. The scheme is to board the old billionaire’s yacht as his private nurse and make the “billionaire” fall in love and marry her for the inheritance.

How cliché!



I think “Murder she wrote” (1984-96) had an episode with this same plot. Even Korean dramas like “Can Love Become Money /  사랑도 돈이 되나요“(2012)  used this concept but with a romantic comedy bent to it. In contrast, “Perfect Proposal” sticks with the fundamentals.  It is a thriller on a yacht.

However, it that a good thing?


Why Now & Here?
This Déjà vu experience made me ask the following question. Why make “Perfect Proposal” (2015) now in the year 2015 and in Korea? I know it was “based” on an old French novel that was made into a famous movie called “Woman of Straw “(1964).

But is that enough?

Those late 70s and early 80s tawdry thrillers were they never were really “good” in the first place. While they had their charms, they also had low budgets, cheesy and trashy stories even for the early 80s. They only worked to the degree they did because of it was the 80s and most thing available were not that great in the first place. Thus, …

why make “Perfect Proposal /  은밀한 유혹”now?

Perfect Proposal” (2015) cannot answer this question as I am not sure what movie it wants to be.  Considering the “trashy” but simple suspense thriller premise, it is not too hard to make a decent “old time” thriller if you just commit to the premise. However, “Perfect Proposal” cannot commit as it tries to be a more sophisticated, a more modern, and a more “Korean” movie at the same time.


Three movies in one
The resulting movie feels schizophrenic as it is actually two…more accurately three different movies stitched together awkwardly within a single narrative in the form of acts. Each act has different settings, tones, and even different supporting characters.


The first act of Perfect Proposal” (2015) is the “seducing the old man on the seas” movie. It is a trashy potboiler thriller that runs for a little less than an hour of an 110 minute movie.  


The second act is “a woman isolated in a room with a corpse as paranoia settles in” psychological thriller. 


And the final third act is your typical “woman getting framed and then racing for the McGuffin with the killer on her tails” type 80s thriller.

 “The Pelican Brief” (1993) is the only example that pops in my brain in short notice.

You can do something with this approach of vastly different acts. However, each act still needs to build on the previous ones. “Perfect Proposal” fails at this because of its structural imbalance between the acts, its lack of focus among and within the acts. 

Considering the fragmented nature of the movie, I’ll talk about the acts separately.


1st Act
In the case of the “on the yacht” first act, it feels like 2 acts of a 3 act movie rather than mere setup which it is from the perspective of the finished movie. I mean that the first act proceeded too far along its own path to handle the shift which came too late in the game. The consequence of this is that the other two acts have no real time to breath and develop its supporting characters and plots.

So, did we at least get anything worthwhile from the first act?

Compared to the other acts, the first act suffers from the most internal tonal confusions. This is because the movie tries to incorporate romantic elements into what are blatantly suspenseful scenes and miserably fails at it.



It is very weird when romance music and cinematography are used when a creepy thing is happening on screen.

The first act even uses romantic comedy character archetypes played by comedic actors as supporting characters. However, don’t get me started on how much this movie’s roles are miscast.

Too late!
Rant Mode On!

Yoo Yeon-Seok / 유연석

The male lead,  the bastard son of a “billionaire”, is played by Yoo Yeon-Seok / 유연석who does not fit with the tone of a thriller at all. He is too much of a “Korean drama” romantic actor. It does not help that he looks like he is 18 years old most of the time even though he is actually in his in his early 30s.

He is so cute!
Want to take a bit of my cotton candy?


Lee Kyoung-Young / 이경영

However, I think the biggest issue with the casting is
Lee Kyoung-Young / 이경영as the “billionaire”. Lee Kyoung-Young, who has been a character actor in the Korean movie and drama industry for a long time, simply does not have the screen presence and range of acting to pull off a rather complex role that anchors the whole movie.


He is no Jack Nicholson from “As Good as It Gets” (1997).

The role of the “billionaire”, although similar to the Jack Nicholson’s role in that movie, requires more complexity to pull off.



2nd Act
In the case of the “stuck in the room with a dead body” second act, the psychological suspense relies on sudden the shift in tone and drastic leaps in character logic on the part of the” waitress”, the female protagonist.

This is a problem!

The plot is moved forward only because she seems to not have watched a single cop movie or an episode of CSI her entire life. The character reactions only work if this movie was set in the 1960s. But the movie is set in the 21st century where we have the internet. There is no excuse other than bad writing.

Lim Soo-Jung /임수정

This is rather a shame since this second act could have gone somewhere interesting. At least, we get to see Lim Soo-Jung /임수정over act which was amusing but a bit too much though. Since she came up, the female protagonist, like all of the other characters, is underwritten and her personality seemed to shift a lot between acts. Lim Soo-Jung does what she can do with the role and I think she was the least poorly cast actor in among the main three. However, this does not mean that her performance is anything to take home with you.

Her role could have been played by any other decent actress!


3rd Act
In the case of the “standard thriller” third act, the most I can say that it the most focused part of the movie but it is still generic. It is filled the typical clichés you would expect. We have a woman curled up behind some countertops in a dark kitchen with a killer holding a weapon lurking around until he suddenly pops around.


Boo!

We are even given the “woman hitting the man over the head once knocking him down and then just running away without hitting him a few more times to keep him down” scene.

So typical of an 80s thriller!

Always double tap!

Conclusion
So, the question now is whether, as a whole, there is anything to salvage from is “Perfect Proposal” (2015).


My answer would be not really.

“Perfect Proposal” (2015) was never going to be a great movie. Even if you look beyond the messiness of the movie as a whole, none of the individual components warrant the movie to be anything but a bargain bin direct-to-home-video thriller which are a dime a dozen.


Looking back at the movie, the best thing I can say is that it’s a tragedy that “Perfect Proposal” (2015) missed being an okay direct-to-home-video thriller by an inch or so. The movie does find more focus beyond the first act of the movie. Thus, the first act really does a disservice to the rest of the movie by preventing it from achieving mediocrity.

Lofty goals!
Wink ~ Wink!



Even on the technical side, there are issues with this first act that does not happen in the later acts. For example, some of the audio dialogue is of such poor quality that I imagine that someone time traveled to the 60s and recorded them over a bad international call connection.

It is that bad!

The cinematography is not great either in the first act.  I do not know how you film a yacht on the waters of a clear beautiful Blue Ocean and make it feel like you just put the yacht in the large swimming pool. The camera is pushed in too tightly around the yacht.


Who knows?
Maybe they actually filmed this in the large swimming pool after all.

The cinematography does improve in the later acts but I could not call it more than just serviceable even if I was feeling generous.

So, I would give “Perfect Proposal /  은밀한 유혹” (2015) starring Lim Soo-Jung /임수정and   Yoo Yeon-Seok / 유연석 a grade of a C. It falls into the middle of the "Has serious issues but still watchable" movies range. 

Score: C or 4.5/10


Thanks you for visiting my lecture of “Perfect Proposal /  은밀한 유혹” (2015) , a new Korea movie. 


This was Prof. AKIA of Kmovie talk.


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Past Reviews. Click on the pictures

The Shameless /무뢰한 (2015)  Review

The Treacherous (2015)  Review

The Chronicles of Evil/악의 연대기 (2015)  Review

Love Clinic 연애의 맛(2015)  Review

Coin Locker Girl / Chinatown 차이나타운 (2015) Review


Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) Review


Revivre 화장 (2015) Review

Twenty (2015)  Review

The Deal (2015)

Socialphobia (2015)

The pictures and video used in this review are done for criticism purposes and are the properties of those copyright holders. This review is mine.
Copyright@AKIA Talking 

2 comments:

  1. For someone who reviews lots of Korean movies, you don't seem to like them very much. Your reviews are very condescending and snarky and you ALWAYS compare the movie to an American or British movie no matter how tangential the similarities are.
    Also, the 80s feature some of the best movies ever made. I don't know what you mean by everything in the 80s was bad. That is simply not true.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like Korean movies as much as most other things. About 50% of every thing are meh. 10% of stuff are good with less than 5% are great. And why do you need to like stuff to review them? Also liking stuff does have anything to do with whether a thing is "objectively"good quality as a movie. It just the reflection of your taste and your kinks.

      Yes there is such a thing as an "objectively"good quality movie. You may not like it but who cares about that other than you? None of my business.


      Setting aside that, I never said anything about 80s stuff being all bad. I was specific!
      Most of the stuff that came out of the 80s were not great but that is just natural. I would have to say the 80s did have character. Not much can be said of the recent Korean movies.

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