4 July 2013 | mrwickedproductions
A touching film that stays with the viewer well after the ending credits
BA:BO is a 2008 film based closely on a popular webcomic by Kang Full. While the film does contain some comedy, it tells a much deeper story than any of Cha Tae-hyun's other films. I would even say that the film is purely an emotional drama with only mere hints of romance and slight humor. In BA:BO, Ji-ho (Ha Ji-won) returns home after studying and playing the piano in Europe for over ten years. She left Europe because of the frustration that came with an instance of stage fright. Back in her hometown, she meets her mentally challenged, childhood friend, Seung-ryong (Cha Tae-hyun), who runs a small toast shop in order to take care of his younger sister, Ji-in (Park Ha-sun), who unfortunately despises him. Along with Seung-ryong's best friend, Sang-soo (Park Hee- soon), and Hee-yeong (Park Grina), the characters all suffer life problems of their own. It is the village idiot, Seung-ryong, who heals and saves them all.
Ji-ho and Sang-soo's interaction with Seung-ryong evokes pity and nostalgic sympathy. Due to a misunderstanding, Sang-soo's guilt as a child drew him close to Seung-ryong as a true friend. Ji-ho on the other hand, was admired by Seung-ryong ever since they were little due to her piano playing that, according to Seung-ryong, would cause snow to fall and stars to appear. It is sweet and a bit sad to see Ha Ji-won's character treat Seung-ryong so nicely because of his innocent mind. While he genuinely likes her, she finds comfort and strength when she looks after him. The film tells a story that really can only be fully understood by reading the expressions and actions of the actors. And it is those actions that can cause the viewer to get a bit teary eyed here and there throughout the film.
Speaking of actors, Cha Tae-hyun plays his role as the hardworking, village idiot so convincingly. And he does so with his own style – his signature goofy smile adds so much authenticity to his character's innocence. He really is one of the best actors in Korea. Ha Ji-won impressed me as well, considering that this is one of her first works that I've seen where she isn't type-casted as a cutesy love interest. The slight, emotional changes that her character experiences can be seen thanks to her superb acting, despite the limits that the script has for her character. All the other actors were great as well, besides Park Ha- sun in one scene towards the end of the film – while the scene evokes grievous emotion, it appears questionably forced.
It is fascinating how the individual stories of each character seem separate, but all converge in the end. And it is that result that really makes the viewer sit back and think how people, no matter how smart or talented, can affect the lives and happiness of those nearby. BA:BO is a touching film that stays with the viewer well after the ending credits. I highly recommend giving it a watch, especially if you're a fan of Korean dramas.