Review: ‘She’s on Duty’

Stephen Chow's 1991 comedy, "Fight Back to School," gets a South Korean makeover and gender change in "She's on Duty," whereby a klutzy tomboy cop goes undercover in a high school. A splendid showcase for the chameleon talents of actress Kim Seon-ah, tightly written pic smoothly blends character comedy, so-so action and a smattering of sexual tease.

Stephen Chow’s 1991 comedy, “Fight Back to School,” gets a South Korean makeover and gender change in “She’s on Duty,” whereby a klutzy tomboy cop goes undercover in a high school. A splendid showcase for the chameleon talents of actress Kim Seon-ah — the tough futuristic cop in “Yesterday” and sexy schoolmistress in “Wet Dreams” — tightly written pic smoothly blends character comedy, so-so action and a smattering of sexual tease. March release handcuffed a bright 1.8 million admissions, and Asiaphiles could sign up on ancillary.

Pugnacious policewoman Jane Cheon (Kim) grudgingly poses as a mini-skirted student to befriend the teen daughter, Seung-heui (Nam Sang-mi), of a gangster-turned-state witness who’s gone AWOL. However, Jane’s volatility keeps getting in the way of business: After single-handedly beating up the school’s girl-gang, she falls for a studly male student (Gong Yu) and has difficulty getting Seung-heui to bond with her. Like the pic itself, Kim neatly balances the dumb and business sides of her character, and makes a convincing brawler when the chips are down. Lean editing keeps the large cast of likable characters constantly on the move. Coda hints at a franchise.

She's on Duty

South Korea

Production

A Showbox release of a Mine Entertainment production, in association with Kcinema. (International sales: Showbox, Seoul.) Produced by Im Geon-jung. Executive producers, Kim Woo-taek, Seo Beom-seok. Directed by Park Gwang-chun. Screenplay, Jeong Yong-gi; adaptation, Park, Seol Jun-seok, Lee Weon-jae.

Crew

Camera (color), Park Hyeon-cheol; editor, Lee Hyeon-mi; music, Choi Wan-heui; production designer, Kim Ho-jeong; costume designer, Im Myeong-hwa. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 18, 2005. Running time: 111 MIN.

With

Kim Seon-ah, Gong Yu, Nam Sang-mi, No Ju-hyeon, Ha Jeong-woo, Kim Sang-ho, Hong Su-ah, Park Sang-myeon, Kim Gab-su, Oh Gwang-rok.
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