Jarv’s Top 10 2000-2009. Number 8: Daisy

Daisy is part 3 of my “big softie” triptych, and arguably the best film of the three.  Occasionally, some films get criminally and disgracefully overlooked for various reasons, and this is a case in point. The amount of, to be honest, utter rubbish that gets a cinema release (let alone a DVD release) on a massive scale is a depressing statement about our times when real quality such as this (or OUTLANDER/ what those pricks at Lionsgate did to Fierce People) gets neglected.

This film has not yet seen the light of day in the United Kingdom, and for the life of me I cannot work out why. The director has a “name” and track record (Andrew Lau- who has the sublime Infernal Affairs on his resume), the lead has been in such monsters as The Good, The Bad and The Weird (Woo Sung Jung), it has a European setting and is highly accessible to western audiences. Given that there is a Distribution company (if it was music I would call them a label) called Tartan, who specialise in films from Asia (the series is even called Asia Extreme), how on earth have they missed this- especially considering some of the crap that they have put out?

Daisy is basically a tragic love story between a hitman, a street artist and an Interpol policeman. The story is somewhat formulaic (I’m going to spoil heavily, sorry), but if anything the simplicity allows the film more time with the three central characters. The structure of the film is key here, with each character effectively having a chapter that comes complete with their own voiceover. The film opens with the female section, and gradually builds the relationship between the love-hungry street artist, Hye-yeoung and Jeong-woo who always seems to be looking beyond her at something else in the square. He’s distant, but attentive, and gradually she comes to believe that he’s the man that has been anonymously sending her flowers for some time. She’s completely wrong, but that’s neither here nor there. The second “chapter” is Jeong Woo’s, and reveals that he’s an Interpol agent, and the reason she thinks he is looking at something else is because he is- he’s looking at what he believes is a front for drugs smugglers. The first two chapters dovetail perfectly, leading up to a spectacular shootout in the main square that leaves Jeong-woo injured and Hye-yeong critical.

After this, the film then introduces the third character: Park-yi and resets the plot to the beginning. Park-yi is a hitman scumbag, and he’s been in love with Hye-yeong for a long time. He’s the man that saw her fall in a stream so built a bridge for her to cross (she repaid him with a painting of daisies), and he’s the poor sap that’s been leaving flowers for her. The film tracks his growing love (it isn’t obsession, but it’s not far off) for her- we see that he watches her from his apartment, he times his coffee break to co-incide with hers, he’s learning about art so that if he were ever to talk to her he wouldn’t sound like an idiot. Really, he’s above and beyond the call of duty. This section of the film is simply spectacular. Let’s face it, he’s a stalker. There’s no other way of saying it- he’s watching her from a distance, and doing frankly weird things for a woman he professes that he’s never going to meet. Somehow, and I haven’t the foggiest idea how Lau manages it, Park-yi does not come across as a stalker. He is hugely sympathetic, and if anything a tragic figure doomed to watch forever from the sidelines. When the shootout comes, we get to see it from his perspective, and he becomes even more tragic- he saw the Korean gangsters coming for Jeong-woo, and fired in an attempt to save the love of his love- his action, however, results in the wounding of Hye-yeoung that renders her mute.

From here it all goes completely pear-shaped. For some reason, he decides to introduce himself to Hye-yeong, and the film gradually builds to a blood soaked climax that no character survives.

I have to be honest here, Daisy is an openly manipulative film. Jonah mentioned the other day that it is a blatant melodrama, and he’s quite right. However, what he isn’t really giving it credit for is that it doesn’t pretend to be anything else and the execution is so perfect that the film transcends melodrama and becomes high tragedy. The ending is somewhat forseeable, but when it comes every fibre of my being was praying for something else- I felt that the characters deserved a “happily ever after”, simply because of the trauma that they had already suffered.

This is, and there’s no way of putting this lightly, a heartbreaking film. It’s a love story with real teeth, a melodrama with a difference, and above all else a film that relies on simplicity to deliver an emotional punch. The characters are fully rounded, Jeong-woo is crippled with guilt about using Hye-yeoung, and Park-yi has martyred himself because of his profession. When he meets Jeong-woo he says “I’m the bad guy”, but the film isn’t as simple as that- he isn’t the bad guy. There are plenty of bad guys in Amsterdam, but he just isn’t one of them. The performances all do justice to the writing, particularly Gianna Jun who has to spend half of the film mute, but manages to convey a spectacular range of expression without speaking. The cinematography is also brilliant- with the use of colour (there’s a shot with paint melting in the rain that’s filmed in black and white that is absolutely beautifully composed) and the soundtrack relies on classical music as an emotional enhancer.

As for the downside- well, I can’t really think of one. This is, and there’s no other way of putting it, a chick-flick weepie. I normally absolutely detest those. I’m the person that agrees with Lisa Simpson’s summary of Love Story (“He’s dull and stupid, and she’s shrill and annoying”). These films usually go down like a cup of cold sick with me, and yet this one doesn’t, rather I find it touching and sad, a beautiful paean to love and the potential of love.

I think, however, that the reason it doesn’t annoy/ offend me as much as others of this type(I’m looking at you Beaches) is that there are plenty of pyrotechnics to keep me interested. Park-yi is a hitman, and therefore it is in the rules that people have to die. And they do. And it’s great. There’s a curtness to the executions that reinforces the brutality of them- these are murders after all, and the film deliberately curtails any glamour of glorification- he’s like a panda in that he eats, shoots and leaves.

To conclude- This is a wonderful film that’s in severe danger of being forgotten. It tugs on the heartstrings enough to keep women happy, with a smattering of hitman action for the men. There’s very few films that manage to be the best of both worlds, and the glory of this film is that it performs this balancing act with aplomb. Do whatever you can to see it, as I cannot recommend it highly enough.

In the meantime- any UK reader that would like to see this film get the proper release that it deserves, please email your complaints to this fuckmonkey hdavid@palisadespictures.com

I would like to thank the Donor for introducing me to this film- top work, and I hope this year kicks some ass for you.

Number 7 is next and the only horror film to make the list- Neil Marshall takes me caving in The Descent.

Until Monday,

Jarv

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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

54 responses to “Jarv’s Top 10 2000-2009. Number 8: Daisy”

  1. just pillow talk says :

    A brilliant fucking movie.

    A big thank you to Hawaiian for this one. It’s fucking great.

    The performances are great, the setup is great, and the end scene is great.

    Jonah is wrong…WRONG!

    • Bartleby says :

      WHOAAAH!!

      I never said Daisy was bad. Actually, to the contrary, as the first person to recieve the HOD pack, I told everyone that Daisy was great, and it is. Who ever got the absurd idea I didn’t like Daisy?

      • Jarv says :

        I didn’t say you said it was bad. I said that you said it was a melodrama and that you were right.

      • Jarv says :

        Hmm, although, looking at that it looks like I was implying that you thought it was bad.

        Didn’t mean to-

        Sorry.

      • Droid says :

        I can’t believe you loathed Daisy, Jonah! You cold hearted SOB! It’s a fucking delightful flick! Fucking hell? What’s your problem!?

        Hey everyone! Jonah hated Daisy! Spread the word! JONAH HATED DAISY!

      • Bartleby says :

        Hell, I guess I just lack the ‘soft touch’.

      • Jarv says :

        You just wait.

        Next up is The Descent.

        Big softieness is now over.

      • Droid says :

        Jarv, isn’t there a pill available that will help you with your softness problem?

      • Jarv says :

        Well, you’re the man in the know about such matters.

        So, is there?

      • Droid says :

        That’s a garbage comeback. Not my finest call, but to use the ol’ “you tell me” response is a bit weak.

      • Jarv says :

        I know, that was meant to be the first line of something else, but my boss walked in and I had to post quickly before he could see what I was doing.

        Not our best efforts, frankly.

  2. Jarv says :

    Seconded. Big thanks to Hawaiin Organ Donor (who can be found lurking at Aint it Bale when not priming his wood chipper)

  3. Hawaiian Organ Donor says :

    I think I’ve introduced more people to this movie than any other and I think it’s at a near 100% approval rating. I’m glad this one resonated so well with everyone. If it could find a distributor in European and North American markets, I’m convinced it would be huge. It’s the most accessible Asian film for Western audiences I’ve yet to see.

    • Jarv says :

      I didn’t mention, although I’ve said it before, that when I put this on Mrs. Jarv grumbled about “More hitman nonsense” and cried buckets in it.

      As I was doing that stupid 500 films in a year thing, this was the first time I’ve seen it since then, and it’s been probably her most requested film of the year. She cried buckets again.

      This film has done the rounds with dozens of people that we know, and has come back with a 100% approval rating- more enthusiastically from Women.

      If anyone has another half, and wants a film for her that will not make him reach for a revolver, then this is the one.

  4. Jarv says :

    That’s what perplexes me about it- seriously, everyone British that reads this- email that fucker above, he’s UK Sales and Marketing for the tools that own Tartan

  5. Droid says :

    I haven’t seen this. Never even heard of it till recently. It goes on the list.

    • Hawaiian Organ Donor says :

      I posted below but I should have replied to you directly. Anyway, I’ll send you a copy if you can’t find this online.

  6. Jarv says :

    Honestly, if there’s one film in a fairly predictable top 10 that I recommend that everyone should see, it’s this one.

    Lack of exposure is just ridiculous.

    • Hawaiian Organ Donor says :

      I forgot to mention, great review Jarv. You nailed all the reasons why it’s so accessible to men and women. As sad as the ending is, it really is a perfect date movie.

      • Jarv says :

        Cheers,

        It’s been my third adult review in a row. I need to put up some gibberish full of the word “cunt” to rebalance the scales a bit.

        How are things going?

      • Hawaiian Organ Donor says :

        Things are OK I guess. I’m tackling small goals with the hope one of them will produce something worthwhile this year. First off is writing enough reviews so that I can become established and have my stuff on Rotten Tomatoes. Next is finding another girl of my dreams.

  7. Hawaiian Organ Donor says :

    Droid, I know you have sticky fingers but this one might actually be tough to find on the tubes. And you won’t find it on any online DVD rental services. Like Jarv says, it’s criminal how it gets the home video shaft outside of Asia. Let me know if you come up empty and I’ll send you a copy like I did everyone else.

    • Droid says :

      Good man. I’ll let you know if I do.

      I have to say I’m fairly adept at locating obscure shit. I even somehow managed to locate a couple of flicks I used to watch as a 5 year old that never even got a dvd release. For better or for worse.

      • Hawaiian Organ Donor says :

        When I started going nuts over Asian films several years ago, this was one I could not find on the torrents, and that was only a year or so after it’s release. I ended up buying a version from YesAsia and while it was expensive, it was worth every penny.

  8. Jarv says :

    I found the pictures on http://www.koreanmovie.com

    I think they have a download service- but you’d have to pay for it.

  9. Bartleby says :

    I found comments I made back in the Twitch Days where I said

    “Does anyone find Daisy more of a modern fairy tale, instead of a straight realsim story?”

    and then went on to talk about how the ‘melodrama’ was done in an operatic, fable-esque way.

    Either way, great review, even if I get called out…

  10. Jarv says :

    I was thimking about the other day, actually, when we were talking about the best of Asian lists.

    • Bartleby says :

      which means your comment of “he’s not giving it the credit it deserves’ a little off…but no biggie.

      You see Breathless yet Jarv? The Korean film?

      • Jarv says :

        I did say sorry.

        Anyway- I meant that you had pointed out that it was a melodrama, and you were right, BUT while it is a melodrama, it’s fucking superb.

        I wonder how I cocked that up so badly.

        It was totally not meant to read like that.

    • Bartleby says :

      don’t sweat it, as I didn’t take any real offense. I was responding to jpt’s jonah is wrong anyhow, and I wasn’t even upset at that.

      Droid’s crap on the other hand…there is no forgiveness for.

      In point of fact, the movie probably wouldn’t work if it wasn’t melodrama, which is actually why so much Korean stuff is getting acolades. They make the same ‘edgy’ stories that Americans and Europeans attempt, but they are the only ones currently who seem willing to go that extra bit and have an emotional reaction in addition to anything cerebral going on.

      Case in point, the Vengeance trilogy has some emotionally devestating beats that it didnt have to have to work, and an American sensibility would have considered them over-dramatic. Same goes for The Host, with the ending. But I think those elements actually add to the effect the movie’s had.

      I do confess to finding the ending of Daisy just a bit too far-reaching in that way, but it may in fact be due to something else you mentioned: we desire the happy ending. I may have wanted it to the point that I felt a pre-determined ‘unhappy’ one was not necessary.

  11. Jarv says :

    Nah, not yet.

  12. Jarv says :

    Sorry Droid.

    I had to delete that comment of yours as it was fucking the order up again.

  13. koutchboom says :

    Hello everyone. My name is Koutchboom, and I did not like this movie.

  14. Continentalop says :

    I haven’t seen it either. Used to be there was only handful of movies out there I hadn’t seen, even obscure ones and foreign films. But last decade I fell dreadfully behind, especially with Asian cinema.

    I’ve got to see this, along with Election, the Chaser, Private Eye; the Good, the Bad & the Weird; and probably 20 others.

  15. jarv says :

    This is superb. This is a relly uncontroversial top ten. However, I cannot recommend this highly enough.

  16. MORBIUS says :

    Haven’t seen this film, stopped reading the review when it said huge spoilers. Skipped to the end to see if it was recommended or not. What happened to the rating system you guys started? One to Five scale, how is it?

    Are you reviewing th US or the UK version of The Descent? If it’s the UK one, I’d like to know how the endings differ. Will read this post after viewing the film.

  17. jarv says :

    UK one.

    The US one is shit, frankly.

    There’s no Chang rating on these because these are all 4 chang films.

  18. Tom_Bando says :

    Election-as in w/ Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick? It’s fair. But you’ll wind up spending your time better if you watch repeats of Space 1999 I think.

    • Continentalop says :

      Bandito, I meant a HK movie of the same title, about the election for a triad’s new Godfather. Eccho told me about it and it sounds great.

      • Tom_Bando says :

        Oh okay. I kinda thought it was odd you’d either A: missed that one or B: were considering it worthy of revisiting (though each to their own said the Johnny Sokko person) Conti Pops.

  19. jarv says :

    Election is meant to be superb. For some reason I’ve never seen it

  20. ThereWolf says :

    Daisy is a wonderful film. It broke my fucking heart at the end. I didn’t think there was enough left in there to break.

    Never saw Park-yi as a stalker – that’s probably through the skill of the director. Gianna Jun is indeed tremendously emotive – particularly the moment when she tries to speak even though she can’t.

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