You may define your own banner on the settings page.
FilmsAsia: Asian film reviews
Soh Yun-Huei
Dave Chua
Brandon Wee
Wong Lung Hsiang
Felix Cheong
Foong Ngai Hoe
Adrian Sim
Chris Khoo
O Thiam Chin
Lau Chee Nien
Ambient Noise
Sarhan Rashid
Ying Wuen
Ellery Ngiam
Toh Hai Leong
Toh Hai Leong, Auteur
Wong Kar Wai
The Seduction of Wong Kar Wai
Tsai Ming Liang
Lav Diaz
Mikio Naruse
Leslie Cheung
Jonathan Foo Interview
Chinese Ghosts
Assassins in Asian FIlms
Sex in Asian Cinema
Erotic Cinema of the Shaw Studios
Homosexuality in Chinese Films
My Left Eye Sees Creativity
Hollywood Remakes
Comic Book Superheroes
One League of Social Consciousness
Emerging Trends in East Asian Cinema
Postwar Korean Cinema
Decline of Hong Kong Cinema before 1997
Rise of Afghan Films
Singapore's Mini Cinema
Creating A Singapore Cinema
Why Cinema is Important to Singapore
Singapore Film Industry
Rites of Passage
Replying to Critics
Daniel Yun Interview
Singapore International Film Festival
Bangkok International Film Festival
Tokyo International Film Festival
Toronto International Film Festival
Writer's Block
All Tomorrow's Parties
And Also the Eclipse
Another Heaven
At Five in the Afternoon
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Bangkok Haunted
Barking Dogs Never Bite
Batang West Side
Battle Royale
Bear Hug
Beautiful Boxer
Beijing Rocks
Bend It Like Beckham
Best of Times
Betelnut Beauty
Big Durian
Big Shot's Funeral
Bird Man Tale
Blissfully Yours
Blue Kite
Bounce Ko Gals
Brighter Summer Day, A
Cafe Lumiere
Cat Returns
Chinese Odyssey 2002
City of Glass
City Sharks
Color of the Truth
Color Blossoms
Confucian Confusion
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
Dark Water
Destination 9th Heaven
Divine Intervention
Double Vision
Dumlings: 3 Extremes
Enter the Phoenix
Era of Vampire, The
Eye, The
Eye 2, The
Eye 10, The
Fat Choy Spirit
Floating Weeds
Fog of War, The
Formula 17
Full Alert
Ghost in the Shell
God or Dog
Golden Chicken
Golden Chicken 2
Goodbye, Dragon Inn
Guru, The
Hana-Bi (Fireworks)
Harold and Kumar
Hidden Blade, The
House of Flying Daggers
House of Fury
House of Sand and Fog
Howl's Moving Castle
I Not Stupid
In the Mood for Love
Infernal Affairs
Infernal Affairs III
Innocence: Ghost in the Shell 2
Iron Ladies 2
Isle, The
Jan Dara
Jealousy is My Middle Name
Joint Security Area
Ju-On: The Grudge (2003)
July Rhapsody
Korban Fitnah
Kung Fu Hustle
Lan Yu
Last Life in the Universe
Last Samurai, The
Legend of Zu, The
Liang Po Po
Love Letter
Lucky Number
Marry a Rich Man
Me Thao
Medallion, The
Monrak Transistor
Moveable Feast, A
Munna Bhai M.B.B.S.
Musa the Warrior
My Left Eye Sees Ghosts
My Neighbors The Yamadas
My Sassy Girl
Naked Weapon
Name of a River, The
New Police Story
Nobody Knows
Nobody Knows How to be a Film Critic
One Leg Kicking
Perfect Blue
Phone, The
Ping Pong
Pirated Copy
Princess D
River, The
Road Home
Romance of Book and Sword
Runaway Pistol
S Diary
S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine
Scent of Green Papaya
Seoul Raiders
Seventeen Years
Shall We Dance?
Shanghai Knights
Shaolin Soccer
Singapore Gaga
Skywalk is Gone
So-Called Friends
So Close
Someone Special
Song of the Stork
Spider Forest
Spirited Away
Spring Summer Fall Winter Spring
Stories About Love
Storm Riders
Summer Holiday
Sumpah Pontianak
Super Size Me
Surprise Party
Swing Girls
Tale of Two Sisters, A
Tears of the Black Tiger
Teenage Textbook Movie
This Charming Girl
Three: Extremes
Tokyo Raiders
Touch, The
Tree, The
Truth or Dare
Twelve Storeys
Twenty-Four Eyes
Twins Effect
Twins Effect 2
Virgin Stripped Bare by her Bachelors
Visitor Q
Volcano High
Warriors of Heaven and Earth
Way Home, The
Welcome Back Mr McDonald
Wesley's Mysterious File
When I Fall In Love With Both
Wishing Stairs
Wolves Cry Under the Moon
Woman is the Future of Man
Women's Private Parts
World Without Thieves, A
Zombie Dog
A Time to Live A Time to Die
e-mail me

   Way Home, The  


The Way Home

Reviewed by Soh Yun-Huei

Korean Title: Jibeuro
Director: Lee Jeong-hyang
Cast: Kim Eul-boon, Yu Seung-ho, Dong Hyo-hee
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea
Genre: Drama
Year released: 2002
Runtime: 80 min
Rating: *** ½ (out of four stars)

The Way Home is without a doubt one of the best films to come out of Asia this year - and yet, it boasts no special effects, no big name actors, no frenetic action, no camera effects, and no tricky editing. The Way Home is filmmaking at its purest - telling a story - and this it does very well. Featuring a very simple story, of a city-bred brat sent to the countryside to stay with his mute grandmother for a few months, writer-director Lee Jung-hyang manages to create a film that is accessible to a wide range of audiences, even to a jaded moviegoer like myself. Charming, heartwarming and moving, without being cloyingly sentimental, it’s little wonder that The Way Home was the winner of Best Picutre at the 2002 Golden Bells (the South Korean equivalent of the Oscars).

Sang Woo (Yoo Seung-ho) is a terribly spoilt city kid, used to indulging in the luxuries of life. However, times are bad, and one summer, Sang Woo’s mother has no choice but to leave him in the care of his mute grandmother (Kim Eul-boon) in order to look for a job. Sang Woo’s grandmother lives in a desolate mountain town, and all of a sudden, Sang Woo is deprived of almost all the indulgences in his life - there is no TV, no fast food, and after a while, even his electronic handheld game runs out of batteries. Forced to adapt very quickly to an extremely rural lifestyle, Sang Woo is very resentful of his grandmother at first, and makes things difficult for her at every turn.

However, Sang Woo’s grandmother is both patient and forgiving, and continually makes little sacrifices for her very spoilt grandson. Sang Woo is also forced to try and forge friendships with his grandmother’s neighbors, and as he gradually loses the haughtiness of a city kid, he finds new friends in his surroundings. He also realizes the unconditional love that his grandmother has been dishing out to him, and Sang Woo finally bridges the gap and forges a strong bond with her.

What makes The Way Home head and shoulders above most Asian films this year? Firstly, the ‘slice of life’ story is easily believable, and hence readily accepted by most audiences - many children these days have indeed become spoilt brats, and although Sang Woo’s behavior borders on the extreme, it doesn’t require much suspension of disbelief to imagine a child performing such dastardly deeds. The generation gap between grandmother and grandson is also captured in very imaginative ways - for example, when Sang Woo craves for Kentucky Fried Chicken, his grandmother goes out of her way to obtain a chicken, but she serves it boiled to Sang Woo, who of course kicks up a huge fuss. Yet, it’s the attention to these small details that help flesh out the story, and kudos must go to Lee and her eye for detail.

The first act of The Way Home is also its strongest - the grandmother is mute, and Sang Woo is still reluctant to utter anything more than short sentences, leading to long stretches of silences in the film. Yet, due to no small part the good performances put forth by both actors, this first act is the most emotive part of the show, and consequently the most interesting. Although Yoo Seung-ho is above average, Kim Eul-boon is particularly amazing, as she puts forth a remarkably feisty performance despite her age and physical condition. The other ‘actors’ in the film are mostly real villagers in the North Chungchong province, and thus come across as rather realistic portrayals of rural folk - they are, after all, playing themselves.

Only in the final reel does The Way Home falter a bit - it almost falls into the Asian Melodrama trap, loading on the sentimentality and unabashedly using the soundtrack to milk the audience’s emotions. It’s a little bit manipulative, but the final denouement thankfully does not take things too far down the melodramatic route. It’s a heartwarming conclusion to a simple little movie, and if this is the route Lee is taking her films along, it’s going to be a promising ride.

Final Word: Extremely charming movie that manages to get just about everything right. Essential viewing for families with children.