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Leafie, A Hen into the Wild Review

((See the film here! There's six parts in total.))

A few of you may have heard of this film by its Internet gag name, the "bishounen duck" film. But let me be the first to inform you that this little animated gem is from South Korea, not Japan! (Also for all the jokes about it, both of the notorious "bishounen" ducks aren't in the film for long.) Leafie, A Hen into the Wild is a South Korean animated film based off a best-selling children's book of the same name by Hwang Sun-mi. The book came out quite a while ago back in 2000, but it remains rather popular and respected. The release of the film itself made South Korea box office history by selling 2.2 million tickets at the time of its release, the largest audience for an animated film there to date.

Leafie, A Hen into the Wild tells the story of a chicken named Leafie who lives on a farm laying eggs with many other chickens. However, she is not granted the natural life of a chicken (for example, she cannot sit on and hatch her own eggs), and thus she plans to escape in order to live in the farm yard with a few lucky chickens and ducks. She nearly dies in the attempt, but fools the farmer into believing she's dead and escapes her life as a farm hen. Leafie is nearly eaten by an infamous one-eyed weasel who prowls the land outside the farm, but she is saved by a wild mallard duck. She returns to the farm to try to live in the farm yard, but the animals already living there are not as accepting as she'd hoped. Unwilling to return to the chicken barn, Leafie runs away to live in the wild outside, and after a series of events, becomes a surrogate parent to the single duckling of the mallard who had saved her life. The story follows Leafie's trials as a mother trying to raise her adopted son, whom she names Greenie.

Now let me clarify a few things first--this is an animated film, but do not be fooled: this is by no means just another silly children's film. Like the great early works of Disney in the 90's, this is an animated feature that does not treat its audience like, well, children. There are some mature lessons and ideals in this movie, as well as some crude jokes here and there. There is also some instances of realistic and gruesome death (nothing extremely graphic though; more on the level of the death of Bambi's mother in Disney's Bambi). This is a fantastic mother-son film, however, and it was a joy to watch in spite of some rather heart-wrenching scenes. I believe children as well as adults would be able to thoroughly enjoy this film, though adults (most likely mothers with sons) would probably be able to appreciate it more. Leafie and Greenie's relationship is very relateable and accessible, and even though they're birds, you feel as though you've seen what they experience before in actual families. Leafie is a very sweet character who becomes very brave in order to raise and protect her son, and Greenie's struggle to grow up and find out who he is is engaging, if not a little cliche' here and there.

What really impressed me about this movie besides the excellent writing was the animation. It's absolutely beautiful. If one didn't know any better they could mistake it for Disney animation. In fact according to the Wiki of the film, the staff working on the animation had people who've previously animated for Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks. A great deal of the studio majored in painting. This film took director Oh Sung-yoon six years to completely finish, but it goes to show you that the time spent was certainly not wasted. The animation is beautifully colored, the backgrounds are very vivid and the creative choice of cinematography helps to bring the film to life.

The music and the terrific voice casting are also noteworthy. The soundtrack is very easy on the ears, and the choice of the voice cast for the characters was excellent. Everyone did a great job in personal opinion, in both delivery of their lines as well as sound. I haven't watched a great deal of Korean media (and honestly don't believe I could ever learn such a difficult language, haha), but this movie makes me want to check out some more.

I honestly cannot sing enough praises for this movie. If you haven't seen it and enjoyed Disney films of the 90's, or are just looking for a really sweet and beautiful family film, check it out. You won't be disappointed, although you should bring a box of tissues to your viewing just to be safe. (The movie with English subtitles is available for purchase on YesAsia, and I've already ordered my copy!)