Honest Candidate is a 2020 South Korean movie in the genre of comedy drama that follows a story about political candidate. This movie is a remake from a Brazilian movie with similar title (O Candidato Honesto), even though rather than recalling about this movie while you watch the Korean release, there is a bigger chance it reminds you more of Liar Liar, 1997 Hollywood one-man comedy flick starring Jim Carrey. The original used to hit the number 1 box office in Brazil, and although the same cannot be said for Honest Candidate, the movie stands out on its own and saw a decent success as well.

It is possible that the production team and the main actor of Honest Candidate, Ra Mi-ran, might have felt some kind of pressure that may surface due to the comparison. It’s the comedy king and global renowned actor Jim Carrey after all. However, the viewers can be rest assured by the fact that Ra Mi-ran shows wonderful performance and eliminate the possible concerns. With her own strengths and charm, she led the movie and demonstrated her capability and further potential. Read more about the movie down below and some recommendations based on it if you’d like this one.


The Synopsis of Honest Candidate

The original Brazilian movie is the type of film that incorporates different stories into one piece, and it’s done as well by director Chang You-jeong. What’s more praiseworthy is her decision to adjust the comical aspect to match with Korean sentiments.

Honest Candidate story opens by a South Korean congresswoman named Joo Sang-sook (starred by Ra Mi-ran) who attempts to get into political world in order to help Kim Ok-hee (starred by Na Moon-hee), her grandmother who’s on the brink of passing away. Unsurprisingly, the not completely truthful Joo Sang-sook wears fake identity, by posing as extremely eccentric, highly detailed, and very caring figure towards her staff. All while manages not to strip her diplomatic ability to influence the team decision.

Honest Candidate set during the period of Hyuntan City’s election campaign, and the congresswoman Joo Sang-sook is supposedly running the term for the fourth time already. By her side, there is the loyal manager of campaign Park Hee-cheol (starred by Kim Mu-yeol) who is aware of her real identity ever since Joo got elected through public deception.

Joo has to encounter the closest opponent of hers, Nam Yong-sung (starred by Jo Han-chul), the former Hyuntan City’s major who faced defeat against her several years ago just by mere numbers of votes, in a tight debate aired on city regarding city transformation. Little did the public know Yong-sung has been bribed by congresswoman Joo in each and every election, alongside with Kim Sang-pyo (starred by Son Jong-hak) the party leader. This time round, the campaign seems to go smooth, but she caught in circumstances where she has no option but to tell her truth to the public.


The Casts and Characters

In the O Candidato Honesto, the main character is played by Roberto Santucci as a male politician. However, in Honest Candidate remake, Chang You-jeong as the director and screenwriter decided to make the lead into a female character and casted Ra Mi-ran. The director admits how the actress has ability to serve outstanding performance, due to her maturity and humanity side, as well as stating that there’s probably no other person that can do better than Ra Mi-ran.

Excellently, Ra Mi-ran was not the only one who brings freshness into the table. This movie has received plenty of praises due to how well the cast members are picked and how well the chemistry between them is built. Some pulled the comedic roles greatly even though they have been only involved in serious productions.

Here are the characters and castings list of Honest Candidate:

  • Joo Sang-sook played by Ra Mi-ran
  • Park Hee-cheol played by Kim Mu-yeol
  • Kim Ok-hee played by Na Moon-hee
  • Bong Man-shik played by Yoon Kyung-hoo
  • Bong Eun-ho played by Jang Dongjoo
  • Kim Sang-pyo played by Son Jong-hak
  • Lee Woon-hak played by Song Young-chang
  • Shin Ji-sun played by Cho Soo-hyang
  • Yoon Mi-kyung played by Kim Na-yoon
  • Lee Jung-min played by Ahn Se-ho


The Movie Reception

Honest Candidate was released around the time where local cinemas experience slight slump, but finally revives again after the Parasite was taking four wins at Academy Awards to its home country. Still, it is affected by the concerning issue of coronavirus pandemic. In fact, the release of this movie was considered to be postponed due to outbreak, but Next Entertainment World as its distributor decided it wasn’t the best take eventually and the film was released as planned originally.

After five days of its release (February 16, 2020), the movie is said to earned over $6 million total gross and over 900,000 ticket admissions according to The Korean Film Council. It is screened on more than 1,100 cinemas across the country and represented 44% of total box office during the weekend. Therefore, it makes this work of Chang You-jeong director as the best performed films that premiered during the second month of 2020, outperformed highly anticipated Hollywood release ‘Little Women’ which positioned on second during the same day by gaining over 10,000 viewers and over 46,000 in total.

As for the mid-year period, Honest Candidate took the fifth place on the best grossing South Korean films on 2020, by gaining more than $10 million. Speaking merely based on the sales, it didn’t receive the best interest from the country although it obtained quite a good buzz from worldwide movie fans.

Ra Mi-ran has successfully grabbed a place in 41st Blue Dragon Film Awards’s best actress nomination. This award is scheduled to be held on December 11, 2020 – but because of the recent raising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the country, its celebration was announced to be postponed. The ceremony wouldn’t take place until at least on early 2021.


The Review

The commitment to adjust the plot and comedic aspect to match with South Korean viewers’ sentiments is a brilliant decision made by Honest Candidate’s production crew considering the failure of some Korean movies in box office lands due to unwise decision in opposite. The movie focuses on how to put out humor that stemmed from inability to lie and do some adjustments as the unique strength of this remake by Korean director.

The biggest strength from the movie, as it is said by a lot of movie viewers, is the casting. Ra Mi-ran is the perfect cast for her role here – it feels like the character is made and tailored for the actress. Her professional mannerism to convey personality of the character is what makes the movie shines. It’s even probably safe to say that this movie secures her place as comedic acting queen. Not to mention how great the rest of the casts as well.

From the storyline aspect, there’s actually not much to be said about Honest Candidate. The idea itself is not original and the plot is quite predictable, as the viewers will be able to easily tell how the story will flow even though they may hope for some twist and surprise, which there isn’t any as it just continues to progress as expected. The tone also strays a bit from its comedy roots and trying to hard to give lessons and be emotional at times, especially when it approaches the end. After all, a lot of comedy movies are perceived based on the viewers’ personal preference. In general, this film is decently funny at providing light entertainment to pass your time.


What’s More about Honest Candidate?

Comedy genre movies from South Korea tend to be blended with other genres, and it is probably found more often that other countries in the world. It does not apply from romantic comedy only, as the real gems of Korean movies’ humors often found in social, historical, and political themed flicks. The latter category is where falls on.

In terms of sub-genre, the closest you can find to Honest Candidate, albeit being heavier, is The President’s Last Bang. The movie deals with sprinkled humors while following the plot of past authoritarianism in South Korea. Meanwhile, for prominent female main character, you should give Miss Granny a try. It’s a movie that tells a story about how grandmother in her 70s suddenly turned back being someone in their 20s. It provides heart-touching story about how a controlling and foul-mouthed widow who lives with her son and his wife getting her life upside down. Other movie with greatly written female lead is The Thieves, which often deemed as South Korea’s own Ocean’s Eleven.

All in all, you may turn to watch the classic My Sassy Girl – but you’ve probably already had since it is the most grossing Korean’s movie of all time. It has been credited to spread Hallyu wave and bring significant interest from the worldwide audience to South Korean cinema that gives birth to Honest Candidate.