Movie review: EXO's Chanyeol and his music are the main draws of 'The Box'

Fred Hawson

Posted at Jun 04 2021 06:42 AM

Movie review: EXO's Chanyeol and his music are the main draws of 'The Box' 1
A scene from 'The Box'

Former award-winning music producer Min-soo (Jo Dal-hwan) had fallen on very hard financial times and his debts were now catching up on him. However, he had decided to invest on a new artist, a young man named Ji-hoon (Park Chanyeol), who can sing in any musical genre, as well as skillfully play guitar (as well as the piano and drums) by ear. 

Unfortunately, Ji-hoon suffered from a severe case of stage fright. The thought of performing in front of people paralyzed him. Despite this, Min-soo still believed in Ji-hoon's talent so much that he decided to bring him on a road trip to various cities so he can gain more confidence. To circumvent his phobia, Min-soo made Ji-hoon perform inside a cardboard box.

This film by writer-director Yang Jeong-woong had a very simple premise -- a talented musical artist who could not bring himself to perform his music in front of people, and the producer who trusted that talent enough to spend time and money hopefully to bring him out of his shell (or box). Undoubtedly, the main draw of this film would be the lead performance of EXO member Chanyeol and his song recordings which comprise the film's soundtrack. 

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Remarkably, Chanyeol sang several English songs (with a Korean accent). In the first five minutes, he was singing "Bad Guy" by Billie Eilish. In other scenes, he sang "Without You" by Harry Nillson, "Happy" by Pharrell Williams (with dreadlocked singer Aancod), and "A Sky Full of Stars" by Coldplay. In his scenes with a blind torch singer (Kim Ji-hyun), we hear classic jazz standards like "Summertime," "My Funny Valentine" and "What a Wonderful World."

To expand the appeal of his concept, Yang made it a road trip film to feature various Korean cities, like Jeonju, Gwangju, Yeosu, Gyeongju and Busan, among others. In each city, they point out scenic spots and indicate the specialty food to try there. 

It also showcased the variety of musical activities in Korea now, from seedy karaoke joints, busking in parks, elegant nightclubs, country music festivals (like Ganjeolgot) and even gypsy camps. 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."