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Featured DVD Review: The Last Godfather

August 7th, 2011

The Last Godfather - Buy from Amazon

The Last Godfather is written, directed, and stars Shim Hyung-rae, who is a major star in South Korea. This film was released in its native market at the end last year and topped the chart for two weeks. Over here, it was far less successful, despite having a cast full of Hollywood stars. Was there something lost in translation?

The Movie

Set in the 1950s, the first focuses on two rival crime families, the first led by Don Carini and the second led by Don Bonfante. When Don Carini decides to retire, he must choose an heir to his criminal empire. While Tony V has been his right-hand man for a while and is the obvious choice, Don Carini decides to keep it in the family and appoint his son, Younggu. This comes as a shock to the rest of the crime family, as they didn't even know he had a son, especially one from Korea. But they are sure that any son of Don Carini will be a great choice for head of the family. ... They are wrong. Younggu not fit for the Mafia, but that won't stop the rest of the crime family from trying to train him after repeated failures.

The other thread plot, as little of it as there is, kicks off after Younggu bumps into Nancy Bonfante, the daughter of Don Bonfante, while in the park. He rescues her from a would-be mugger. Actually, his incompetence means he only delays the mugger enough for Vinnie, a member of the Bonfante, to do the actual rescuing. One look at Nancy and Younggu is smitten, but this is a forbidden romance and as the two try and meet, it could heat up the gang war already threatening the city.

Younggu is a character created by Shim Hyung-rae more than two decades ago and he has been featured in at least ten films. This film was meant to introduce the character to North American audiences, but I don't think people will be clamoring for a second look. This Mafia spoof misfires in pretty much every way. The comedy is painfully broad with lame physical gags repeated over and over and over again. Watching a fight scene is incredibly dull, as a result. (How many times can you see someone swing a baseball bat, slowly swing a baseball bat, only to hit the wrong guy?) It doesn't get the essence of Mafia movies, so has to rely on cheap stereotypes. The romance makes no sense, as the two characters have no chemistry together. The character of Younggu is infuriatingly inept at everything. Frustrating. More than anything else, this movie is frustrating to watch.

On a side note, I've seen a lot of people defend this movie saying it is for kids. I don't buy it. While the comedy is definitely aimed low, the subject matter is not something you would normally make a kids movie about. How many kids will know enough about the Mafia to want to watch a movie about it?

The Extras

Just the trailer.

The Verdict

I'm not sure if this movie has a lot of fans in its native South Korea, but for me The Last Godfather was a laugh-free affair. Add in a featureless DVD, and there's no reason to even rent this movie.

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Filed under: Video Review, The Last Godfather