badge or bucket
A squad of broken hands is put on a big case, investigating a gang and busting its drug trade, their careers in the Korean police depend on it. For quality spying, the police will recover a fried chicken restaurant located just in front of the thugs’ HQ and turn it into a hideout. In order to arouse no suspicion, the Narcotics agents will go so far as to put on waiter’s hats and outfits. But the immediate success of their signature dish makes their tables the most popular in the neighborhood, absorbing all the energy of uniformed chickens who abandon the investigation. Thereby their restaurant business being more lucrative than their police businessthey will have to choose.
*insert chicken pun*
This absolutely brilliant and hilarious idea that the movie has takes a surprisingly long time to come together. Rather than going straight to the heart of the matter and concentrating on the concept of cops turned cooks, Korean Fried Chicken takes more than half an hour to introduce us to the squad and the case they are on. Then suddenly in the space of three scenes, everything rushes and is linked. In this way, Bae Se-young’s script does not exploit the progressive loss of control of this original situation comedy. Conversely, this gives the film the possibility ofgo further than its concept.
This haste inevitably leads the story to skip steps to speed up its plot, even if it means sacrificing the understanding of certain narrative arcs. There emerges a form of artificiality in the writing, certain elements being there only by scriptwriting necessity without seeming to really exist in the film. Thereby the purely police aspect is quite wobbly and appears superfluous, the drug trade and its cartoonish boss only serving to generate more and more extreme situations for the heroes.
Wing or thigh ?
activate chicken taste
As the screenwriter and director of Kaamelott, Alexandre Astier, “comedy must be a seriously done genre”, and Lee Byeong-Heon respects this precept in the staging of his crime comedy. Playing on thriller-specific gimmicks, without ever mocking the codes of the genre, Korean Fried Chicken goes first for an action movie. In this story of cops running a fried chicken restaurant, the craziest thing is that we believe in it, precisely because Byeong-heon does everything for it. Thus, in the midst of these credible investigation sequences, the work overload represented by the job of cooks for these police officers seems all the more realistic.
A few minutes before the distribution of knuckle salads
It is particularly in his action scenes that Korean Fried Chicken proves the care taken by its director to make it an entertaining detective film. On several occasions, the characters go settle their differences with jump kicks. And what could have been a visual massacre is on the contrary rather neat thanks to rather impressive choreographies. Each fight has its own realization, either by playing with the confrontation in the background, by plunging us into the heart of the fray, or by using off-screen. Byeong-heon does not hesitate to confront dozens of gangsters in an enjoyable organized chaos which gives a slap to the final battle of The Dark Knight Rises.
Comedic situations are not treated with ingratitude and receive just as much attention from the director. Whether in the actors emerging from the frame or the rhythm of the interactions between the actors, Korean Fried Chicken takes up the mechanics of burlesque. Despite this, we huff more than we laugh at all the efforts made. The situations make you smile, and the whole thing is very far from being an ordeal to watch, but sequences don’t push the jokes slider far enough yet good. And it’s not the music with the clucking of hens that will bring us tears of laughter as it is disconcerting.
They are always police
Korean Cops Chicken
The biggest strength of Korean Fried Chicken is not in his talent to make us hungry, but in the communicative good humor that emerges from this brigade of friends more than colleagues. Their camaraderie exudes authenticity, providing the funniest moments, and reminiscent of the show’s enjoyable curating. Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Their alchemy works right down to each person’s humour, different but complementary, giving rise to dialogues as tasty as they are subtle in the manner of Kaamelott.
Still, while hiding out with this bunch of work buddies is fun, characters are no more than the archetypes they embody and the gags they represent. Thus, the characterization of each turns in circles until a last act feeling obliged to swing their respective histories head-on. Result : all the characters are presented in a totally different way in the eyes of the viewercontradicting the first part of the film.
POV: you are the last piece of chicken
The biggest characterization flaws show up especially with the only three female characters who combine stereotypes too often seen in cinema. Indeed, we find ourselves with the tough cop with a strong character, as opposed to the eternal housewife whose husband has his feet slipped under the table while she serves the evening meal. Finally, the last classic female figure of the action film, the mute bodyguard of the villain, as good a fighter as she is a good doggy responding to orders.
If the characters deserved a (re)writing and a deepening, they are nevertheless all endearing thanks to the performances of the actors. Everyone manages to play with their body and their face, whether in the dialogue scenes, as in the fights or the stunts. For this we can thank the work of the director who knew how to brilliantly direct his actors to make the most of their physicalities, while some of them were from romantic comedy (Gong Myoung) or thriller (Jin Sun-kyu, Ryu Seung-ryong).
The strengths of the film
Korean Fried Chicken fully exploits its genius concept, pushing it to the limit for more downright absurd moments. Unfortunately, few gags serve this plot too poor and really make you laugh despite the obvious complicity of the characters. We are far from a Very Bad Cops with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg who knew how to mix a well-written investigation and excellently paced humor.
Korean Fried Chicken is available on DVD and Blu-ray since July 1, 2022.