(aka "Funny Wild Girl" or "Her Majesty")

 

directed by Kim Jin Man
Korea 2003

 

The Series : 5
In the middle of the night a man brings home to his wife - herself about to give birth - a dangerously ill woman, also pregnant. The mysterious woman dies in childbirth and, after a fruitless attempt to locate her family these are rural, impoverished people, after all the new parents decide to raise the two girls as twins. From the beginning, the mother resents Eun-hee for having placed a difficult demand on their meager resources (despite that the dying woman had a stash of money with her that we never hear of again, though I have a feeling its fate is hinted at by the mother, but doesn't show up in the translation), so when the inevitable arrives in the person of the dead woman's filthy rich father just before their graduation from high school, she decides to give her true daughter the chance she could not provide and claim Keum-hee is his granddaughter, and damn Eun-hee the fate of staying at home and caring for her "mother" and her mother's newborn twin boys.

Cut back a few months to when Eun-hee meets Ji-hoon, a young man from a nearby town. They enjoy a brief romantic puppy love that Keum-hee is quick to put out when she meets Ji-hoon separately, not realizing that he and Eun-hee already have a thing. Keum-hee is certainly smarter, prettier and more self-assured than her sister and Ji-hoon begins to fall for her charms which are put into high gear once she realizes that he and Eun-hee are a sort of couple already. Ji-hoon must leave for college and entrusts his going away gift for Eun-hee, a pager, to Keum-hee to give to her sister. Instead, she keeps the pager and burns the note, catching fire to the barn, quite accidentally. Her father is caught up in the flames as he tries to put it out.

The mother blames Eun-hee, which gives her all the more reason to hate her and make her decision to keep her as a slave to the farm and give her own daughter a chance at a life with a future. She keeps her guilty secret to herself until circumstances cause her web of deceit to unravel.

As just described, I think this has the makings of a riveting drama. The only problem is that Country Princess is not that drama. Instead, we are offered pages of script demonstrating what a careless and irritating girl Eun-hee is though there are strands of sunshine: she evidently cares deeply about her mother, her infant child, having been left at the alter by some nameless jerk, and her mother's two young twin boys. Then there is the character of Suh In Woo, who has returned to Korea from the U.S. where he had a promising career, for his father's funeral and his father's debts: this latter in the form of a food manufacturing company on the verge of bankruptcy. "Well, sell it!" you might advise, "and go back to U.S. and stop your complaining!" Aha not if Eun-hee can trip him up, which she does in her typically careless way. A romance in the making if ever there was one.

By the way, this may seem like a lot of plot and it is but it's only the first 3 episodes and only the set-up for the development, which I shall not go into except to say that his company and the grandfather's company (remember him?) are a big part of that, as is Keum-hee, who just can't let bad enough alone.

Recommendation: 4
I don't think that either title: "Country Princess" or "Funny Wild Girl," quite captures the sense the series or the main character. I prefer the title that koreanwiz.com used early on: "Her Majesty" which comes closer to nailing Eun-hee's sense of self-importance. The comic aspects, taken by themselves, are funny � if you can tolerate Eun-hee, which, I admit, I couldn't. The dramatic scenes are compelling, providing you can separate out what's not credible (the completely bogus attempt to frame Im-Woo's company for distributing food with an forged expiration date is one of numerous examples). The series is sympathetically acted by Kim Hae-Suk as the mother, who is in agony from both her guilt and her cancer, which she sees as just punishment, and Kim Yu-mi, whose Keum-
hee unravels slowly before our very eyes over some ten or twelve episodes. For me, Ji Hoon is not a real character; he's little more than a self-righteous icon who has his job as doctor confused with that of priest. His ideas about medicine are pretty much limited to telling others how to live their lives. On the other hand, Shin Sung Woo's deadpan despair grew on me before long.

But the best and most delicious material is provided by the supporting characters: Kim Sung Kyum as the grandfather, who is the very definition of "crusty;" Lee Hee-jung who is so unflappably in love with In-Woo that his flat out declaration that he wants to marry her only for her money strikes her as doing her a favor. Finally there's Lee Hye Sook as Eun-soo's mother and president of Taesung Foods, whose only mission in life is to have her lame-brained daughter be recognized as grandfather's only true heir. Country Princess could be optimistically appreciated as targeted largely for a Korean audience, which doesn't mean that Westerners, perhaps teens and young adults, might not appreciate. I found it tough sledding, though as I write about it, it seems more fun than the actual watching of it.

DVD Review: YA Entertainment (USA) - Region 1 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

Thinking of buying from YesAsia? CLICK HERE and use THIS UPDATED BEAVER PAGE to source their very best...

Distribution

YA Entertainment (USA)

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 17 hour
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio 
Average Bitrate: ca. 5 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Audio Korean DD2.0
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: YA Entertainment (USA)

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect ratio - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Each box set includes 2 volumes, totaling 6 discs
• 17 episodes, approx. 60 min/episode
• Bonus: Super Rookie (20 minute excerpt)
• Bonus: Romance (20 minute excerpt)

DVD Release Date: April 8th, 2008
hard outer shell, two inner volumes

 

Comments

YA-Entertainment, the North American distributor for many Korean TV dramas, capitalized on the popularity of Choi Ji-Woo earlier this year with their release of one of her early television dramas, Truth [reviewed HERE] The same treatment now applies to Bae Doo-na, whose star has been rising lately with her appearances in Korea's 2006 blockbuster sci-fi/horror film The Host and the TV series, Someday. In 2006 Doo-na took the title role in MBC 2003 multi-leveled series, Country Princess (aka: Funny Wild Girl.) While billed as a comedy (just look at that aka), a serious drama about sibling rivalry that leads one sister to commit multiple felonies sticks it head above the silliness and takes over the proceedings for the final half of the series.

Alas, Country Princess can't seem to make up its mind quite what it is. While some Korean "dramas" are essentially comedies (Super Rookie) with some serious stuff thrown in to break the monotony. The "traditional" contemporary K�drama is the reverse: usually an angst-filled love story, with dollops of comedy provided by a goofy best friend or two. But to make the lead character a young woman with the social and emotional maturity of a five-year old is asking for trouble. Eun-hee has a voice to match: her shrill cackle and yelping dialogue is enough to shatter glass � and I have the shards on my living room floor to prove it. Eun-hee can't seem to figure out where she leaves off and another person begins. She laughs herself silly at the damage she causes them, like a mindless tornado laying waste to a mid-western town. She is completely oblivious to her own bad manners, while accusing others of what she feels are theirs.

What we expect with such a character is a gradual maturation through travail or love and, indeed, that is what occurs but not until about the last reel. Meanwhile, she and the man she works for and who gradually falls in love with her, become the hapless victims of her sister's venom. It is this story that I feel should have been center stage for this story. Unfortunately, the writer didn't want to follow through on her own premises and instead took an easy way out. By the end of the second episode, the two sisters have fallen for the same young man, but Keum-hee intervenes to prevent a going-away present from being delivered, along with the note. In so doing, she inadvertently causes the barn to catch fire that, in turn, leads to the death of her father.

Now you would think that the resulting guilt would be just about unbearable (especially once she realizes that he was her real father, not Eun-hee's), but the series completely forgets about it instead, settling for the sibling rivalry issues that would have otherwise naturally occurred anyhow. I believe that this is neglected in order that matters resolve in the way they do, otherwise confession, expiation and forgiveness to the extent it occurs would not be credible. It's a stretch as it is.

Image : 7.5/6
The score of 7.5 indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other standard definition DVDs on a 10-point scale for SD DVDs. The second score represents a value for the image on a 10-point scale that accommodates both standard and high-definition DVDs where any score above 7 for an SD is outstanding, since the large majority of high definition DVDs are 8-9.5.

What I wrote about MBC's Truth, applies for the production values for Country Princess, which goes for a naturalistic look, making lighting adjustments for some situations, especially outdoors, where we see more than the usual tendency to overexpose areas lit by a strong source such as sunlight. Enhancement and artifacts are at a minimum hardly noticeable unless you're looking for them. As is usually the case with YAE DVD productions, it's a pretty good 4:3 image, considering it's not being progressive, as you can see by the ample evidence of combing which, by the way, is not evident with my HD projector.


 

Audio & Music : 8/8
One of the more consistent and agreeable aspects to this series is the supporting musical score: It never brings attention to itself, nor does it have one of those award-seeking, heart-sobbing songs that typify many Korean dramas lovely and effective as they may be. On the contrary, the music, which is well recorded with surprisingly good bass, is often so self-effacing that you could go the through many episodes before realizing that there is one. The audio is clear, clean with well-balanced dialog, ambient sounds and
music.

Translation & Subtitles : 8/8
The translation into idiomatic English is one of YAE's better efforts. There are very few grammatical errors or misspellings, and I never felt confused about the action. The one area that escaped the translators was in being able to capture Eun-hee's country dialect, often disparagingly referred to by others. This is not a major concern as Bae Doona gets the point across in her manner and articulation of speech, even if one doesn't understand the language. Subtitles are unobtrusively sized, white and bordered in black so as to always be clear against any background.

Operations & Box Design : 8/8
Nothing much of interest about the menu, nor to criticize, really. The menu is straightforward, while taking advantage of the medium as do later YAE productions, such as Someday or White Tower, where the thumbnails reveal scene clips. The box design is compact: an outer shell housing two gatefold volumes with 3 discs each. I like this design much better than the ones with plastic pages that rattle and take up more room on the shelf. I took a point off for the brutally difficult to release DVD clasps.

Extras : 3
Diverting from their usual practice of including a complete one-hour episode from a K-drama they wish to promote, this time around YAE provides 20-minute excerpts from two of their series, a romantic drama and a comedy. While twenty minutes is hardly enough time to draw one in, we do get an idea of the general tone of the series in these two excerpts which, in both cases, introduce us to most of the characters and suggest the themes at play.

 - Leonard Norwitz

 



DVD Menus
 

 

 

 


Screen Captures

 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 


DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

Thinking of buying from YesAsia? CLICK HERE and use THIS UPDATED BEAVER PAGE to source their very best...

Distribution

YA Entertainment (USA)

Region 1 - NTSC

 

 

 

 





 

Hit Counter

 

DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

Mail cheques, money orders, cash to:    or CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Thank You!