A scene from "Bravo My Life"
By Lee Hyo-won
A lineup of heartwarming family movies await audiences with Korea's thanksgiving holiday Chuseok around the corner. Among them, ``Bravo My Life,'' ``The Happy Life'' and ``Wild Hogs,'' show that one can never be too late to rock 'n' roll or hit the road on bikes. The latent spirit of youth awakens in middle-aged men, providing much laughter and tears for audiences of all ages, especially fathers.
White-collar Band Sings `Bravo My Life'
Four veteran actors, Baek Yoon-sik (``Art of Fighting,'' 2000), Park Jun-qu (``My Wife is a Gangster 2,'' 2003) and Ihm Ha-ryong (``Welcome to Dongmakgol,'' 2005) make breakthrough lead performances in ``Bravo My Life,'' now showing in theaters. Inspired by the true story of a group of white-collar rockers Gapgeunse (Grade A Earned Income Tax) Band, the movie traces the depressing retirement of Min-hyuk (Bae Yoon-sik).
Diligent but far from ambitious, 50-year-old Min-hyuk dedicated 30 years to his firm. Awaiting his retirement ``due to old age'' in 30 days, the man sighs deeply, saddened by the ``three tragedies of modern man: Having to retire while still young, breaking one's back to earn children's tuition fees and not even being able to die because of a longer lifespan.''
While Min-hyuk's employees prepare a special farewell gift for him, hidden talents of fellow workers are unveiled: Min-hyuk was once an aspiring rocker, with a flair for drumming, while Seung-jae and Seok-won turn out to be guitarists, and Jong-su is a saxophone player.
These four unlikely white-collar workers form a rock band and relive the glory of their youth, adding color and rhythm to their dull, monotonous lives.
Friends Celebrate `The Happy Life'
``The Happy Life'' thoroughly resembles ``Bravo,'' with four men reliving their youth by forming a rock band. Even one of the characters, Hyeok-su, also a gireogi father like ``Bravo's'' Seung-jae, and also has a pet turtle for company. Here, another set of four veteran actors, including one former child star, give life to colorful characters. ``King and the Clown's'' director Lee Joon-ik and male lead Jung Jin-young get back together in ``Bravo.''
Jung plays the role of an unemployed father, Gi-yeong, who lives on a daily allowance from his working wife while trying hard not to embarrass his teenage daughter. One day, he reunites with members of his college rock band Volcano at the funeral of their lead vocalist Sang-woo.
Former bass play Seong-wook lives a hand-to-mouth existence working two jobs while trying to maintain his upper-middleclass lifestyle. One-time drummer Hyeok-su makes a living selling secondhand cars to support his wife and children in Canada. Gi-yeong is inspired one day to revive Volcano: After much persuasion, the band regroups for the first time in 20 years, with the late vocalist's young son Hyeon-jun, played by grown up child-star Jang Geun-seok.
Although Volcano members manage to escape the mundane while onstage, they must face the anticlimactic moments of reality offstage. If an exciting rock performance is like a much-needed breath of fresh air for ``Bravo,'' it's like a sigh for ``Happy.'' While the drama culminates through the grand finale performance of ``Bravo,'' ``Happy'' shows how these men deal with ordinary life after tasting the sweet sensation of the stage spotlight.
Like ``Bravo,'' ``Happy'' celebrates friendship and family values, and shows that what is often called a mid-life crisis is but a small bump on the road. ``Happy'' will open across theaters Thursday.
`Wild Hogs' Hit the Road
A scene from "Wild Hogs"
Four Hollywood favorites _ John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macy _ shine in the sliver screen as four middle-aged, suburban biker-wannabes.
In Cincinnati, dentist Doug Madsen (Time Allen) is bored with his middle-class life and reminisces his reckless youth when he was known as ``the Golden Biker.'' The aspirant writer Bobby Davis (Martin Lawrence) is miserable with his dead-end job and pressure from his wife. The computer geek Dudley Frank (William H. Macy) is painfully shy and unsuccessful with women. The wealthy Woody Stevens (John Travollta) is married to asupermodel, but his perfect life starts breaking apart unexpectedly.
Equipped with black leather gear and shiny motorcycles, four friends embark on an adventurous road trip, but ``a lot can happen on the road to nowhere.'' The movie provides endless laughter as these ``Wild Hogs'' get more than they bargained for when they encounter a New Mexico gang.
Showing exclusively at Cinus Theaters.