Monday, February 25, 2019

Extreme Job

I'm kind of curious about the roll-out for this one - IMDB has it opening in the USA two days after it opened in South Korea last month, but I'm wondering if that might have been just a screen or two in NY/LA/other places with large Korean-American populations, because otherwise it suddenly opening on the same day at two separate locations in Boston seems a bit surprising. Maybe someone at CJ figured their best chance for screens in most places would come after the Chinese New Year stuff had died down a little.

I also wonder what its relationship to Lobster Cop is; nothing on various movie sites or in at least the subtitled parts of the credits mentions that this is a remake, but parts of the plot are awful close, down to the cops claiming to be a family to the point of claiming that two are married. On the other hand, this would have been filming before that one came out, making me wonder if some producer at CJ saw a preview or festival screening and knew it was remake-ready or if both can trace their lineage back to some earlier movie. Maybe this is just getting franchised all over the world like Perfect Strangers and these are the two versions that have shown up in the U.S. Truth be told, I wouldn't mind an American remake at all if that's the way places are going with this; it certainly seems like it could work with barbecue or something.

Sadly, this also reminds me that I am way the heck behind on actually finishing my Fantasia reviews; right now, I'm desperately hoping that I'll maybe get to director Lee Byeong-heon's previous film, What a Man Wants, at some point while I'm on a plane later this week. No problem, it's only from last July!

Geukhanjikeob (Extreme Job)

* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 22 February 2019 in AMC Boston Common #1 (first-run, DCP)

There's something almost delightfully random about what becomes a big hit in South Korea, especially based on what tends to export well to the various audiences in North America. This flick, for instance, is a slight action-comedy that seems like it would be a dime a dozen, the sort of movie that has a good opening and then moves aside for the next one. Why has this one hung around? Probably because it gets the basics right and then kicks into gear right at the moments it feels like it should fall apart.

It opens with a five-person narcotics squad led by Captain Ko (Ryoo Seung-ryong) stumbling through a small-time bust, the latest mess that has the superintendent (Kim Eui-sung) ready to disband them. An old classmate gives Ko a tip about a couple of gangsters who have recently returned - Lee Mubae (Shin Ha-kyun) from overseas and Hong Sang-pil (Yang Hyun-min) from jail - to get Ko's team to do surveillance before the bust. The best vantage point happens to be from a run-down fried chicken place that's just about to go out of business, so Ko and his team scrape together enough to buy it. What they don't foresee is that Detective Ma Bong-pal (Jin Seon-kyu) makes a marinade so good that the place becomes a sensation, keeping Ko, Ma, Jang (Lee Ha-nee) and rookie Jae-hoon (Gong-myung) so busy that only Young-ho (Lee Dong-hwi) has much free time for police work.

For a while, it's a funny concept that hits some of the easy gags but hits them squarely and solidly as these misfit cops find themselves both rebelling against playing the part of a family business and also quickly falling into it. Director Lee Byeong-heon and co-writer Bae Se-young know how this part goes, and know the audience knows, so they mostly play things in snappy fashion. Lee and Bae are careful not to overload it too much - they know they need just enough story for the back half to have some momentum, but not so much that other things become important enough to push the jokes aside, or for any supporting character to have that much going on.

Full review at EFilmCritic

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