Ruthless cop Chul-joong and a merciless killer in raincoat run into each other in a small alleyway and form a fatal bond. A free-for-all fight occurs by coincidence on a rainy street. A week later, the dead bodies of an old couple are discovered with multiple stab wounds. Chul-joong suddenly recalls the night he met the man in the raincoat. Chul-joong meets the old couple's son CHO Gyoo-hwan. He has an intuition that CHO is the murder but has no clue. In the meantime, another murder takes place in the same fashion. The showdown between a dirty cop and a killer unfolds, as things get more personal
I?ve been a fan of Asian cinema for quite a while now, in particular Asian crime dramas. Public Enemy fits my kind of Asian film perfectly but on a different scale. The film has the Police Officer solving a case despite no clear evidence, something less original. The film is satire one some levels, some slapstick moments blended in with the crime genre. Something I haven?t really seen before in films, something for sure Hollywood wouldn?t often do. From the first part of the film, the comic and crime elements are a little hard to follow as it just doesn?t quite fit into the film. There doesn?t seem to be many explanations for it either. However half way through the movie It does start to become humours. From seeing the Captain and our main protagonist( Cheol-jung, Kang) constantly slap and hit follow officers and characters to constant repletion of ?Bastard? or ? Asshole? in almost every bit of dialogue I began to laugh but I don?t know quite know why. Perhaps it was something out of sorts for that protagonist. Certainly it?s not something portrayed on screen much, as it?s usually done in a serious way. The comic/crime genre that is in the movie doesn?t fit throughout the movie, when I say that I mean it becomes out of sorts with what?s on screen. The comic elements are at times are empathised too much and I began to loose interest. The film has its ups and downs, most notably on almost every occasion Chang turns your usual perception of an officer around and makes the criminals do everything he says. This is defiantly a statement on the director?s part.
Some of the scenes however, have no clear rationale to them. For instance why the second main character was doing what he was doing. It also felt like it was written primarily for an American audience and you can see that with the several ?bastard? references that I mentioned before.
However there are some strong elements to the movie. Kyung-gu Sol was pretty good as Officer Chang, and funny. He depicted two sides to the character well and I enjoyed his performance. It's this performance and the antagonism with his rich rival that is the real motor of the movie. You are put on tender hooks as the two characters relationship progresses through the course of the movie.
What was interesting about it was that you?re watching what this character does, from taking a dump in the middle of the street, to disobeying his orders, and you like his character at the end of the movie. You get a sense of justice at what he?s doing. For one the continuous themes, such as a blackly-comic view on the class divide that pits slovenly cop against suited-businessman. There is also a strong empathises on smell, Chul-joong sweats, there's a gag when a murder weapon is tainted with excrement, the rotting bodies; all surrounding the Korean summer. There are also constant references to the heat depicting a tense atmosphere in every frame of the movie. The film is shot in rather ordinary looking locations and lacks a visual style that I?ve come to see from other Asian movies.
Public Enemy suffers from a lengthy run-time for me. 140 minutes, with too much yelling and ebate at times which makes the story a little less compelling. Certainly less comic elements would have made the film a little more than 3 and a half stars for me. The film is worth a watch for the criminal/officer type chase is compelling to watch and the comic elements are quite funny a times. I did enjoy it despite the disappointment I had. The film just needed a little structure to it and more focus on the crime element. I still quite haven't made my mind up about this movie so I might re-review it again soon.