I WOULD WALK 500 MILES, AND I WOULD WALK 500 MORE
It all started with a simple comment he made at the 2011 Baeksang Awards. Having been the previous year’s winner, Ha Jung Woo didn’t think he’d have a shot at winning the Best Actor award again that year. His co-presenter, Ha Ji Won, asked what he could promise the people if he did win. Ha Jung Woo cheekily responded that he would walk across the country carrying his award.
The joke was on him because he discovered that he did win again. Fast forward to a year later, he keeps his promise by taking his award and several of his movie star friends along with him on this journey.
Many of them are unknown supporting cast members from Ha Jung Woo’s various movies but he was also able to convince one mega star to come along on his journey. Gong Hyo Jin.
The group starts from Seoul and then treks all the way down to Haenam, the southernmost part of the peninsula. The journey is scheduled to take 20 days and is 577 kilometers long or estimated roughly as 30 kilometers a day. (For those that are metric system retarded like me, it’s approximately 358.5 miles in total or 18.6 miles a day.) No matter how you calculate it, that’s a lot of walking, folks.
This movie is a docu-reality so I can’t exactly review it like I would other films. It’s human nature for people to play things up for the cameras but the nature of this challenge will eventually weigh heavily on the mental and emotional states of the group. You have cameras on you for practically 24 hours a day while you’re trying to complete this physical challenge. Your true nature is bound to peek through.
Besides the reality nature, the film is intercut with commercial breaks and other variety-esque segments. Say what? Yes, it’s to break up the reality segments of the film. They are quirky, humorous shorts, which acts as a nice segue for the various sections of the film.
Perhaps it couldn’t be avoided. There are moments when the films gets a little slow. The producers and Ha Jung Woo try their best to keep the conversation going during their travels. However, it’s natural for the cast to grow tired of constantly talking to the camera. Especially considering their daily physical activity.
Aside from Gong Hyo Jin and Lee Seung Ha, the cast’s maknae, not much attention was paid to the other females of the group. Why? Perhaps after reviewing the filmed material, the ladies didn’t make as strong of an impression as the former two. So they were left on the cutting room floor. It happens.
However, I did grow a little bit annoyed at Gong Hyo Jin’s complaining about the hardships of the trip. It started out as funny but I think the film lets the moment play out a little too long. Thankfully, it was all wrapped up by the end of one segment and the rest of the film treated us to her positive attitude about pushing forward ’til the end.
As for Lee Seung Ha, she did attract the most attention when the other girls gave her a hard time about her snoring or when she got drunk and lashed out a cameraman, it lead to her wanting to quit the whole project. You could argue that her immaturity made a lasting impression on me. However, that’s only part of it. Yes, she’s quite young and this trip was particularly hard for her mentally and emotionally but she was also not afraid to let the cameras capture her during this vulnerable moment.
Finally, there’s Han Sung Chun. His segments were intercut with moments from his real life as a supporting actor. It’s not very glamorous, even though he’s been in some well-known projects. He opened up his home and his innermost thoughts to the audience. It starts out with a joke being played on the tireless Sung Chun. I won’t ruin it for you because this is the best moment of the entire film but I was right there along with all of his fellow travelers. I, too, was in shock when I saw struggle to get up to walk and cried when he agonized over whether he could finish the project even though his body won’t let him. The entire segment was edited so expertly and brought surprising depth to a movie I thought was just lighthearted. This segment brings hilarity, drama, tension and inspiration to the viewer in one blow.
I’d say you should forget your preconceived notions about this docu-reality film. Just when you think it’s a reality movie, the movie brings in these fictional elements in the form of “commercial breaks”. Just when you think it’s just going to be funny, it has these moments of depth and warmth. Just when you think it’s about taking a dramatic turn, it turns out to be amusing. Just because you have big names like Ha Jung Woo and Gong Hyo Jin, that doesn’t mean these no names aren’t given their chance to shine.
And just when you think Ha Jung Woo has had enough of his 577 walk, he pledges to do it all over again at the end! It’s the surprising slices of life that’s the highlight of this film. Something which Love Fiction lacked.