Who said being a matchmaker would be easy?
- Shim Eun Kyung as Princess Songhwa
- Lee Seung Gi as Seo Do Yoon
- Yeon Woo Jin as Yoon Shi Kyung
- Kang Min Hyuk as Kang Hwi
- Choi Woo Shik as Nam Chi Ho
- Director: Hong Chang Pyo
- Running time: 110 minutes
- Release date: February 28, 2018
In the wake of prolonged famine, the palace arranges Princess Songhwa’s marriage in order to correct the misfortune. A renowned diviner, Seo Doyoon, is brought in to find the perfect husband that will have the best marital harmony with the princess. From candidates from all over the country, 4 prospective husbands with different fate signs are shortlisted. However, the princess who refuses to accept that her life partner will be chosen solely based on fortune reading, decides to meet the candidates before the final decision is made. She steals the candidates’ birth information and sneaks out of the palace. Doyoon finds out about this later, and follows after her.
*Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this movie in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own and not influenced by the filmmakers, and/or its affiliates in any way.*
I can’t believe I watched this movie more than a month ago and am only writing this review now. Where has the time gone?? I’ve definitely failed everyone big time, but there’s no use crying over spoiled milk now. So without further ado, let’s get down to business, shall we?
The Princess and the Matchmaker is a period piece that recycles a very old romance formula. Not that there’s anything wrong with it – who doesn’t love a good story where someone forsakes everything for love, especially when it is seemingly so unworthy by society’s standards? But when an old formula is just that, an old formula, it gets … well old real fast. You gotta spruce it up with a little twist or surprise here and there, but that simply isn’t the case for The Princess and the Matchmaker though. The entire time I was waiting for something a little bit more unexpected to happen, and I was disappointed again and again; the movie simply lacks freshness and creativity. Every turn of event is just as one would expect. The good guy gets the happy ending and the bad guy gets what he deserves, what else is new [cue eye rolls]? While I finished the movie feeling content, I felt my hunger for a riveting story went largely unfulfilled. I was charmed by the picturesque scenes, but upon a second look there is no depth and the movie appears a little lackluster, even as a pop-it-in-while-doing-chores choice. The entertainment and re-watch value simply isn’t there, unless, of course you are a big fan of the actors involved.
Speaking of the actors, I found both Lee Seung Gi and Shim Eun Kyung’s performance for want of actual acting. They are so flat and emotionless, I half-expected their characters to not get together in the end because that would’ve been a real shocker and a twist. They aren’t bad by a far cry – not cringe worthy by any means, but I really thought they could deliver something a bit more invested than this. Perhaps it is also because they had zero chemistry together I could not get bought into this romance and therefore this movie. The minor supporting characters (aka all the other suitors) are almost a little gimmicky and not very interesting. The only real threat played by Yeon Woo Jin also does not get much screen time or character development. Maybe I’m biased there though, because I heart me some Woo Jin.
The only saving grace for this movie is likely when The Princess and the Matchmaker makes fun of its genre (or was that unintentional? Who knows?), through which I saw some sparks of what this movie could’ve been. Alas, there’s no use talking about the what ifs. It’s not a total dud for sure, but maybe prepare some extra good movie snacks or be a part of the Lee Seung Gi fan club to pick this one up. One word to sum it up? Meh.
This & That:
- The Princess and the Matchmaker is the second of a three-piece series by Jupiter Film based on the tradition of fortune telling. The first was The Face Reader, released in 2013.
- This movie finished shooting in 2015, but did not get released until earlier this year.
- This is Lee Seung Gi’s first movie after completing his military service, also the second time he has appeared on the big screen. His first movie was Love Forecast, 2015 romantic comedy opposite Moon Chae Won.
- Shim Eun Kyung made her acting debut when she was 9 and became a successful child actress. She is famous for her role in Hansel and Gretel. As an adult, she has appeared in many movies and dramas such as Train to Busan, Miss Granny, and Naeil’s Cantabile to name a few.
- Yeon Woo Jin started out as a fashion model, but then switched to acting. He has appeared in a slew of dramas, most recently Marriage, Not Dating, Divorce Lawyers in Love, Introverted Boss, Queen for Seven Days and Judge vs. Judge.
- Kang Min Hyuk is the drummer of popular k-pop band CNBLUE. This is his third film role.
- Choi Woo Shik won Actor of the Year at the Busan International Film Festival for his first starring role in Set Me Free. His more recent appearances have been in Hogu’s Love, Train to Busan and Okja to name a few.