May 28, 2016

The Quiz Show Scandal: Only One Man Can Win So Let's Meet Everybody Else

For all the time it spends setting up the various back stories of its primary characters, Jang Jin's The Quiz Show Scandal truly only cares about one and then disconcertingly abandons him at the very end. Rather than give away who that one sympathetic guy is (no spoilers here except that he's a man), let's take a look at some of the various contenders we meet who don't end up mattering in the least. There's the sullen, boy-crazy teenager (Shim Euy-Kyung) who's part of an ineffective support group; a gambler (Ryu Seung-Ryong) saddled with a shrewish wife (Jang Young-Nam) and a debt; a nutty history professor who knows his French lit inside and out; and a well-coifed motorcyclist (Ryu Deok-Hwan) who delivers an empassioned speech about the sacrifices made by food delivery workers. Also competing are a cop, random women, and a martial arts instructor (Jeong Jae-Yeong) who shows up for the quiz show in his uniform. But these latter folks are clearly not in the running for the multi-million dollar prize. They're just extra color for a movie that's already got too much color to start with.

What's weird is that despite the many contestants we meet in The Quiz Show Scandal, the funniest characters don't feature in the actual competition, two being an unstable, attention-seeking woman who dominates the aforementioned support group and a preposterously drunk guy at the police station who shouts out all the right answers for the game show when it's on TV. Her rage and his incoherence would have been welcome additions to the quiz itself and would have amplified any paranoia experienced by game show host (Lee Hae-Yeong) who may or may not be responsible for the death of the woman (Han Soo-Jin) who crafted the difficult questions for the show that has made him a star. There's a third memorable comic turn from writer-director Jang himself. As a self-styled master police chief, Jang's timing is spot-on, his persona hilariously off. I'm not saying Jang should act but not direct or write for future movies. But he could definitely give himself a bigger role with his next one.

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