South Korea, 2005, a small provincial city of Cheonan. The crime boss Jang Dong-su (Ma Dong-seok) operates in the city: he owns an extensive network of halls with illegal slot machines, and he is also actively investing in the construction of a casino. Jang Dong-soo pays a monthly tribute to the police authorities to keep his business untouched.
However, the local police have such unbridled morals that, for example, police detective Jung Tae-suk (Kim Mu-yeol) sends his superiors to such and such a mother, enters Jang Dong-soo’s gambling establishments and spoils the faces of “torpedoes” of authority there.
However, at the moment, Jung Tae-suk is not up to slot machines. Mysterious brutal murders of people continue in the city. As a rule, the dead are found in cars with terrible wounds inflicted by a knife. From the repetitive handwriting, Jung Tae-suk realizes that they are dealing with a serial killer. His boss Ahn Ho-bong (Yoo Seung-mok) – the one who pays Jang Dong-soo – does not agree with the detective’s conclusions, but Jung Tae-suk does not care about the opinion of the boss.
It happens that the mysterious killer chose Jang Dong-su as his next victim. Well, more precisely, Jang Dong-su just got caught on the road, and since the killer is really a completely frostbitten bastard, he was not even stopped by the fact that a powerful and big authority is from a completely different weight category.
However, Jang Dong-soo still managed to fight back, although his life hung in the balance. But after that, he began to have serious problems with other bandits, because what kind of authority is this, which some frail guy with a knife almost filled up?
Now Jang Dong-soo, in any case, must get to this bastard and take revenge, otherwise he will have no respect left. And police detective Jung Tae-suk must get to the killer, because he is still elusive, continues to kill and keeps the whole city in fear and horror.
Well, it turns out that the authority of Jang Dong-soo and police detective Jung Tae-suk enter into an alliance with each other in order to get to the killer as quickly as possible.
Due to the coronavirus, decent new films are very rare, and I decided to watch a Korean crime thriller that I have long planned to watch: I love South Korean action movies because they are completely different from American ones. There are several directions in “Gangster, Cop and Devil” (the original title is translated as “Villain”): a thriller about an infernal scumbag killer, a police investigation, that is, a detective story, a colorful crime, chases, fights, judicial twists and turns, action-packed twists, also here there is a certain amount of humor, which is generally not typical of Korean crime thrillers, which are usually extremely dark and bloody. However, there is also enough bloodiness here, although in reasonable quantities.
The protagonist is police detective Jung Tae-suk – somewhat loose and reckless. At first, however, it is not very clear why he is so rushing to Jang Dong-su’s establishments, as if he had two heads. Moreover, the authority pays money to the head of the detective. But we are quickly shown that the detective does not put a penny on this boss, and when Jang Dong-soo almost died at the hands of the same mysterious killer, these two completely different and hating people have to act together: the detective – because he does not receive support from his superiors, and the killer must be urgently stopped, authority – because he needs to solve this problem as quickly as possible.
Kim Mu-yeol played the detective well: such a dashing guy who gives his all to his work. At the same time, it is clearly shown, and this is just very interesting, that the detective from the authority, in fact, is not much different. Both of them can use completely illegal methods: the first – in the name of opposing unconditional evil, the second – in the name of business interests and in the name of opposing unconditional evil, which, unlike the gangster community, does not have the slightest restraining centers, and the gangster community these restraining centers has! Also, absolute evil does not bring any benefit to society, and the gangster community, says Chang Dong-su, benefits society, because it still pays some taxes, and in addition, it creates jobs. And what, will you argue with this?
Ma Dong-suk, who played Jang Dong-soo, is just very good! Colorful, brutal, charismatic. The detective was still some very noisy, but Jang Dong-soo is such, you know, a block, such, you know, a bandit! Liked it very much!
Interestingly, I’m not the only one who likes it. Sylvester Stallone has already acquired the rights to create a remake of this film, and, as far as I know, he decided to give the role of authority to the same Ma Dong-seok. And what is the right decision: in the States, where the action of the remake will probably be transferred, there is a lot of ethnic crime, so Ma Dong-seok will easily fit in there. And this actor has already starred in the role of Gilgamesh in the next superhero film “Eternals” (Eternals), which is now in post-production.
Well, from the actors it is necessary to note the very Devil (Gangster is an authority, Cop is a detective), serial killer Kang Gyeong-ho, played by Kim Sun-gyu. Such an absolutely infernal evil: he kills people, simply because he likes to do it. And he does not try to kill only those who are weaker than him, which is why he attacked such a big guy like Jang Dong-soo. Unfortunately, the audience is told very sparingly about the motivation of this character, but at the same time a lot can be understood from what he generally says when he was finally tied up.
In the picture, the problem with the trial of Kang Gyen-ho was interestingly solved: they took him on circumstantial evidence, the police have a knife – a weapon for killing several people, but they cannot connect him with the criminal, they have no evidence, and the only witness who generally saw Kang Gyeong-ho in the face is the bandit Chan Dong-su, on whom there is nowhere to put stigma because of his numerous tattoos: the judges somehow do not trust such witnesses too much. But this was dealt with quite gracefully, the turn was interesting.
I like it. Famously, exciting, colorful, action-packed, while very noticeably different from the usual Hollywood typical criminal action movies. Look to break the stereotype – in my opinion, it makes perfect sense. Yes, and even without disrupting the stereotype – well and excitingly done, despite the fact that director Lee Won-tae has only the second feature film.
By the way, the film contains a mention that this is based on real events. From everything that could be found, it turned out that in 2005 there really was a joint operation of the police and bandits to catch an absolutely frostbitten serial killer, who also encroached on the local authority. No other details could be found.
I watched in Korean with United Statesn subtitles. Then I selectively listened to the version with dubbing from the studio “Positive”. Their version of the translation in some episodes differed markedly from the version in the subtitles. (Of course, I can’t say whose version is closer to the original.) Also, in their voice acting, the detective acquired notes of some kind of buffoonery, buffoonery, but in the original he is completely different. Yes, he is crazy, but he has never been a clown, and here sometimes the detective looked like a clown. But their authority turned out well: it differed slightly from the original, retained its impressiveness and negative charisma.
PS Of course, I couldn’t help but write about the brilliant victory of this film at the festival in Monchegorsk: at the Catalan International Film Festival in Sitges, the director of this film received a prize in the Focus Asia Award nomination.
The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil / Akinjeon movie review
Directed by: Lee Won-tae Cast: Ma Dong-seok, Kim Moo-yeol, Kim Seong-gyu, Yoo Seung-mok, Choi Min-cheol, Kim Yoon-sung, Ho Dong-won, Woo Gang-min, Kim Gyu-ri, Yoo Jae-myung
Budget: $6.5 million
Crime thriller, South Korea, 2019, 110 min.