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Jo Tae-Oh is a young man who was grown spoiled in a wealthy family. He keeps on committing pretty much every crime that one can think of. He tries to buy his way out of everything which almost always works but Detective Seo Do-Cheol won't let that happen this time. Written by
Veteran initially comes off as a typical, if still very good, action comedy in which we're introduced to Seo Do-cheol, a skilled detective who is in the process of busting up a car smuggling ring. In the first ten minutes we get both plenty of comedy and action as Do-cheol and his fellow officers show themselves as more grounded and relatable, despite Do-cheol's excellent martial arts skills. While we do get plenty of quick hitting action, we also get cops who get winded, criminals who run without shooting, and other foregone clichés that might exist otherwise. However, it isn't until we get to the meat of the story that we start to see the unconventional turns take place.
The story truly starts, about 30-40 minutes in, when Do-cheol meets Jo Tae-oh, a spoiled, rich, and sadistic executive at the powerful Sun- jin group. When Tae-oh becomes responsible for the near death of one of Do-cheol's friends. It sets in motion a cat and mouse game, with Do-cheol the unstoppable force and Tae-oh blocking him at every point. The film isn't especially action packed, though we do get a few moments of action here and there. Much of this is mixed between comedy and crime drama. What makes the comedy especially good is that it's not only somewhat unconventional for a crime drama of this sort, but that our characters are made relatable and realistic. Despite how they may be set up to be more than average, we're quickly reminded that they're still only human. The interactions are also wonderful, as we witness their personal connections and how they defy the clichéd character types. Do-cheol himself, played wonderfully and charismatically by the excellent Jeong-min Hwang, defies his first impression by having to navigate the legal system to catch Tae-oh in a way that is more about outsmarting his opponent than beating him up. He may act like a supercop, but as we see in the film, his more brutal actions come back to bite him. Tae-oh, played by an equally charming but far more sadistic Ah In Yoo, is a little more clichéd. He's a typically hated bad guy who has no problem embarrassing those around him, beating people up, and pushing his responsibilities onto others. Suffice to say, he plays a typical spoiled rich brat here. But it works. There's a scene early on which demonstrates this well, having a father get beaten in front of his son. He's a truly despicable.
The film is constantly entertaining all the way through and rarely lets up. We do get great scenes of drama and emotion, and the film does an excellent job of making Do-cheol likable, but it's at it's best when Do-cheol is navigating the roadblocks being placed in front of him and overcome his obstacles, which become increasingly more dangerous. When Do-cheol and Tae-oh finally confront each other, it will have been well worth it and the confrontation is something to be relished. This is a very well crafted film that balances all it's elements just right, never coming off as too melodramatic, and much of what works is owed to the excellent writing and acting by the two leads. Korea strikes gold again with this excellent film.
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