Director Lee Hwan-gyeong’s first three movies were not very popular. His fourth movie “Miracle in Cell No. 7”, however, is a different story. Last month the Chosun Ilbo reported that the movie sold more than 10 million tickets. The movie is a hit, and no surprise.
All of Lee’s movies share similar themes. His are touching family stories that deal with principles and regrets.
Miracle in Cell No. 7 takes place in a prison. Most of the characters are prisoners in Cell No. 7, hence the title. Yong-gu is the main character, played by Ryu Seung-ryong. He has a mental disability and cannot speak normally. But he is a good father who loves his daughter Ye-seung more than anything. Yong-gu works in a store parking lot. He and Ye-seung are so poor, they can’t even afford to buy a Sailor Moon backpack she wants. Nevertheless, they are happy.
On one cold day, the city streets freeze over. The daughter of the city’s chief of police slips and fall on the frozen ground and hits her head on a brick. Yong-gu sees the accident and tries to help her. Unfortunately, the daughter dies and Yong-gu is falsely accused of murder. Because he is disabled, he is unable to defend himself.
Yong-gu is soon convicted and sentenced to death. He is sent to prison, where his cellmates abuse him. As time passes, his cellmates learn Yong-gu’s story and hatch a scheme to reunite him with his daughter. When Ye-seung visits the prison to perform with the church choir, the prisoners sneak her into their cell in a sequence that is fun and thrilling to watch.
Yong-gu and Ye-seung enjoy their time together, although each day brings Yong-gu closer to his death. When Yong-gu is finally executed, it is so tragic. The movie has a bittersweet ending with Ye-seung, who grows up to become a lawyer and proves her father’s innocence.
If you haven’t seen this movie yet, you will surely fall for Ryu Seung-ryong. Even though he’s not nice to look at, he acts with so much passion. It is hard not to be fascinated by him. Even his voice is gorgeous!
The movie itself has a good story, although it doesn’t flow very well. Fortunately, the strong performances by Ryu and Gal So-weon, who plays Ye-seung, save the picture. With better editing, Miracle in Cell No. 7 could be a perfect movie.