Movie review: Korean megahit 'Extreme Job' is now on Netflix

Fred Hawson

Posted at Apr 02 2020 04:24 PM

A scene from 'Extreme Job'

The title of this Korean film did not really interest me at first. However, its claim on its poster to be the second highest grossing Korean film of all time after "The Admiral: Roaring Currents" (2014) definitely caught my attention. "Extreme Job" is in fact the highest grossing Korean comedy film of all time, overtaking "Miracle in Cell No. 7" which held the record since 2013. Those impressive stats made this film a must-watch.

Chief Go (Ryu-Seung-yong) leads an under-performing team of narcotics detectives, Jang (Lee Hanee), Yong-ho (Lee Dong-hwi), Ma (Gong-Myoung), and Jae-hoon (Jin Sun-kyu). One day, they decide to take over the failing chicken restaurant business across the street from the hideout of the drug lord they were staking out. Ma's secret formula sauce for their fried chicken was an instant hit with the customers. This viral business success, however, would distract them from their police work.

The bad guys were led by stylishly-dressed drug lord Lee Moo-bae (Shin Ha-kyun) with his efficient female bodyguard Seon Hee (Jang Jin-hee), who both had deadly martial arts skills. There were plenty of bare-fisted fight scenes against and among the bad guys, and the action was unexpectedly very graphic and brutal. The climactic fight between Chief Go and Moo-bae set on a boat was as painful as it was protracted. In the beginning, there was even a foot chase scene which involved the wanton destruction of several cars. 

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The advertising hype about its box-office performance may have caused me to have very high expectations. While the comedic situations in the film were indeed funny, the style of humor was not exactly as sophisticated as that seen in Bong Joon-ho's acclaimed film "Parasite." 

"Extreme Job" had a lower-brow type of comedy, slapstick level, with exaggerated facial expressions, loud acting and silly pratfalls. I feel that there were times when the impact of the punchlines were lost in the English subtitles. 

Like so many other Korean films, again this film succeeds because of its very unique story idea. There had been so many comedy films about bumbling cops and how they messed up their undercover work. But here in "Extreme Job," for Chief Go and company to actually succeed more as chicken restauranteurs than as cops was a really ingeniously funny twist of irony, a true winner of a concept. 

Word is, Hollywood is about to make its own version, starring Kevin Hart. 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."