The pros and cons of country living are dogged by a lack of laughs and an undersupported premise in “The Wolf Returns,” a South Korean comedy sans bite. Pic failed to trap domestic auds in April 2004 and likewise failed to snag much foreign interest at fall’s Pusan fest. Events looking for Asian filler might consider this, but given the strong range of South Korean product currently available, this is a skimpy bone.
Pre-title gags derived from the urban tribulations of Seoul detective Choi Cheol-gwon (Yang Dong-guen, “Address Unknown”) create a deceptively promising start. After he arranges for a transfer to idyllic and crime-free Kangweon province, both Choi’s stress and film’s humor begin to diminish in equal measure, with an overemphasis on hick behavior. When a lack of criminal activity and government cutbacks means his utopian outpost might close, Choi devises several schemes to protect his easy life by encouraging crime, the main project being an attempt to lure art thieves to steal the treasures of a local temple. Performances are good, but helming is workmanlike. Original title translates as “The Last Wolf.”