Friday, November 9, 2012

Action Month Review: Miss, Please Be Patient / 아가씨 참으세요 (1981)

‘Miss, Please Be Patient’ was a movie which was considered lost for a long time, until finally in 2011 the guys at ‘Houndslow Team’ - a group of martial arts cinema fans spread across the globe dedicated to tracking down rare kung-fu movies to remaster and release - managed to locate a bruised and battered practically unwatchable VHS copy, and so began the journey to finally give people a chance to watch it.

Why was it worth tracking down? ‘Miss, Please Be Patient’ is one of Kim Tai-jung’s rare movie appearances in his homeland. Tai-jung was a martial artist who, after Bruce Lee’s untimely death in the middle of filming ‘Game of Death’, was brought in to fill in as Lee’s double so that they could finish the movie, due to his similar mannerisms and characteristics. Tai-jung stuck around in Hong Kong, going on to headline ‘Game of Death 2’, which pitted him up against fellow Korean super-kicker Hwang Jang-lee, and he even got to play Bruce Lee himself in the Hong Kong / American co-production ‘No Retreat, No Surrender’. In the movie he plays the ghost of Bruce Lee, who trains a young American student in the art of kung-fu, so that he can beat the evil Jean Claude Van-Damme, here making his screen début.

Amongst these movies, Tai-jung made a couple in his native Korea. Sadly due to Korea’s reputation at the time for producing largely low quality, poorly choreographed kung-fu movies when compared to its Hong Kong counterparts, a lot of them simply disappeared into movie oblivion. However as with anything, there are always a few diamonds in the rough, the sad thing in the case of Korea’s kung-fu movie output is that those diamonds got swept up in the same oblivion as all the rest, lost in the crowd of mediocrity.

When ‘Miss, Please Be Patient’ was finally wrapped up, remastered to the best it could be and sporting English subtitles for the first time, I planned to watch it more out of curiosity purposes than anything else, hardly expecting to gain any real enjoyment from the experience. So imagine my surprise when I found a real gem of a movie, genuinely funny comedy paired with high impact fight scenes, topped off with a cast of cool characters strutting around in early 80s Seoul and Pusan.

When I first suggested to Kieran, the festival director at the Korean Culture Office, that the movie could be shown as part of the ‘Cinema on the Park’ program, I was delighted that he was really open to the idea, and the movie could get a real screening like it deserves. Of course when he asked me to introduce it for the audience my demeanour quickly turned to one of nerves and anxiousness, talking in front of people is not really my forte, but how could I say no?

The day of the screening came around, and I’d been carefully practising my roughly five minute spiel all day at my desk in work, so was pretty confident I’d give it the introduction it’s worthy of. Unfortunately once I got to the Korean Culture Office and saw how many people were there, nerves set in, I began drinking cups of makkoli as if it was water, and my hand had developed an embarrassing shake. By the time I got on stage my spiel came exploding out at the speed of light, and what I wanted to say over the course of five minutes was over and done with in less than two. General crowd reaction afterwards was that they understood - “Thanks for coming…….Bruce Lee……enjoy the movie.” So I hope for everyone that’s reading this and was there, my explanation has shed a little more light on the movies history and how it came to be.

The movie itself is a lot of fun, and for myself it was a rare chance to hear Tai-jung’s real voice, as in all of his Hong Kong movies he’s dubbed over in Cantonese. It was also interesting to see how the attitude and feel of his character can still very much be seen in Korean cinema today, the cocky and confident demeanour Tai-jung’s character of Kim Min-wuk carries himself around with can be seen in plenty of Korean movies and dramas showing right now. Similarly the female characters are hardly damsels in distress, despite the plot centering around the kidnap attempts of Li Hwa, played by the popular actress, the beautiful Jeong Yun-hui, and her friend.

‘Miss, Please Be Patient’ has a real playfulness to it, and Tai-chung does indeed get to show off why he was chosen to fill in for Bruce Lee’s very big shoes, delivering some lightening fast kicks and deadly punches. One stand-out scene in particular has him fighting two bad guys who attack him in his hotel room while he’s running a bath, who only enter because Tai-jung amusingly leaves his room door wide open, allowing for some convenient fisty cuffs to take place.

For every unintentional laugh though, weather it be for the 80s fashion or Tai-jung leaping 20 foot into the air, there was also plenty of intentional ones. It struck me that the Korean humour of such a movie was completely different from the gurning, slapstick heavy doses of Canto-comedy so prevalent in its Hong Kong counterparts. There are plenty of genuine laughs to be had from ‘Miss, Please Be Patient’, and sometimes it’s not afraid to even be a little bit sexy.

All in all it’s great news that it’s finally seen the light of day after being considered lost for so long, and thankfully the Cinema on the Park audience seemed to agree, rating it 4.48 out of 5, which makes it the 3rd highest rated movie of the over 50 which have been shown. For anyone who wants another dose of Tai-jung action, ‘Game of Death 2’ is readily available on DVD in Australia, and comes with my hearty recommendation, not just for Tai-jung’s appearance, but you also get double your value with Hwang Jang-lee as well. Sadly Tai-jung passed away far too early last year, so ‘Miss, Please Be Patient’ is a fitting tribute to the pleasure he’s given many a kung-fu fan around the world. RIP.

- Paul Bramhall


  1. Paul I really enjoyed your write-up. I'm impressed that you had the gumption to go from big fan to a person getting these films seen by many others at such a cool venue. There's nothing better than someone taking steps to share what they love with as many other people as they can. Not only am I a big fan of Korean cinema, but I'm a big fan of yours as well. Keep up the great work!

  2. Well, I can really only add a hearty "same goes for me" to Kung Fu Bob's comments. And honestly, I never would have taken you for one to get nervous about public speaking. I hope this will provide you will lots of opportunities to turn others on to some great martial art films. Maybe you can create your own festival at some point!