Log in

No account? Create an account
19 September 2012 @ 01:17 am
Film Review: Private Eye  
Give it up for Korean Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson!


Well, not really. But don't let that detract you.

This debut film by Park Dae-min is best described as an homage to Arthur Conan Doyle and his famous detective. The year is 1910 and Korea is under Japanese occupation. Hong Jin-ho (Hwang Jung-min) is Korea's first detective whose workload mostly consists of solving domestic disputes. He's slowly gathering money in hopes of one day traveling to America to make his fortune there. His fairly dull professional life goes up several notches when young medical student, Jang Gwang-soo (Ryu Deok-hwan) comes to him asking for help in finding a killer. The victim happens to be the son of Korea's most powerful man and the unfortunate Jang was unaware of this when he used the corpse for practicing dissection. Now convinced he'll be accused of murder unless he finds the real murderer first, Jang hires Hong with the promise of a huge monetary reward. Of course, nothing is straightforward as the bodies begin to pile up.

Traces of Conan Doyle are all over this movie from the obvious professions of the two main characters to the methods used to solve the case. It wouldn't really be accurate to call Hong a Korean Sherlock Holmes as he doesn't really possess the extraordinary deductive skills Holmes used. The genius of Holmes as a scientist and chemist is actually portrayed by a completely separate character whose story was a nice twist I really enjoyed. With a pretty solid mystery and fine acting at its back, Private Eye is an entertaining piece of work in its own right.

I particularly loved the production design of the film that nicely shows off the Western influences on Korea as well as the details showing us the Japanese occupation. And while some of it might get lost in translation, Hwang and Ryu are quite good at generating the sort of buddy-buddy chemistry that made previous Holmes-Watson incarnations so enjoyable to watch. Hwang plays his detective closer to a Harry Dresden than a Sherlock Holmes: someone perpetually in need of money with a lazy sort of charm. Ryu who most recently made the third season of God's Quiz which is basically Korean House looks about 12 years old in this movie. His Watson-like character isn't exactly bumbling but awkward and naive in an endearing sort of way. He's clearly on his way to becoming a confident professional but needs a bit more life experience.

All in all, a fun movie you can watch in its entirety with English subtitles starting HERE. For the subtitles just click on the cc button.
Astoundingly fond of avocados and rainy weather.: TemptingFateguardian_chaos on September 21st, 2012 01:02 am (UTC)
I don't know if I'll ever find time to watch this, but it does look seriously cool. I like the picture you chose. Anyway, I'm off to read your OC post now, whoo!
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on September 21st, 2012 01:29 am (UTC)
I don't know if I'll ever find time to watch this, but it does look seriously cool.

If you ever find time I highly recommend it.

I like the picture you chose.

Thanks! I took that screensnap from the DVD I have of the film so I'm particularly pleased that you like it. The respective expressions on their faces sort of tell you what kind of characters they are.
Astoundingly fond of avocados and rainy weather.: Sherlock_Heart+Mindguardian_chaos on September 21st, 2012 02:06 am (UTC)
I'd actually kind of like to check out Elementary first. I've lately been disturbed by my own groundless dislike of it, considering I'm judging it purely based on Watson being female. I'm uncomfortable knowing the potential for being anti-character due to that exists in me, and I want to change that! For all I know, after all, the show could be brilliant! And it would be nice to have a Sherlock show that doesn't give me three glorious episodes at a time before abandoning me utterly for years at a time. XD

It is a very nice screenshot, and that inclusivity of their personalities is definitely why I liked it so much. :)
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on September 21st, 2012 02:40 am (UTC)
I've seen scenes from Elementary and I think the rather lackluster dialogue put me off. But then again I hated "A Study in Pink" so there's always hope!
Astoundingly fond of avocados and rainy weather.: Sherlock_Heart+Mindguardian_chaos on September 21st, 2012 03:06 am (UTC)
Ah, yes, I remember finding it entertaining how you kept telling me how much "The episodes after this one are better!" when you first introduced me to Sherlock. Of course, I ended up rather liking Study in Pink because it set up all the mental disturbedness (so a word, haha) of Sherlock tha would leak out later. Guy seems almost to have a death craving at the end of that episode, and I'm drawn to characters who start out that way and, over time, move away from that. So I was sold on the episode pretty quickly, :p

Anyway, I haven't seen a single scene of Elementary, save for commercials, so I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt for now.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on September 21st, 2012 03:14 am (UTC)
I already feel bad that Jonny Lee Miller's performance will no doubt get compared to Benedict Cumberbatch's which is exactly what happened to him when they both did Frankenstein.

Miller's acting in general tends to just be more understated and less showy. Cumberbatch has his more introspective acting moments but he's a lot more showy which can work well for a character. But side by side, I think Miller got short-changed for his more nuanced, quiet performance in Frankenstein and I'm hoping that doesn't happen to him again here.
Astoundingly fond of avocados and rainy weather.: BL_FlamingoInCrowdguardian_chaos on September 21st, 2012 03:45 am (UTC)
Hmm, yes, I suppose that's just he lay of the land when playing Sherlock Holmes. Heck, for nostalgia's sake I saw The Great Mouse Detective a few months ago, and the entire time I was watching that, I did almost nothing but compare the two cartoon mice to Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch. Oh, the Moriarty in that movie is dreadful. Not one of Disney's finest villains, even if he did have a giant, Persian cat that ate his enemies upon command.

I seriously feel a great draw to watch Elementary, though, I think Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu could make a really great team. And the writers seem emphatic that they want it to stay a very intense, but also completely platonic relationship, with the goal of proving that men and women can be friends. That takes nerves to confess to in TV-world. Maybe I just respect that enough to be curious. :)
Astoundingly fond of avocados and rainy weather.: Avatar_FAIL!guardian_chaos on September 21st, 2012 03:47 am (UTC)
By the way, I must apologize for my potentially endless punctuation and spelling errors tonight. I'm apparently too tired to mind this iPad's autocorrect. XD