Director: Kim Yu-jin
Cast: Yang Dong-geun, Jung Jun-yeong, Han Chae-young
Apart from the romance trend, Cops movie is also a popular genre in Korea. From Two Cops in early 90s to the recent years' Nowhere to Hide and Public Enemy, quality cops movies are always a box office guarantee. The latest installment of this genre in 2003, Wild Card, proves to be another success as it was well received at the box office.
The story of this film is no different to any of its counterparts. An armed robbery case has happened, detective Jay-soo (Yang Don-geun) and Young dahl (Jung Jin-yeong) are assigned to the case. The whole film is about how they tackle with the case steps by steps. It is not a detective thriller in which the suspect is unknown or kept secret. There is no mystery at all. Viewers are aware of the true identity of the criminals as the committed crime is explicitly shown early in the film. The objective of the director is not to create suspense, but to depict the investigation process of the cops in an authentic and detailed manner, as well as the daily life of the cops.
The investigation is very plain and straightforward. The detectives are always trying to follow every step or procedure in a thoughtful and rational manner. It seems that the director wanted to overthrow the traditional image of the omnipotent detective (e.g. the acrobatic Jackie Chan or the brilliant Sherlock Holmes), his detectives in this film are much more human than other typical detectives in most cops movies. For instance, even though Jay-soo is a good fighter, he is still unable to take four gangsters at a time; when two cops are tailing four gangsters, they would not injudiciously start the arrest until they have called for backups. Moreover, the private life of the detectives are also delineated genuinely. Jay-soo and Young-dahl have their own love and family problems to deal with. The director's passion and care toward his characters is way more delicate that I would expect from a masculine movie like this. It is also different from a lot of the cops movies in which the personal life and the emotions of the characters are usually suppressed as the focus of the plot is always the hardcore actions.
Yang Dong-geun and Jung Jin-young fit the role as the energetic detectives perfectly. While Jung is a "veteran detective" who has played a similar role in numerous films (e.g. Guns & Talks), the masculine Yang is actually more eye-catching as his character is the primary focus of the movie. Han Chae-young plays a minor role as Yang's object of affection. She barely appears in the film so fans of her don't expect too much. The rest of the detectives are funny, while the boss of the nightclub and his henchmen are the worst part as their highly comical expressions and blatant voice do not match the realistic atmosphere of the film at all.
Wild Card's approach is different from many others Hollywood and Hong Kong cops movies as it does not contain any super cops or too many dramatic twists. Nevertheless, it succeeds in capturing the heart of the audience with its authentic presentation of the work of the detectives and its sincere affection toward its characters.
Reviewed by: Kantorates