Extreme Job

Vampire Owl: So how extreme is this job going to be?

Vampire Bat: This is actually supposed to be a comedy movie.

Vampire Owl: Well, comedy movie can also be extreme.

Vampire Bat: This one has an undercover operation, and so that is possible.

Vampire Owl: We have had some interesting Korean movies.

Vampire Bat: And there will be more, especially when it is Korean.

Vampire Owl: When we began watching these movies during lock-down, we never thought that it could get this far.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that there is more to come with this Corona Virus.

Vampire Owl: As long as there is the guarantee of fun, I am in.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we need a funny side like this movie has, during these terrible times.

[Gets a vanilla cake and three glasses of orange shake].

What is the movie about? :: A group of young narcotics department detectives led by Captain Ko (Ryu Seung-Yong) fails a mission which was supposed to be easy. While doing the same, they end up almost killing the person they were supposed to arrest and bring to the police station – along with the same, they also end up causing an accident involving many cars which hit each other. They have one last chance to prove that they are good enough, as they have to do undercover surveillance of an international drug gang which has been gaining in strength. They decide to buy a chicken restaurant just opposite to where the gang stays. But it is not that good a decision, because the place doesn’t have customers, and only the gangs ask for deliveries at times. Captain Ko is determined, but his performance hasn’t been up to the mark, as he gets demoted, and some others get promoted – even those who are much younger and less experienced than him. They feel that it is their last chance.

So, what happens with the events here? :: But the police department hesitates to give them money because the team lead by Ko produces no positive result at all. So, they find a way themselves as Ko takes money from his retirement fund, and pose as a family which wants to run the business. The team which consists of him, Detective Jang (Lee Hanee), Detective Young-ho (Lee Dong-hwi), Detective Ma (Jin Seon-kyu) and Detective Jae-hoon (Gong Myung) are ready to run the business with no customers as they could watch the gangsters and plan their next move. But surprisingly, new customers begin to come into the restaurant, and they keep sending them away in the name of renovation. But they would have to serve at some point, or their cover would be blown. There is not much going on at the place where the gangsters are staying, and with no other way, they decide to cook some chicken so that everyone would accept the fact that they are really running the restaurant. But that would lead a twist of fate they didn’t expect as undercover gets more about it.

The defence of Extreme Job :: The best thing about Extreme Job is its funny side, and it is the first time that I am watching a really funny Korean movie, and the film works really well with its humour – you will notice it at the begining itself, with all those characters bringing the comic side at the start. Even the action which has some martial arts moments, is also nothing less than funny. The silliness with effective humour that this movie shows reminds us of some of the cult classics of our times, the earlier Bollywood flick Andaz Apna Apna and the later Malayalam movie CID Moosa. When we talk about the latter, we also have a similar seemingly incompetent people on an investigation, but they end up solving the case, bringing a surprise – even though, the luck involved here is rather less. The movie also goes through the action quickly, even when nothing much happens around. The chicken-related jokes work really well, as you will see.

The claws of flaw :: With this idea, the movie could have surely done better, not just with the comedy, but also with the mission, with some fine sequences of action added in between. We have those moments when the movie seems to run out of its ideas, and it has to come up again with some else to keep it going. The final few moments go in a rather predictable manner, and it is the usual fight that ends everything. There is also no doubt about the fact that it could have been funnier, and more of comic situations could have added related to chicken, restaurant and cooking. Some of the moments in between could have had more of a flavour of comedy too, and a funny coating could have been better at some points. Some more of the city could have also been added here, and we are seing more scope here. It could have also been shorter, because there is not that much material in here to add to such a length. We are never really short of ideas, right?

Performers of the soul :: The cast chosen to play the misfit police officers is really nice. Ryu Seung-ryong leads the way in this movie with the comedy as well as a certain emotional side to go with it. He has many fine moments with his co-workers, and there some with his wife too, which are also funny. Lee Hanee manages to be the funniest around there too, as some of her expressions are just too good. The way she looks at people also adds it to that funny side. There is the love-hate relationship between her and the fellow detective played by Jin Seon-kyu, and it is really good – latter has some very funny moments added in the last few moments of the film. Lee Dong-hwi and Gong Myung very much supportive too, and we see them all coming up with some very interesting moments in the last few moments of the movie. From Kim Eui-sung who plays the Police Superintendent to Kim Ji-young who plays the chief’s wife, there is a lot of good work being done here by the supporting cast which doesn’t go unnoticed.

How it finishes :: Extreme Job makes an interesting comedy action thriller, and the kind that leaves us with a pretty good mixture of everything. It is no wonder that it is the second most viewed film in South Korean history, as it provides that kind of a feeling – it is never serious, but we love the characters in it seriously. During the days of COVID, it is the kind of movie that we can watch for some extra amount of fun. The movie once again proves that you can look forward to South Korea for all kinds of movies, even though we often consider some genres to be special coming from the Korean side. If I look back at the first two Korean movies which I reviewed, they are Train to Busan and The Wailing. Those have been the movies from South Korea which we were watching – then there was Old Boy long ago, and you know what were looking for from South Korean movies, and it is an interesting thing that there is more than that for us.

Release date: 23rd January 2019
Running time: 111 minutes
Directed by: Lee Byeong-heon
Starring: Ryu Seung-ryong, Lee Hanee, Jin Seon-kyu, Lee Dong-hwi, Gong Myung, Shin Ha-kyun, Oh Jung-se, Kim Eui-sung, Song Young-kyu, Heo Joon-su, Kim Ji-young, Kim Jong-soo, Yang Hyun-min

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the first Portuguese movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Italian movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Latin movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Polish movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Russian movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Serbian movie review on the site.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Punyalan Agarbathis

punyalan (1)

The time of the saints :: It is the time for the saints, and it was proved by one of the best satirical movies in Malayalam belonging to this century. There was indeed a saint in that movie, and it was Pranchiyettan and the Saint. Now, with the word “punyalan” translated as the saint, this movie also tries to take on the saint + trichur slang which shaped that wonderful satire. The saint is for sale this time, as our hero sells “Saint Incense Sticks” which is how “Punyalan Agarbathis” would get translated, and also if we consider it in another way, it is the sale of a useful saint imagery that happens here, now just as a Christian saint, but rather as the saintly figure in the centre which gets explored so many times, mostly remembered by this year’s movie Immanuel with its title character and Pranchiyettan was himself nothing less than a saint. There is still a lot of interest for the saintly figures among our usual audience, even as the hero who beats up people and says vulgar dialogues might come back any time now – I just hope they stay dead.

What is it about? :: Hailing from Trichur, Joy Thakkolkaran (Jayasurya) is a man who keeps trying his luck in many business ventures, but none of them really working. His latest attempt is on creating incense sticks from elephant dung, and it is named Punyalan Agarbathis hoping that Saint George will help him in his attempt to make it big. He wanders around looking for collecting what he calls “raw materials”. His wife, Anu (Nyla Usha) supports him with a regular job, but it is often insufficient for what he has to spend for his business. He is helped by his long time friend and assistant Greenu Sharma (Aju Varghese) and a driver Abhaya Kumar (Sreejith Ravi) as well as two workers who rarely works. But he has to fight a lot of narrow minded people, politicians and after all, fate which means that his troubles might never end. He is forced to spend most of his time in the court seeking justice, and his ideas keep getting struck down by destiny’s lightning, as he begins to feel that the whole world is against him. The story deals with how he finally survives in his battle.

The defence of Punyalan Agarbathis :: Well, the defence of Punyalan Agarbathis is easy up-to an extent. Other than its social relevance which is mostly about the tragic situation of the common man and the social evil which is harthal, the whole thing is about fun. The simplicity of the movie is worth appreciating. There are lots of funny dialogues stored in between. The beginning credits scene itself is well-crafted with scenes from Trichur. Most of the characters are interesting, and the movie has successfully built up a very good first half after its interesting beginnings. It has moments which makes one wonder how more awesome it can get, and keeps the audience asking for more. The movie’s biggest advantage might be its name, and its trailer which keeps the audience interested, and once the movie starts, there is also the ability to keep close to that standard till the end of first half. The songs are fine and the cinematography is admirable. The saint hasn’t avoided this movie, that is for sure.

Claws of flaw :: The movie seems to create the idea that there is a saint in most of the common man who suffers due to the rich, corrupt hands of the same society, but that kind of fades a few minutes after the first half. By that time, movie had deviated from its wonderful world to an abyss of incapacitated story with the undercurrents of that logic which decided that it is better to leave the flick and go to Mars and stay with Martians. There was always the chance to go astray right from the beginning, but it happened only in the second half, and the way they tried to finish it quickly almost as if a limited offer deus ex machina is used, is a real blemish on the movie. It was more like a cargo ship with great items on board going adrift and losing its good cargo by the time it reaches the destination. Why this sudden disorientation? Even if there was no happy ending to the story, may be if they had just let the leading character miss out and leave his business, it wouldn’t have been a lesser level second half or ending.

Performers of the soul :: If I have to tell who is the performer of the day, that would be a surprise, as Jayasurya is the man in form yet again. He transforms into another interesting character with ease, and Aju Varghese is a wonderful support to him. Sreejith Ravi also contributes to the fun in an avatar he is not usually seen in. Nyla Usha joins the party with charm, and Rachana Narayanankutty does a great job, both serious and funny sides handled with care. Innocent and Tesni Khan also contributes with their relatively small presence, even as we would have liked to see a lot more from the former. T.G. Ravi was there for the last Trichur based satirical comedy and he is there to impress us yet again. Idavela Babu is here as a villain for a change and doing a wonderful job, even as the evil face doesn’t just belong to him, but to so many forces of the society. You have to like Sunil Sukhada in his job. The acting department is so close to perfection, and the other areas of the movies are well supported, yes Mala Aravindan’s funny KAPA character included.

Social relevance :: We have had many movies of social relevance, with Sandesam, Varavelpu and Vellanakalude Naadu quite a long time ago, and Arabikkatha, Passenger and Pranchiyettan and the Saint not too far away from the present. Punyalan Agarbathis falls behind all these movies, but is the next movie which comes to the list. The movie takes on harthal as a social disturbance right from the beginning stages itself. The assertion on the harthal stands tall among others, and another focus is on the corrupt politics and the plight of the common man, and also about how difficult it is to begin an industry in Kerala. But the use of elephant dung there might be strange, but still okay enough as the movie is not to be taken that seriously, and the use of such an insignificant and free thing means that one can’t even try little things in a world of corruption and among influential people who are there to create trouble. If it was presented a little differently, with a better second half and a much better climax, the movie would have been remembered for a very long time.

How it finishes :: Ranjith Sankar has given us messages through his movies, and his best shall yet remain Passenger, a fine Molly Aunty Rocks and a below average Arjunan Saakshi. All of them had something other than the story to tell us, and this one is not different either. The elephant dung thing gets irritating after some time, and you know at which point the movie losses focus. Otherwise, this is the right Malayalam movie for the weekend, if we consider the reports. As the title Bicycle Thieves hurts my feelings about Vittorio De Sica’s neorealist drama and the name Escape from Uganda makes one feel worse, with the only thing further strange being the name Namboothiri Yuvavu @ 43 – this movie is a winner right from the title. The reports also seem to suggest that there is something in the title that is carried into the movie. Still, if you are not fixed on watching a Malayalam movie, I would suggest Frozen as the movie of the week. Meanwhile, our desire to watch another Pranchiyettan and the Saint remains unfulfilled.

PS: The leading character in Pranchiyettan and the Saint was Francis, and here we have the character as Joy. Something tells me that next satires based on Trichur might having the protagonists, as Jos and Paul, and you can make a guess why I predict so! 😀

Release date: 29h November 2013
Running time: 160 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Ranjith Sankar
Starring: Jayasurya, Nyla Usha, Aju Varghese, Innocent, Rachana Narayanankutty, Sreejith Ravi, T.G. Ravi, Tesni Khan, Mala Aravindan, Idavela Babu, Sunil Sukhada, Shivaji Guruvayur

punyalan copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.