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The latest in an ever-growing list of girl power romantic comedies, “Miss Gold Digger” marks the debut of Korean director Park Yong Jib and is basically a vehicle for popular actress Han Ye Seul. As suggested by its title, the film offers a decidedly materialistic and contemporary take on the usual boy-meets-girl romance, showing again that women are every bit as capable when it comes to playing the field as their male counterparts.
The film follows advertising executive Mi Soo (Han Ye Seul, recently in “Fantastic Couple”), a young woman who knows exactly what she wants, namely a rich and stylish man. Aware that the path to financial security is often fraught with frauds and losers, she gathers herself a small harem of male admirers, putting in the groundwork to shape each of them to her liking. All is going well until one day she runs into trouble with grumpy though handsome neighbour Dong Min (Lee Jong Hyuk, “A Day For An Affair”), who coincidently turns out to be an all-important work client. Poor Mi Soo’s carefully woven web of deceit begins to unravel and it becomes clear that sooner or later she will have to make a decision not only as to which of her many beaus she wants to shack up with, but whether or not her whole philosophy on life has been wrong.
As can be gleamed from the plot, “Miss Gold Digger” is very similar in terms of theme to other recent efforts such as “The Art of Seduction”, “Seducing Mr. Perfect” and others. However, in this case the film actually features very little in the way of traditional romance, with Mi Soo’s rather cold and calculating quest not being for love but for the two things she apparently finds most important in life – ‘money and strings to pull’. This is fair enough of course, though it does give the film a more cynical edge than might have been expected, with hints that there may be a saccharine sweet heart lurking somewhere beneath the surface never really coming to anything.
Mi Soo certainly makes for a morally dubious protagonist, juggling boyfriends (and always on the lookout for new paramours), lying, and generally being manipulative, vain and materialistic – not exactly a great role model or indeed particularly likeable, especially for male viewers. It is not until an hour and a half into the film that she displays any real emotion, and her eventual, inevitable romance with Dong Min doesn’t really work, mainly as she only seems to want him because he doesn’t like her, and since he seems as if he really couldn’t care less either way, with his only hint of affection coming when he decides to beat the living hell out of another potential boyfriend. Still, none of this is actually a problem and does not make the film any less entertaining – indeed, though obtuse and difficult to sympathise with, Mi Soo is pleasingly different from most other romantic comedy heroines. Also to its credit is the fact that the film sticks to its guns and doesn’t introduce the usual kind of last minute redemptive transformation, and it scores points for avoiding any slide into needless melodrama.
Thankfully, the film works much better a comedy than a romance, and Mi Soo’s shameless lack of morals and single mindedness are generally quite amusing, as are the numerous wacky scrapes she gets into in her quest for self-fulfilment. Some of the situations she ends up in with her silly and strangely unsuspecting suitors are pretty funny, mainly since they are such a daft bunch of stereotypes that it is impossible to feel sorry for them. Han Ye Seul is just about charismatic enough in the role to allow Mi Soo to fall on the cute side of cheeky and to make her an acceptable sassy clone rather than being simply unpleasant. This is vital to the film’s moderate success, since she is in nearly every shot, with many sequences being thrown in simply to give her an excuse to show off yet another costume or to flutter her eyelashes at the camera. Amusingly, rather than any of her co-stars, the only thing she has to compete with for attention and screen time is the constant barrage of mobile phone product placements.
As a result, despite its rather unoriginal premise and amoral approach, “Miss Gold Digger” makes for surprisingly entertaining and winning viewing. Although it skimps on the romance and lacks any genuine sense of emotion, it works well enough as a feisty slice of comedy which should be especially enjoyable for female viewers.
Yong-jib Park (director) / Eun-yeong Park (screenplay)
CAST: Ye-seul Han … Sin Min-su
Jong-hyeok Lee … Dong-min
Oh-jung Kwon … Jun-seo
In-kwon Kim … Yun-cheol
Yeo-jin Hong … Dong-min’s mother
Da-yeong Jeong … Dong-hee
Gyu-su Jeong … Mr Choi