Wife is a Gangster
review | notes | availability |
Park Sang-myun and Shin Eun-kyung
| Shin Eun-kyung,
Park Sang-myun, Ahn Jae-mo, Kim In-kwon, Jang Se-jin,
superhit (over 5 million admissions in Korea) could
have been better. But, thanks to Shin Eun-kyung and
Park Sang-myun's effervescent performances, the film
stays afloat. The uneven plot often drags, but many
hilarious scenes redeem the director's mistakes.
It's no secret that gangster
comedies were the most popular genre in Korea last year.
Kick The Moon, Guns & Talks, Hi Dharma!
and My Boss My Hero all did great business. The
most successful of these was My Wife is a Gangster,
which possesses a fine blend of comedy, action and even
a little drama. Also, the film's unusual screen couple
was likely an audience draw. Shin Eun-kyung (of The
Ring Virus, Downfall and The Young Man)
isn't exactly used to comedies, and seeing her in this
role was certainly a big attraction. Add Park Sang-myun,
perhaps the funniest supporting actor in Korea, and
this was sure to be a big hit.
Shin is Eun-jin, No.2
of a local gang. We're introduced to her in impressive
fashion, as she cuts rival gangsters to pieces with
her trademark weapon (a pair of scissors). She has made
it so far in the male-dominated Jopok world,
for one reason only: she's not exactly the most feminine
character you'll find. Even worse, her behavior makes
that quite obvious.
There are reasons for her lack
of femininity, such as losing her sister and parents
at a very young age. However, when she finds her long
lost sister, the shock is big. Her sister is not only
dying of cancer, but her last wish is to see her little
sister married and with children! For Eun-jin (known
as Mantis in the underworld) it seems like no big deal
at first, but when she discovers the consequences of
having a partner...well, problems begin.
The best candidate for
Eun-jin is civil servant Soo-il (Park Sang-myun). He's
had no success with women so far, and seems like a gentle,
faithful man. While their wedding doesn't go too smoothly,
nothing is enough to prepare Soo-il for what will come
next. Eun-jin dropkicks her newfound hubby to the floor
every time he tries to touch her. She brings home an
entire Chinese restaurant when Soo-il calls a few colleagues
home for dinner. And, trying to follow her sister's
advice to have children, she literally rapes Soo-il
all over the house (elevators included). Now, all of
this would be fine if the rival gang didn't know of
Mantis' issues. They plan to exploit her problems to
oust her from power, and as you would probably expect,
a big fight ensues.
Meanwhile, director Jo Jin-kyu
also attempts to give life to the other characters.
From the young gang recruits to the senior members,
everyone has a story to tell and some subplot to follow.
This lessens the impact of the main plot, and in the
second half of the film, things begin to drag quite
a bit. There's even some unnecessary melodrama towards
the end which makes little sense.
My Wife is a Gangster is
at its best when it focuses on Park and Shin's chemistry.
When poking fun at Jopok (both the world, and
film genre) conventions, the role of women in Korean
society and many other things, the film is often hilarious.
Park and Shin redeem the film with their terrific performances.
If they had been helped by a more even pace, and a more
capable director (such as Kim Sang-jin, Kim Ji-woon
or Jang Jin), the end result could have been a stronger
film. It's a shame the director couldn't piece everything
together to offer a more coherent plot. But don't let
those few flaws mislead you. My Wife is a Gangster
is quite a fun experience, thanks to its Jopok
jargon, well-choreographed wire-fu, and slapstick comedy.
Also, this role will mean more
comedies for Shin Eun-kyung, who's starring alongside
Jung Joon-ho (of My Boss, My Hero fame) in the
recently released Romantic Comedy. My Wife
is a Gangster is a nice change of pace of Shin.
Her performance as Eun-jin has enabled her to show some
welcome range, and has confirmed her status as one of
Korea's finest actresses. (LunaSea 2002)
favorite US distributor, Miramax, bought the remake
rights to this film. This is the first in a string of
Korean hits (including My Sassy Girl) soon to
be remade by American studios. When you're done rolling
your eyes, think about this: you'll still have the original
intact, and will be able to avoid the remake without
regret. There's also a chance they'll release the original
in the US. "From the butchers who brought you Kung
Region 0 NTSC (Marked as Region 3)
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Korean Language Track
DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English Subtitles
Region 3 NTSC
Korean and Mandarin Language Tracks
DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
courtesy of www.filmplay.com
Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen