May 25, 2015

Running Wild: Cop a Feeling

I'm not a fan of screenwriter Han Ji-hoon. His scripts are way too sappy. Once Upon a Time in Seoul looks to milk tears from two orphans trying to survive together in the underworld. The Brotherhood of War is even weepier: Here they're blood brothers fighting to survive on the front lines during the Korean War. You can practically hear the metaphorical violins over the Foley-ed bomb explosions and rapid gunfire. Running Wild is pretty much more of the same: Male bonding in a corrupt world that doesn't have time for love or respect or bear-like hugs, only this time it's set in a police station. Given that this is a Han pic, you know someone's going to die; someone's going to be left behind to grieve. And it won't be a woman.

Baby blue tissues aside, this might be the worst of Han's three testosterone tearjerkers. And it isn't just the flat characterizations of it two heroes: a nerdy prosecutor (Yu Ji-tae) driven to despair when his reputation is publicly called into question, and his unlikely partner, a tempermental detective (Kwon Sang-woo) crazed by procedural inefficiencies, reluctant witnesses, faulty lighters, his junkie half-brother (Lee Jung-mun), his ailing mother (Lee Ju-sil) and a syndicate don (Son Byung-ho) who reacts to every treachery and every threat with a devil-may-care smirk. No it isn't the odd couple dynamic that bothers me most. It's the running time, more than two hours when 80 minutes would've easily sufficed.

Why so much grief about the length of the movie? Well, there's just so many scenes I simply didn't need to see. Like the woman singing jazz (poorly) in the nightclub. Like the gun-toting race through traffic in the movie's opener. Like the volatile cop filling out a lotto ticket in such a considered way. Like the mom's funeral, hell, anything with the mom. Like anything with the young woman who's always visiting the mom at the hospital even though she's not related and the crazed cop has said point blank to said woman that he doesn't love her so why is she still making food and coffee for him. Director Kim Seung-soo should've been infinitely more merciless cutting Running Wild's script. After all, he co-wrote it — meaning it's not all Han's fault after all.

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