Korean title: 마이 파더 (Mai Pa-deo)
To tell the truth, I got the movie a while back and it has been sitting on the shelf because Henney’s lacklustre turn in Seducing Mr. Perfect just didn’t make me want to sit through another of his flicks. So why did I buy it in the first place? Only heaven knows.
And so, with much trepidation, I popped this into the DVD player one night. While the film, which is inspired by Earon Bates’ true story, has all the right elements for a heart-wrenching flick, it drags on for a little too long.
James Parker (Henney) is a Korean-American adoptee who enlists in the US army in Korea to search for his real parents. As things turn out, the man who steps up to acknowledge him is a death row inmate (Kim Young-cheol).
A bond develops between the two and the mystery behind James’ adoption begins to unravel. However as he digs deeper, James discovers that the man, who is the only connection he has with his past, may be telling white lies.
I don’t know which is more heart-wrenching: the fact that an adoptee looking for his long lost parents is being semi-conned or that a death row inmate is so desperate to reach out to someone that he uses half-truths to delude himself. Yes, much like life, the show is complicated.
The latter’s situation is understandable. A man on death row will resort to anything for the attention he receives from James. While the man behind bars has had a relationship with James’ late mother, he is not necessarily who James is looking for.
Kim Young-cheol portrays the Father to perfection. A lonely and sad man who finds hope and companionship in this young American who visits him regularly. You easily sympathise with the man.
Meanwhile, Daniel Henney puts in an adequate performance. However, things get a little shaky when a significant truth is revealed. After the pivotal moment, I just couldn’t quite grasp how James is reacting to the life-changing truth. Either it was the screenplay, Henney’s performance or a combination of both.
Funnily, things are made clearer once the credits roll and clips of Earon Bates is being shown.
At one point Earon, who after finding out the important truth, goes: “I just want to give him hope”. That sentence alone makes a whole lot more sense compared to Henney’s 20 or so minutes of acting.
Apart from that, the film also gives us a glimpse into the army that is made up of Koreans and Americans. I don’t know how accurately it is being portrayed, but by the looks of what is being depicted here, both camps do not have much love for each other. Is that true?
Korean-American James Parker (Daniel Henney) returns to Korea in search of his biological parents. He finds his father in prison, awaiting the death sentence. Their meeting is awkward at first, but soon, a bond forms between the two of them.
Buy the DVD please. We got our copy at Speedy. It is in Korean/English (because Henney still can’t really speak Korean) with your choice of English, Bahasa Malaysia or Chinese subtitles.
Pics credit: HanCinema