Whilst our dinosaur media fawns over the latest superhero pic, Asian audiences in Oz have been throwing money at a new South Korean comedy-drama, EXTREME JOB. And no wonder because it's a thoroughly entertaining, surprise package of a movie. In its home market it has already become the highest grossing South Korean feature ever.
The opening sequence, which details a botched police raid by a team of incompetent Drug Squad officers, virtually sets the film's style and tone. But such an operational mess hardly dissuades this cracked team, as they're soon planning to take down Moo-bae, a drug baron who just happens to look like a Korean Steve Buscemi.
From a rundown chicken restaurant they intend to operate 24 hour surveillance of Moo-bae and his gang. But due to curious and hungry locals the police are forced to actually open the restaurant while keeping the surveillance going. It turns out they are much better at cooking than they are catching criminals.
EXTREME JOB reminds me of Stephen Chow's SHAOLIN SOCCER, mainly for the way director Lee Byeong-heon keeps this close-knit team the focus of the movie, and when the investigation takes a brutal turn with the disappearance of a fellow cop, the audience is already 100% behind this unit of oddballs.
The final, frenetic 20 minutes can only be described as inspired lunacy as a min-van of revenge seeking restaurant workers arrives in a darkened container depot just in time to become the targets of knife wielding crims employed by 2 wealthy drug dealers. This bone crunching and side splitting sequence is comedy gold and has my favourite moment when Ong Bak's Korean sister leaves her mark on many surprised assailants. Amongst this mayhem is a quick but seamless nod to one of John Woo's most popular films.
EXTREME JOB looks to be in its final days but is well worth making an effort to see on the big screen - otherwise it will probably appear on a cable/streaming service within the next few months.