Kmovie Review: 200 Pounds Beauty
Romanized title: Minyeoneun Goerowo
English titles: 200 Pounds Beauty / Hard to be a Beauty
Release date: December 2006
Running time: 126 minutes
Cast: Kim Ah Joong, Jun Ji Mo, Seong Don Il, Kim Hyeon Sook, Im Hyeon Sik, Lee Han Wi, Seo Yoon
Synopsis: An obese woman decides to have a full body makeover when she overhears the man she’s in love with talking about how she should be pitied. When she comes back with a new body, she starts down the road to stardom as a singer.
The premise is absurd, but the movie is fun. Honestly, I am not sure such a dramatic transformation is actually possible through plastic surgery and dieting, maybe it is, but to make a large-boned frame into such a tiny and petite one just doesn’t seem too realistic. This movie helped catapult actress/singer Kim Ah Joong to fame and she even won an award for the dual roles of Hana and Jenny.
Kim Ah Joong stars as Hana, an overweight young woman who works from home for a sex hotline. She rarely gets out and has been unsuccessful in love many times before. While her life may not seem too glamorous, she is also a professional singer. Or rather, she is the vocals for rising star Ammy (played by Seo Yoon) who, while pretty, cannot sing to save her life. Unfortunately, as long as you look good, lack of talent can be overlooked or compensated for, although it’s wrong to do lip synching because the real singer is obese and the pretty one can’t sing. Look at what happened to Milly and Vanilly or whatever their names were. It was a huge scandal when it was discovered that they lip synched their songs. Also, I know that sometimes even with vocal training, if you don’t have a good voice, you just don’t and some people have a ceiling they can’t go beyond in terms of capabilities, but did they try getting Ammy vocal coaching?
While Ammy heats things up with her great body, looks, and sexy dancing onstage, Hana is below stage belting out the tunes and dancing along with Ammy. While dancing one night, Hana accidentally crashes through the stage floor. This causes trouble as Ammy can’t sing and only lip syncs so she is at a loss of what to do. Luckily Ammy’s manager Han Sang Jun (played by Ju Jin Mo) is on the ball quickly puts up a pyrotechnic display and has Ammy turn her back to the audience while the back-up singers take over. This gives Hana enough time to scrabble out of the hole to hurry back to singing. One crisis averted. This kind of reminds me of this one scene from George Strait’s movie Pure Country. He stopped singing for three bars due to all the pyrotechnics and smoke and not a single person noticed thanks to what was going on, so it’s not unbelievable they could pull off such a stunt.
After the show, Ammy pokes fun of Hana and ridicules her mistakes. Sang Jun ignores Ammy and goes straight to Hana to see if she was okay after her fall. He gives her a relieved hug, upsetting Ammy even more, but making Hana ecstatic as she has been in love with Sang Jun for quite a while now.
Afterward Hana and her best friend (and backup singer to Ammy), go out for drinks. Hana tells Jung Min (played by Kim Hyeon Sook) that she believes that Sang Jun likes her. Jung Min says that Hana is crazy and has no idea about love so how could she know whether or not Sang Jun likes her. Hana says its intuition and she has been in love before (she had dated a diet pill salesman who used her and left her). I’m not saying Hana is wrong, but you’d think it would occur to her that he may be showing such concern solely because she is necessary for Ammy’s success.
After recording a new song for Ammy’s album, Sang Jun offers Hana a ride and invites her to especially come for his birthday party the next night. He tells Hana that he likes her because she has the skills while Ammy only has the looks. This thrills Hana, further cementing it in her brain that Sang Jun must like her. You know, Hana, there’s a difference between liking someone and liking someone. Sigh. She says goodnight and goes inside the hospital to visit her father who is sick with Alzheimer’s. She dances with him and he thinks that she is his deceased wife (thus his naughty hands that constantly gravitate to her bum). Hana tells her father that their “daughter” is a singer now and she is in love as well.
The next day, Hana receives a present (supposedly from Sang Jun) of a dress to wear to Sang Jun’s party. It’s a brilliant and deep red color. She arrives and Sang Jun invites her to sit by him, which is slightly difficult as Hana must squeeze by everyone else in the small room. Once she is situated, the president tells Hana to take off her coat. She does and people are shocked by the brilliant red frock she is wearing (it doesn’t look the best on her at all). She tells Sang Jun thank you and that she is wearing it because he gave it to her. Sang Jun looks confused at this, but Ammy’s arrival is announced and she is wearing the exact same dress (which of course looks better on her)! Seeing this, Hana gets upset and leaves to go dancing.
Sang Jun corners Ammy in the bathroom. Ammy said she is teaching Hana a lesson as Hana irritates Ammy all the time. Sang Jun says they have to keep Hana happy because she is the reason behind Ammy’s success. He goes on to say Ammy should pity Hana who has talent but is fat and ugly (now Sang Jun’s criticism of Hana seems real here, but through the rest of the movie we are led to believe he actually never thought badly of Hana and actually liked her, so his true feelings kind of confuse me). This devastates Hana who decides to kill herself (because that will solve all her problems, sigh).
She seals up her apartment and turns the gas on before laying down on the couch, waiting to die. However, her suicide is interrupted by one of her clients. This inspires her to seek this particular client out and ask him to help her. She goes to his office and asks about plastic surgery. He tells her that she needs confidence in herself in order to be beautiful. She states she wants a full-body makeover. Dr. Lee tells her it will be expensive and life-threatening. Hana doesn’t care and asks if she can get the surgery on credit. Dr. Lee goes to kick her out at that, but she plays a tape of their phone sex conversation. Dr. Lee doesn’t like being blackmailed. He destroys the tape, but Hana shows him a second tape, which she then destroys herself saying that she knows Dr. Lee is a good person. Dr. Lee caves in and agrees to grant Hana her wish. He does reiterate that these operations could kill her. Hana told him that she has already died yesterday.
We then fast forward through the surgeries and Hana exercising diligently, through Ammy and Sang Jun looking desperately for their missing voice. Without Hana, Ammy cannot complete her second album. Hana goes to visit her father telling him that she will soon let him see a beautiful woman. And next thing we know it’s time for the bandages to come off. The transformation is a stunning one. It makes Dr. Lee happy as he sees Hana’s expression and as he sees how natural Hana looks (despite all the surgery). Hana, of course, is overjoyed to be so beautiful and happily hugs Dr. Lee and goes out on the town.
She runs into Ammy and Sang Jun and learns about Ammy’s trouble. She then decides to try to become Ammy’s voice again (she still hasn’t given up her love for Sang Jun even though his words crushed her). She meets with several accidents along the way and calls her best friend to come help her out at the police station. Jung Min doesn’t recognize Hana at all until Hana shows her their matching tattoo.
Jung Min takes Hana out to dinner where Hana introduces her plan. Jung Min thinks Hana is crazy, but agrees to help in the end. Sang Jun and crew are feeling the pressure as they still haven’t found a voice as good as Hana’s. Jung Min comes in and introduces Korean American Jenny (Hana’s new name). Jung Min and the rest are mesmerized as Jenny belts out the song with emotion and a beautiful voice. Sang Jun decides that Jenny is too good for Ammy. Since Jenny has both looks AND a killer voice, he will market her as it would be a waste to have her do vocals for the Ammy who can’t sing.
The rest of the movie follows Hana’s transformation into Jenny. She does her best to forget Hana, forget who she was in the past. Sang Jun begins to fall for Jenny, but still has Hana as a special person in his heart. Ammy, enraged at Jenny usurping her position, does her best to look for Hana while also trying to find dirt on Jenny. Jung Min and Hana grow farther apart as Hana turns into Jenny more and more. Jung Min can’t stand how Jenny is only concerned about her looks and abandons the people around her who used to care the most for her (i.e. Jung Min and Hana’s father).
Eventually Sang Jun and Ammy discover the truth that Hana is Jenny. Hana is conflicted as she begins to realize that Sang Jun liked Hana just the way she was originally (at this point I still don’t find that highly believable – well, I mean he could have liked her original personality, but nothing more than that). Jenny’s heart gets broken as she realizes that Sang Jun has come to see Jenny as just a product and not a person. She agrees to finish out her first concert, though. When she sees Jung Min bring her dad to the concert, she breaks down and says she can’t do this. Sang Jun says to do it for herself.
On stage, Jenny can’t bring herself to sing. She confesses to everyone that she was fat, ugly Hana who used to sing backstage for a popular vocalist. She says she can’t do this anymore because she doesn’t know who she is. She is losing Hana and she desperately wants to get Hana back. Sang Jun puts in a tape that has Hana singing and Jenny breaks down as she sees her former self. The audience breaks down, too and begins to chant that everything is okay, they still like Jenny as Hana.
So, this time Jenny dies and Hana is reborn. Sang Jun likes the new and improved Hana. He continues to be her producer and her music becomes a huge success. A happy end.
My thoughts: I didn’t like how they never really clarified if Sang Jun really liked Hana for who she was despite her looks. He said all those mean things about her to Ammy, but there was never a scene that showed it was a lie. You feel this as he talks about and praises the missing Hana and watches her tapes all the time, but it is never actually stated.
I do find it sad that Hana decides she has to become someone else completely in order to attract Sang Jun. It’s one thing to do plastic surgery for yourself, but another thing to do it for someone else’s sake. I hated watching Hana become an insipid Jenny (versus the nice, innocent Jenny from the beginning). Although, I must admit all the scenes where Jenny gets mad and gets revenge on people for how Hana was treated in the past, are funny, especially the elevator scene where Jenny beats up the guy who screwed her best friend Jung Min over.
Overall, this is a great movie definitely worth watching. I especially loved the music. Kim Ah Joong is a great singer and gifted actress. I especially loved the song “Maria” which is a Korean version of the classic Blondie song.