Shuttlecock Review

Posted: May 20, 2014 in Drama, Foreign, Reviews
Tags: , , , ,

imageAh, the road movie.

Disparate characters somehow wind up in a car or a bus or a plane, a train, or an automobile. They fight. They bond. They fight some more. Inevitably, they find themselves on the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere, seemingly without the means to go on. And that’s when the realization comes over them them. The trip was never about the destination. It was always about the journey.

And – gasp – they find out that they needed to get away from everything to discover each other or themselves or the big beautiful country or whatever.

Arrrgghh, the road movie.

It can be comedy (National Lampoon’s Vacation). It can be drama (last year’s Nebraska). It can be action (Thelma and Louise). It can be satire (Pee Wee’s Big Adventure). It can even be terrible (Crossroads). The road movie will not die until that time in the future when we travel by transporter, and even then, some first-time filmmaker will likely spend 108 minutes chronicling the trip.

Which brings us to Shuttlecock, the maiden effort from director and writer Lee Yoo-bin. The parents of a blended family die, leaving older brother, half-sister and half-brother on their own. Sis decides to split with the inheritance. Bro employs social media to track her down. Little bro hides in the back of the car.

Hot damn, it looks like we got ourselves a road movie – Korean style. (South Korean, naturally, although the comic potential for a North Korean road movie is immense.)

The older brother Min-Jae (Lee Joo-Seung) is something of a bad boy wannabe with his feelings for his half-sister the baddest thing about him. The younger brother, Eun-Ho (Kim Tae-Yong-II) alternates being bed-wetting annoying and noodle-slurpingly cute with metronomic precision. The sister Eun-Ju (Kong Ye-Ji) is frankly not worth the drive.

The fundamental problem with Shuttlecock is the absence of action. Director Lee must have been away from film school the day the teacher covered Kooky Characters in Cameo Appearances in Road Movies. Instead, the focus remains almost exclusively on the two brothers with the sister popping up in flashbacks that are far less ribald than what viewers of a certain age imagined between Greg and Marcia in America’s first blended family.

The metaphor of the shuttlecock (yes, there is an actual badminton birdie as well as two racquets) is is bludgeoned rather than merely served or volleyed, and the 108 minutes spent on this trip feels like a five-hour layover in a Third World airport. Screenwriter Lee provided director Lee with only enough material for a short movie, not a feature-length film. This one runs out of road way before the finish.

One and a half stars.

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