Tuesday, November 03, 2009

My Girlfriend Is An Agent (Chilgeup Gongmuwon / 7급 공무원)

On Guard!

If one should read the premise and have watched the trailer, the film most steeped in its reference comes to mind and that's Hollywood's Mr and Mrs Smith starring the It couple Brangelina. This is sort of a Korean reply to that film, and starring two hot, good looking stars in Kim Ha-Neul and Kang Ji-Hwan, who knows if there could be as much sparks flying in real life as in the reel as well.

But tabloid fodder aside, My Girlfriend is an Agent seemed more aligned to True Lies rather than the Smiths, by virtue of the extreme lengths taken in concealing one's true occupation from one's loved one, and that they don't quite get at each other's throats, at least not with intentionally deadly force anyway. Kim Ha-Neul stars as Su-Ji, whose cover is a travel agent with a hard-to-please Japanese clientele, while in fact she's one of the top clandestine agents Korea has. The introduction's set action sequence establishes that, and throws in the dilemma her occupation being a roadblock to a successful love life with the geek Jae-Jun (Kang Ji-Hwan), who decided that enough is enough, and boards a plane, essentially breaking her heart with an absence and communications silence.

Fast forward to three years later, and Su-Ji accidentally bumps into Jae-Jun while in the midst of a mission, and sparks fly, of a different sort. What she and us the audience don't know, is that Jae-Jun is an agent as well, albeit belonging to a different agency, but have the same enemies in their gun-sights. And it is this interplay of a long long romance now returned, and an opportunity for revenge needless to say, while concealing both their respective identities from each other, that lead to natural comedic situations, as well as setting action sequences up for double the whammy given two skilled agents in the field now.

It's easy to dismiss this as just another hack on the Hollywood film, but it's easy to identify with the underlying issues that My Girlfriend is an Agent poses. We aren't agents, but it plays on the fact that we have different facades that we put on in different aspects of our life, and sometimes these concerns come clashing with one another, leaving us in a dilemma on what to do, and which decision to take when faced with a fork in the road. Honesty is probably the best policy when it comes to relationships, but sometimes you wonder if a white lie could in fact spare the other some pain, physically or emotionally, and for cases like these super-spies, likely to be more for the physical protection of their loved ones. Not everyone can operate like a James Bond, who's probably the worst secret agent out there with practically a useless cover with such a persona well known.

Kim Ha-Neul and Kang Ji-Hwan share some comfortable chemistry whether they're up against each other, or rekindling their feelings. Their television star status should ensure that fans everywhere would hit the cinemas to support their stars in their big screen outing (you should see the response during their whirlwind tour of our city state). While Ha-Neul probably had it easier ramping up the sexiness of her role, Ji-Hwan is no pushover with his endearing, bumbling agent that personally I thought was the more interesting of the two.

The English title may sound tacky, but don't let that stop you from enjoying this lightweight, romantic comedy with action sequences that are a throwback similar to what Hong Kong films in the 80s have done.

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