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[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Apprehenders"

2011/08/27 | 939 views | Permalink

Lim Chan-ik's 2011 film "The Apprehenders" plays with regionalism within the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency (SMPA) and scores a big plus with frequent laughter and surprisingly entertaining cast chemistry. This action comedy delves into several superficial social norms within Korea culture, accenting most beats with a satirical sensibility and hyperbole serving to heighten the fun and blur the mirror on Korea's social reality.

The manner in which societal powers (most notably the Korean police, political powers, and influential businessmen) are portrayed in popular Korean culture seems to fit a definite stereotype of incompetence, unprofessionalism, and an inhibiting hierarchy with organisational departments. The police are portrayed as almost unworthy of their position and served as constructed images standing as false or inept protectors. The information presented to the public from them is specifically crafted and selected to quell any unwanted public criticism instead of reflect their honest actions and facts. It is this image surrounding the police that lends Lim Chan-ik's film to come across as a satirical comedy, aimed at typecasting the SMPA according to popular culture. 

Park Joong-hoon (Hwang Jae-seong) and Lee Sun-kyun (Jeong Ee-Chan) play rivals within difference police districts in Seoul. Hwang is a clean-cut veteran who gets results not matter the ethical considerations while Jeong is the young gun fresh out the academy who's relative diligence is matched only by his clumsy and hilarious ability to compromise his efforts through comical misfortunes. The pair is well suited to this buddy-film, but it takes time, and reprimand from their superiors to get them to see that alone their efforts will not get the job done.

The two are tasked with hunting a serial rapist (known disrespectfully in the film as a "Squirt case") who has eluded their capture and caused public panic. The reward is the converted "Policeman of the Year" award, a title that is accompanied with a cool KRW 30,000,000. Hwang wants to continue his reign at the top while the prize money is enough for Jeong to pay for his wedding and new life with his pregnant girlfriend. While the two are initially driven by selfish ambition and monetary gains, over the course of the film they learn to value their position with a greater power and go through the necessary transformation for us to call them heroes when the credits roll.

The film does well to frame the action. Drawing on several cinematic influences from 70's films as well as well-placed camera mountings that help with the immersion of the action. It is noticeable; however, as the films seams at times felt roughly stitched and overt. The retro soundtrack and sound effects generally are in jest and make it tricky to differentiate between narrative accents and potholed presentation. Lucky the characters are likeable, and the acting is entertaining, otherwise, it might all be a little too much to swallow.

"The Apprehenders" does what so many Korean comedies do well. There is seriousness behind the cosmetic presentation of the film and the tonal pacing may either offer you rest bite or resentment, depending on your involvement. The comedy is truly Korean and it is well executed by the actors. In one scene Jeong cause a car accident and his girlfriend suggests he should lie on the ground and not move until the ambulance arrives though he is not injured. You will definitely struggle not to smile at some of the films quick-witted humour.

Overall, "The Apprehenders" gave enough entertaining laughs to keep its flaws of rhythm and logic well hidden. The acting was excellent, and fans of our heroes will not be disappointed as the duo pulled together and blended smoothly.

-C.J. Wheeler (

Available on DVD from YesAsia

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