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Original Title:
Mai nyoo pateuneo

South Korea 2008

Action, Drama, Comedy

Kim Jong-hyeon

Ahn Sung-kee
Jo Han-seon
Jeong Seok-yong
Jo Jin-woong
Lee Eun-ji
Choi Il-hwa
Park Cheol-min
Choi Jin-ho
Jeong In-gi
Seon Woo-seon
Kim Yeo-jin

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My New Partner

Story: Kang Yeong-joon (Jo Han-seon) works in the internal affairs department. When his father Kang Min-ho (Ahn Sung-kee) was caught up in a corruption scandal and cheated on his wife which led to Yeong-joon's mother dying, the young policeman vowed that he would bring down men like his father. However, when eight years later Yeong-joon is called to Busan because of a case involving a drug trafficking ring he has to cooperate with the local police and of all the teams working on cases he ends up with the one led by his father. Yeong-joon leaves no doubt that his father his dead for him and that he wants to solve the case in a professional manner and disappear as soon as possible. His father, on the other hand, tries everything in his power to make the time he has with his son as enjoyable as possible for him. Yeong-joon isn't happy with the way and methods his father is investigating as he also doesn't refrain from making use of small time criminals, but they actually bring them closer to finding a certain woman who is the key to solving the case, yet she always manages to slip through the police's fingers. It seems as if there is a mole in the police and Yeong-joon immediately suspects his father.

Review: "My New Partner" is an entertaining buddy movie which at times manages well to mix action and drama. Unfortunately, despite the cinematic look and the convincing acting achievements you can't fight the feeling to watch a well produced TV-film. That is because the screenplay is too hackneyed when it comes to the story which is not revolving around the drama between father and son and furthermore is coming up with villains that are too cliché-loaden and one-dimensional. This leads to the simple fact that the film creates a certain feeling of familiarity. Especially the finale picks up numerous genre clichés so that you just have to shake your head. However, what's saving the movie and makes it so entertaining are the characters. The supporting characters also have their charm and all together can create the impression of a small family that can win over the viewer in an instant. The humor isn't left out either which is the reason why we are actually entertained at any point in the movie.

Apart from the uninventive script the movie delivers a high pacing throughout, it never treads water and includes some well done action scenes. Director Kim Jong-hyeon ("Mr. Gam's Victory") summarizes events in some cinematic put-togethers, e.g. we get to know about Kang's history in a few minutes while later on the investigation is cut together in some split-screens in order to keep up the high pacing and don't give any room to unnecessary dropouts. This works pretty well and surely gives the movie a cinematic note that is supported by an effective soundtrack and well shot action scenes. The numerous chasing scenes are scattered throughout the film evenly, even at the beginning we get one of them in vertiginous heights and the brawling scene towards the end also serves its purpose well, although it doesn't really fit to the rest of the film concerning its style.

Surprisingly less irritating than one would expect is the at times merciless violence. One the one hand this might be because it is only hinted at and on the other hand because right from the start we are already prepared for this sometimes humorous buddy movie to get a little bit more gritty every now and then. This fact is taken to extremes when even some of the supporting characters don't make it all the way to the end. The mix of a more harsh thriller and a comedy works out better than expected, and for this the director deserves some words of praise, but in the end it isn't fully satisfying, however. Still, that's not really that bothering as we actually didn't think of this mix to really work out without any problems. What's also not working out well is the tension that was supposed to be created by the search for the identity of the mole within the police. At no time in the movie we really believe Min-ho to be the traitor, even though the scriptwriters worked in hints in this direction on several occasions and in a maladaptive way.

Ahn Sung-kee ("Musa", "Nowhere to Hide") delivers such a charismatic portrayal that you can never see him as a villian. He surely has his negative sides - if not how could he have disappointed his son in the past the way he did - but this also makes him more human. When we see what kind of a intimate relationship he has with his colleagues it becomes obvious that he can't be a bad person. Ahn without a doubt is the star of the film, for him not to be his screen presence is simply too great, however, the actual main actor is Jo Han-seon ("Temptation of Wolves") who naturally seems more cold or just has to make that impression as he doesn't want anything to do with his father. But he makes us guess more behind his aloofness than meets the eye at first. The cast is complemented by a few good supporting roles, Jeong Seok-yong ("Beethoven Virus") brings the comedy aspect into the movie and Lee Eun-ji the possible romantic element, which therefore never pushes itself to the foreground.

Apart from the gripping action and the high pacing it's more than anything else the familiy-like atmosphere between the members of the investigation team that can be captivating. The humor is worked into the movie quite well and the more bloody scenes stand in a nice contrast to them, even though, as already said this all doesn't add up to a coherent whole. The father and son drama works out well thanks to the actors, too, as the chemistry between the two is just the way it should be. This is strongly needed as the script, although delivering its best efforts here, still has one or two flaws that become especially apparent at the end.
"My New Partner" is no real big cinema and towards the end the screenplay gives the plot some b-movie flair, but apart from that the characters are convincing, the action is scattered well throughout the film and the humor is loosening up the at times more gritty scenes. An entertaining flick that might not add anything to the genre, but works well as some nice evening filler.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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