EXTREME JOB: Not As Delicious as it Sounds

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EXTREME JOB is a Korean film release, it’s rated M, runs for 111mins and releases February 5th on home entertainment. Enjoy Kernel Elie’s review and may your popcorn always be salty and your kimchi always be spicy! …Kernel Claire

A delicious stake-out job

BY ELIE ELKORR

SYNOPSIS:

A narcotics police division team on the brink of being reassigned are given one last chance to crack the case on an underground drug lord. The team captain forks out his entire retirement fund to purchase a chicken shop as a stakeout location. However things take an unexpected turn when ‘Suwon Rib Marinade Chicken’ becomes a local sensation.

Within just 19 days of release, EXTREME JOB became the highest grossing Korean comedy film of all time.

CHARACTERS – GREAT CHEMISTRY, SLIGHTLY UNDERCOOKED:

Besides the lead captain of the narcotics team Chief Go (a captain with a family and an awfully bad streak of luck when it comes to botching missions), the rest of the crew are left out to dry when it comes to establishing a tangible backstory. There is one scene towards the third act that provides flashbacks and bloated exposition on each of the characters’ militant/fighting history. That’s about it when it comes to an understanding of our lead characters. It is certainly difficult to get behind characters that have no established obstacles or past dilemmas to overcome. One-dimensional indeed.

Despite being void on character development, the standout in EXTREME JOB is the camaraderie between our lead detectives. Lee Hanee, Ryu Seung-yong, Gong- myoung, Lee Dong-hwi, and Jin Sun-kyu are all exciting to watch as our Narcotics team. The quintet bounces off each other smoothly. Exchanging quips and quirky comments at speed. Director Lee Byeong-heon has crafted a film that elicits positive energy throughout. Every scene is brimming with life thanks to our leads, who all provide engaging performances. Jin Sun-kyu as Detective Ma manages to have the dullest physical appearance but his dynamic facial expressions and over the top reactions to every situation are a joy to watch. However, these positive vibes don’t provide enough sauce to keep EXTREME JOB flavoured for long enough.

Part-time frying chicken. Full-time undercover

A NOT SO FUNNY ACTION-COMEDY:

Director LEE BYEONG-HEON opts to take the comedic route in EXTREME JOB. Unfortunately, it is to the film’s detriment. Action-comedies certainly can work and have been proven to do so with the likes of HOT FUZZ and BEVERLY HILLS COP. But the film needs to establish a balanced identity when it comes to tone. EXTREME JOB is just flat chat comedy.

Every scene in EXTREME JOB feels like the film is constrained by an unbreakable vow to include a humorous punchline. The majority of the more ‘serious’ situations our leads were placed in conclude with some form of a joke or sarcastic comment. Thus, there is no feeling of suspense or tension when it comes to the quintet being in danger. It became inevitable that all the comedic interjections were rendering the life-threatening situations completely tame. Never did EXTREME JOB give the impression that one of our ‘heroes’ were in severe danger of being killed.

LEE BYEONG-HEON struggles to find a balance between comedy and intense action. Although the leads display fruitful chemistry, there are only a few moments within EXTREME JOB worthy of a chuckle. Many of the jokes and one-liners do not land, despite the overall charismatic performances of the cast.

WHAT CAME FIRST? THE CHICKEN OR THE ACTION:

The action is directed adequately. There is nothing extraordinary when it comes to establishing a unique directing style. Some action sequences fall victim to the usual quick cuts and edits (made famous by the likes of MILE 22 and the late ANGEL HAS FALLEN), making it difficult to follow what’s happening. There is no grit when it comes to the action as it feels overwhelmed by slapstick and the inevitable comedic line. All would be forgiven if the comedic quips were able to generate a few more laugh out loud moments rather than mere chuckles.

The premise is quite unique and compelling. Placing the leads in a position where they must find a balance between keeping a successful chicken shop in operation in order to complete their undercover operation is a nice change of pace from the usual action tropes. It is just a shame that it was hampered by mostly poor slapstick, despite having a fantastic ensemble capable of providing the laughs. The score is amusing though, and matches the overall fast pace nature of the film. There are even a few chicken clucks and clever sound edits included during peak action sequences.

The narcotics detectives – led by Captain Ko

CONCLUSION: IT’S A DISH SERVED COLD

EXTREME JOB is mostly wasted potential on an intriguing and funny premise. Although the film overall resonates a feel-good factor thanks to the camaraderie of our lead characters, it inevitably falls flat due to comedic misfires and finding a balance tonally. But hey, EXTREME JOB must be doing something right as it is now the highest-grossing film of all time in South Korea. It’s set for US remake produced by Kevin Hart, who is also eyeing-off a starring role.

KERNEL ELIE’S POP SCORE:

YOUR CRITIC:

Elie Elkorr is a proud film critic and writer for Salty Popcorn. He is a movie fanatic and also runs his own Twitter page for movie reviews and news @TweetEReviews1. He likes calling out movies when they provide social commentary rather than focusing on actual story and doesn’t care what anyone thinks about it. His views are his own. He is also a Law and Film student on the side and is the heir to being Black Widow’s Boyfriend. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.