Daisy is a surprising film. I didn't know what to expect when I started watching it, but the simplicity of the title drew me to the movie. That and it starred my favorite female Korean actress Gianna Jun (Ji-hyun Jun), who plays a girl named Hye-young. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the film was a love story written by Jae-young Kwak, my favorite Korean writer and director. As is Kwak's style, the film had a non-traditional romance. Hye-young is pined after by a professional assassin named Park Yi (played by Woo-sung Jung). When I discovered this complicated relationship, I knew I was going to enjoy this film. Who doesn't like a "bad boy" that wants to change his ways and become worthy of the woman he loves?
The characters are well-crafted as is the story. Anyone familiar with writer and director Jae-young Kwak would expect nothing short of perfection in his story-telling capabilities. Kwak has created some amazing pieces such as as My Mighty Princess, My Sassy Girl, Cyborg She, Windstruck (my favorite), and The Classic (I've reviewed all these titles minus The Classic, which I'm still drafting). Daisy offers many of Kwak's trademark scenes, such as intense rain/ weather conditions and an innocent romantic relationship, which is always refreshing in a sometimes sex-crazed media.
The object of everyone's affections is Hye-young, who is our "daisy." She is an innocent landscape artist who works in her father's antique shop while also painting portraits in the city square. She dreams of having her own art exhibit. Hye-young has a secret admirer-- a man that sends her daisies everyday. She pines after him because she truly believes he is her soul mate. There is a good reason her secret admirer remains a secret; he's a criminal. Park Yi loves Hye-young because she is hopeful, innocent, and beautiful. She is everything he wishes he could be. Because of his profession, though, he has to hide both himself and his love, although this doesn't prevent him from performing random acts of kindness. Yi believes that his distance is the only way to protect Hye-young from his cruel world. If this wasn't enough drama, the situation escalates when a third man is brought into the story making a love triangle, Jeong Woo (played by Sung-jae Lee). Since this is a film of contrasts, Woo plays the opposite of our "villain," an undercover Interpol detective and the local hero. With such an amazing cast of actors, it's no wonder this movie succeeds; after all, every great story is defined by the characters who portray it.
What is truly fascinating about this piece is all the twists and turns that cause viewers to question everything they know about heroes and villains, good and bad, the truth versus a lie. Not only was I confused about who Hye-young was destined for, my own perception of love changed because of this compelling drama. I always value ideas and situations that are not easily defined by one extreme or another, so I appreciated this thought-provoking plot. The only reason I didn't rate the movie a perfect +5 was because there were still a few scenes that were awkward, confusing, or just too unrealistic, even for a melodrama. For example, Park Yi was too good of an assassin, best exposed during some of the high action scenes where he used his powers for good. However, some of these flaws could be an attribute of the version I watched (at the time I didn't know there were two cuts). I never did figure out which one I saw.
Daisy is a melodrama; some call it "an urban romantic melodrama." The action and romance take place in The Netherlands, specifically in Amsterdam, Haarlem, and Epen. The setting was perfect because there are many scenic shots with fields full of daisies. As one expected from the title of the film, daisies are featured prominently (as are black tulips). Amsterdam is perfect because of the contrasts it provides. There are lush meadows, green fields, blue skies, and white daises juxtaposed with the busy city squares, gothic and grey. In the countryside, love blossoms. In the city, loneliness abounds.
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