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5. What Happened to Mr Cha?; movie review

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Title : 5. What Happened to Mr Cha?; movie review
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Cert TBA
106 mins
BBFC advice: TBA

This is a fascinating premise - a famous actor playing himself as a has-been in an attempt to lure the spotlight back on to him.
On the face of it, Cha In-Pyo may well have been successful because his film has made it to the early New Year roster of Netflix.
Cha really was a famous Korean actor whose career has gone backwards since the heady days of the 1990s.
And that is exactly how he is portrayed in Kim Dong-gyu's What Happened To Mr Cha?
The intriguing element is that, except for the loose premise, the movie is fiction and something of a mickey-take of celebrities.
Apparently, the real-life Cha was aware of this and, despite advice that he might make him look bad, went ahead anyway.
I digress.
Kim's film sees Cha feeding off scraps of work despite being instantly recognisable.
On the cusp of being given a slot on a chat show, he goes out for a walk with his pet dog and has two fateful meetings with fans.
Incredibly, one results in him being buried alive and much of the movie sees him contemplating his future while underground.
Cho Dal-hwan plays Cha's under-pressure assistant who is tasked with putting his boss on top again despite constant volleys of abuse.
I must confess that Mrs W and I were struggling to keep up with the quickfire opening of What Happened To Mr Cha?
The double whammy of a subtitled movie with a subject which seem to require background knowledge was difficult to follow.
But once we were tuned into Kim's storyline we found a film which was engaging if not electrifying.
It left us hoping that Mr Cha gets what he wants - new audiences.

Reasons to watch: Off-beat comedy
Reasons to avoid: Too much shouting

Laughs: A few chuckles
Jumps: One
Vomit: None
Nudity: None
Overall rating: 6/10

Did you know?  In real life, Cha's big hits were "All My Love For You" (1994) and "Star in My Heart" (1997). But his personal life, marrying actress Shin Ae-ra, adopting two daughters and actively participating in charity work in and outside the country, confined him to the "good guy" image and limited his roles

The final word. In-Pyo Cha: "In the past, I used to think why should I break apart an image that was bestowed on me by the public? Reflecting on my acting career spanning 26 years, I've recently realized that I was in an acting slump when I tried to settle for the status quo without trying to transform myself," Korean Times

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