(director/writer: Won-Tae Lee; cinematographer: Park Se-Seung; editors: Heo Sun-mi, Han Young-kyu; music: Jo Young-uk; cast: Ma Dong-seok, aka Don Lee (Jang Dong-Soo), Sung-kyu Kim (K), Kim Moo-Yeol (Jung Tae-seok); Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Billy Acumen; Well Go U.S. Entertainment; 2019-USA/South Korea-in Korean with English subtitles)

“A familiar crime thriller, played mostly for laughs.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A familiar crime thriller, played mostly for laughs, is a remake of the original film (with this the Sylvester Stallone’s Balboa Productions team remake), Lee reprises his role as the gangster. It allegedly is based on true events.The South Korean director-writer Won-Tae Lee (“Man of Will”), keeps his second feature film stylish and mostly fast-paced.

After a fender bender on a rainy night in the small town of Cheonan, the South Korean tough-guy crime boss of the slot machines Jang Dong-soo (Don Lee, Korean-American actor) barely survives the violent knife attack by an elusive sadistic psychopath and recovers in the hospital. Jang forms an unlikely partnership with the cocky, scheming and ambitious local junior detective Jung Tae-seok (Kim Moo Yul) to catch the sadistic killer, simply known as “K” (Sung-kyu Kim).The cop refuses to turn the case over to higher ranking national investigators (wanting a promotion) and the only surviving witness of such attacks, the dreaded criminal, partners with the law because he fears losing face among his peers and this seems like the best way to catch the guy to get his revenge.

The pursuing duo go after the serial killer, who gets his kicks from targeting lone travelers and killing them with no consequences so far.

Though the rule-bender cop and the hardened crime boss have different ideas on dispensing justice, the cop believes the over-riding object is to get this maniac off the streets and worry later about how justice is served.

For such a slight plot, it takes a long time to resolve things, as we have to sit through a few twists before the creepy killer, clad in a hoodie, must face the music. But there are enough action set-pieces in the second half to keep action pic junkies tuning into this exciting crime chase story. It blends wit, humor and depravity together, making for a competently made thriller (with beautiful sets), in a very entertaining film that sometimes meanders.

The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil

REVIEWED ON 7/22/2019       GRADE: B