Happy Ero Christmas (해피 에로 크리스마스)

happy ero christmas

Whatever you’re expecting from this movie, you’re not going to get it. I thought it would be another fun, perhaps thoughtful romance from headliner Cha Tae-hyun of My Sassy Girl fame (and Scandal Makers years later). Others saw Kim Sun-a dressed in a sexy Santa costume on the promotional material and figured there would be more, or technically less, of that. Those might be the same people who took one look at the title and figured the movie would be a naughty holiday romp.

Any of these would have been a welcome alternative to the numbingly dull attempt at comedy that Happy Ero Christmas (or Happy Naked Christmas as it says on my DVD) turns out to be. There’s barely a sketch of a plot and the various players wander the landscape as characters in search of a story.

The film is marginally centered around Byung-gi (Cha), a beat officer whose highlight of dressing up as a police ambassador doll also counts as his lowlight. Besides moving up the ranks, other burning goals in his life include arresting Seok-doo (Park Yeong-gyu), a gang leader who once dumped him in a hot springs bath, and winning the love of Min-kyeong (Kim Sun-a), who works at the local bowling alley. However, his dreams are crushed when he finds himself competing with Seok-doo for Min-kyeong’s affections.

Overused as it may be, the classic love triangle is not to blame for this mediocre effort. Instead, the film suffers from uninspired writing that fails to shape its characters into people you want to care about. Despite the odd or affectionate quirk, no one earns by force of personality any lasting affection. Two hours later, they remain a blank.

There are a few faint glows, one of which comes in the form of Min-kyeong’s friend who wants to win the Miss Spa competition as an entry to bigger and better things. The two commiserate over their bad Christmas fortunes and take turns trying to hack phlegm onto unsuspecting passersby. Seok-doo gets an inkling of a backstory when he reveals something about his mother, but that ends up being more weird than endearing.

Those who want titillation need look elsewhere. Besides a few jokes thrown in for color, the most scandalous thing is the title. I suppose that is in keeping with the theme though. It’s a lifeless project all around, and I suspect none of the stars, who have done far better work, will want to be reminded of this movie.

Released: 2003
Alt Title: Happy Naked Christmas
Prod: Kim Nam-hee; Lee Yu-jin
Dir: Lee Geon-dong 이건동
Writer: Lee Geon-dong 이건동; Jung Hyun-shim 정현심; Lee Eon-hee 이언희
Cast: Cha Tae-hyun 차태현; Kim Sun-a 김선아; Park Yeong-gyu 박영규; Hong Kyoung-in 홍경인; Kim Ji-young 김지영; Baek Bong-ki 백봉기; Oh Tae-kyung 오태경; Lee Chung-ah 이청아
Time: 110 min
Lang: Korean
Country: Korea
Reviewed: 2014

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