Director: Shin Terra
Cast: Kang Ji-Hwan, Sung Yu-Ri, Lee Soo-hyeok, Kim Yeong-kwang, Shin Min-chul, Sin Jeong-geun
Runtime: 1 hr 50 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Coarse Language And Sexual References)
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films& Encore Films
Opening Day: 17 January 2013
Synopsis: Detective Cha (Kang Ji-Hwan) smells bad and is overweight. Nevertheless, he is a devoted cop who always tries his best to catch the bad guys. A new case then arises. Illegal narcotics are infiltrating into the fashion industry and a detective is needed to work undercover as a model. There are only 2 detectives taller than 180 centimeters required to work as a fashion model. One of them is Detective Cha and the other detective walks strangely due to to a hemorrhoidectomy. Detective Cha is selected to go undercover as a male model in designer Ko Young-Jae's (Sung Yu-Ri) next fashion show. Designer Ko Young-Jae tells Detective Cha that he has to lose 20 kilograms in 2 weeks so that he can work as a model in her upcoming show. Detective Cha then goes on a strenuous regiment to lose the weight.
Runway Cop could be easily dismissed as yet another Asian movie using the overused formula of an ugly duckling transforming into a swan; perhaps the only difference is the reverse of gender of the protagonist. How well can this serve to entertain?
Runway Cop comes from the director of the successful Korean movie, My Girlfriend is an Agent (2009). Director Shin is definitely no amateur at making rom-com. The challenge is to keep the content fresh and action sequences exciting as expected of an undercover story. In that respect, the movie had a reasonably good start, having a police and thief chase scene, where detective Cha weaved his way through the wet market to pin down on the suspect. You’ll be impressed with the incredible flexibility, albeit exaggerated, of the overweight Cha.
However, as the story develops, the sequence of events is simply not packed enough to keep the audience’s interest high. Tracing the leads, the police eventually want to crack down on the masterminds behind the suspected drug dealing at the fashion shows. As they ran out of options, they decided to send Cha as the undercover. As Cha undergoes the hell training and get groomed to become a model, there are several attempts to poke fun and ridicule the fashion/modelling industry. These attempts came off only as minimally entertaining for the uninitiated though. Also, you might have the impression that the movie went one step forward, and in the next moment, took three steps back.
Still, kudos to the cast for keeping this movie entertaining for the most. In particular, Kang Ji-Hwan was reported to put on the pounds and shed them subsequently to achieve the lean figure of a model, so as to make fat version of him more convincing. Although actor Kang Ji-Hwan and actress Sung Yu-ri are no longer the young faces that pop up on the latest Hallyu news, they are certainly respectable for their professionalism dedication in acting.
How can a rom-com be without the ‘love’? But to be honest, the romance between Detective Cha and designer Ko had really little or no impact to the main storyline. It is possibly still added rather forcefully as such stories have an appeal to many. Some couples can probably identify with their story: the deadly attraction of the opposites. Their clash of the worlds is so dramatic that it added on to the comedic effect. However, it was a real pity that their on-screen chemistry only became apparent towards the end of the movie.
All in all, Runway Cop has adopted a similar formula as 200 Pound Beauty – an obnoxious character undergoing a transformation and finding the love of his/her life, whatever or whoever that may be. The appeal of such light-hearted and inspiring story will always be there, so is expected of new movies that fall under this genre is to set itself apart, keeping its content fresh to audiences. In this respect, the Runway Cop was really not that unique; the only value added aspect is the action (which isn’t particularly awesome by the way). Characters like Detective Cha can possibly leave you a strong impression with his nastily bad hygiene, but does not have much of a personality to make the movie a more successful one.
(Entertaining and good-humoured but nothing ground breaking. Perhaps it can serve as a good mid-week perk-me-up for people who really lack some laugh)
Review by Tho Shu Ling