Posted by Jsober on:
I went to see Park Dae-Min’s Private Eye the other evening and was very happy with what I saw. I have seen a range of Asian cinema and know that Koreans are not well known for their accessibility (in theme, humor and stories) to a western audience. Private Eye was exactly what I wanted and have come not to expect. Dae-Min worked with a western story model that made for a good understanding of the film and his choice of humor throughout the film translated much better than most Asian comedies. Also the main character plays the western stereotyped hardened yet snaky detective but with subtleties of Korean culture that keep him a wonderful center of attention. All of these attributes that made the movie accessible did not come at the price of making this not a Korean film.
The film is a period piece set post WWI, in the time of the Japanese occupation of Korea. You can really feel the cultural anxiety over Koreas relationship with Japan in this film. A key example of this is that the bad guy in the film happens to be a freaky looking Japanese man. Who could have guessed? It works so well though, in the same way that making Germans and Russians the bad guys in James Bond films became the standard for years.
Throughout the film there were the, not so typical in Korean cinema, standard fight scenes with hints of martial arts (more typical of Hong Kong cinema). These were fun until I got sick from all the hand held camera work in these scenes. Actually that would be my only negative critique of this film. It was a joy to see.
If you are interested in this film, the last showing of it is tonight Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 9:45 at the Metro 4.