“Two Cops,” a new Korean comedy, proves that the police genre can easily] cross national and language barriers. This character-driven farce, about the relationship of a corrupt, easygoing cop and his rigid partner, has the casual charm and appeal to put the new Korean commercial cinema on the international movie map, very much like that of its neighbors, China and Hong Kong.
Up to a point, “Two Cops” feels like a variation on the 1984 French smash hit “Les Ripoux,” released in the U.S. as “My New Partner.” But instead of the aging cop that the irresistible Philippe Noiret played, the Korean hero Cho (Sung Gi-Ahn) is a younger, more handsome detective whose expensive lunches and personal lifestyle are just as important as his on-duty chores, though he’s an efficient pro when push comes to shove.
Story begins as veteran officer Cho is assigned a new, by-the-book partner, detective Kang (Joong-Hoon Park), a recent academy graduate. The rookie is on his partner’s tail whenever he smells a bribe or other shenanigans. But as expected, after some personality clashes, the rigid officer begins to loosen up and enjoy the side benefits of his job — fast money, luxury meals, beautiful women. Eventually, Kang outdoes his more experienced mentor, which generates conflict — and humor.
Though conforming to the time-honored genre, scripter Kim provides enough fresh observations and role reversals to make pic entertaining even for viewers familiar with the formula’s conventions. Kang’s helming, simple and unobtrusive in the positive sense of these terms, reps neat balancing act between dialogue and action. His unembarrassed love for physical comedy is reflected in inventive visual gags.
Production values, particularly Kwang-Suk Chung’s lensing, are mediocre, which could be a function of pic’s low budget. But the two leading performers are always attractive and amusing.
With a running time of 108 minutes, “Two Cops” could benefit from a prudent trimming of about 15 minutes, especially in the scenes involving the women in the cops’ lives, which ultimately detract attention from the more engaging central interaction.