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[K-Movie Review] Comparing the Strengths and Weaknesses of Choi Woo Shik’s ‘The Policeman’s Lineage’ and Park So Dam’s ‘Special Delivery’

Edited by Hong Hyun Jung
Translated by Esther Lee

movie Special Delivery review
Credit: Acemaker Movieworks, NEW

The Policeman’s Lineage and Special Delivery, starring Choi Woo Shik and Park So Dam, who co-starred in Parasite as siblings, were the first two films to premiere in Korean theaters in 2022. Released a week apart in January, these two films showcase unseen sides of the two actors in a highly entertaining crime genre. Let’s take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of these two films, which are currently being promoted actively despite the ongoing pandemic.

 

The Policeman’s Lineage is a movie adaptation of a Japanese book named Keikan No Chi written by Joh Sasaki. It revolves around a highly principled rookie cop named Choi Min Jae who goes after another cop named Park Gang Yoon with a suspiciously high arrest rate. Unlike the usual undercover movies that explore the identity crisis that secret agents go through while infiltrating crime or police organizations, The Policeman’s Lineage follows a police officer questioning his morals while digging dirt on another cop. The movie creates a question for the viewers: Should a cop stay within the lines of the law, or should he do everything that it takes to make arrests?

Choi Woo Shik and Cho Jin Woong play two cops with opposing beliefs and throw an interesting question to the audience. Choi Woo Shik revealed that he chose to star in this film because he liked how different the character was from Parasite’s Gi Woo. In the movie, Min Jae confronts Kang Yoon and the society he lives in and goes through significant changes throughout the plot. Although Min Jae has this young and pre-mature image early in the film, Choi Woo Shik creates a unique aspect of his character as the film progresses. While it’s entertaining to watch Choi Woo Shik’s unseen side, it was much entertaining to see Cho Jin Woong nailing his part as always. He plays Kang Yoon, whom Min Jae secretly monitors, and his strong presence makes up for the film’s flat narrative. Kang Yoon’s resilience and stubbornness perfectly go along with Cho Jin Woong’s known image, and it convinces the viewers why righteous Min Jae ends up falling deeper into distress as he learns more about Kang Yoon.

However, the lack of chemistry between the two actors was disappointing. The film gives an interesting look into Kang Yoon’s illegal means of investigation. Still, it blandly portrays the should-be intense psychological struggles of the characters when they stand at the fine line between legal and illegal. Although Kwon Yul and Park Myung Hoon transformed into criminals with distinct characteristics, the characters are somewhat stale and lackluster. Aside from its undercover police narrative, there isn’t a huge difference between this and the already existing Korean crime movies. It might have been better to have put more weight on Hwang In Ho (Park Hee Soon), the higher-up who gives the mission to Min Jae, to build the narrative better until the two leads with opposing beliefs clash with each other.

 

Special Delivery is a female-led crime action film. As much as works with a strong presence of female characters have received positive responses, there were high expectations for Park So Dam’s new flick. Special Delivery is about professional delivery expert Eun Ha, who gets caught up in an unexpected car chase after accepting a high-paying but high-risk delivery request.

The fast-paced story and its brilliant action scenes are the film’s greatest strength. The film starts with the thrilling car chase scene that gives a brief look at Eun Ha’s personality and gift for driving. It utilizes the tight alleys and slopes commonly seen in South Korean residential areas,  and while doing so, the female lead stays extremely calm and chill while knocking off all her pursuers. Special Delivery takes a different approach from the other films that portray their female characters as sexual or manly figures. It’s extremely satisfying and refreshing to see a nonchalant and talented woman deconstructing the female objectification that is frequently seen in other movies with strong heroines.

If The Policeman’s Lineage showcases Choi Woo Shik’s masculine charm, Special Delivery brings out what Park So Dam is capable of as a lead actress. Her presence stands out in the film, and it almost makes you forget about the original work. Her versatility exceeds expectations as she does a perfect job in stunts, from the car chase scenes to the physical fight scenes. Despite Eun Ha’s exceptional driving and fighting skills, the character does not appear overly unrealistic when paired with Park So Dam’s friendly image.

However, the plot is somewhat unremarkable aside from her character and the brilliant action scenes. The movie borrows its premise from The Professional and The Man from Nowhere, and the society that Eun Ha lives in isn’t too different from those in other Korean crime movies. And as much as it is a female-led film, it’s unfortunate that there weren’t any other female characters other than Eun Ha in this film.

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Edited Hong Hyun Jung: I am a K-content guide who publishes various articles for people to enjoy Korean movies and dramas deeper and richer. I’ll introduce you to the works that you can laugh, cry and sympathize with.

Translator Esther Lee: I’ll be providing you with up-to-date, reliable Korean entertainment news. Enjoy!

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