Sunday, 1 February 2009

No Regret (2006)

No Regret is the first gay feature film by an openly gay Korean director, Lee Song Hee-Il.

When I read the synopsis, I was sceptical. Orphan becomes gigolo, rich obsessive stalks him, pair fall in love, arranged marriage threatens to rip them apart but doesn't. It just seems a little too, well... gay-themed movie.

No Regret opens with Su-Min (Lee Young-Hoon) swimming in a river near his idyllic countryside orphanage. Cue ass shot, and boy, what a beautiful ass it is, too!

We follow Su-Min as he leaves the orphanage, and sets out for the big smoke, Seoul. Here Su-Min struggles to make ends meet, working two jobs to put himself through night school. It's in his job as a chauffeur that he meets Jae-Min (Lee Han), who propositions Su-Min, only to be turned down. When Su-Min is fired from his day job at a factory, we learn that Jae-Min is the son of the boss. Su-Min is rehired, only to quit again on principle. Are you following so far?

Su-Min drops out of night school, and ends up working as a gigolo in Seoul. It just wouldn't be a gay themed film if there wasn't a gigolo in it somewhere, would it? It's here that Jae-Min manages to track him down through a friend, and the two meet again. Jae-Min pays him for sex, where we're told that Su-Min doesn't take it up the ass, so we get to see this gorgeous young gigolo turn his hand to topping his stalker. Despite the childish, awkward jerking and gasping, I was still, almost inexplicably turned on by this scene. Before leaving, Su-Min threatens to kill him if he sees him again. Though, I'm not quite sure why...

And so the story goes. Rich guy stalks orphan, until finally, orphan gives in, and the pair fall madly, and deeply in love. In one touching scene, Su-Min offers up his ass to his lover, so we're left in little doubt as to the feelings between the pair. He quits working as a gigolo, and achieves some semblance of normality in his life for what, we assume, is the first time.

But of course, we know that the story can't end here. Where's the tragedy?

Jae-Min's arranged marriage, the death of one of Su-Min's best friends, and a rather dark, violent and confusing ending see to that.

But of course, Su-Min and Jae-Min both survive, and, we're led to believe, end up together by the time the credits roll.

No Regret left me with more questions than it answered, rather like a French movie. This wasn't a bad thing, though, and despite a very corny plot, Lee Song Hee-Il created a masterpiece against all the odds, which had me transfixed from the first flash of Lee Young-Hoon's rear end to the end of the final scene. Beautifully shot, cast and acted, I certainly don't regret having watched it. Definitely one of the best Asian movies I've watched.


Simon said...

i want to watch this movie, but they make it hard for penniless students to buy them!! :(

Butt Muncha said...

Simon, you can download the movie through by searching for "No Regret" but make sure the file has English subtitle files, or English subtitles hard-coded. If you like it, be sure to buy it :D