I have reviewed quite a few films about the Homeless World Cup, but Dream (드림 ) is the first I’ve seen that puts some humor into what would be a typical sports drama, along with bits of Korean culture and the quirkiness embraced by Korean film.
Only one week ago, the world watched the Argentina vs France final of WC 2022. For me, the tremendous corruption and the controversies of the World Cup in Qatar overshadowed the football that was meant to be the showcase. But if I could put aside the politics, there were cracking upsets, come from behind wins, and underdog heroics.
The USA is not a world power in football, ostensibly because our best athletes play where the money is: football, basketball, and baseball. For years, American fans have lamented, “What if our best athletes played soccer?” In a delightful and amusing series, The Gentlemen’s League provides an answer from South Korea.
In the drama A Barefoot Dream, Kim Won-kang is a former youth national team footballer for South Korea. In adulthood, he has never succeeded in anything, losing his own money and that of family and friends. He heads to the newly independent country of Timor-Leste (East Timor) to get rich quick and redeem his reputation, but the money doesn’t materialize, and his real redemption comes from the change he effects within himself and others.
After the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) qualified for WC 2010, Koryo Studio re-mastered and re-released Centre Forward (중앙공격수) on DVD. It has been shown in several film festivals, including the 2011 edition of the Berlin 11mm International Film Festival.
With its black and white production values and moralistic lessons, this 1978 cinematic propaganda from North Korea reminds me of the 1950s TV series Rin Tin Tin and its like. In those days, American television portrayed and reinforced American values of virtue, rescuing people from bad Indians, and being good to dogs.