Despite its racy poster and provocative title, “I Like It Hot” (or “Hellcats”) is a surprisingly normal film, but in a good way. The movie hit the market in 2008 and revolves around the lives of three women; Kim Young-Mi, Kim Ami, and Kim Kang-Ae. Young-Mi and Ami are sisters, while Kang-Ae is Young-Mi’s daughter. Young-Mi, the oldest of the trio, is an interior designer who is going through something around the sorts of a mid-life crisis. She begins to see a younger man as a fling, but has a hard time pushing him away. Ami is an aspiring screenwriter torn between old love and a secure future with a promising young bachelor. And all the while, Kang-Ae is curious about her boyfriend of three years who has yet to make a move on her. She and her best friend (Miran) decide to speed things up; however they become aware of each other in the process.
As a writer on Seoulbeats, it shames me to say that I didn’t recognize Ahn Sohee from the Wonder Girls playing Kang-Ae. I would like to say it was because the lack of makeup and glitzy wardrobe, but to be honest, I have yet to take the time to memorize their names or faces. It surprised me to find out that this was Sohee’s first movie; she certainly kept pace with her cast mates. Alongside her was Kim Bum (Boys Over Flowers) and I couldn’t help gushing at his cuteness, though he had little screen time. The veteran actors; Lee Mi-Suk (Cinderella’s Stepsister), Kim Min-Hee (Moby Dick), and Kim Sung-Su (Full House, Red Scarf), put on a great performance as well. Kim Min-Hee (Ami) really stood out and for the first time in a while I actually believed that a character was actually drunk, not just acting.
My biggest grievance with this film was the distribution of character development. The movie tended to focus on Ami and her indecisiveness. Although her plotline was good and intriguing, it seemed to be the safe choice. The other two characters had something that hooked me in as well, but they sometimes left me out in the cold and it would have been nice had their own plotlines been fleshed out a little more. However, I understand that a movie has time limitations, and all things considered, that it did well with what it had. What I loved was the topics that were brought up. They were real and made me want to give my full attention, to the point that when the movie came to an end I began to envision a sixteen episode drama revolving around the same plotline. The thought makes me smile.
I saw this movie a week ago and I am still blubbering on about it. It’s not that the movie went above and beyond to make a statement; there was just something that hit me in the right spot. Everything made sense. Take, for example, Ami and her proposal. If she accepts, she basically gives up her career and settles down. But if she doesn’t, who is to say that someone that perfect man will come along again? Even now, I have mixed feelings about what she should have done.
Coming into this movie, I did not expect a lesbian relationship to surface in the plot, especially with South Korea being so conservative. I really enjoyed it; the relationship wasn’t an overbearing point in the film, and in fact it was depicted in a fairly typical manner. There were no disputes or moral qualms. If anything, Kang-Ae was more surprised than worried about the situation. It excites me to know that society is progressing in the right direction.
Throughout the movie, the film captures the struggles of Ami and her career as a screenwriter. It exposes the difficulties and some of the mechanics that go into film. As I saw her struggle, showing neurotic tendencies, I began to appreciate the film a bit more. How many re-writes did it take? Were there any discrepancies concerning the relationship between Kang-Ae and Miran? There is a whole other world.
It took me a while to understand the movie’s title, even after watching it. As I began to write this article and explore some of the film’s deeper meanings, I realized what it meant. Each of these women, in their own way, has a personality that is out there. They are not introverted; it takes some balls to do what they have done/achieved. This deems them the title “Hellcats” or women who “like it hot.” Once I realized this, I knew for sure that this was a movie worth sharing.