Directed by Park, Gyu-tae
26 June 2009
Based on a novel by Wang Shu-Fen and sharing a
more than passing resemblance to the Adam Sandler
comedy, The Waterboy, Park Gyu-Tae's 2007 film is
a well-told tale that focusses on finding joy in life,
rather than dwelling on the negative. That is not to
say that the film does not have its emotional
moments or that it takes its subject matter lightly.
There is high drama, but the filmmaker seems more
interested in finding the humorous side of life, as is
true of what many people do in less than ideal
Despite the fact that he is ridiculed constantly by his
peers and even told by his teachers to stay home on
exam days so as to not lower the overall class grade,
eleven-year old Dong-Ku is completely oblivious to
it all and simply enjoys coming to school each day.
But it is not the extracurricular activities, the daily
social interaction with children his own age, or an
opportunity to learn that propels him to school every
morning. Dong-Ku's singular reason for attending
school is a bit out of the ordinary - he simply loves
being the class waterboy, taking the schoolapproved
kettle around and filling the cups of his
classmates during lunch.
Unfortunately, Dong-Ku's whole world comes crashing
down when a practical joke quickly lands him in
proverbial hot water with the school authorities,
raising the distinct possibility of expulsion. His teachers
insist that he attend a special school, a move his
loving father Jin-Gyu, simply cannot afford. Meanwhile,
Dong-Ku is horrified to learn that the school
has got rid of all the in-class kettles, replacing them
with water purifiers, thus eliminating Dong-Ku's sole
reason for attending school.
However, while daydreaming in class, a solution
presents itself, as he spies a waterboy carrying a
kettle to his teammates on the baseball field. He
meets Coach Kwon who’s own job is in jeopardy.
With his team on a losing streak and with only eight
players left, the coach is at his wits end to find a way
to field a team. Upon meeting Dong-Ku, the coach
initially sees him as a godsend and is eager to sign
him up for the team. Dong-Ku agrees, but only if he
can serve as the team's waterboy. A deal is struck,
and all seems well, only Dong-Ku knows nothing
about baseball! Luckily for him, his classmate
Joon-Tae decides to take him under his wing and
teach him the basics of the game. Realizing that
Dong-Ku is unlikely to ever be an ace with the bat,
Joon-Tae teaches him the only move the young boy
seems capable of executing: a bunt.
The big question is whether Dong-Ku will actually be
able to make contact with the ball and pull it off on
his own during the big game.
Structurally, Bunt is all about character motivation.
Dong-Ku wants to continue being a waterboy, Jin-
Gyu wants to provide a home for his son, Coach
Kwon wants to keep his job, and even Joon-Tae has
his own reasons for helping Dong-Ku. The way in
which all these side stories intersect might be
predictable, but the manner in which director Park
Gyu-Tae assembles all the separate pieces is to be
commended. Punctuated with hilarious moments as
well as with the occasional, genuinely poignant
scene, Bunt is a feel-good underdog story that is
likely to win over audiences both young and old.