‘Twenty’ Is The Korean Coming of Age Film That Will Make You Laugh Until It Hurts

Twenty, directed by Lee Byung-Heon, premiered in New York City on April 14th  and quickly filled the theater with laughter and praise for the coming-of-age film. Twenty, starring Kim Woo Bin, Kang Ha Neul, and Lee Junho of K-pop idol group 2PM, is a story of three extremely different friends who struggle with first loves, family issues, sexual urges, and career paths.

Kim stars as playboy slacker Chi Ho who is obsessed with sex and has no goal other than to breathe. Kang plays type A college student Kyeong Jae who falls in love for the first time with someone already in a relationship, and Lee rounds out the crew as cartoonist Dong Woo who works part-time to support his mother and brothers after his father goes to jail on corruption, leaving the formerly wealthy family penniless.

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Essentially, the movie is about three men who have no idea what to do with their youth and who are nowhere ready to be adults, leading to many humorous situations.

The movie is a comedy with many poignant moments, highlighting the struggles and strengths of being twenty years old: Old enough to have responsibility, but young enough to make mistakes and learn from them. The three friends antics were full of humor but dealing with tough situations (bank account balances at zero, enlisting in the Korean army, heartbreak) kept Twenty grounded in reality.

Even while the situations are sometimes ridiculous, such as Chi Hoo deciding to hit a woman with his car in order to get her sleep with him and a memorable scene where he pitches a movie idea to a director, Twenty portrays these things as normal craziness from twenty-year-old men in Seoul who don’t really know what they’re doing with their lives.

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The three leads dominate the film, but out of the primary four female characters in the movie, Lee Yoo Bi’s character So Hee is the most captivating. So Hee, the younger sister of Kyeong Jae, brings youthful innocence to the film, a counter to the other women who tend to be a bit more bitter about their lives. She makes fun of her brother and his friends for things twenty-year-old men find natural, like masturbating and drinking, while still showing wisdom despite being a high school student. She puts the whole film into perspective in one line: “The three of you remind me of dumb and dumber, and dumb again.”

Director Lee Byung Heon, who was a screenwriter for Sunny and the director of indie Cheer Up, Mr. Lee, used familiar elements from his previous works including fight scenes and characters working on the set of films to help portray the confusion and exuberance of the three men in the beginning of their roaring twenties. The film utilizes a bright palate of colors, but some of the more serious scenes hint to Lee’s indie elements. The choice of songs for the soundtrack, particularly during a memorable fight scene towards the end of the film, adds some depth and additional humor to the comedy.

Twenty takes itself seriously enough to have a point as Dong Woo, Kyeong Jae, and Chi Hoo figure things out, but doesn’t do so in a way that makes it anything other than a feel good, laugh-until-you-cry film. CJ Entertainment and MOI’M worked to bring the film to the US, and there will be several showings throughout North America on April 17.

What do you think of Twenty? What other Korean films would you like to see in theater? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.