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Accidental Detective - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Tam-jeong: Deo bi-gi-ning

South Korea 2015

Crime, Comedy

Kim Jeong-hoon

Kwon Sang-woo
Seong Dong-il
Seo Yeong-hee
Park Hae-joon
Lee Seung-joon
Yoon Kyung-ho
Jo Bok-rae

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Accidental Detective

Accidental Detective - Film Screenshot 1

Story: Kang Dae-man (Kwon Sang-woo) originally wanted to become a policeman, but a minor physical deficit made this impossible. Now, he owns a book store and blog where he dedicates himself to unsolved crimes. Thanks to his friend Joon-soo (Park Hae-joon), who is a police detective, he also gets some insight into police work. One day, after a night of excessive alcohol abuse, Dae-man wakes up at a friend's and the two find the dead body of his friend's wife. Detective Noh Tae-soo (Seong Dong-il), a detective who has seen it all and has been degraded because of the tough way he approaches things, investigates the case and soon it is uncovered that Joon-soo has bought an apartment with the victim's money. Joon-soo assures, that he wanted to protect the wife's money from the loan sharks who are after her husband, but evidence doesn't speak in his favor. Dae-man starts to conduct his own investigation, although his wife Mi-ok (Seo Yeong-hee) makes it pretty clear that he has to look after their two children when she is at work. But Dae-man can't let down his friend either. Detective Noh also doesn't believe that his colleague is the culprit. Despite Noh's initial concerns the two eventually investigate the case together...

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Review: The most original and thrilling crime stories have most likely all been told already. Only every few years a crime thriller will be able to excite you because of its plot alone. Thus, the only thing you can hope for is a detective couple that is oozing out charisma or a film that otherwise delivers well elaborated protagonists. Fortunately, "Accidental Detective" delivers just that, along with a few nice comedy elements. Often enough the flick turns out to be more comedy than thriller and that shouldn't be understood as a negative thing. When the characters stand in the foreground and we pity the two detectives getting abused by their wives or have to laugh about absurd and therefore extremely funny scenes that's when "Accidental Detective" shows its winning side. As soon as the crime story is put into the limelight the rather mediocre face of the film is revealed.

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Yet, this doesn't mean that the detective story is dull. There are constantly new clues and connections that can be made. There also is no lack of surprising twists, but in retrospect you certainly have to question the plot's credibility. But that's easy to forgive, since the crime story actually just depicts the framework within which the two protagonists get closer to each other on an interpersonal level. And that leads to some extremely funny scenes. We have Tae-soo who makes fun of wannabe-detective Dae-man since he is under his wife's thumb to such a degree that he even has to take his baby to his investigation. However, things take a turn when it is revealed that Tae-soo, who likes to come across as some kind of macho, is in fact a pitiable victim of a particularly bad virago. And you will get comedy at moments where you maybe wouldn't really expect them in such a movie.

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After all, when do you actually get to see a crime thriller where during a chasing scene someone is changing a baby's diapers on the backseat of a car? The humor also proves to be of slapstick nature at times, but it is never obtrusive or even awkward. The humor nearly always hits the mark and that is mainly thanks to the great chemistry between the detectives as well as the wife and Dae-man. Kwon Sang-woo ("71: Into the Fire", "Almost Love") as the childlike husband, who is chasing after his dreams by playing detective, plays the actual comedy role. However, it's him as a duo with Seong Dong-il ("Children", "Thread of Lies") that things get really funny. Tae-soo doesn't respect his partner, but his analytical skills turn out to be useful. That doesn't mean that the two have to get along privately, though.

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In the end, and here "Accidental Detective" naturally proves to be predictable, the relationship between the two detectives heads into the direction we would expect from a buddy movie. But it's not just the chemistry of this odd couple that is winning us over. Seo Yeong-hee ("Bedevilled", "Rough Play") squeezes out a lot of her role which in other hands probably would have been a completely negligible part and elevates the serious problems, which Dae-man's daydreaming cause, to a believable level, so that this subplot almost seems to be on equal terms with the actual detective story, whereas former one has enough humoristic moments in store as well, of course. Yet, the screenplay deserves some praise, too, which by the way was picked as the winner of a writing contest.

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Next to all the comedy and family issues there are in fact a few thrilling moments, too, in which even the detectives' lives are in danger. Of course, the high tension can also be explained by the fact that we actually care for the characters. Directingwise, Kim Jeong-hoon doesn't deliver anything out of the ordinary. Nonetheless, the twists are effective and particularly the comedy timing is very well done. As to be expected, the movie gets more thriller-heavy towards the end, but this doesn't hurt the overall tone as much as in many other Korean productions. Considering the great chemistry between the two detectives it also shouldn't come as a surprise that a sequel is already in the making. Whether a sequel can be as fun to watch without the two detectives getting to know each other or not remains to be seen.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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