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Original Title:
Gamunui wigi: Gamunui yeonggwang 2

South Korea 2005

Comedy, Romance, Action

Jeong Yong-ki

Shin Hyeon-jun
Kim Won-hie
Lim Hyeong-jun
Tak Jae-hun
Kim Soo-mi
Kong Hyeong-jin
Shin Yi
Kim Su-mi
Park Hee Jin
Kim Hyo-jin
Hyeon Yeong

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Marrying the Mafia 2: Enemy in Law

Story: The leader of the White Tiger organization, Mrs. Hong (Kim Soo-mi), entrusts her two sons Jang Kyung-jae (Lim Hyeong-jun) and Jang Seok-jae (Tak Jae-hun) to finally find her third son In-jae (Shin Hyeon-jun) a woman. At the moment Jang In-jae is leading the family business, but he has no luck with women, as he thinks that no one can ever come near to his former girlfriend's beauty. However, as fate plays its little game, he meets young and tough Kim Jin-kyung (Kim Won-hie), who is fleeing from a bunch of thugs running after her, being drugged by them, leading her to literally run into the arms of In-jae. Of course, he is a man of virtue and rescues Kim Jin-kyung, while at the same time also spoiling things for his rival's organisation.
A few misunderstandings later In-jae and Jin-kyung go out on a date. Unfortunately, the gangster boss finds out that his new girlfriend is actually a prosecutor for organized crime, and has a knack for getting violent gangsters behind bars. In-jae hides his true identity and, for his girlfriend, wants to quit being the family organization's head. Nevertheless, Jin-kyung is already hot on the trail of him and his organization, while In-jae also has some problems with another gangster boss, which inevitably seems to lead to a showdown between them. The relationship of the happy couple seems to be ill-starred...

Review: With "Marrying the Mafia 2" a gangster romantic comedy gets a sequel which actually didn't deserve to get one in the first place since the first part, despite great success at the box-office, was a rather mediocre flick. The second installment even got more money into the producer's pockets, but the question once again remains, if the movie's success is indeed a justified one?
The answer should be a simple "no", once again, as the film still has to struggle with the same problems as its predecessor, yet has the bonus of some surprisingly good working jokes, and main actor Shin Hyeon-jun, who manages to raise the movie's quality quite a bit. In the end, you really shouldn't expect anything else than an entertaining, yet completely trivial gangster rom-com, but maybe that's ok?

A big problem is the film's mood. Most of the time you have the feeling to sit in a typical Korean rom-com, along with your standard wacky humor and loony characters. But every now and then the movie also gets more serious in tone, throws in some intrusively cool-looking scenes, and some drama for the heart. Latter works out surprisingly well, since Shin Hyeon-jun portrays the different sides of his character, from the cool-headed gangsterboss to a brother, to a real fool fallen in love with a girl, effortlessly. When he even tries to give up his life as a gangster for his beloved one, then this is brought onto screen with impressive credibility. Therefore, it's no wonder that Shin is actually the only thing that can serve as some sort of golden thread in this movie. Nevertheless, despite all his efforts the film's main mood remains nonhomogeneous.

How much of a disjointed salad of different pieces "Marrying the Mafia 2" really is, becomes apparent over and over again, e.g. during the several flashbacks to In-jae's past or the insertions of the different side characters. For this, Shin Yi's character is a prime example, because she suddenly gets a lot of time on screen towards the end. Why the filmmakers didn't use this time to shed some more light onto the brothers of In-jae remains a mystery, though. Anyway, even apart from that the movie remains episode-like, and even very predictable to make things worse. That the last scene is even a court scene, which outcome is easy to be seen miles in advance, really doesn't give the film any originality points either.

Nevertheless, Jeong Yong-ki's ("The Doll Master") work deserves some praise for the jokes and the humor in general. That much I have to give to him. Sure, everything is working on a slapstick level, but fortunately there aren't too much cliched characters to be found. Even though we sill can't fight the feeling that we have already seem many movies of this kind before. There isn't anything new to discover, but the jokes will be something to keep you hooked. Some of them may aim below the belt, but they still aren't plain stupid, as it is often the case, yet instead they are simply entertaining. One true highlight is when In-jae takes his girlfriend to the cinema to watch a horror movie for a more romantic and intimate mood. Sadly, it's In-jae who is constantly and panically jumping off his seat and almost gets a heart attack. This truely can't stand as a cool performance for his girlfriend, but the viewer will find himself over the floor laughing.
The humor really can outweigh some major missteps of the movie, and especially Shin Hyeon-jun ("Guns & Talks", "Shadowless Sword"), doesn't only get the chance to proof his acting talent once again, but he can also show of as a comedy star.

Some of the jokes revolve around Korean culture, which is why many of them might have gotten lost in translation. However, the director also makes fun of the bad english skills of Koreans, for example when everyone is racking one's brains what the Korean word for "Orange" might be in English. Naturally, the Korean word for this fruit is a loanword from the english language... These kind of jokes, that will make you smack your forehead, are to be found throughout the whole film. Then again, it seems to be the love story that is supposed to be in the director's focus. It really doesn't come as anything special, but it is portrayed quite nice, and unfolds onto screen rather likeably, thanks to the two main actors. Actress Kim Won-hie can't provide any outstanding performance, but she is good enough to be convincing as the tough-as-nails prosecutor. Moreover, the chemistry between her and her partner is just about right. What more could you ask for?

The several pieces of "Marrying the Mafia 2" are on different levels qualitywise. At some points you are lead to believe that this is a really good comedy, at other times the movie is unforgivably cheesy and predictable. All in all, this is a mixed bag, but the humor and a well portrayed main protagonist who gives his best can score some points, though.
If you are looking for some trivial entertainment, then you won't do anything wrong with this well produced gangster comedy. In any case, "Marrying the Mafia 2" is better than its predecessor.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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