Dir: Lee Seong Han. S Korea. 2007. 105min.

Intermittently funny but always energetic, this spoof action film displays the kind of flair and attitude that will win fans at home and attract the interest of many film festivals especially for midnight screenings. Lee Seong Han, a fan of the Hong Kong brand of gangster films, spent seven years preparing this debut which sends up most of the familiar conventions of the genre but does it with such respect that at times it almost takes itself seriously.

Splendidly shot and elegantly produced, this could be seen as the Korean answer to The Naked Gun series or the recent Clive Owen vehicle Shoot 'Em Up though less overtly funny than the first and with less bullets and more fists than the second.

Gwang-hae (Lim Jun Il) is a young, likeable good-for-nothing who owes 80 million wans to the colourfully sinister Myung-su (Kim Soo Hyeon). He has to pay in three days or else. His friend Gil-do (Jung Woo) is an inveterate gambler who always wears a tuxedo and only leaves the gambling tables when he's broke. Desperate for cash, Geang-hae approaches Gil-do but it turns out that Gil-do himself owes even more to Myung-su. Luckily, an underworld connection calls with a proposition: find a doner liver for his Yakuza boss who has just been stabbed and there'll be a handsome reward. Not unsurprisingly Gwang-hae is perfect transplant match.

The Yakuza boss's head of operations, martial arts expert Sato (Koga Mitzuki), arrives to take Gwang-hae back to Japan. The trouble starts when Gil-do takes all the money and pays off his own debt without giving Gwang-hae his share. Meanwhile, Myung-su tries to block the entire deal and grab himself a much bigger slice of the cake. His only obstacle is Sato so he sends his minions to dispatch the Japanese master.

Accompanied throughout by two elderly off-screen voices (like Statler and Waldorf in The Muppet Show) who comment on everything that goes on on-screen - or doesn't, as in the case of the absence of a major female character - Lee's debut is a mostly tongue-in-cheek tribute to every gambling, gangster and martial arts yarn. But his application is so dedicated that he forgets the blows are supposed to first of all funny.

Camera work and art direction are eye-catching, editing is nimble and the cast is right on the money, reacting in high spirits, whether they are doing the beating or being beaten up by others.

Production companies/backers
Film The Days (S Korea)

Ko Kyung Ho
Park Ki Cheol

Choi Hae Chul
Lee Seong Han

Executive producers
Lee Seong Han


Kim Young Cheul

Kim Seul Gi

Main cast

Lim Jun Il
Jung Woo
Koga Mitzuki
Kim Soo Hyeon
Yang Ki Won