Hi, Dharma! (2002)
Hi, Dharma! is another "Gangster(s) out of water" comedy from Korea. This time round, our crew of 5 reprobates are taken out of their element when they go on the run and are forced to hide up in a monastery. The gang immediately clash with the resident monks, who are quite a motley bunch themselves. Ultimately, both groups learn a little something from their experience.
The set-up for the plot is basic and quickly dealt with - 5 minutes into the movie we're already at the remote mountain temple/monastery in which the rest of the movie takes place. Characters are what the movie is about, and each of the 5 gangsters and 5 or 6 monks is given their own personality by the actors playing them. Most of them are a little ignorant and child-like, with only the head monk and the head gangster showing any real wisdom or maturity. That's what the movie is there for though - a chance for them all to learn and grow.
The movie follows a pretty conventional 3 act structure, and the simple plot is mostly predictable. It's all about the details, though. The characters are all quite likeable because of their innocence (relatively speaking), and their conflicts are quite amusing. The cast give very good performances, which is lucky because the characters are what the movie rests on.
HI, DHARMA! is not quite as good as My Wife Is A Gangster or My Boss, My Hero, but it's quite enjoyable. Recommended, though nobody should kill themselves if for some reason they can't see it. The Hong Kong DVD has a good anamorphic picture + good sound & subs, so I would definitely recommend it over the more expensive Korean disc.