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Original Title:

South Korea 2005

Comedy, Crime, Romance

Park Kwang-chun

Kim Seon-ah
Ha Jung-woo
Kim Kap-su
Nam Sang-mi
Yu Kong

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She is on Duty

Story: Chun Jae-in (Kim Seon-a) is a tough policewoman who likes to kick some butt. One day she is forced by her uncle, who is also her superior, to go on an undercover-mission. She is supposed to disguise as a schoolgirl and win the confidence of Seung-hee (Nam Sang-mi) and keep an eye on her. Seung-hee is the daughter of a high ranking mafia-member, who wanted to testify against his boss in court, but is missing now.
However, the police are not the only ones trying to find Seung-hee's father with the help of his daughter, but the mafia boss himself does so, too.
Meanwhile Jae-in has some other problems to deal with, for example the local bullies at school, maths lesson or No-young, a guy who seems to be more than he pretends to be.

Review: "She is on Duty" fortunately isn't the quirky, wacky teen comedy the DVD-Cover promises to deliver, but instead is a mix of an action movie and the mentioned teen flick, that however spares us the typical embarrassing moments of the genre most of the time. This review is about the "Director's Cut" version, whereas I'm not quite aware of the differences to the original cut as I didn't had the opportunity to compare them. Nevertheless, one can be pretty sure that especially some of the more brutal scenes and some action sequences found their way into the DC-DVD.

The plot about a policewoman who has to go undercover at a school is everything but new, yet the movie proves to be quite entertaining. This is because director Park Kwang-chun did stick with old formulas, creating an absolutely solid movie, even though as one might have expected there isn't much originality to be found. Since the movie is mainly a comedy, it manages thanks to its setting to deliver some jokes every now and then, naturally. And not bad ones at that.
For policewoman Jae-in two worlds collide when she has to attend school again, but as time goes by she settles in. To watch her do so is simple entertainmant, but hey, at least it IS entertainment!

The actors are all quite believable, but can't hide the fact that the script didn't make much out of the characters. Sometimes the motivations are questionable, some questions don't get an anwer at all and in general there are not a few plot holes to be found here. Nevertheless, main actress Kim Seon-a manages to enchant the viewer with her charisma.

Somewhat of a nuisance, but pretty popular nowadays is that the movie makes a turn halfway through. While the first hour of the film is perky and absolutely the way you would expect it of a comedy, disseminating a cheerful mood, it gets a little bit slower, more serious and even gloomy at times in the latter half. This way the movie reminds us more of a tough cop-thriller than a comedy and there is even some blood spilled.
I really like to see different genres being brought together and mixed as it bestows a movie with something unpredictable. However, for this to succeed the end product still needs to feel as a whole and this definitely isn't the case with "She is on Duty". Additionally, you can't help but to notice that one did borrow a lot of well known stuff, even though as one has to admit there are some nice twists.

There are some action scenes and Martial-Arts sequences that will keep the adrenalin level high, yet they are rather simply choreographed as it is the case in most Korean productions. Only every now and then there are some scenes that feature fighters jumping several meters high or doing similar wire-work acrobatics. Somehow this becomes irritating as one has the feeling that these scenes were supposed to look cooler than they actually do.

With some of the characters it's the same. There are a lot of persons that mainly were brought in to add to the movie's coolness factor, e.g. the woman/right hand of the mafia boss of whom we expect to see quite some kung fu and who actually is simply knocked out by one single dropkick at the end. There are some other moments like this scattered throughout the movie that give it a somewhat bitter taste.
Nevertheless, Park did put some effort into his directing and manages to capture the colorful candylike teeny world at school as well as the more rough world of the police and the streets.

If you don't expect something inventive and just wanna be entertained for two hours, then "She is on Duty" will be able to do exactly that. It's enough to make you laugh and the action is respectable, too. You just shouldn't expect to remember any of the movie's scenes later on.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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