Samaritan Girl

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Rating: R

Starring:
Ji-min Kwak as Yeo-Jin
Min-jeong Seo as Jae-yeong
Eol Lee as Yeong-ki
Kwon Hyun-Min as Salesman
Oh Young as Musician
Im Gyun-Ho as Tidily Guy
Lee Jong-Gil as Happy Guy
Shin Taek-Ki as Suicide
Jung-gi Park as Murder Victim
Gul-seon Kim as Second Salesman
Seung-won Seo as Man in his 30s
Yoo Jae-Ik as Pedestrian
Jung In-Gi as Ki-Su
Jin-bae Jeon as Policeman #1
Yook Sae-Jin as Policeman #2

Special Features:
Photo Gallery

Other Info:
Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
DTS 5.1 Surround Sound
English and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 97 Minutes

Synopsis:
This film was originally released in South Korea in 2004. The following is the description from the DVD cover:

“To fulfill their dreams of traveling to Europe, two teenage girls Yeo-jin (Ji-min Kwak) and Jae-young (Min-jeog Seo) start a prostitution business. Yeo-jin handles the business side, while Jae-young “entertains” the customers. When Jae-young is accidentally killed during a police raid, Yeo-jin locates their clients in an act of penance, sleeping with them to return their money. Yeo-jin’s father (Eol Lee) stumbles onto her secret and takes revenge on her lovers. At a crossroads, father and daughter embark on a desperate trip in the hope of gaining absolution and redemption.”

Samaritan Girl is rated R for violence and sexual content.

The Movie:
Samaritan Girls is kind of four movies in one.

The first quarter is an odd teen drama about a couple of school girls who run a prostitution business. The two have a weird relationship where one is the madam/pimp and the other is the prostitute. The girls also seem to have some lesbian thing going, but that aspect of their relationship is never developed. This portion of the film never really works because it’s never clear what drives these girls to do this beyond the desire to earn money to go to Europe. That hardly seems reason enough to become a prostitute.

Samaritan Girl then takes an odd left turn and becomes a psychological drama when Jae-yeong dies during a police raid. Not only is her death odd, but Yeo-Jin’s subsequent reaction doesn’t make sense. She somehow thinks she must make amends for her friend’s death by sleeping with all the former clients and returning their money. This is not portrayed as being particularly disgusting or dangerous. In fact, the movie makes it seem like it’s quite a tame thing rather than statutory rape.

Samaritan Girl then turns into a revenge tale when Yeo-Jin’s police father discovers what she’s doing. He starts hunting down all the men that sleep with his daughter and either threatens them or kills them. While I certainly understand that reaction, I’m surprised he never confronts his daughter about her activity. Instead he goes on like nothing is wrong while attacking all the men that come near his daughter. As a cop you’d think he’d get one of his buddies, rough up the men, then throw them in jail. Anyway, his reaction wasn’t quite as satisfying as it could have been.

The final quarter of Samaritan Girl is an odd father / daughter family drama as the two try to reconcile with each other. The pacing of the story grinds to a halt here and the ending is left hanging so that audiences can speculate what happens next. This is unsatisfying as well.

While I wasn’t enthralled with the plot, Samaritan Girl is a good looking film. Seoul, South Korea makes a beautiful and exotic backdrop for the story. The cinematography is also quite well done. I also found the acting to be pretty good even though I couldn’t understand the language. The actors handled all the emotion and drama well.

I’m not sure who to recommend this film to. I didn’t think the story was any better than any American films. I think the only people would enjoy this are those who follow foreign films. The Korean perspective on teen prostitution and family relationships isn’t going to appeal to everyone, but those looking for a cultural experience may enjoy Samaritan Girl.

The Extras:
There are no bonus features on this DVD besides a photo gallery.

The Bottom Line:
An unrealistic plot and bizarre character reactions make Samaritan Girl an unsatisfying movie to all but those into foreign films.

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