Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island—the Next Case
what debased currency did to the Roman Empire, the Joseon king is right to be
concerned about an upsurge in counterfeit silver in circulation. However, it is
highly debatable whether Kim Min, a.k.a. Detective K, and his shticky sidekick
are the right people to investigate. They dive head-first into the case
nonetheless in Kim Sok-yun’s Detective K:
Secret of the Lost Island (trailer here), which opens this Friday in Queens.
in the Joseon era, no good deed goes unpunished. As a reward for his brilliant
service, Detective K has been banished to the provincial coast. He understands
it is just a temporary political thing, but it provides a handy excuse to
rebuff young Da-hae. Desperate to find her missing sister Do-hae, she swims the
channel every morning to cook and clean for the so-called detective, hoping he
will take on the case. Eventually, she sets out to find Do-hae herself.
Unfortunately, by the time Det. K grows alarmed by her prolonged absence, he is
so deeply embedded on our hate-list, he will probably never redeem himself.
course, it is the counterfeit silver that really motivates Kim Min to sneak
away from his exile. Naturally, this leads to trouble with the authorities, but
at least one high-ranking official will cover for him. His investigation soon
brings him to the wild and woolly Japanese port colony that processes most of
Joseon’s silver imports. There Detective K encounters Hisako, the femme fatale
courtesan, who is either a lethal villain or an alluring ally. Only time will
tell. However, the pressure and guilt will quickly mount for Detective K when
he realizes the disappearances of Da-hae, Do-hae, and hundreds of other young
nobi slave girls are somehow related to the silver counterfeiting ring.
is something a little off about Lee Nam-gyu and Kim Soo-jin’s screenplay when
it makes us despise the franchise character. It is really not Kim Myung-min’s
fault, but he never conveys any spark of life as Detective K. For his part, the
rubber faced character actor Oh Dal-su continues to be Michael Caine-level
busy. Despite a little mugging, he is likable enough as the put-upon sidekick,
Seo Pil. On the other hand, Lee Chae-eun and Hwang Chae-won are unusually
charismatic and painfully heartrending as Da-hae and Do-hae, respectively. At
least for pure entertainment, Lee Yeon-hee scorches up the screen as Hisako.
Nobody respects Korean cinema more than we do
here, but the not infrequent habit of putting tiny little girls in positions of
horrifying peril has become a too familiar custom better honored in the breach
than the observance. It makes it difficult to enjoy the action and mayhem.
Nevertheless, Detective K has some
impressively mounted set piece sequences and several highly effective
supporting turns. Recommended for those who enjoy broad comedy mixed with
intrigue, Detective K: Secret of the Lost
Island opens this Friday (3/6) at the AMC Bay Terrace in Bayside, Queens.
Labels: Detective K, Korean Cinema