How To Watch A Foreign Movie

Watching foreign movies aren’t really that appealing to watch. But, I have some reasons why they can be entertaining–here’s how.

Don’t let a different language with subtitles scare you


Have you ever passed by a bargain bin with an endless selection of foreign movies? I know I have. I was never interested in perusing them, because if I don’t understand the outside cover, I won’t understand the movie either. Plus, I was not interested in watching a movie with subtitles. Let’s not forget the cultural references, which I cannot connect with at all. Even when I lived in Taiwan, I opted for Western movies (yes, those movies did have Chinese subtitles).

Then, entered ‘My Sassy Girl,’ a 2008 direct-to-video Hollywood adaptation of a very popular South Korean movie with the same name. The romantic comedy with actors Elisha Cuthbert and Jesse Bradford is a movie I dislike to love, but love to dislike.

The Dislikes
In typical chick flick fashion, Bradford’s character, Charlie, falls for Cuthbert’s character, Jordan, when he meets her at school–drunk as a skunk.

The movie continues to unfold with Jordan, grieving the very recent death of her fiancé, making Charlie’s life a nightmare with both verbal and physical abuse (in the first half of the movie). Of course, Charlie, a glutton for punishment, did not have the common sense to send the troubled girl away or to find her help.

The movie romanticizes the idea of a nice guy doing all he can to ‘save’ a troubled (in this case, drunk) woman from pain. In the first half of the film, we witness Jordan’s abusive behavior toward Charlie, who in return, gave her acceptance and love. From a spiritual standpoint, this film can remind Christians just how much mercy and grace that God pours over us daily.

The sexual banter, coarse language, and crude humor definitely distracts the viewer from the moral message of the flick. Fortunately, this behavior dissipates as the movie progresses and Jordan’s story of grief is slowly revealed.

The Likes

The second half of the film is very inspirational. Jordan stops seeing Charlie, and months later, asks him to meet her in Central Park, New York. Jordan and Charlie agree to exchange love letters, which were then buried in a time capsule under a tree. The two also agree to meet under that same tree a year later to open and read the letters.

Once the two parted, Charlie spends the next year preparing for their reunion. When the day arrives, Jordan does not show up. Charlie digs up the time capsule and reads her letter. He learns that, on the day they met, Jordan’s fiancé had committed suicide.

Jordan was drawn to Charlie, because she found similarities of her dead fiancé in him. Charlie learns that the time the two spent together–the first half of the film–was a reenactment of Jordan’s relationship with her fiancé.

In the letter, Jordan reveals that if she is absent at their reunion, it means that she is still grieving the loss of her fiancé. Reassuringly, Jordan says her absence is no reflection of how she feels for Charlie. She loves him. In turn, Charlie’s letter reveals that Jordan is the only woman he would ever love.

Later, Jordan meets with her ex-fiancé’s mother at a restaurant. The mother explains that she has tried, for a while, to find Jordan another man. In fact, the mother had arranged for a young man to meet Jordan that very day. The mother describes the young man, and of course, Charlie walks into the restaurant, which reveals that Jordan’s fiancé is, in fact, Charlie’s cousin.


Once, I connected to the Western adaptation, I was more open to watching the South Korean version of the film. Believe it or not, I enjoyed watching the movie: subtitles, cultural references, and all. I was able to recognize the storyline and connect with the characters in the film at a deeper level. (If you think the abuse that Charlie received in the Hollywood version was intense, wait until you witness the onslaught in the South Korean version of the film).

Besides “My Sassy Girl,” Hollywood has remade a number of South Korean films. MTV states that the film itself is based on a number of stories written on the Internet by Ho-sik Kim, which, later turned into a best-selling graphic novel.

If you want to watch a foreign film, pursue one with a Western-made adaptation. First, watch Hollywood’s version, and then watch its foreign counterpart. You are more likely to connect with the foreign flick once you see a version that fits your culture and language. I am open to watching foreign films in the future, are you? iT!

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