오케이 마담 (OK Madam)
South Korea, 2020, 100’, Korean
Directed by: Lee Cheol-ha
Script: Shin Hyeon-seong
Photography (color): Kim Jeong-woo
Editing: Kim Sang-beom
Art Direction: Park Il-hyeon
Music: Hwang Sang-jun
Producers: Han Jae-deok, Kim Yun-mi, Kim Hyeong-seok, Kim Yun-shin
Cast: Uhm Jung-hwa (Mi-young), Park Sung-woong (Seok-hwan), Lee Sang-yoon (Cheol-seung), Bae Jeong-nam (Hyun-min), Lee Seon-bin (Mysterious passenger)
Date of First Release in Territory: August 12th, 2020
We’re all familiar with vacation plans that go terribly amiss. But having your flight to Hawaii kidnapped by North Korean terrorists seems like a spectacularly bad coincidence. (...or is it?)
Mi-young is the owner of a popular twisted donut shop in an outdoor food market. She leads an energetic but modest life with her computer technician husband and 10-year old daughter, until the day her husband pulls the sticker off the inside of a bottle cap and sees that he has won a free trip to Hawaii. Mi-young and her family are shocked and overjoyed – they can hardly believe their luck. But what seems at first to be incredibly fortunate turns out to be the most tension-filled trip of their lives.
There’s a lot of fun to be had in OK! Madam if you don’t mind a little craziness. The plot takes a few hard turns and encounters severe turbulence on the way to its destination, but director Lee Cheol-ha (Hello?! Orchestra) somehow manages to keep the film from crashing. This is a movie that never takes itself too seriously, and isn’t above reveling in some outlandish slapstick, but it’s also genuinely funny. (The title, incidentally, is an homage to Hong Kong director Corey Yue’s 1985 action comedy Yes, Madam)
At the center of the film is veteran actress Uhm Jung-hwa, a rare example (together with Kim Hye-soo) of a female performer who has been headlining films in Korea for three decades. She is best known for romantic comedies and relationship dramas such as Marriage Is a Crazy Thing (2002), Singles (2003), All for Love (2005), Seducing Mr. Perfect (2006), Dancing Queen (2012), Venus Talk (2014) and Wonderful Nightmare (2015). But here she takes on the action comedy genre with enthusiasm, training at an action school and bringing her signature energy to this madcap story. Director Lee surrounds her with a capable cast, most memorably Park Sung-woong as her supportive husband, but there are also many examples of character actors who leave a big impression in their limited screen time.
There is an art to nutty comedy. It’s much more challenging than it looks. Korean cinema is littered with examples of comedies that try to be amusing, but don't know how to properly relax and enjoy themselves. That, thankfully, is not a problem with OK! Madam, and what it loses in plausibility it makes up for in good-natured fun.
Lee Cheol-ha majored in Japanese Language at Chung-Ang University and also studied in the U.S. He worked as a producer at an advertising company and served on the production team of Il Mare (2000), then broke through with a viral music video for the K-pop group G.O.D. He made his feature film debut in 2006 with the romance Love Me Not starring Moon Geun-young. Since then he has directed works in a variety of genres, from horror (The Haunted House Project) and thriller (Insane) to documentary (Hello?! Orchestra, screened at FEFF 2014) and action comedy (OK! Madam).
2006 – Love Me Not
2010 – The Haunted House Project
2013 – Hello?! Orchestra
2015 – I Eat, Therefore I Am
2016 – Insane
2020 – OK! Madam