Sang Jin (Han Suk Kyu) is a cantankerous music teacher at a small rural school. Formally a rising vocalist in the classical world, Sang Jin had to give it up after discovering a tumor on his vocal chords. He’s tasked with teaching a student who belongs to a gang, Jang Ho (Lee Je Hoon). Jang Ho has got the talent but needs Sang Jin’s help to teach him the skills to win a music competition. Although he pronounces it “Paparoti”, Jang Ho inspires to one day become an accomplished vocalist like Luciano Pavarotti.
Every couple months, there seems to be a movie about a teacher and their special relationship with a troubled student. As banal as the plotline might be, I actually don’t mind those movies as long as the chemistry between the leads are good. And you couldn’t have better leads than Han Suk Kyu and Lee Je Hoon.
Kang Joseph – Nessun Dorma
Lee Je Hoon is hilarious as Jang Ho from his gangster bow, to his Gyeongsangdo accent and even his gangster posse who revere him. What I love about Lee Je Hoon is that he continually experiment with different types of roles so every time I see him. From his role as a gay teen in Just Friends?, to his role as skilled Korean War soldier in The Front Line, to even his unfortunate role as a chaebol in Fashion King, he constantly changes it up. This role is no different and I love that I get to see new depth to his acting with each role he takes on.
Jang Ho is a lost soul and after losing his entire family I understand why he decides to join the gang. But we all know that once you’re in, you’re in for life. Within the gang, he finds a support system and somewhat of a father figure in Chang Soo (Jo Jin Woong). It’s clear that Chang Soo cares about Jang Ho and wants him to complete his education. Unfortunately in front of the boss (Lee Jae Yong), Chang Soo is unable to speak openly about his differences on opinions regarding Jang Ho.
I love this speech that Chang Soo has with Jang Ho about dreams. Chang Soo doesn’t have them. He lives each day like it is his last but on the downside, there’s no future to look forward to. So he doesn’t have any reservations about serving in a gang as long as he does what he’s told to do.
Later on, Sang Jin becomes a father figure to Jang Ho but he’s a different type of father. While I’ve seen Han Suk Kyu play these cantankerous type of characters before, the thing I like about Sang Jin is even with all of his setbacks, he finds something, or rather someone to fight for. Jang Ho has never had anyone speak up for him and Sang Jin does it twice.
While Lee Je Hoon does know how to sing and lends his voice for “행복을 주는 사람 (A Person Who Delivers Happiness)” that’s on the OST, he’s not a classically trained singer. Jang Ho’s singing voice is Kang Joseph but Lee Je Hoon does a decent job in mouthing out those scenes and acting with his body instead of his voice.
Han Suk Kyu & Lee Je Hoon – 행복을 주는 사람
Kang Sora is also in the movie as Sook Hee, a country bumpkin who crushes on Jang Ho. I thought she would have a bigger role in the movie but she does provide quite a few laughs. I honestly prefer seeing her in quirky type of roles like this rather than the sweet girl-next-door.
The movie is based on a real-life story which was featured on a kid who appeared on Star King. Though the story of an underdog beating all odds can be used over and over again, the difference between a good movie and mediocre movie is all in the acting. The acting here really shines. Paparoti is funny, uplifting and all around enjoyable.