조선명탐정: 사라진 놉의 딸 (Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island)

조선명탐정: 사라진 놉의 딸 (Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island)

A Generation Blue Films Production
Distribution: Showbox/Mediaplex Inc.
Rating: 12 and Over
Genre: Sageuk Comedy
Running Time: 125 Min
Shooting Time: 2014/Jun/30~Sep/26 (44 Dates)
Release: 2015/Feb/11

WITH 김명민 (Kim Myung-Min) as Kim Min; 오달수 (Oh Dal-Soo) as Seo-Pil; 이연희 (Lee Yeon-Hee) as Hisako; 조관우 (Jo Gwan-Woo) as Musician Jo; 정원중 (Jung Won-Joong) as Seonbae; 이채은 (Lee Chae-Eun) as Da-Hae; 황채원 (Hwang Chae-Won) as Do-Hae; 황정민 (Hwang Jung-Min) as Sakura; 우현 (Woo Hyeon) as Mr. Bang; 최무성 (Choi Mu-Seong) as Boss;

CREW Director 김석윤 (Kim Seok-Yoon) Executive Producer 이선미 (Lee Seon-Mi) 김조광수 (Kim Jo Gwang-Soo) | Screenplay 이남규 (Lee Nam-Gyu) 김수진 (Kim Soo-Jin) | Director of Photography 장남철 (Jang Nam-Cheol) Lighting 박순홍 (Park Soon-Hong) Editor 임선경 (Im Seon-Gyeong) Music 김한조 (Kim Han-Jo) Art Direction 장춘섭 (Jang Chun-Seop) Costumes 권유진 (Kwon Yoo-Jin) 임정희 (Im Jung-Hee) Action Choreography 유현상 (Yoo Hyun-Sang)

BOX OFFICE
KOFIC Nationwide
TOTAL REVENUE: 30,457,223,628 Won
TOTAL ADMISSIONS: 3,872,053
BUDGET: 10,000,000,000 Won

Photo ⓒ Generation Blue Films, Showbox/Mediaplex Inc.

SYNOPSIS

In 1795, the nineteenth year of King Jeongjo’s reign, a large amount of fake silver is slipped into circulation creating a substantial threat to the economy. Detective Kim Min is assigned the task of investigating the crime ring behind the scheme. He goes undercover in a rural village with his best friend and sidekick, Seokpil. In the village, the pair meet a girl called Dahae who asks them to help her find her missing sister. Soon, Dahae goes missing too, and discolored, bluish corpses of village girls begin to wash up on the shore. Kim Min discovers that these deaths are directly related to the manufacturing operation of counterfeit silver. [KoBiz]

IN SHORT

I'm not quite sure of the exact day I realized there was no turning back anytime soon – it must have been around 2010. But after years of constant disappointments, it was pretty obvious that anyone who hoped Kim Myung-Min would eventually revert to the incredible performances that brought him fame and acclaim, like his Jang Joon-Hyuk in 하얀거탑 (The White Tower), would be wasting his time. That's mostly because that riveting display of pathos still seems like something he graced us with yesterday, and I think the memory is still that vivid exactly because he hasn't been able to replicate his work there, or even come remotely close. Sure enough, Kim has gone farther and farther away from that kind of eclectic role over the last 7-8 years, and has grown closer to the mainstream in a disappointingly complacent way. I'd hate to turn this into another “starving artist sells out to pay bills” tirade, but you'll agree that he's become a bit like Robert De Niro going from Martin Scorsese to, well… Jack Tiberius Byrnes of the Fockers franchise. Focking A.

I'm not going to suggest that there is anything inherently wrong with spending a few years growing closer to casual moviegoers and the drama viewing masses while you still can get leading roles (and leading star money); there is a perfectly good chance that down the line Kim might become one of the many illustrious “premium sidekicks” Korean TV and cinema are blessed with, like a Son Hyun-Joo or Park Geun-Hyung. But to see such immense potential wasted in artistically constipated and cinematically listless franchise flicks like this is a bit disconcerting for someone who has witnessed his rise to stardom and how it was paved with artistic integrity and the good old “paying your dues” mantra. All that work.. for this?

I can see why Kim Seok-Yoon appeals enough to Kim to let this become a veritable franchise: he directed some of the most eclectic sitcoms in Korean TV history – remember a certain 청담동 살아요 (I Live in Cheongdam-Dong)? If not, look at how many alumni of that show have been cast here – so he knows a thing or two about comic timing, something that your ordinary newbie groomed by producers can't quite learn on his own. And yes, when the film sticks to the realm of comedy it's quite a pleasant watch, as was the original 조선명탐정: 각시투구꽃의 비밀 (Detective K: Secret of the Virtuous Widow), in no small part because Oh Dal-Soo is good enough that he can adapt to just about anyone they pair him with. All this means that Kim can rest assured his less than impressive comedy skills will be put to good use as long as he can benefit from such perks.

The major issue, I guess, is that this is not your run-of-the-mill mid-budget commercial film, but yet another case of 10-million-seller wannabe syndrome, that ugly condition whereby you must attract that now symbolic amount of moviegoers – because crossing that bridge doesn't just mean you'll make a shitload of money, but also hopefully be remembered by an audience whose memory is getting as short as their attention spans. Does anyone still remembers the records set by 친구 (Friend)? Or, to talk about the “Middle Ages” in K-film terms, 접속 (The Contact)? My point, exactly. If you need to become a huge blockbuster at all cost, then evidently you need the dreaded formula for success, what I call the “Yoon Je-Gyun recipe” – which would be the equivalent of a cinematic paella, throwing every single dramatic ingredient you can think of inside the cauldron. Something is bound to appeal to everyone at a certain point, right?

It could work if your name was Bong Joon-Ho, but Kim is only a honest journeyman when it comes to Chungmuro, because being quirky and zany on TV doesn't mean you'll be able to successfully transition to the big screen – where you need a little more than a sense of humor to pull off things like battle scenes, big dramatic moments, and other assorted genre trappings. Whenever this film attempts to stray off the comedy it fails so miserably that you wonder why so many commercial blockbusters stick so desperately to that flawed formula: the genre-blending commercial flicks of the 00's had a much better sense of pacing and dramatic checks and balances – think of something like 웰컴 투 동막골 (Welcome to Dongmakgol) and 왕의 남자 (The King and The Clown) – exactly because they were made by people who first and foremost respected genre cinema. This is just lazily filling the blanks with a bit of everything, what Korean critics called a cinematic bibimbap.

Then again, we'll likely get more of these, especially when it comes to this franchise. You can bring back director Kim, writer Lee Nam-Gyu, Kim Myung-Min and Oh Dal-Soo, come up with half-assed cases for them to solve in Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson fashion (no Kim Tak-Hwan novel to adapt this time around, alas), and the public will respond. Because it's kind of funny, and in today's dumbed-down entertainment landscape where everything tries to be a variety show, that's good enough.

Sorry, not a fan.

ACTING GRADES

73 오달수 (Oh Dal-Soo)
72 정원중 (Jung Won-Joong)
70 최무성 (Choi Mu-Seong)
68 김명민 (Kim Myung-Min)
67 우현 (Woo Hyeon)
67 황정민 (Hwang Jung-Min)
66 이채은 (Lee Chae-Eun)
63 조관우 (Jo Gwan-Woo)
60 이연희 (Lee Yeon-Hee)
60 황채원 (Hwang Chae-Won)

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~ Last Update: 2015/04/11