Pained a.k.a. Tong-Jeung
ANALGESIA ( no, it’s probably not what you think )
Nam-Soon (Kwon Sang-Woo) is living in Seoul, South Korea. He’s a loan shark’s lackey, making a living as a debt collector. He, however, is a rather unique employee. You see, Nam-Soon doesn’t like to hit people. At all. This is somewhat problematic in a business where violence is the number one catalyst in matters of ‘re-payment’. But, he absolutely doesn’t mind hitting himself in the process. In fact, Nam-Soon can’t feel a thing * . So why not threaten people with self-abuse?
[ * : A deadening or absence of the sense of pain without loss of consciousness is called analgesia]
Aah, those Koreans! They sure know how to turn something unusual into something goofy and back again. Dong-Hyun (Jung Ryeo-Won) is also living in the Seoul Special City. She makes and sells her own jewelry. She is very careful not to bump into things and people. And I do mean that literally, not metaphorically. Why do you ask? Well, that’s because she’s a vampire’s best friend: a haemophiliac. As a result, blood loss of any kind could be life-threatening for Dong-Hyun.
One day, they (obviously) run into each other. Nam-Soon is looking to collect about 9 grand from Dong-Hyun when things go askew. She won’t pay. He smashes his hand with a brick; she still won’t budge. Hmmm… what… to do?
Dong-Hyun owes money to multiple loan sharks all over town. And she’s broke. And she tends to run away when cornered which can be annoying for a debt collector. So when Nam-Soon finally realizes that he’s been wasting his time chasing after the elusive broke-haemophiliac-jewelry-maker, he decides to keep Dong-Hyun on a short leash by offering her a place to stay.
As it turns out, Nam-Soon had a sister similar to Dong-Hyun when he was young. In a tragic car accident that took the lives of both their parents, she also lost her life, burnt alive, while he helplessly watched the horror unfold. Now when he looks at Dong-Hyun, he’s reminded of that painful (Oooo…wordplay) loss. She’ll eventually start to rekindle his spirit and well, we’ll just leave it at that.
This flick rarely takes itself too seriously. More to the point, it’s nearly impossible to take anything seriously in “Tong-Jeung”. The acting is over-the-top, the characters are all a bit silly making the story entertaining but not engrossing. So it’s difficult to really connect with everything and the dramatic ending doesn’t help one bit.
The music, whatever little there is anyway, is quite bland, borderline disappointing. Except for the background music in the 30 second spoof-ending of one TV show featuring the cameo appearance of Kim Min-Jun, as himself. That just cracked me up.
Overall, “Pained” is not too bad. You’re pretty much going in circles, though. It’s a story you’ve seen gazillions of times with a neat little twist: the main guy has analgesia. Big whoop… I read somewhere that writer Pool Kang (that’s a wicked name by the way) originally wanted to turn this story into a comic book. I really think he should have. It probably would have been better.
Pained a.k.a. Tong-Jeung,