Friday, 2 February 2018

My Wife Is A Gangster

Title: My Wife Is A Gangster
Director: Jo Jin-Kyu
Released: 2001
Starring: Eun-Kyung Shin, Ahn Jae-mo, Park Sang-myn, Kim In-kwon, Jang Se-jin, Yeon Jung-hoon, Lee Eung-kyung, Kim In-mun, Gye-nam Myseong, Shin Shin-Ae

Plot: Eun-jin is a high ranking gangster in the Korean Mafia who suddenly finds herself being forced to find a husband to forfill the wishes of her dying sister who much like Eun-jin’s new husband has no idea of her ties to the criminal underworld.

Review: The first film in a trilogy, this action comedy is something of a double edged sword as here we get solid action sequences alongside the comedic attempts of Eun-jin to play both a wife and continue her role as a crime boss. Now this is not exactly the most original of plots especially as there have been a slew of comedies based around one party trying to hide their actions from their significant other, much less ones based around a character having to act against their general personality.

Opening to a rain drenched fight between two rival gangster clans we are introduced to Eun-jin or more her legend as Mantis who easily dispatches her gangster foes using her preferred weapon of choice can be best described as a pair of scissor blades.  Of course even without her unleashing bladed death Eun-Kyung Shin has just as much of an intimidating presence when she’s just drinking tea and reading the newspaper with Director Jo Jin-kyu thankfully playing things largely subtle as he prefers instead to play up her tough and largely cold persona which needless to say makes her attempts at finding her softer side only the more amusing.

Predictably a lot of the humor is derived from Eun-jinn attempting to play the dating game and find her softer side, initially though some interesting advice from the make up artist that her henchmen find to help her find a more feminine side to her look.  It’s a chance encounter though that she meets future Kang Soo-il (Park Sang-myn) who is astonishingly clueless about his wife’s criminal activities not to mention extremely accepting of her cold demeanor as any attempts her make to romance her usually end with him being kicked comedically across the room.

Adding to the comedic element are her loyal henchmen who are drawn into the attempts to find her a husband while at the same time mainly relying on the resources open to them as seen by them filling up the church with hostesses from their karaoke bars and fellow mobsters. Thrown into the mix is the cousin of her henchman, who fresh from the country has big ideas about being a mobster but zero clue of how he’s supposed to conduct himself let alone the fact that his preferred weapon of choice is a the shin bone from a horse really speaks volumes about him while at the same time largely being played for laughs.

Were the comedy tends to fail or perhaps just gets lost in translation are usually with the scenes between Eun-jin and Kang Soo-il with him trying to undress her while she is asleep or her suddenly being tasked with having a baby taking to essentially raping him as she forces him to continually have sex with her in her attempts to get pregnant. Thankfully the comedy and action of other scenes make up for these awkward moments which make it easier to stomach.

In a Jackie Chan vein the action sequences blend perfectly alongside the comedic moments with Eun-Kyung Shin showcasing some incredible fighting ability, while the variety of these set pieces choreographed by Kim Won-jin  which include a knife fight in a field being shot almost like a showdown between two samurai and a warehouse gang fight really giving the kind of action I wasn’t expecting from such a largely comedic film.

An entertaining watch if for a few tricky comedic moments, the blending of styles works perfectly here while ending on a sequence which had me eager to check out the sequel.

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