Another coming-of-age movie, so you can expect some poignancy within the hilarity, as the boys grow up and learn that Life isn’t what they expected it to be.
- Kim Woo-bin (from The Heirs) as Chi-ho. Rich, lazy playboy type, who really have no idea what he wants to do post-high school, and literally sloths around at home. His sole activity is to party and hunt for his next bed partner.
- Lee Joon-ho as Dong-woo. Previously also a rich kid, but his dad was arrested for embezzling and his family becomes poverty stricken. He dreams to become a manhwa artist, and gives up college to work part time and save for night classes at a private art school.
- Kang Han-eul (from Misaeng) as Gyung-jae. The goody-two-shoes of the trio. He takes the straight (and boring?) path of entering college post-high school, enrolling in the Business Admin fac. Unlike Chi-ho who is effusive and aggressive, Gyung-jae is more reticent and shy. He also doesn’t have a strong ambition like Dong-woo.
- Jung So-min (from D-day) as So-min. Chi-ho’s on-off “girlfriend” from high school, though he only made her his cos everybody was eying her then. He loses interest in her soon after, but So-min clings on to the “relationship”? Gyung-jae is secretly in love with her all this while though.
- Jung Joo-yeon as Eun-hye. Chi-ho’s one true love? He meets her by accident, literally. She is a young starlet, who is ambitious about getting a foothold in the entertainment industry, and isn’t shy to sell her body and soul to attain it.
- Lee Yoo-bi (from Scholar who Walks the Night) as So-hee. Gyung-jae’s kid sister (though not so “kiddy”, since she is a high schooler). Straight talker, and has a massive crush on Dong-woo.
- Min Hyo-rin as Jin-joo. A senior in Gyung-jae’s fac, and he has a massive crush on her. But turns out later she is sleeping with their professor…
We start off by seeing our three guys as high schoolers, where they all have some form of crush on the school’s beauty — So-min. Gyung-jae prepares a well written confession note to her, but is beaten by Chi-ho, who drops a post-it on So-min’s desk and orders her to meet him at the gym after class. He gets So-min to be his girlfriend, by grabbing her breasts and declaring her his. Two weeks later, he does the same to another girl — his new girlfriend, and So-min is promptly forgotten. (it’s a wonder he hasn’t got kicked between his legs) So-min though, clings on to their “relationship” and the trio shamelessly uses her family’s bunshik-tang (snack bar) as a gathering place.
Post-high school, Gyung-jae enrolls himself into college. And Dong-woo decides to drop college and work part time to support his ambition — which is to become a manhwa artist. As for Chi-ho, he does nothing but zones out at home in the day and parties hard at night. He calls himself the “sex guru”, having more than sufficient experience in that area, and professes that the other two guys need to learn from him if they want to get laid. (thankfully, Chi-ho’s father owns a chain of successful restaurants in Seoul to support his good-for-nothing son’s activities)
In college, Gyung-jae meets a sunbae, Jin-joo, whom he finds attractively cool and polished. However, she says she is attached, though we never see her boyfriend. Hopeful Gyung-jae tries, in his usual gentlemanly (read: ineffective) way to date her, and hopefully persuade her to accept him and break off with that elusive boyfriend. The two do get close…until one day during lecture, their professor’s wife storms into class and slaps Jin-joo for daring to steal her husband. (whoops) Shocked, Gyung-jae tries to protect his almost-girlfriend’s reputation by pleading with his classmates not to load the vid clip they took online (as if it works). Not long after, Jin-joo quits school and leaves for the States with the professor.
As for Dong-woo, he scrimps and saves to enroll himself in a private art school to learn the trade of manhwa. He is surprised to find So-hee (Gyung-jae’s younger sis) there…though it’s quite obvious she stalked him. Though it is clear to us that So-hee has other interest besides drawing, Dong-woo is oblivious to it (maybe on purpose, after all, she’s his buddy’s sis). One night though, So-hee finally confesses in a back hug that she has been crushing on Dong-woo all along. Dong-woo doesn’t reply… cos for one thing, he has another more pressing situation to deal with. His family (after the imprisonment of his dad) isn’t doing well. And his mum, who had to work for the first time in her life, isn’t coping with her new job and the family (Dong-woo has another high schooler and two very young elementary school twin dongsaengs). Dong-woo decides to shelve his dream as a manhwa artist to work in his uncle’s factory in order to help out his family.
As for Chi-ho, he meets his match one day while driving along a road. A pretty girl catches his eye — and at the traffic stop, he purposely rams into her. (omg. but yes he did that) Luckily she isn’t hurt badly. The girl turns out to be a budding starlet, Eun-hye, and she guesses that Chi-ho is interested in her, and decides to make use of him. She insists that he hangs around acting as her Manager as payment for causing the accident (so that the production crew doesn’t look down on Manager-less her). Chi-ho complies, partly out of curiosity. As time goes by, Chi-ho actually begins to be interested in drama production — and Eun-hye. He finds Eun-hye different from the other girls he has dated. She is nonchalant about forming long lasting relationships like him…but unlike him, she is fixated on one goal. To become famous. And to do that, she doesn’t mind taking on “extra jobs” (read: sex with the sponsors). Although Chi-ho and Eun-hye do get together eventually (and he even breaks up “officially” with So-min to prove his “devotion” to her), Eun-hye dumps him the moment a rich ahjusshi businessman requests that she be his mistress. Eun-hye does become famous, thanks to her sugar daddy, and her face graces the ad posters along Seoul’s bus stops.
Disillusioned, the guys (together with So-min and So-hee) regroup in So-min dad’s eatery to moan. Halfway through their drinking session, gangsters crash into the eatery — So-min’s dad had been borrowing from loan sharks to keep the business afloat. Ensue the most ridiculous slow-mo fight ever. Result? Nothing changes. So-min’s dad sells his shop to pay off his debts and finds a smaller outfit elsewhere.
But the dynamics of the group has changed — weeks later, when Gyung-jae meets with So-min, he lets slip that she was his first love all along. They become an item, to Chi-ho’s annoyance (he accuses Gyung-jae for “sleeping with So-min behind his back”…duh). Months later, the guys all receive notice for military enlistment. Dong-woo drops the bombshell that he and So-hee are dating now. When Chi-ho cheekily asks if Dong-woo and So-hee had sex (that guy thinks only of sex), Dong-woo doesn’t reply…and Gyung-jae in turn, looks for the biggest rock to throw at his friend.
Well, since it’s about three guys coming-of-age, it’s not really surprising that Twenty is heavily loaded with crass jokes, sexual innuendos, references to masturbation, sexual encounters, etc. Most of the jokes lead you to shake your head or guffaw at the guys’ apparent stupidity and lack of common sense.
But beneath all the crappy jokes, Twenty is also about 3 young adults coming to terms with the conflicting and confusing “adult” world which they have juz been introduced to. And each learns, in their own painful ways, that their previous mode of operandi in high school does not work anymore in this new, crazy world.
Gyung-jae realizes that his shiny White Knight ideal has the big drawback of being totally unrealistic in a romantic relationship. He has placed his college sunbae, Jin-joo, on a pedestal and worshipped her — much like how he has treated So-min in the past. He doesn’t really KNOW Jin-joo as a person. To say that he is shocked to find out that his “goddess” is sleeping with their professor is an understatement. At the end of Twenty, his blunt confession to So-min that she had been his first love all along, shows that he has “grown up” somewhat. At least, he has learnt not to idolize his love interest, and taken a leaf from Chi-ho’s directness with women.
And talking about Chi-ho…he got his comeuppance with Eun-hye. A girl who is juz as commitment phobic as he is. Ironically, it is this similar trait that leads Chi-ho to really fall in love with Eun-hye, and he begins to toy with the idea of becoming “permanent” with her. Unfortunately, he gets a taste of his own medicine, when she dumps him and casually tells him not to assume she “loves” him — they are juz fuck buddies, nothing more. At least Chi-ho takes something away from this fling — Eun-hye’s laser focus on her ambition kinda rubs off on him. He decides that he also wants to have an “objective” and resolves to try out becoming a PD. A marked change from his slug lifestyle from earlier.
Lastly, Dong-woo. I suppose I find him the most “normal” of the 3. He isn’t on either extreme — not the in-your-face type like Chi-ho, nor like reclusive Gyung-jae. Dong-woo matter of factly accepts his declining family fortunes, but tries hard to continue to pursue his dream. Until Reality catches up with him, and he makes the difficult decision to put his dream on hold to financially support his family. Probably like many of us out there, who end up with jobs/ professions that are not what we dreamt of in the past. But Dong-woo isn’t bitter about it. He may have stopped attending art school, but that doesn’t stop him drawing and loading his manhwa online in his own blog. (again, like the majority of us, who end up continuing our passion as a hobby)
In a nutshell, I suppose I can describe Twenty as a melodrama packaged under a thick layer of crass jokes.