Mapado

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I popped this 2004 movie into the DVD player without knowing what I was watching. When a friend sent it to me, I looked all over the cover for the title, but there was nothing in English that I could read. Two male faces I didn’t recognize peered at me from the front, and on the back cover were five wild-looking women with pitch forks. It wasn’t till eight minutes into the movie that I learned its title.

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Mapado means Mapa Island. The story is pretty simple. Boss Shin is a guy who owns a small factory which makes stuffed toys. For months he has been playing Toto or Lotto (a kind of lottery) and he always buys the same five numbers but without any luck.

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One night he sends one of his workers, a young woman by the name of Jang-mi (Seo Yeong-hee), to buy the Toto just before it closes. After she buys it and as she is walking back, she passes a store selling electrical goods. Standing outside, she sees the results of the lottery on the TV sets and lo and behold, her ticket has won the first prize (and it’s a huge sum of money).

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As expected, Jang-mi runs away with the winning ticket. Her fuming boss sends his subordinate (Lee Jung-jin) and a crooked police detective Na (Lee Moon-shik) to look for her. The two guys find out that Jang-mi was originally from Mapa Island, so they head that way. On the island, they meet a group of ajummas and a series of madcap adventures follow.

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The setting of the story reminds me of My Mother the Mermaid, but this one is much more rustic. What I enjoyed most about the movie was finally recognizing the cast (after various double takes) and seeing how much they had transformed themselves since the last time I watched them. For instance, regal Mama-nim Jung (Yeo Woon-kye) from Dae Jang Geum is now a cussing spitting ajumma. Lee Moon-shik, who played Mah Chut-ji, the swift-footed thief in Damo, is hilarious here as Inspector Na.

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Mapado is very funny in places. The two guys go to the island looking for Jang-mi but end up as unpaid “slaves” to the motley group of fierce ajummas. There’s not much to the plot and some people may tire of the laughs and find the movie rather meaningless. It’s certainly not something that requires much mind work, but as after-dinner entertainment it’s pleasant and enjoyable enough. Don’t doze off at the end, though. If you do, you’ll miss an unexpected plot twist that left me gasping.

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