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EIFF 2019: Extreme Job (2019) dir: Byeong-heon Lee

N.B. This film is not on general release in the UK at present. It is showing at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on Tuesday 25th June 2019.

Bumbling cops on a surprising stakeout

This South Korean action-comedy features Seung-ryong Ryu, Lee Hanee, Seon-kyu Jin, Dong-hwi Lee and Gong-Myoung as a team of five narcotics officers whose constant bumbling results in their infuriated Superintendent (Kim Eui-sung) continually passing them over for promotion. This is a particular concern for their chief, Captain Ko (played by Seung-ryong), as his wife (played by Kim Ji-young) keeps nagging him about it.

Extreme Job (2019

They receive another opportunity to prove themselves when they are asked by their superior to run a stakeout on a major player in the local drugs trade named Mubae (Shin Ha-kyun). Since his gang’s hideout is located across the road from a fried chicken restaurant, they decide to use the establishment as a place from which to observe their movements. There is only one problem: since the owner has received so few customers bar the five of them, he has decided to shut up shop.

They suddenly hit upon a plan: if they buy up this unpopular restaurant themselves, they can continue to operate from there without arousing suspicion. Things take a surprising turn, however, when one of them named Ma (Seon-kyu Jin) manages to come up with a sticky chicken recipe so incredible that the place quickly becomes overrun with customers.

Watch a trailer:

Action, comedy and chicken abound

Extreme Job is a high-octane mix of laughs, action and gratuitously mouthwatering shots of fried chicken. Yes, really. It ended up breaking box office records in the South Korean market and, while I doubt that it will repeat its enormous commercial success in the UK (subtitled films hardly ever attract more than a niche audience over here), it is bound to win plenty of fans amongst Asian cinephiles.

While its core idea sounds rather slight and whimsical, Extreme Job simply blasts along from one hilarious and/or exciting sequence to another in the manner of a hyperactive tigger. Much of the fun comes from the way in which it derives hilarity from the most unexpected of details; for instance, there’s a running joke involving Ko’s wife being sick of hearing the word “Captain” due to his continual failure to get promoted.

As with a number of other South Korean genre films, Extreme Job is a trifle overlong. It’s also arguable that some of the violence feels a bit too brutal to mix well with the levity elsewhere. Even so, it pulls off one of the finest blends of comedy and action to emerge from Eastern Asia since Jackie Chan’s heyday.

Runtime: 112 mins

Dir: Byeong-heon Lee

Script: Se-Young Bae

Starring: Seung-ryong Ryu, Lee Hanee, Seon-kyu Jin, Dong-hwi Lee, Gong-Myoung, Kim Eui-sung, Kim Ji-young, Shin Ha-kyun

Rating: ☆☆☆☆

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