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June 2012

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Bae Doona in “Plum Blossom”

After seeing Bae Doona’s marvelous performance (and body) in “Air Doll,” I just had to watch an earlier movie in which she appeared nude, “Plum Blossom” (or “Youth”), a Korean movie which came out in 2000. The Japanese publicity copy for the movie boasts that there is a sex scene at least once every seven minutes, and though I didn’t bother to clock the frequency of these scenes, I must say that the movie certainly lives up to that boast. Yes, this is my kind of movie: sex, sex, and more sex. But there is a proper story line, and the main theme of the movie is sex versus love, or, can you have sex without love? Okay, it’s a trite theme, I know, but who cares, when you have such stunningly filmed sex scenes which border so closely on pornography. The actors and actresses become completely nude, and their movements during the sex act are realistic. The only thing you don’t see is their genitals or pubic hair. But otherwise, nothing is left to the imagination.

“Plum Blossom” is basically a coming-of-age tale of two boys (played by Kim Rae-won and Kim Jeong-Hyeon) who first meet in a provincial high school. I must add here that the filming of the countryside’s scenery is absolutely gorgeous. The first thirty minutes of the movie take place here, with the first boy losing his virginity to a girl classmate, while his friend, still a virgin, continues to carry a crush on one of his female teachers. The rest of the film takes place when they are at university in the big city two years later. This is where the boy played by Kim Rae-won meets a young nurse…enter Bae Doona. The two become lovers, though Kim makes it clear from the beginning that his only interest in their relationship is the sex. Bae claims that she is fine with this, as her attraction to him had been physical from the start. Kim has a reason for his seemingly callous attitude; he is haunted by a tragedy concerning the girl who had taken his virginity. But as he and Bae continue seeing each other….

Watching “Plum Blossom” after “Air Doll,” Bae seems more cute than sexy in this earlier work, and the character she plays is a sweet, loving, and very real young woman. But the moment she is naked in bed with Kim, the erotic quotient quickly soars to dizzying heights. And the good news is that three other actresses, each of them every bit as sexy as—well, almost as sexy as—Bae, also disrobe and have rather explicit sex scenes with one or the other of the two male friends. The bad news is that Kim Rae-won, the boy who is Bae’s lover, is heart-stoppingly handsome and has the smoothly muscled body of a Greek god. In fact he is such a model of masculine beauty that I found myself distracted from my contemplation of the women’s bodies. Yes, his body was as sexy and beautiful as any of the women’s, including Bae’s. While I enjoy the sight of an attractive man as much as anyone, seeing a beautiful man naked in the arms of a beautiful woman is just too much of a good thing, in my opinion. I guess you could say that my complaint is a luxury, but I feel that a lesser attractive man would have drawn out the beauty and sexiness of the women more. Now, if this had been a gay movie…. But as a matter of fact, it is a gay movie, of the “hidden” sort. The friendship of the two boys is very, very close, and they often get naked, or semi-naked, together. One of them once masturbates in the other’s presence, and even has sex with a woman in the very next bed. In act they do everything but have sex with each other. Now I’m perfectly comfortable with an openly gay movie, but this sort of mixed business does a disservice to the actresses who have consented to disrobe and simulate sex for the movie. I understand that the young Bae was at first reluctant to take on this role because it involved nudity, though apparently her actress-mother talked her into it, saying, "Does it make sense for an actress to avoid bed scenes because she is afraid of taking off her clothes and showing her body?" So I suppose we all owe thanks to Bae’s mother—twice: once for giving birth to such a lovely daughter, and again, for convincing this daughter to have the guts to go all the way for a movie, in the tradition of all great actresses. I hope to see much more of Bae Doona in the future, with or without her clothes on.

As for “Plum Blossom,” yes, this movie is very much worth watching, especially if you are feeling horny, and even more so if you are primarily interested in beautiful males. Either way, if you are watching this movie alone at home, make sure you have plenty of tissues handy.

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