Directed by Chang Yoon-Hyun (Hwang Jin-Yi) and screenwriter Kim Eun-Jung (Hwang Jin-Yi and Flower Boy Next Door). This movie is based on the novel “Russian Coffee” by Kim Tak Hwan. “Russian Coffee” is a fictionalized story based in a historical setting. Shooting locations includes 16 different locations in South Korea and Russia. credit: asianwiki
Release Date: March 15, 2012
Running Time: 115 min.
Joo Jin Mo as Illichi
Kim So Yeon as Danya
Park Hee Soon as Emperor Gojong
Yoo Sun as Sadako
Rest of the Cast
Kim Ga Eun as Geum Hee
Kim Eung Soo as Miura
Jo Deok Hyeon as Seok Joo
Kim Hyeon Ah as Court Lady
Uhm Hyo Seop as Danya’s father
“Coffee” depicts the assassination attempt of King Gojong (Park Hee-Soon) – the 26th king of the Joseon Dynasty. Set towards the end of the 19th century, when coffee was first introduced to Korea, Russian sharpshooter Illichi (Joo Jin-Mo) and Joseon’s first barista Danya (Kim So-Yeon) are manipulated by Sadako (Yoo-Sun) in an intricate plot to assassinate King Gojong.
Movie title “Gabi” refers to what Koreans first called “Coffee” when it was introduced during the Joseon Dynasty. Originally Lee Da-Hae was supposed to be cast as the lead female character “Danya,” but dropped out of filming. She was sued by the production company Ocean Film who won a 21 million won ($18,600 USD) settlement for breaking her verbal agreement to work on the movie 10 days prior to filming. credit: asianwiki I have to say that after watching this movie, it was a great re-casting decisions.
I love how the drama begins. Talk about getting the “Indiana Jones” and “The Good, The Bad, and maybe The Weird” feelings all rolled into one. There is something about an actor who does most of his own stunts! As you watch the first scenes whereby the duo thieves, Danya and Illichi are robbing the train looking for funds to purchase the illegally traded coffee to be imported and sold to the rich in Russia, it is nothing but one action scene after another.
I really enjoyed it when Illichi is bouncing from one car to another as he attempts to unhook the treasure car from the rest. The scene inside the car where he is fighting one Russian soldier after another is artwork! Well staged scene I might say….and all Jin Mo!
Danya wasn’t a weeping willow. When she took the punches that the Russian soldier was throwing at her and giving almost as much as she got, I was so happy to see that she won’t be window dressing in the movie. So many movies from this period has the female being “rescued”!
Kim So Yeon was simply amazing in her performance. Not only her acting was well done but her command of English, Japanese and also Russian was stunning and pronunciation couldn’t be better than any linguist I’ve ever heard. Yes, it was that good. Representing the first ever barrista in Joseon Korea, it was fascinating to watch as she made the coffee and explained the entire process!
Park Hee Soon and Yoo Sun were sensational as King Gojong and Sadako, respectively. While King Gojong was attempting to save his country, Sadako was helping the enemy to destroy it. Her story was one that you hear all the time in these period movies as well as dramas whereby a girl-child worth is no more than the next meal or a few yen and are sold without a thought by their fathers.
The rest of the cast did well in filling the gaps and the time. As this movie is almost 2 hours long, the time goes relatively fast as there is so much detail that is being presented to the viewer. It is also rare to hear the actors speak so many languages. Not only is Kim So Yeon multi-lingual but so is Jo Jin Mo. He was nice to see the actors truly have a command of the language and not some weird dubbing. It is funny that the fake Russians showed more accents than the Korean actors talking Russian OR Japanese!
But if you need more convincing to watch, just enjoy the many faces of Jo Jin Mo. This man looks good in a leather jacket, three piece suit and DAMN, he is rocking a Japanese officer’s uniform. And don’t get me started on that smile, anger or sultry look. This man oozes sensuality on the screen!
MDL Rating: 8.0, because I love period movies and Jo Jin Mo is extra!