“Dangerously Excited” is another Korean comedy with a musical theme, though this time with more of an indie vibe, following popular character Yoon Je Moon (“Battlefield Heroes”) as a straitlaced civil servant who gets involved with a young band led by up and coming star Sung Joon (who appropriately enough featured in the television drama series “Shut Up Flower Boy Band”). The film is much more laid back and thoughtful than most of its type, director Koo Ja Hong (“The Last Wolf”) going for a more realistic approach to the potentially outlandish setup rather than out and out gags.
Yoon Je Moon plays lowly public noise and safety civil servant Dae Hoon, whose stable life revolves around the daily routine of his job and trying to keep calm in the face of customer complaints. After he accidentally lands an evicted indie band in trouble with a dodgy landlord, he ends up allowing them to use his basement for their practice sessions, and though initially annoyed by the racket gradually starts getting interested in their music. Opportunity knocks after a couple of the band members quit, and band leader Min Ki (Sung Joon) asks Dae Hee to pick up the bass guitar and join them. Despite never having played before, the meticulous man agrees, and soon finds himself caught up in the musician’s life, much to the detriment of his job and ordered existence.
Despite its wacky looking cover and slapstick ripe premise, the inappropriately titled “Dangerously Excited” is a surprisingly down to earth and grounded piece of lo-fi character based comedy and drama. Far from being a straightforward figure of fun, Dae Hee is a well-written and rounded protagonist, and director Koo Ja Hong makes a genuine attempt to explore his everyday Joe style life and hopes in a manner which should resonate with most viewers. This approach works well, and the film is believable and thoughtful, Dae Hee not suddenly becoming a rock god, learning music the same way he carries out his job, by methodically practicing, and studying textbooks and the internet, learning how to play and about the greats of the past. The way in which he and the band interact with each other is similarly genuine and comes without any great meeting of minds or too many clichéd life lessons. Both Yoon Je Moon and Sung Joon are convincing and quietly likeable, and the film is moving and dramatic in a way which pleasantly sneaks up on the viewer, leading to a rewarding and fitting conclusion.
This having been said, Koo does manage to work in a fair amount of comedy, and the film is frequently very funny, though thankfully without ever going over the top or undermining its judicious manner. Most of the humour stems from the generational and personality clash between Dae Hoon and the young hipsters and from the misunderstandings that arise as he finds it increasingly difficult to juggle the band with his work, and this leads to some effective, if not particularly laugh out loud moments and set pieces. Oddly, this lack of hilarity actually plays to the film’s purpose and strengths, and Koo’s direction is confident throughout, generally dodging the obvious cheap shots. He also shows the sense to throw in plenty of music, and the film definitely benefits from a fine soundtrack of indie pop and rock, which helps to keep things moving at fun pace, if scarcely the dangerously exciting manic rush suggested by its title.
This is all very much in the film’s favour, and “Dangerously Excited” is much better and more substantial than expected. Mercifully avoiding any great treaties about music and the soul, it’s a highly effective and engaging tale of a likeable man finding an outlet from the routine of his everyday life – a message which viewers from all walks of life can likely relate to.
Ja-hong Koo (director)
CAST: Je-mun Yun … Han Dae-hee
Byeol Kim … Mi-seon
Jun Sung … Min-gi
Hee-jung Kim … Saku
Seo Hyeon-Jeong … Yeong-jin
Kwon Soo-Hyeon … Soo