Two-Thirds of Greatness: Our Review of ‘The Gangster, the Cop, and the Devil’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - June 07, 2019
Two-Thirds of Greatness: Our Review of ‘The Gangster, the Cop, and the Devil’

There is a well-worn and time-tested formula to spice up series, franchises, and genres, especially when it comes to action (with comedy mixed in). That is, have a good guy team up with a bad guy to catch someone even worse.

Such is the case for Lee Won-tae’s Korean crime thriller, The Gangster, the Cop, and the Devil, where the two former titular characters join forces to stop the latter, a hooded and mysterious serial killer. The premise sets up nicely as the movie unfolds. Jung Tae-suk is a firecracker of a police officer, abandoning his partner at times and going off to disturb known criminal enterprises – he has a big mouth and bigger gall. His chaotic energy and charm make him fun to watch throughout the story, even as the bloody story unfolds.

Enter merciless crime boss Jang Dong-soo, whose hardened exterior is perforated, literally and figuratively, when he is attacked late one night by the unknown assailant. He’s wounded, but not down, and when Jung finds out he is the latest to be beset by this knife-wielding assassin, but the only one to survive, the two pair up on a quest for professional and personal vengeance.

They accept each other’s help as they both know they need it – and it makes for some amusing asides in a film that is often violently ruthless. The killer rear-ends victims and then stabs them to death when they get out of their car; Jang rips people’s teeth of their mouths and stuffs others into punching bags. It’s uneasy.

The two leads – Kim Moo-yeol as the cop and Ma Dong-seok as the crime boss – elevate the film beyond its familiar plot and workmanlike execution. The film isn’t exactly static, but it teases such cleverness and verve in the beginning that you hope for more when it doesn’t pan out in such a compelling way. Because of that, the personalities of the two main characters, but exceedingly winning and more likeable than they really should be, make the film utterly watchable. Ma’s turn is most intriguing – we meet him killing men and leading an entourage of loyal underlings, but when he is physically vulnerable, he becomes emotionally vulnerable too.

That both men, especially Jang, move beyond the stereotypes of cops and criminals, makes The Gangster, The Cop and The Devil worthy enough. It’s ‘The Devil’ part that, as a result, gets pushed aside and becomes almost an afterthought. That character is a plot device, and as the film moves towards its finale, you can’t feel a bit of a letdown. At the very least, Ma will return for the American remake that is coming down the pipes – maybe the Devil will be more interesting, though these things rarely work out the way we want them to.

  • Release Date: 6/7/2019
This post was written by
Comments are closed.
(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-61364310-1', 'auto'); ga('send', 'pageview');