"A Story of Bangja" is a comedy based on the popular South Korean folktale "Chung Hyang." The movie then twists the story around to ask what would happen if Lee Myong Ryong was unattractive, while his servant Bang Ja Jeon was attractive? During Lee Myong Ryong's courtship with Lady Chun Hyang both parties use their servants to communicate ...
Cast & Credits
Where the original Story of Chunhyang (and earlier film adaptations of the folk tale) tells the story of the beautiful courtesan's daughter and the handsome nobleman who falls for her, in this retelling this classic love story takes on a new dimension.
Bang-ja has worked in servitude to Mongryong for many years. He's satisfied with his existence until one day he encounters a woman who changes his life forever. Both master and servant fall for the beautiful Chunhyang at first sight. However, due to his lack of status, Bang-ja is convinced he doesn't stand a chance against the aristocrat, Mongryong.
I have to say this retelling of the original folk tale was quite moving to watch.
Where Chunhyang (2000) is an upbeat, pure love story with likable characters all around, The Servant is a poignant story of long-suffering and sacrifice. It puts a more mature spin on the original story, and solicits a deeper emotional investment from the viewer.
Both films are great for different reasons. In Chunhyang I loved the feel good story of young lovers discovering each other for the first time as well as the skillful direction of the film by Im Kwon-Taek. In The Servant the hero's strait journey to be with the love of his life is what touched my heart.
He was a very sympathetic, worthy, if tragic, hero, portrayed superbly by actor Kim Ju Hyuk. Though powerless & trapped by his low class Bang-ja revealed himself to be the true noble, a man of honour, wisdom & sound character who, for the sake of love, suffered through much humiliation and hardship. A number of the supporting cast put in notable performances as well, in particular Oh Dal Su's In No, Bang-ja's compatriot & mentor. The Servant was also surprisingly modern in tone and mood. It took on a somewhat tongue-in-cheek approach towards its handling of sexuality. It may seem a bit contradictory to the period in which the film is set, but it worked somehow with the overall arc of the story.
In closing, I'd say both films are well worth a watch, though it's not mandatory to see one in order to understand the other. I'm giving The Servant a 10 (as I did Chunhyang) for its story & Kim Ju Hyuk's performance. The ending was beautiful and bittersweet. Just an overall enjoyable watch that I'd recommend to everyone.