31st July 2011
The following review was originally written for the August edition Asiana Entertainment, the in-flight magazine of Asiana Airlines. Now published, I am able to post it here as well. As it is an airplane magazine and not a film journal, the reviews must be kept positive. Sometimes, like when I wrote about Dragon Wars and Hearty Paws 2, it was quite difficult and definitely felt like selling out. But in this case, it was not difficult to give the film a good review. Officer of the Year is a comedy..not my favorite genre.. however it is not a bad film and it turned out that I did not mind watching it. You can view the original article if you are flying on Asiana in August… In September, you can read my review of Mama.
Officer Hwang Jae-seong uses his experience and keen instincts to bring criminals to justice in style. He prides himself on his ability and his arrest record is second to none. However, he may have some unlikely competition in a young rookie from a nearby, rival precinct. What Officer Jeong Ui-chan lacks in experience, he makes up for in luck and determination. Trying to fulfill his own ambitions as well as trying to impress his future father-in-law, Jeong attempts to overcome his limitations and innate klutziness to earn the coveted title of ‘Officer of the Year.’
The laughs come thick and fast as the two cops compete to collar the most criminals. However, Jeong and his compatriots at their under-funded, overworked station are outmaneuvered at every turn by the elite forces of Hwang. But then the comedy comes to a halt as a crime, so heinous in nature, changes the atmosphere of the film and forces the two stations to cooperate. Hwang and Jeong reluctantly come to an understanding and form an uneasy alliance as they track a serial rapist who has been slowly amassing quite a list of victims. Although their very different styles of detecting seems like it could cover all angles, it may not be enough to bring a supremely confident criminal mastermind whose modus operandi may leave him immune to detection.
Veteran comedic actor Park Joong-hoon has proven over the decades that he is not merely a master gagman, but also able to handle scenes and scripts that require intense drama. This movie demanded that he call on both of his demonstrated skill sets as Officer of the Year alters its tone from light police comedy to a serious crime/thriller. Park’s co-star in this film is Lee Seon-gyun, who plays the earnest yet inexperienced Officer Jeong, is charged with performing more of the comedy of this film than Park, which is rare for him as he usually appears in dramas and romance flicks. Yet Lee handily shows that he is up to the task and naïve and fumbling portrayal of Jeong is one of the highlights of this film and is warmly endearing.
There is one supporting character that may actually outshine the main actors in his few scenes. It is the character of the harmless but undeniably insane Ko played to perfection by Lee Won-hee. In any movie Lee Won-hee appears in, no matter how large or small the role, he brings with him an enthusiasm and passion that is a joy to watch as he chews up the scenery and steals the scene. In Officer of the Year, his role is a just a bit part but he shows up sporadically at the police station throughout the film confessing to crimes he did not commit.
Korea cinema has had the reputation over the last decade or so of producing quality, genre-blended films and Officer of the Year is another fine example of this phenomenon. It is a comedy that will bring a smile to your face while it simultaneously proves itself to be a satisfying thriller. You will definitely find it worth your time!