It's easy to see why the South Korea blockbuster "My Annoying Brother," which has overtaken "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" on its home box-office turf, is such a crowd-pleaser.
The comedy-drama about a pair of estranged brothers who ultimately form a close bond so adroitly pushes every button and insistently tugs on every string that even if one is usually immune to such pandering, this unabashedly mainstream offering still proves tricky to deny.
Permanently losing his sight after severing his optic nerve during a judo competition, Olympic hopeful Du-young (Doh Kyung-soo) has been living alone in a despondent stupor. Enter half-brother Du-sik (Cho Jung-seok), a slick, jailed con man who has seized on his younger sibling's situation to earn a year's parole in exchange for taking care of him.
Despite those less than honorable motives, Du-sik eventually helps Du-young get out of his prolonged funk as the story follows a tried and true path — one which probably didn't require the addition of a tragic third act revelation to succeed.
But while director Kwon Soo-kyung and screenwriter Yu Young-ah faithfully adhere to formula, it's the performances by Doh, formerly of the K-Pop band EXO, and Cho that serve as the film's main selling point.
Exhibiting a remarkably genuine fraternal chemistry, they draw you into the obvious plot mechanics despite your best efforts to avoid the shameless manipulation.
'My Annoying Brother'
In Korean with English subtitles
Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
Playing: CGV Cinemas, Los Angeles