She's On Duty
Director: Park Kwang-choon.
Production Company: Mine Entertainment
Running Time: 111 minutes
This is a convivial mix of sassy girl attitude,
physical comedy and light action that never taxes your brain cells in any
meaningful manner, but is difficult not to like. I might have a bit more
respect for it if I hadn’t seen basically the same film years ago in a
Stephen Chow vehicle called “Fight Back to School” (1991), but if you are
going to borrow, borrow from the best and that they do. They also make
a gender switch which certainly adds some fun new dimensions to the film.
Actress Kim Seon-ah is of course no Stephen Chow (but then who is?), but
she is considered perhaps the best film comedienne in Korea and her surly
belligerent slow burn lower lip attitude is the best thing about the film
Here she plays Jae-in, a tough smart mouthed cop
who would prefer smacking someone to talking to them – at one point she
suggests to her superior/uncle (Noh Joo-hyeon) to just beat the information
out of a young girl since that’s what they do best. The film begins with
her in undercover mode as a high school girl in school uniform and ponytails
about to be sent to Japan as part of a sex trade trafficking delivery –
she is mildly insulted when one of the other girls doesn’t believe she
could possibly be that age. When it looks like her backup isn’t coming,
she goes into action to arrest the crooks with a few whirlwind kicks and
twirls, but is saved from being killed by another undercover cop, Joh (Ha
Jeong-woo) who berates her for blowing the operation to snag the big boys
Sulking, she goes back to headquarters just in
time to be spotted by senior brass who think she will be perfect to go
undercover full time in high school. Her assignment is to watch Seung-hee
(Nam Sang-mi), the daughter of the second in command of the Whacker Gang.
Her father (Kim Kap-soo) had planned to turn state’s evidence but has now
gone into hiding in fear for his life. The police think he will contact
his daughter and so Jae-in has to get close to the girl – a difficult task.
In the meantime, she develops a school girl crush on another high school
student (Gong Yoo) who is suspiciously adroit in martial arts.
The comedy comes in the form of a fish out of
water – the horror of high school – one student says she must have “aging
disease” for looking so old (in fact, Kim is nearing 30 so playing a high
school student is a bit of a stretch!), she is terrible in her studies
and has to have much of the police force helping her pass a test, she is
punished for poor behavior like drinking and has to deal with a gang of
girls who have it in for her. It is an easy film to digest with a small
smidgeon of melodrama thrown in near the end as well as a big brawl that
leaves everyone bloody and beaten. The only real disappointment is that
it seems that a big fight is being set up between her and a sizzling femme
fatale in the Whacker Gang, but it never really happens.
My rating for this film: 6.5
Previous films from the Director:
The Soul Guardians (1998)