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MR. GAM’S VICTORY

Oct 10, 2018
  • Writerby Pierce Conran
  • View278

2004115 MIN | Drama
DIRECTOR KIM Jong-hyun
CAST LEE Beom-su, GONG Yoo, YOON Jin-seo, HA Jung-woo
RELEASE DATE January 4, 2007
CONTACT CJ Entertainment
Tel : +82 2 371 5500
Fax : +82 2 371 6340

Director KIM Jong-hyun combines Korea’s national pastime with 1980s social struggles in his period sports drama Mr. Gam’s Victory (2004). Unlike typical sports dramas, this work is focused on working-class characters who strive for something better in their life, with baseball acting as a symbol of hope and escape for the film’s titular character. LEE Beom-su leads the cast while popular stars GONG Yoo and HA Jung-woo feature in early roles.

In 1982, Gam Sa-yong is a factory worker who lives with his mother and siblings while also tending to the family store. He pitches for the factory team but dreams of becoming a pro. By chance, he gets an opportunity to join the Sammi Superstars, but he discovers that life as a relief pitcher does little to scratch his itch. However, when the ever-losing Superstars go up against the best team in the league, who are looking to set a record-breaking 20-game winning streak, he finally gets his chance to shine.

This endearing commercial sports drama uses Korea’s passion for baseball as a strong metaphor for the desire to stand out in society and to break free from under the thumb of a suffocating system of social hierarchy. While relatively little time is spent on the baseball field, the film drives to the major diamond-set climax that successfully mines the pleasurable tropes of the baseball drama.

Leading the cast as Gam is LEE Beom-su, a well-known actor who appeared in many of Korea’s notable films of the 1990s and early aughts, including City of the Rising Sun (1999), Bungee Jumping of Their Own (2001) and My Wife Is a Gangster 3 (2006). Given a rare opportunity to head a cast, LEE rises to the occasion as the lovable Sa-yong, who is hard not to root for. YOON Jin-seo (Gyeong-ju, 2014) appears as his co-worker who also fights to achieve her dream of becoming an actress, while future stars GONG Yoo (TRAIN TO BUSAN, 2016) and HA Jung-woo (Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds, 2017) join him on the baseball diamond.

Mr. Gam’s Victory was the debut film of director KIM Jong-hyun, who went on to make the buddy cop comedy-thriller My New Partner (2008) with AHN Sung-ki and JO Han-sun, and returned to sports narratives when he directed 2016’s RUN OFF, the women’s ice hockey drama that served as an unconnected sequel to ski jumping smash Take Off (2009), which also featured HA Jung-woo.

Elevated by its period setting in the political turbulent 1980s (at one point Sa-yong jogs past a battalion of riot control officers) and focus on working-class characters, Mr. Gam’s Victory is an effective and engaging sports drama with a uniquely Korean and family-centric focus.
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