Keep booking new Chinese and Korean films every week, and I'll get spoiled. I know that this being one of the relative lulls in the American release calendar plays into it a lot, but is it not nifty when it happens?
Weird night there, though - MoviePass gave me a little crap, although this time at least I was able to get there early enough that the phone call wasn't a tense "will this get through in time?" thing. A wee little mouse also scooted across the floor midway through the movie, which happens sometimes - city buildings with a lot of junk food on the premises will attract them - but I've been in older theaters more likely to offer rodents shelter and not seen them.
Fun movie, although kind of a bladder-tester, like a lot of Korean movies. Kind of beat the previous night at Kendall Square, where the soda hit my bladder after I had started walking to the subway station. That this is becoming something I think about more means I am getting old.
One thing more built into the movie that had me scratching my head and really wondering whether there were more issues with the editing than just the usual Korean-movie-runs-too-long thing:
Was Miss Bong initially supposed to be killed during the dockyard action sequence? She crashes into a metal cargo container hard slumps down, and when one of the other cops turns her over she's staring upward blankly and it looks like the blood coming out of her nose has stopped because dead people don't bleed, followed by the cop doing a "Miss Bong NOooooooooooooo!!!" My eyebrows kind of raised because that's a bit more hardcore than the movie seemed at first, and we don't see her for a while, but then she's back without any comment. This isn't a TV series where you can change things around because you like someone's performance, but even if it was, wouldn't you give her a bigger role than she has or not leave the bit where she looks dead in?
Of course, later on a guy seems to be back on the job just days after being stabbed in the stomach and others exaggerating previous injuries. Maybe there was a sort of self-mocking joke about how folks in cop movies seem to come back from ridiculous injuries quickly that just didn't connect with me, with the language/culture difference and all.
Still pretty decent, although I'll bet there's a great 1:45 version.
* * ½ (out of four)
Seen 17 September 2015 in AMC Boston Common #19 (first-run, DCP)
Grady Hendrix made an off-hand comment in one of his recent Kaiju Shakedown columns that a certain movie was too long, but that was kind of a given because Hell will freeze over before a South Korean director cuts a movie with ninety minutes of material to within a half hour of that length. That is the biggest problem with Veteran - there's an entertaining action-comedy akin to Jackie Chan's pre-Hollywood output in here, but the bloat puts too much distance between the good parts.
One of those good parts comes early, as Detective Seo Do-cheol (Hwang Jeong-min) and his partner Miss Bong (Jang Yoon-ju) go undercover to bust a stolen car ring, which is done with a couple of fun action scenes that, in-between, have Do-cheol chatting with truck driver Bae (Jeong Woong-in). Bae is soon laid off along with many drivers for unionizing, without even back pay, and his protests have him called up to the office of corporate executive Cho Tae-oh (Yoo Ah-in), and, well, if Do-cheol didn't already dislike the twitchy young jackass he'd met at the wrap party for a TV show he consulted on, the phone call from Bae's five-year-old son at the hospital would seal it.
Writer/director Ryoo Seung-wan has made a number of fairly notable South Korean action movies, perhaps most notably City of Violence, but the opening scenes suggest a cop movie with the attitude of his modern martial arts fantasy Arahan - laid-back, funny, maybe a bit self-aware, with an entertaining antagonism between partners Seo and Bong. After that, it's a bit of a let-down to actually get to the meat of the movie, where things get rather more serious and slow down noticeably.
Full review on EFC.