Thursday, August 05, 2010

Take Off

   If you're not into ski jumping, just ignore this post. But if you are into Ha Jong Woo, like yours truly, watch this movie.
The main axis of this movie is completing the first national team of ski jumpers. While watching Winter Games in Nagano back in 1998, I had no idea about the hardship those guys went through.
The movie is based on the true story with dramatization and characters just for the film. As always.
 First we have a Korea-born man (Ha Jung Woo) who returns to his homeland after years in the US. He was adopted when he was 7. He carries with him the embitterment and he secretly hates the woman who sold him, and the country that didn't want him. Overpassing his personal tragedy, he decides to jump for Korea (he was in the US National Team of alpine skiers).
Then we have an ex-junkie, but talented sportsman (Kim Dong Wook), who is unaware of his non-existent boxing skills, and challenges whoever and wherever. Womanizer (unsuccessful) and hot tempered (successful), he is the exact opposition of calm and focused . Then we have the son of the restaurant owner (Choi Jae Hwan), who is abused by his father and in love with Chinese girl working illegaly at the place. Last, but not least, we have two brothers, the older (Kim Ji Seok), calm and closed, taking after his retarded younger brother (Lee Jae Eung) and grandmother.
All those young men face their military duty, and without them, lives of their families would be hard. So they are tempted by a coach (Song Dong Il), who offers them a parole from the army.

   We are witnessing the first attempts to exercise in a pityful environments. They don't have the equipment, they don't have the place to do it, but they have the passion. As they are becoming better and better, the story deepens. Now we see they are being used, because Korea wants to host the next Olympics in 2002, and needs to show that there is the national team of every winter sport that is included in Games.

During the night out while taking part in the Ski World Cup, they are provoked by the American team, and as the result - disqualified the very next day. But during the competition weather has changed rapidly.
Those who watch ski jumping know how important is the clear weather in jumping. Slightly stronger wind can distort the results. Competition was cancelled and all teams were admitted to Nagano. That means: our team as well.

But as the results about Salt Lake City being chosen as the host of 2002 Olympics are known, Committee refuses to fund the team. So they go to Nagano on their own.

And here the tragedy starts.
They started great, and moved 6 ranks up, but when Chil-Gu (Kim Ji Seok) was waiting for his turn, a weather changed rapidly. The top is covered with dense fog, and snow starts to fall. In the chaos that follows, no clear announcement is made and Chil Gu is forced to jump without seeing anything. He lands with his leg fractured.
His brother jumps in his stead, but as he never jumped before, only in trainings and for fun, he lands badly as well, and Korea ends the team jumping on the last rank.
But the whole crowd of spectators is cheering them for their fighting spirit.
After they're back, they are permitted to continue to 2002 in Salt Lake City.

This movie is about the perseverance, about hardship and about fighting till the end. It's not about friendship, no, the younger jumpers may respect Heon Tae (Ha), but that doesn't mean they have to like him.
I liked everyone in this movie, I was pleasantly surprised by Kim Ji Seok (Chuno, Personal Taste), who delivered very quiet, but strong performance. Of course, Ha Jung Woo is a star on his own rights. Whatever I write will not do him any justice. It doesn't matter whether he acts in a comedy, thriller or a crime movie, he shines in everything. He is this kind of actor that I can watch movie with, even without knowing the plot. I can follow his lead blindly.
I liked also technical side of the movie. The events were filmed with utmost care, the fashion from 1998 was proper, without any anachronism, and the footage from actual Competitions was perfectly blended into the movie.

That reminded me how I cursed at judges and chiefs in Nagano when they didn't cancel the team jumping. But Japan was at its high point, with Harada and Funaki jumping, so they wanted to have a gold, regardless of many side effects.
Now, when I know how's the situation, during the next winter, I will cheer also for Korea^^