My Little Hero 마이 리틀 히어로 (2013)

Reality TV, entertainment industries, musical production, singing, choreographed dancing, performance, plus that snide about this film comparison to Billy Elliot. Color me intrigued…

Writing this first because i miss my JE moments so fricking bad(Btw, yes that’s a wire, not an actual Jeté)

My Little Hero (마이 리틀 히어로) also known as A Wonderful Moment, is a 2013 South Korean movie. It’s about a boy Yeong-gwang and a man Yoo Il-han, as they search for their raison d’être and achieving dreams through a televised talent search called Musical Dream. The purpose of the search is to find a lead child actor and a counterpart director for a government-sponsored musical to promote Korean culture abroad.

Things actually complicated for both of them, Yeong-gwang (aka Glory) is an mixed race as shown by the his dark skin complexion. Half filipino, half korean Glory sings like an angel. He joined the talent search as an effort to look for his father who went missing, leaving him and his hardworking filipino mother. His loyal sidekick is Gabonese mix Seong-joon, an apt soccer player and self-pointed manager for Glory. When selected as 5 top contender for the profilic role of King Joseon, Glory was chosen by two judges that would become his mentor. For an unknown reason he chose Yoo Il-han, a relatively unknown musical director whose first production was a failure in an epic proportion. Still, he talks like he own the world because he was a graduate of a prestigious music school in New York and constantly moaning about how the AMDA and Broadway want him. Il-han is one manipulative bastard, using Glory’s personal tale as a tool to attract sympathy from the voters and viewers of the show (despite his initial reaction of purely horrification). As Glory excels to the finale, he became a strong contender for the part of King Joseon. Alas, the people behind the screen have another say to his well deserved destiny and putting the Il-han in amidst the dilemma.

The portrayal of the hostile, back-stabbing environment of the entertainment industries has been done repeatedly. What made it interesting for me is the cross culture layer that is evident in the film. I do not know how korean behave towards mixed race people, like Glory and his friend Seong-joon. There are slight hesitancy and distance between the mixed race kids with their South Korean classmates, it was not prejudice or violent bullying, but exist in the form of avoidance. These behavior resolved later in the film when Seong-joon was coerced by Glory to join the class football team (if Seong-joon wants to keep his job as the manager) and brought glory and earning respect from his classmates, I think it’s a good way to promote tolerance amongst diversity for kids who watch the film, as well as to promote healthy self image despite of one’s heritage. But in Glory’s case, the race actually a struggle to maintaining identity through the search of his father. Glory’s father issue also contribute to the identity crisis that he’s been having, he did not feel like a real korean because his dad, the only korean in the family is gone. My heart breaks for him and i can symphatize with him :(

In contrast to Glory, Il-han as the counterpart director supposed to be the broken hero of the film. But even after the film ended i can not see through the snobbish exterior that he presented in the beginning (despite the reveal that are supposed to give him a little emotional depth). My final verdict of him is still a despicable, selfish bastard. There’s a little romantic element introduced through his relationship with the supposed love interest Seong-hee, the show Assistant Director who were Glory’s supporter since audition day. There aren’t any sparks or chemistry though, the whole thing really was unnecessary.

Fine i won’t dwell on the fact that Glory does not look half filipino (i have a certain bias for filipino, i miss my kaibigan denz and the pamilya in Bacoor Cavite), because the actor is half sri-lankan (which explains the south asian features. While i have no idea about whether it is the real actor voice or not, i found his voice is quite lovely, i love it when he sung Annie‘s Tommorow. But after several performance that use very similar kind of interpretation, i found his performance lacks of range and variation. He even lacks of showmanship compared to the other contended. To be honest, the actor who played his father in the grand finale number of the competition actually stole the scene for me (someone tell me who is that man!)!  Which is sad, because this kind of film (musical/dance film) usually defy monotony. The performances on stage reminds me of Johnny’s Jr Summary concert. The film gives nods to a couple of musical/stage production such as the use of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake (yes it always give me chills), Wicked (huge banner in the background when they were about to see a musical, which turns out to disappoint me because they did not show footage of Korean production of it, boo!)

The film is tackling issue about racial diversity in the world of entertainment industries, which has a potential of greatness. But the execution and acting are so lackluster and lacking that it does not delivered the kind of well combined story that korean cinema usually done so well. The staged project is entertaining enough but not a significant visual spectacle. I feel that the film, just like Glory performance lacks of range and vibrance. I really wish i could enjoy it more… So yeah, it definitely incomparable to Billy Elliot, i rest my case.

My Little Hero 마이 리틀 히어로 (2013)

GENRE Drama, Musical 
DIRECTOR Kim Seong-hoon | WRITER Ahn Ho-kyeong | MUSIC Ji So-lee | EDITOR Jin Lee | DISTRIBUTOR CJ Entertainment | COUNTRY South Korean | RUNNING TIME 135 minutes | RELEASE January 9, 2013 
STARRING Kim Rae-won, Jo An, Lee Sung-min, Kwang Soo, Ji Dae-han, Hwang Yong-yeon 

Stills are from HanCinema | IMDB | Official SiteTrailer

The film is part of 2013 Korean Film Festival Screening. Click on the banner bellow to view my other thoughts on the film featured in the festival :)

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4 thoughts on “My Little Hero 마이 리틀 히어로 (2013)

  1. Pingback: Monthly Digest: June 2013 | kinema kinema to karamel

  2. I think your rating is quite harsh, but yeah I’m agree that I somehow can’t connect to Glory and I feel the characterization of Il Han is quite weird. And there’s nothing special about the cinematography and score, and somehow, the other kids sang better than Glory._.

    • might be harsh, but it’s really a reflection of what i feel for the film. But you seem to agree with some of my points yeah? I think if there’s a little bit of ‘something’ i’d give it a 2 or 2 1/2, but sadly aside from the racism issue, the other element of the film left a bit lackluster.

      • But if there’s ‘something’, I think it would be preachy, and I’m not a big fan of preachy stuff…

        Anyway, can I exchange link with you? I already put your blog in crazygirlatcinema.blogspot.com

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