Story: Aryong (Shu Qi) is sent abroad by her father (Ti Lung), a powerful triad boss, because she is blamed
to be responsible for the murder of a rivalling gangster boss. Aryong decides to go to South Korea, as she thinks that
she might find her mother there. When she arrives, she is placed under watch of Ki-chul (Lee Beom-su), who hasn't
achieved a lot in the organisation he is working for. Ki-chul and his two subordinates try to impress tough-as-nails
Aryong with their gangster attitude, but most of the time they fail miserably.
Moreover, there are also some problems concerning the language barriere between Aryong and the gangsters, so that they have to hire a translator. However, Yon-hi (Hyeon Yeong), the interpreter, isn't really happy about her new assignment, as she apparently is afraid of her clients. This changes soon when she realizes that she holds a dangerous weapon in her hands in form of Aryong. And she eventually finds out how to use it. Because of Yon-hi and her intentional mistranslating, there are a lot of misunderstandings between Aryong and the gangsters, that soon get them into some problems.
However, things get more serious for them when Aryong beats up a rivalling gangster boss of Ki-chul. But that's only the beginning as there is a much more dangerous threat in the shape of some killers, who want to get rid of Aryong...
Review: There was a lot of disappointment to be heard, when the news came out that Shin Eun-kyung wouldn't join the cast as
the main heroine, as it was the case in the two former movies. It took me some time to get along with this fact, too, since
Shin fit just perfectly into the role and served as the films' heart and soul. In retrospect, however, I have to
admit that it was a wise decision of director Cho Jin-gyu, who already directed the first part of the series, not
to rehash old stuff, but the breathe a fresh breeze into the series.
"My Wife is a Gangster 3" delivers nice popcorn-entertainment, good humor and even manages to shift to a more serious tone when it becomes necessary. There is no profoundness to be found here, that's for sure, but the viewer doesn't expect that, anyway. What we do expect of it, namely good entertainment, the third installment actually delivers as well as its prequels.
Let's just get right to the most important matter: Shu Qi. No, she doesn't succeed in becoming a second Shin Eun-kyung, but she also doesn't try to do so. And that's a good thing. I still don't know what to think of her as an actress, which is why I'm very objective when it comes to her, and she can't change my way of thinking about her with her performance here. Nonetheless, she has the necessary screen presence, that her character demands from her. Most of the time she doesn't speak a lot, but she has this indifferent and cold powergirl-charisma, which makes her a good choice for the role as she doesn't fail to deliver this image convincingly. So, as far as it concerns this, there is not much to criticize about.
The real star of the movie is Lee Beom-su ("City of Violence"), who gives an incredibly charismatic performance as a low-life gangster. He may seem a bit sappy, but only in a modest way, so that he luckily doesn't come as a stereotype of the Korean gangster, who is all thumbs and has at best two brain cells to rub together. You know, the kind we see in almost any Korean gangster flick. In fact, he even seems somewhat three-dimensional and always manages to get the audience's sympathy, so that it becomes a pleasure watching him play.
His two sidekicks also convince with a neat and more than anything else likeable performance. On a less positive side note, there is Hyeon Yeong ("Marrying the Mafia 2"), who plays the interpreter and very soon becomes a real nuisance. The film's humor is mainly backed up by the misunderstandings of Yon-hi's translating and this works out pretty well, but Hyeon Yeong plays her part just in a too extroverted and exaggerated manner, so that she is getting annoying after a 20 minutes max.
The cast gets completed by some interesting supporting actors. Lee Ki-yong ("Shadowless Sword") has a special appearance as a female killer and is the only one who impresses with a good mandarin-Chinese pronounciation. Ken Lo plays the bad guy, while Shaw-Brothers veteran Ti Lung ("A Better Tomorrow") embodies Shu Qi's father. Here it really shows why "My Wife is a Gangster 3" works out so well. The scenes in Hong Kong and the power struggle of the triad bosses are brought onto screen with a good amount of grittiness and blood. Which is mainly thanks to Ken Lo and Ti Lung.
The big success of the first two installments had its origin in the well done mix of comedy and action, without having the feel of a contrived genre-mix to it. Unfortunately, "My Wife is a Gangster 3" has only little action scenes, which is one of the most apparent sore points of the movie. Shu Qi can show some moves every now and then, but she did a much better job in "So Close". At least, there is a nice sword presentation of hers. Apart from that there is some posing, but in general the action scenes prove to be without any substance. That's sad, but luckily this doesn't mean that the movie can't convince with a more serious tone, too. It's rare to see a Korean comedy in which people actually die, but that's exactly what we get here. Furthermore, the Hong Kong plot stands in a nice contrast to the ridiculously nice and friendly depicted gangsters of a Korean flick of this kind. The Hong Kong triads are ruthless, cold-blooded and have every quality we would expect from a member of this black society.
Another weak point is the inevitable love story between Aryong and Ki-chul. It is easy to predict from the very beginning, as the movie just has to live up to its title, natch, but it is put into effect way too bumpy and sudden. Unfortunately, the chemistry between Ki-chul and Aryong isn't that convincing either. This is something director Cho should have placed more value on, as the love story feels very contrived the way it is depicted here.
Of course, the film provides us with a lot of humor, but actually there is nothing that we didn't already see somewhere else. There are jokes in regard to the culturual differences, the language barriere and there are even some few sex jokes, whereas a certain one in a car seems a bit odd. But who cares anyway, as most of them just hit the mark. This is also what makes this comedy superior to many other flicks of the genre. The director and the cast show their talent for the right timing, and therefore always succeed in causing the audience to smile or laugh out loud, and provide us with a lot of entertainment.
It's easy to find some flaws in "My Wife is a Gangster 3". However, those who will be watching this film surely will do so, because they want to have a fun ride, and that's just where Cho's work scores. Naturally, this isn't a masterpiece of any kind, yet the movie offers everything its prequels did - interestingly enough even without Shin Eun-kyung. Backed up by the Hong Kong stars and a small fresh breeze of originality "My Wife is a Gangster 3" succeeds where it has to and thus proves to be a well done sequel. Fans of the series won't get disappointed.