By: Henry J. Fromage (Four Beers) –
There’s something about sex comedies that are universal in their baseness- no matter where they come from, the motivations and seeds of humor are the same. This year, international heartthrob Lee Byung-hyun tried his hand at the genre with What a Man Wants.
… this man clearly knows sex.
Correction, it’s this Lee Byung-heon who purports to know what a man wants.
Okay, not bad, but still a step down.
What a Man Wants is about a philandering rollercoaster designer turned taxi driver and his straight-edge brother in law, who finds temptation coming his way as well.
This film is actually pretty funny most of the time, perhaps a testament to its game cast and some truly awkward scenarios, than anything, but there’s a reason why the sex farce has endured as long as it has.
However, like seemingly all the best and worst Korean entertainment, this movie’s got a real dark streak and isn’t at all scared with mixing it into what would be pretty light fare without it. Your mileage will vary.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the core of this film is a hardcore retrograde view of sex and relationships. At one point a woman takes off her panties and uses them to tie up her hair… and this is supposed to be sexy. This is more something you might see a hirsute homeless man do immediately before calling the police. This film would not get made in today’s Hollywood, although I could see it working in the What Women Want era.
So much about this has aged hilariously.
There’s also a lot of broad mugging and lesser comedy instincts on display here that bring things down a notch. You can’t be simultaneously a smart, sophisticated modern comedy and go this broad:
What a Man Wants is a pretty run-of-the-mill Korean sex farce that has its moments, both funny and terrible, but wouldn’t win any Bechdel awards.
What A Man Wants (2018) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for every discussion or commission of adultery
Take a Drink: whenever the sister in law says something straight up cruel
Take a Drink: for discussion or consumption of Chinese food
Do a Shot: whenever anyone gets their comeuppance