From Arelor@PALANT to All on Friday, February 25, 2022 21:37:30
Hello once again, movigoers!
Somebody in Reddit was complaining that America is producing such a big amount of politically loaded entertainment, that if you wanted to have "normal" films and books, you were forced to get them from other sources. Let's honor this piece of advice with my current review!
The Ganster, the Cop, the Devil is a neonoir film from South Korea. A serial killer is on the lose, stabbing people to his heart's content and making the stocks of tomato sauce manufacturers skyrocket. The police is clueless and incompetent and the murderer seems bound to party hard for a long time...
...until he tries to kill Jang Dong-soo, a high profile personality from the Mafia, who happens to be a walking meat grinder. I mean, the guy is such a beast that he could plow fields faster than a mule. Or a tractor, for that matter. In any case, the assasination fails, the killer escapes, and Mr. Meatgrinder is left with some bad scars, a stain on his reputation, and an unrelenting desire to do what mobsters do best.
No, it is not eating Italian food in the family's restaurant. It is taking revenge.
Meanwhile, Jung Tae-seok is a cop with a deep disrespect for the rules who will do whatever it takes to take the killer to justice. Since his boss is a total asshole who won't let him do his job, he sees himself forced to form an alliance with the Mafia in order to hunt the bad guy down.
The engine which moves the movie is the clash between Mr. Meatgrinder and the Korean Harry Callahan copycat: they both hate each other because they are natural enemies, but they both understand they are not capturing the psycho without the other's help. The Mafia has the thugs and money, they have the evidences and the only witness who has seen the killer's face. Meanwhile,
Jung has friends in the forensics labs and other sources of information.
Both want the killer, but for different reasons. Mr. Meatgrinder wants him so he can peel him like an onion and make an example out of him, whereas Jung wants to take him to court so he can be sentenced to death and executed in a civilized manner. This is a constant source of tension in their relationship. I don't think it works as well as it could have, but it works nevertheless.
Something I found funny is that none of them trusts the other, so they try to gain leverage against the respective frenemy, by gathering evidence against the other, should they need to blackmail him or force him to keep their part of the deal. At times it looks like both forces are working against each other rather than cooperating.
This movie attempts to blur the line that separates the gansters from Jung and, later, other cops who join the effort. I don't think it achieves it, but it has some nice touches which hint that the cops themselves are becoming more ganster-like the more they move to the dark side. The most effective one is a scene in which a cop and a ganster are arguing, and Jung walks in and
punches them quiet to make them stop, in the same manner Mr. Meatgrinder "pacified" his own men a bunch of scenes earlier.
Despite not being an action flick, it has some fights, chases and takedowns thrown in. Some of them remind of the over-he-top wuxia movies of old in which a small group of heroes cut through vast hordes of mobs, except the tone is much darker and there is more tomato sauce. On the other hand, the serial killer's assassination scenes are particularly grim and well achieved.
About the worst thing you can say of this movie is that the Chief of Police is such an obstructive asshole, and his role so overdone, that is breaks suspension of disbelief at times. Such a useless moron would not have remained as the head of the police for long: everybody knows burdensome imbeciles such as this always end as professional politicians. This guy should have been Prime Minister by merit of his refusal to accept clear facts alone.
At the end of the day, The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil strikes as yet another Korean neonoir movie: a grim, dark plot with some broken noses and a distinct presentation that sets itself clearly appart from what most Westerns expect. Nothing revolutionary, but it kind of works.