무림여대생 [My Mighty Princess] (2008)
Directed by: 곽재용 (Kwak Jae-yong)
Starring: Ju-wan On, Min-a Shin
Running time: 1 hour 57 minutes.
Director 곽재용 is known for his sappy, melodramatic love stories like 엽기적인 그녀 [My Sassy Girl] (2001), 클래식 [Classic] (2003), and 내 여자친구를 소개합니다 [Windstruck] (2004). 무림여대생 is a noticeably weaker than his previous films. In fact, there was a two year delay in releasing the film, in part due to the weakening of the Korean film industry, but also no doubt due to fears that it might not bring in any money. Kwak's modus operandi of mixing comedy and melodrama is still here, but it comes across more as a small girl's fairy tale kind of story; in other words, it's lacking in depth.
The mighty princess is 소휘 (So-hwi), who we immediately find out is no ordinary girl. She has the power to leap to great heights and distances, though she doesn't use this to great effect at all times. When running late, she accidentally hops in front of a truck and gets hit, only to hop up and quickly apologize with 죄송합니다, much to the amazement of the truck driver. Later, while on the bus, she writes “강소휘짱!" (which I can't find a translation for at the moment) on the window. When a boy on a motorcycle sees it and laughs, she becomes embarrassed and quickly erases it. This boy later becomes of great interest to her as she becomes attracted to him and following his interests at school.
Meanwhile, she is part of the 차력 (charyeok) club at school. Charyeok is a Korean form of martial arts that is focused on stances. It's related to the Chinese practice of Qigong, that is concerned with the circulation and focus of the body's Qi/Chi. As part of the charyeok club, she plays the role of the Mighty Princess in their shows, which involve her using charyeok stances while others break wooden boards and bottles over her, to no effect. Then she walks over a bed of nails and burning coals, again to no effect. Lastly, a concrete block is broken over her stomach. All this is done while she is dressed up as Snow White. The backdrops for the performance have a very European aristocratic settings as well. In the end, the audience just sits there, baffled and with no response.
After becoming interested in the boy with the motorcycle, she quits the charyeok club and joins the hockey team, much to her father's dismay. Her father is a great charyeok master and had intended to teach So-hwi her mother's lightning stroke. So her father and his martial arts master friends get the help of So-hwi's childhood friend 일영 (Il-yeong) to convince her to continue her charyeok training. This becomes more important as someone begins going around and killing the old martial arts masters. After So-hwi's father is injured, she must take up her mother's sword and learn the lightning stroke to confront his assailant.
My Mighty Princess is clearly influenced by the Chinese wuxia films. One of the character's even mentions dreaming about their life being like a wuxia. There's a fair number of fight sequences that make use of wires as the characters fly around. I think a Chinese/Hong Kong group was involved in working on the wire action for the film. Overall, it's a somewhat entertaining film though perhaps I'm not the intended audience for it.