Director and writer: Kim Yong-hwa

Cast: Sung Dong-il, Ha Jung-woo, Kim Dong-wook, Kim Ji-suk, Choi Jae-hwan, Lee Jae-eung, Lee Eun-song

Mind you, I’m not a big fan of sports films because they all seem the same to me: underdogs overcome odds to triumph. The only big difference is how they win and what sport they’re playing, other than that it’s pretty much the same all over the globe. The fact that Take Off was one of Korea’s highest ranking box office hit still didn’t draw me in until I saw this trailer (particularly 0:10 and 0:44):

Fortunately it wasn’t one of those films where all of the good parts were shown in the trailer. The story follows a national ski jump team, consisting of a ragged bunch to say the least. Overshadowed by the always victorious speed skating team, they each had their own reasons to win that goes beyond, “I must win because sports is my life.”  Whether it’s finding a birth mother, getting an exemption from the military in order to take care of a mentally-handicapped brother and grandmother, proving oneself to an overbearing (and abusive) father, or overcoming drug abuse, their personal motive is where the heart of this movie lies. I was glad it wasn’t all about the sport.

Needless to say the cast and cast of characters are all superb. Be it the main cast or the supporting, even the random Kim Suro cameo was fantastic. The only off moments were the ones that had to do with Bob’s (Ha Jeong-woo) sister and their American parents. That was mainly due to the awkward Engrish, which made me cringe involuntarily.

Some scenes are so funny it can make you cry laughing and some scenes are so touching it can make you cry watching. I guess I can compare this movie to an actual ski jump: slow at the push-off but then almost right away it quickly accelerates until all of a sudden it takes your breathe away as you take in that magnificent jump and then that perfect landing/ending.

Final verdict: Good comedy with lots of heart. I’d recommend it for date night and perhaps family movie night if the kids are older.