Though the premise is at times unsettling, this Korean comedy (with English subtitles) takes a light approach to a dark subject matter: murdering a spouse. Reminiscent of the 1960s comedies HOW TO MURDER YOUR WIFE and DIVORCE, ITALIAN STYLE, this feature updates the plot for the 1990s to
Bong-Soo Park (Joong-Hoon Park) is the president of a film production company. The real boss, however, is his overbearing wife So-Young Chang (Jin-Sil Choi), the head of publicity. So-Young constantly overrides her husband's decisions on everything from budgets to editing. Bong-Soo's mistress,
Heri (Joung-Hwa Eum), pressures him to divorce, but he is afraid of what his vengeful wife would do if she learned he was cheating. He has good reason to fear, since So-Young has already threatened to expose Bong-Soo for embezzling company funds if he ever dares to leave her.
Bong-Soo consults an occultist, who warns that if his wife lives, he will die. After Bong-Soo savagely attacks a voodoo doll representing So-Young, she is rushed to the hospital with chest pains. Bong-Soo is dismayed that the attack was not fatal, but is heartened by the doctor's
prognosis--So-Young has a heart condition and should avoid undue excitement and physical exertion, including strenuous sex. This diagnosis leads Bong-Soo to attempt unusual methods of killing his wife--including marathon lovemaking sessions and rollercoaster rides. Exhausted from his
efforts--while his wife remains hale and hearty--Bong-Soo finally hires a hit man (Chong-Won Choi). The comedy is only increased when his attempts to murder So-Young repeatedly go awry.
Bong-Soo suddenly has a change of heart when he learns that his wife is expecting his child. He races to the movie set to save her from the hired assassin, but she has already incapacitated the killer and discovered that he was hired by Bong-Soo. So-Young throws Bong-Soo out of her life and their
house, but she soon grows lonely without him. Shortly after Bong-Soo moves back in, So-Young discovers that he is having another affair. This time she is the one hiring the hit man, and the film ends with her instructing him to do a better job this time around.
Though he flashes an infectious grin and occasionally redeems himself with moments of warmth, Joong-Hoon Park--saddled with an unsympathetic character--is essentially unlikable. Being outshone at the office by a woman is hardly acceptable grounds for murder in contemporary society--even in Korea.
If his wife was portrayed as a shrew, audiences might commiserate with Park's predicament, but Jin-Sil Choi's So-Young is a dynamic, attractive woman whose only shortcoming is her devotion to a chauvinistic husband. The comedy ranges from subtle to slapstick, with the funniest segments those
featuring Chong-Won Choi as the hapless hit man.
HOW TO TOP YOUR WIFE enjoyed a slightly wider US release than director Kang's 1994 comedy TWO COPS. As Kang is gaining a reputation as a Korean Billy Wilder, chances are good that more American audiences will get a chance to enjoy his future efforts. (Violence, sexual situations, adult situations,profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1995
- Rating: NR
- Review: Though the premise is at times unsettling, this Korean comedy (with English subtitles) takes a light approach to a dark subject matter: murdering a spouse. Reminiscent of the 1960s comedies HOW TO MURDER YOUR WIFE and DIVORCE, ITALIAN STYLE, this feature u… (more)