The Ajoomma movie poster for the Philippine Screening

A heartfelt movie that had potential to be more

TBA Studios recently invited The Geeky Juans to an advanced screening of the Singaporean-Korean production: Ajoomma.

TBA STudios brings Ajoomma to Philippine Cinemas

Ajoomma is a film about a KDrama-obsessed Singaporean widow simply named “Auntie” played by Hong Hui Fang.

Like many Asian cultures, we use honorifics to talk to people who are older than us a form of respect.

Auntie decides go abroad for the first time and chooses to go to South Korea. She explores South Korea to geek out on KDrama and take a journey of self-discovery.

However, during a random pitstop set up by her tour guide, Auntie is accidentally left by the tour bus on the way to the group’s hotel. The reason why Auntie was left by the bus is because she was talking to her son in the US and was trying to get a better signal on the phone. Chaos ensues from Auntie getting lost and the plot of Ajoommaa starts rolling.

The Plot

The main plot of Ajoomma involves Auntie trying to reunite with her tour group.

We also need to take a look at the two other main characters of this story: Kwon Woo (Kang Hyung-Seok) and Jung Su (Jung Dong-hwan).

Kwon Woo is separated from his wife and child while trying to pay off mobsters he owes a huge debt to. He takes up the tour guide job in order to pay off his debt and move his wife and daughter out of his mother-in-law’s house.

Due to his terrible financial situation, Kwon Woo lives in a very small apartment with his friend away from his wife and daughter.

Kwon Woo’s even worse decision making brings us back to the pit stop the tour bus makes that leads to Auntie getting left behind. He tries to win back his wife before dropping off the tour group in their hotel to settle in for the night. However, the movie shows how irresponsible Kwon Woo is when he tells the bus driver to take the bus to the hotel without noticing that Auntie was not inside the bus. She was looking for a signal outside of the bus in order to talk to her son.

Auntie is now left alone at the condominium’s guard house where the veteran security guard, Jung Su, was on his way home. Seeing that Auntie doesn’t know how to speak Korean, Jung Su decides to help Auntie by taking her to the hotel listed on her travel itinerary. The problem is that the itinerary was updated to send the tour group to a different hotel.

You see the original hotel the tour group was supposed to go to was under renovation. The itinerary that Auntie has was not updated but the bus driver knew where to take the tour group. Kwon Woo told the driver to take the group to the new hotel while he looked for Auntie at the condominium.

When Jung Su realized that Auntie had no place to stay, Jung Su decides to let Auntie stay at his place for the night. Viewers will discover more about Jung Su at this point but I don’t want to spoil that very important sub plot of the film. You have to see the film to enjoy it.

We later discover that Kwon Woo had gotten himself into some shady financial dealings that leads to a very interesting plot that I wish was explored more.

The move was entertaining despite its short run time. I feel like we could have explored more subplots. Kwon Woo’s story deserves to be fleshed out but I do understand that filming was delayed due to Covid. You can’t really blame the production for cutting down what the film could have been for Covid so I’ll let the missing sub plot pass.

Who knows? Maybe we can get a Kwon Woo movie out of this.

Director He Shun Ming gives viewers a faithful depiction of Asian moms. Many moms are always worrying about their kids but also struggling to find their identity on the journey to self-discovery.

Moms just want to find their own path in life too. He Shung Ming used his mom as a basis for the film and you can sense the little moments that are very Asian. Viewers have to watch the film to truly understand.

The Cast

The three main characters of the film are all we need to focus on because the plots and subplots focus on them.

L-R: Jung Su (Jung Dong-hwan), Auntie (Hong Hui Fang) & Kwon Woo (Kang Hyung-seok)
Auntie (Hong Hui Fang)

Auntie is never given a formal name in the film. All we know is that she is a widow and she passes time obsessing over KDramas like many housewives do in their spare time.

Hong Hui Fang gives viewers a wonderful performance as her character struggles with finding her identity after being with someone for so long as well as finding new love. She really shines in her role.

Kwon Woo (Kang Hyung-seok)

Kang Hyung-seok’s character had so much potential as a father separated from his family and wanting to make amends. I loved the subplot of him having to pay back mobsters that sadly never got a payoff.

Ajoomma only runs for about 90 minutes but I wish we could have had an additional 5-10 minutes focusing on how Kwon Woo paid off his debt just so we can seek some clarity on his situation.

Jung Su (Jung Dong-hwan)

Jung Dong-hwan delivers a powerful performance as the security guard who helps take care of Auntie. The more we learn about Jung Su, the more we realize that he and Auntie aren’t so different despite the language barrier.

I don’t know what else to say but if you’e watching this film for KDrama tropes, get ready for a boatload of tropes from this wise man.

The Cinematography

Ajoomma as a film is so wholesome and the film gives us great views of the South Korean TV and Movie filming locations. You really want to visit South Korea because of how the places were shown.

Let’s not forget about the food that was featured in the film too! We get Korean BBQ, Tteokbokki, and much more!

The movie showcased so much food and drink that it makes you want to go on a South Korean food trip. The filmography benefits from having a small cast that doesn’t distract viewers from everything else going on in the background.

All the attention is on the trio of Auntie, Kwon Woo and Jung Su. You don’t need to really focus on anyone else.

This Flight is Boarding for Singapore

Ajoomma is a heartfelt movie full of KDrama tropes and a funny subplot that could have been maximized even more.

Final Score: ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5/5


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