Director: Han Jun-hee
Cast: Kong Hyo-jin, Ryu Jun-yeol, Cho Jung-seok, Kim Ki-bum
RunTime: 2 hrs 13 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Violence)
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Opening Day: 28 February 2019
Synopsis: Min-jae (RYU Jun-yeol), a rookie police officer with a natural born talent for driving, is assigned to the perfect team: the Hit-and-Run Squad. But at the same time, for police detective Si-yeon (KONG Hyo-jin), it is a place she is unjustly demoted to for doing her job. The two team up to arrest the rich and powerful speed maniac Jae-chul (CHO Jung-seok) who is suspected of committing crimes for his obsession for speed.
Fans of The Fast and the Furious franchise would remember Han, an Asian dude who first appeared in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), and met with an unfortunate demise during the film's climax. Proving to be a popular character, the filmmakers managed to have him appear in subsequent instalments. Played memorably by Sung Kang, an American actor born to South Korean immigrant parents, the character may be one reason why you’d want to check out this Korean movie about crime, action and most importantly, car racing.
The story follows a female cop as she is demoted from an elite team to a hit and run squad. Together with her new teammates, they investigate a case involving a former F1 driver turned businessman. Shady dealings, bribes and cover ups are unveiled as the team digs deeper, and engines are revved up to hunt down the baddies.
Sounds like a story from the popular American franchise that deals with illegal street racing, heists and crime fighting? Maybe that’s where the folks behind this action thriller got their inspirations from. But how we wished things moved a tad faster in this 133 minute popcorn movie.
The build up during the first hour is decent, as we are introduced to the different characters and their seemingly intriguing back stories. There is the female lieutenant who doesn’t have Lady Luck smiling in her direction, the former convict who has become a law enforcer (check out his tattoos!), the stammering antagonist who looks like he is going to go berserk anytime, and a suave prosecutor who has something up his sleeves. Of course, there are car chase sequences that set the adrenaline rushing.
Then things start feeling bogged down by heavy handed drama. Tear inducing scenes are introduced, and we are expected to feel melancholic. The jarring pacing makes viewers wonder why the characters are shifting focus from investigating a case to getting all mopey about life. These dramatic moments feel out of place, and things might have been better if director Han Jun Hee made the decision to shave off 20 minutes from this part of the movie.
Fortunately, the ensemble cast delivers. Kong Hyo Jin (Be With You) has the right amount of resentment and angst in her to pull off a relatively unlikeable female protagonist. Ryu Jun Yeol (A Taxi Driver) has a pretty face, but he hides it behind a geeky and socially awkward front to portray a rookie who has a thing for driving fast cars. Cho Jung Seok (The Drug King) gets to have more fun as the bad guy. Watch out for a scene where he forces a drill through a helmet into a poor guy’s head. We have seen this somewhere else before, but we are guessing it might have been a sadistically satisfying experience for the actor holding the drill. Elsewhere, supporting characters are played by veteran actor Lee Sung Min and popular boyband Shine’s Key.
In terms of action, you can’t expect Hollywood standards but there are some decent car chases and fight scenes which will please the majority of viewers. The movie has a mid credits scene which introduces a new character (ahem, wasn’t this how Deckard Shaw was introduced?), but we aren’t sure whether that’s necessary. That depends on how fans will lap this movie up.
(Move a little faster, will ya?)
Review by John Li