She is on Duty
Korea returns once again to TarsTarkas.NET with a Korean Cop Comedy with some familiar faces. Korean movies are consistently showing up with their “A” game, while Hollywood has been dragging their “R” game at best lately. You know it’s a bad year at the theaters when this only above average movie is still better than much of the dreck in theaters right now. A cop goes undercover in a high school, and it’s not Johnny Depp. There is no street to jump off 21 times or any of that nonsense. Main character Jane Chun is played by Kim Seon-a, who is a first timer here, though likely not a last timer, especially since one of her movies is called Happy Erotic Christmas, touted as the Korean American Pie with Reindeer sex. OK, maybe not any reindeer sex. But there could be… Also starring is Nam Sang-mi from Dead Friend, Too Beautiful to Lie, and Spygirl. Yep, we’ve done every movie she’s been in now, time for her to make more. Quickly, woman, quickly. Also reappearing is Korean Stud Kong Yu from Spygirl and My Tutor Friend. Happy day when Go-Bong is back! She is on Duty has some fun features such as the soundtrack, which sounds like it was taken from Riverdance. You feel like the characters should suddenly start dancing in sequence at various points in the movie. The Lord of the Dance would fit in perfectly here. It’s completely unique, because it’s too bizarre for anyone else to have tried. Some of the uniqueness takes away from the formulaic movie and enhances it, making it a better film.
An undercover operation busting “The Hammer” for human trafficking of girls goes bad when the back up team is delayed by some thugs. Undercover operative Chun Jae-in, or Jane Chun, is forced to act before she becomes one of many prostitutes boating to Japan. She pulls out her gun, but her inexperience plays good for the bad guys, as they disarm her and try to attack. Jane is a former Bad Girl, so she knows how to hold her own in a fight, but there are a large amount of thugs here, and she’s overwhelmed. About to be shot, she’s saved by one of the thugs who turns out to be undercover Detective Joh, aka The Snake, who somehow operates alone without police oversight, has been working this case alone for months. He’s very upset as to the rest of the police’s involvement, as he was going after The Hammer’s boss. Jane is upset as well, and feels that Joh interfered in her case, being a rookie. She’s chastised by her uncle, Detective Chun, but she storms off anyway intent on complaining about Joh to the higher-ups.
The Police Bosses are having a meeting where they explain that Cha Young-jae is the Number Two boss of the biggest gang in Seoul, the Whackers. Whackers? What kind of gang name is Whackers? Does this gang spend all day alone in their rooms looking at internet porn? Anyway, Mr. Cha was going to testify, but a leak in the department exposed him, and he was ambushed, then he took off to hide. The police need to find him before the Whackers do. Whackers, tee-hee! Cha Young-jae has a daughter in school, named Cha Seung-hee, who the cops want to look in on. As Jane arrives at that moment to complain, she’s still wearing the High School Uniform she was undercover in, and she’s drafted immediately as Korea’s newest high school student.
Jane hated school, and was the leader of the local gang while attending. Instead, she’s thrown in to the advanced classes to get close to Seung-hee. Seung-hee is played by Nam Sang-mi, so at this point the movie gets a lot lovelier looking. Jane manages to get into a fight her first day with the ruling girl gang, and beats them all up in the schoolyard single-handedly. Jane’s attempts to befriend Seung-hee are unproductive, but she does manage to befriend Kang No-young. Kang No-young is…Go-Bong from Spygirl! Hooray for Go-Bong! Meanwhile, Jane starts getting paid by a nerdy girl to protect her. Jane has her apartment set up across the street from Seung-hee’s room, so she can spy on her during off-times. Her place just happens to be right next door to where No-young’s place is. I guess it’s pretty common for high schoolers to live alone in Korea, we got three of them doing it right next to each other. Seung-hee’s mother died of breast cancer a few years back. No-young is acting very suspicious at this point, which I hope is supposed to be obvious.
Back in society, the Boss of the Whackers (he-he!) is let out on bail, and he starts directing actions to hunt down Cha Young-jae. He tortures people by stabbing them deep, yet not killing them if they can get blood transfusions. In school, Seung-hee gets a visit from her father, which Jane can’t do anything about except fall on Seung-hee to give us some gratuitous girl/girl kissing. So we all win. To try to get Seung-hee on her good side, the cops plan to have Jane save her from some fake muggers. At the time, Jane is distracted by the girl gang, which has brought out the male gang lead by some ginormous Korean lad. He’s quite simply the biggest Korean man I have ever seen. So Jane has to fight this real gang, while the fake gang attacks Seung-hee. Seung-hee is saved by No-young, who single-handedly defeats all of the police/muggers. He gets in good with Seung-hee a little bit, but is patched up by Jane afterwards.
The next day, The Snake himself, Detective Joh, shows up as the new music teacher. The police department put him in as well as backup. We also find out that someone has been planted at the school by the Whackers (he-he!) Who could it be? (No-young) I wonder, there are so many choices…(No-young)
Jane is caught in a bar by her teacher, who doesn’t know whe’s an adult. Later, as her uncle is talking to her, he gives her some money, which is seen by the nerdy girl in the class. Next day, rumors flair that Jane is earning money on the side by laying on her back. This somehow makes Seung-hee want to become her friend, I guess to talk Jane out of it. Joh is suspicious about No-young, but his story seems to check out.
It’s test day! Time for the cops to help Jane cheat! Too bad Jane gets caught by her teacher, who has to be let in on the undercover cop business. Seung-hee gets a letter from her father that wants her to leave the country. The cops wait at the airport where Cha Young-jae appears, they start to follow, but suddenly a bunch of Whackers show up! (Hee-he-he!) The Whackers want to whack Mr. Cha upside the head. A chase results, through the airport. Finally, Cha Young-jae is trapped in a parking garage, where the Whackers prepare to Whack. Suddenly, a mysterious biker shows up and revs his bike, causing smoke to appear from his tire grinding. The gang of Whackers wait around until the smoke becomes really thick, then they decide to do something, but by then Cha has escaped. The cops have arrived by then, and Joh shoots at the biker, hitting him in a flesh wound. He tries to shoot again, but Jane stops him as there are civilians in the line of fire. Joh is understandably upset, he puts a gun to her head and threatens to kill her if she stops him again. Joh seemed to be going for Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon but has crossed over the line to complete nutball.
So we’ve all figured out that No-young is the biker, except maybe Jane, until she gets evidence that the real No-young is in Japan and this is an imposter. She gives him 24 hours to leave and never come back. The cops reveal themselves to Seung-hee, and step up protection. The big problem is, if the gang of Whackers sent someone into the school, it can’t be No-young, since he was stopping them from getting Cha. That means someone else is the mole. But who? Nerd girl? Leader of the girl gang? The teacher? That ginormous boy? Cha Seung-hee? (that would be a shocker!) Nope, it’s revealed that Joh is a traitor! He attacks Jane’s uncle, Det. Chun, who is sent to the hospital and either declared dead or almost dead. Since he isn’t dead, I think something screwy happened with the subtitles, or the end where we find out he was alive is supposed to be more emotional and I just ruined the film. Though when Jane realizes she’s on her own and has to make her own decisions could be done in either scenario. Also, another cop is a traitor, Detective Kang who worked with Detective Chun throughout the case. He hands over Seung-hee and Mr. Cha. Now Cha Young-jae and the Head Whacker are set to fight in a dog fighting cage, and Cha Seung-hee is forced to watch. Cha Young-jae is getting the upper hand, but the Head Whacker’s Evil Woman Whacker shoots a poison dart into his thigh, giving Head Whacker the advantage he needs to whack like he’s never whacked before.
No-young returns, picks up Jane, and takes her to the hideout where the fight is taking place. They burst in and start beating up villains as Head Whacker stabs Cha Seung-hee and leaves him for dead. Head Whacker escapes, while the Whackers start fighting, but end up getting whacked themselves. The Evil Woman looks like she’ll be a grim fight, but instead is taken out in one kick by Jane. Oh, well. Jane runs outside to chase down the Head Whacker, and manages to crash his car, and is arresting him when Joh arrives to kill her. She can’t bring herself to kill him, but instead beats the living tar out of him. Finally, the cops arrive, lead by Detective Kang, but even they have a hard time pulling her off of Joh. We see that Cha Young-jae isn’t dead, and that he’ll survive. We also see No-young escape, and find out for good that Uncle Chun isn’t dead. It’s a happy ending for all, as we jump into the next case…
Yes, the Korean Police are doing Sister Act, with Sister Jane all the while. She sees the perp and gives chase, and the perp is brought down by…No-young! Then they kiss, for a proper happy ending.
Rated 7/10 (Cop Nerd, Mysterious Biker, Last Cigarette, Dart, Nerd Girl, Rurhr?, Friends Finally)
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