Have you ever watched those pleasantly surprising movies where they started off in boring manner and then halfway through, they give amazing twist to the viewers by providing explosive revelation as well as action treats? If you are and you like it, then OK! Madam must be a cinema piece that’s worth to watch. It seemingly carries low interest during the first act, but once the problem arises, it happened to be far more enjoyable and you can’t help but tune in until the end.
OK! Madam is a South Korean flick in the genre of comedy action. It brings a story about middle class family that has young daughter who struggles financially. Both parents are working as bread maker and computers repairman, but they barely have scrapped the enjoyable part of life, such as going on holiday vacation. This work of Lee Cheol-ha director follows as the family’s luck changes as they win free Hawaii vacation trip, but the peace and fun of aviation journey is interrupted due to the plain being hijacked. The parent couple then attempt to rescue the plane’s passengers in unpredicted ways.
The Plot Summary
In the opening of OK! Madam, viewers are introduced with Mi-young who owns bakery shop where she sells traditional Korean twisted bread and the husband Seok-hwan who works as computer service technician.
Although Mi-young is known to have likable yet frugal personality, she’s rather stingy when it comes to family’s financial. It is understandable, though, as the family has suffered from poor financial condition for at least a few years. There’s barely enough money left from both of their daily income to support their lives and their daughter. Regardless the situation, Mi-young is still able to keep up high spirit and her husband is very accepting to her feisty personality without problem.
One day their life is changed by a small but significant event. As Mi-young opens a bottle of her husband’s energy drink, she surprisingly finds out of winning lottery prize, which a gift of free trip for the entire family to Hawaii. At first, she’s rather reluctant and considers cashing the prize out. However, the younger daughter who feels sad about how the family struggles with poverty is able to touch her heart and makes her changes the decision to take the prize as it is. Thus, the family is going to go to their first trip overseas.
Unbeknownst to every passenger on the plane that brings the family to Hawaii; North Korean agent called Magnolia is also boarding in order to escape South Korea. The OK! Madam plot picks up as the operative team led by Cheol-seung (played by Lee Sang-yoon) tries to hijack the plane.
The Characters and Castings
OK! Madam movie is boosted by veteran actors both in the main and supporting castings. In fact, this movie makes the comeback of Uhm Jung-hwa after half a decade since ‘Wonderful Nightmare’ in 2015.
Another main cast, Park Sung-woong, is another actor that’s hard not to recognize. He starred in box office hit action noir movie ‘New World’ in 2013. Here, he plays as Uhm Jung-hwa’s husband. The North Korean group leader is played by Lee Sang-yoon.
So far, it doesn’t sound like comedy movie, right? However, the presences of South Korean National Intelligence Service (NIS) agents in disguise, Kim Nam-gil, and large agent team who pretend to be flight steward, Bae Jeong-na, are able to make the movie feels rather bumbling more than threatening.
Considering this is the first work piece of director Lee Cheol-ha in comedy genre, he has done admirable job. Despite the classic setting, the film has promising twists – not to mention the sparkling castings.
Below is the list of OK! Madam characters along with their respective casts:
- Mi-young, played by Uhm Jung-hwa
- Seok-hwan, played by Park Sung-woong
- Hyun-min, played by Bae Jeong-nam
- Cheol-seung, played by Lee Sang-yoon
- Agent of National Intelligence Service, played by Eo Sung-wook
- Mysterious plane passenger, played by Lee Sun-bin
- Kim Ha-rim, played by Yoo Ha-joon
The Movie Reception
OK! Madam was off to a good start during its opening week. The comedy-action movie by Lee Cheol-ha was successful enough to land on South Korean’s box office spot at the second by Wednesday as the release day and sold more than 110,000 ticket admissions, resulting in more than $770,000 in profit.
The accumulative total of the entire opening week shows that the movie hauled about $4.5 million just in eight days after it was launched on August 12, 2020. According to the data released by Korean Film Council (KOFIC), the film officially exceeded one million cinema viewers at the end of the week, which gave approximately $9 million of gross profit. During this time, it is played on over 1,280 screens across the country and represented 35% of total box office in weekend. In the end, according to the annual data earlier this year, it has the total ticket admissions of over 1,2 million and has profited more than $10 million.
Of course, the effect of pandemic has to be taken into account when seeing this number. The movie came out during the period where Seoul becomes a hotspot for new virus and government increased the hazard warning to the level 2. Cinema is more likely to be affected by this new regulation back then, as there is no outdoor meeting with more than 100 attendees and indoor meeting with more than 50 attendees are allowed – even though it’s not mentioned specifically.
OK! Madam makes it to the list of as one of the ten screened movies by Korean Cultural Center New York (KCCNY), during Korean Movie Night at Home. It meant to bring entertainment and access for the audiences to South Korean movies from the comfort at their home during December 2020.
OK! Madam deserves praise not only as comedy movie that combines action aspect into it, but also for being unapologetically silly and absurd on different levels. Some might think the movie went too goofy at times, but it has consistency to deliver thrills and enjoyable laughs.
The most prominent problem with the movie is how dragged its first act feels. While in general it provides funny and fast-paced ride, the same cannot be said for the first 40 minutes. It starts being more enticing the moment it swings the direction to complete opposite, where everyone suddenly owns secret along with some intriguing conspiracy – resulting in genuine stakes and action. The movie spends a considerable time to make you cling to the character but other than that, the rest is quite exciting to watch, even said to be wonderful by some movie reviewers.
The climax part must be familiar for comedy movie fans, but with how the plot takes turn, the movie becomes a bit briskly and shaky. Luckily, in the hand of director Lee Cheol-ha, with the help of great performances by main and supporting casts, the movie is able to float still. Uhm Jung-hwa deserves to be praised for her acting – but more than that, the colorful characteristics from her surrounding performers also play a huge role.
Another interesting aspect that’s being showcased by OK! Madam, is how the movie took setting in actual plane. It also won’t hesitate to show you unique sides of plane that otherwise rare to be found in other films such as air ducts or baggage area. In conclusion, the film is doing a decent job to make up for the boring part at the early sequence.
What People Say about OK! Madam
OK! Madam is a movie that plays homage to ‘Yes Madam’, a 1985 Hong Kong film in the genre of action. You may want to check it out next for heavier, more realistic, and rougher approach to the storyline. This movie also involves themes of partnering, detective, police, investigation, gangster, and martial arts.
At some points, this movie may remind you of Hollywood’s ‘Die Hard’, ‘Airport’, and ‘Executive Decision’. It’s especially apparent with Die Hard as the film gives cheeky nod during the scene where the character has to crawl through the ventilation shaft in the plane, as it was with character played by Bruce Willis.
In terms of the set, doing action performances in such a confined space is not a strange thing in Korean movies. You can see it in the smash-hit ‘Train to Busan’ and ‘Snowpiercer’ to some extents, even though they both obviously don’t bring similar satire humor. In a way, they have more similarity in portraying social hierarchy and catastrophe.
Another recommendation, this time in comedy genre, is the Midnight Runners. It tells story about highly motivated student polices that involved in case of kidnapping during their leave.
The last similar movie to OK! Madam that blends a great combination of comedy and action is The Thieves, starring popular actress such as Kim Hye-soo, Jun Ji-hyun, and other casts such as Kim Yoon-seok and Lee Jung-jae. This flick provides incredible performances from its casts along with humorous and enjoyable plot for the fans of action-comedy film genre.