Friday Flicks is a new periodical column here at GTG, which we decided to start up because of our love for Asian cinema.
What we do with Friday Flicks will be similar to what other websites do with film reviews, except we won’t give a grade or score. Rather, we will tell you what we like and what we don’t like about the film. Our main goal is to spread the awesomeness of Asian cinema, creating new fans and introducing new films to existing ones.
We plan on talking about films from all across Asia (including Japan, Korea, China, Thailand, The Philippines, etc), both old and new. We basically want to make Asian film fans out of you.
One last note: These reviews will have minor spoilers. We intend to not reveal any major plot twists or story lines. Yet, a movie review is nearly impossible to do without talking about about the story even at little.
That being said, let’s get the show on the road!
This week’s Friday Flick: As One
- Based on a true story on the 1991 world table tennis tournament.
- The tournament was held in Chiba, Japan.
- North and South Korea combined their table tennis teams, a first in their sports history.
- Hyun Jung-hwa and Li Bun-hwa last met in 1993. They haven’t met since.
Story in a nutshell
In order to ease tensions between North and South Korea, both governments decide to form a unified table tennis team under the name “Korea” and have them compete at the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships in Chiba, Japan. Hyun Jung-hwa (Ha Ji-won) is the ace of the Southern team, and she is not unfamiliar with going toe to toe with Li Bun-hui (Bae Doona), the ace of the North. Both teams are hesitant on joining forces and constantly quarrel with each other. However, they must put their differences aside in order to win the gold. Inspired by true events.
A mouthful of thoughts
First of all, Ha Ji-won and Bae Doona, two of the most well renowned actresses in Korean cinema, in the same film is like Christmas for us fans. To prepare for the film, both actresses underwent the training needed to be able to move like professional table tennis players. They got so good that no body doubles were used in the match scenes. To give more props for the actresses, they went as far to study the mannerisms and even the speaking styles and dialects of the real life table tennis players.
Ha Ji-won and Bae Doona’s performances were nothing short of fantastic. Ha Ji-won’s passionate and emotional performance contrasted well with the calm and coolness Bae Doona’s. Bae’s performance in particular is quite fascinating, considering how quirky she can be as an actress. The main cast shined as well, portraying nicely the drastically different South and North Koreans.
The theme of the story is how only for a brief moment, both Koreas were one, and was an unstoppable force when it happened. Furthermore, the underlying message of the story is that no matter how different people of differing cultures, opinions, or allegiances are, we are still human and are more than capable of becoming friends. That being said, in the film seeing the Northerners and Southerners go from enemies who constantly fight and threaten each other to a group whose bonds are unbreakable is a heartwarming journey.
As mentioned earlier, no body doubles were used in any of the table tennis matches, meaning the actresses really did kick as much ass as they were portrayed on screen. Viewers can almost feel the wind with every swing of the racket as the balls get pummeled. Being a sports film, As One does a great job at controlling the moments when you hold your breath, cry, and cheer as if you were watching the match live.
So did we enjoy this movie? Hell yes we did.
Watch this film if you…
…want to cheer at intense sports matches, laugh at cultural clashes, and cry when it finally ends.
Watch the trailer for As One: