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Young Gun in the Time - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Yeong-geon tam-jeong sa-moo-so

South Korea 2012

Action, Comedy

Oh Young-Doo

Yeong Geon
Choi Song-hyeon
Bae Yong-geun
Ha Eun-jeong
Kim Hee-chang
Jo Seung-yeon

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Young Gun in the Time

Story: Young Gun (Yeong Geon) has large debts with his boss Sa-jang (Ha Eun-jeong) and thus needs to accept even small cases as a private detective. One day the girl Song-hyeon (Choi Song-hyeon) turns up at his office and wants Young to kill someone for her since she fears this somebody will take her life. Young may be desperate, but he still would never commit murder. After the girl leaves she is kidnapped by some unknown men and dies in a car crash. Young decides to start his own investigation. Doing so he runs into the girl he believed to be dead, although she can't remember having met him before. She works for a museum and believes that the murder of her boss is linked to an artifact that has gone missing. This artifact could also explain why Young Gun has already met her. Because the object is allegedly capable of allowing time traveling. Accordingly, it was the future Song-hyeon that has seeked the help of the private detective and Young even finds out that they have only three days left until Song-hyeon travels to the past and dies. But the two have a dangerous enemy in the killer Taek-to (Bae Yong-geun).

Review: "Young Gun in the Time" is an action comedy that makes strong use of science fiction elements and those of the neo-noir genre. What can you really expect from such a movie? And yet the film has already attained cult status. Despite the not really promising (and at least grammatically questionable) title, I became curious and... realized that I can't understand all the hype around the movie. No, that's not entirely true. What director Oh Young-Doo has accomplished here with merely 30.000 dollar is in fact pretty impressive, making the picture almost rival the big productions of South Korea. Almost... Because even if you overlook the technical issues, which most of the time are concealed pretty good, there still remains a screenplay that clearly could have been written better even without a big budget.

Young Gun in the Time - Film Screenshot 11

You also have to warm to the many oddities in the movie. A few of them add to the action comedy becoming more vivid. For instance there is the detective with a weakness for Hawaiin shirts, his hand prosthesis which gives room for some nice gadgets, or a sex shop owner who also turns out to be a computer specialist and tinkerer. However, just as often you will find yourself scratching your head. It isn't rare that an awkward silence ends a dialogue or that someone does something that simply doesn't seem appropriate (as for example Sa-jang's sudden dance). Moreover, the humor also comes to light when you least expect it. Ultimately, the film can be pretty violent, too. You don't get to see any bloody scenes, but those scenes still won't match up with the humor.

Young Gun in the Time - Film Screenshot 12

Yet, you have to admit that the film all in all makes for a more coherent whole than you would have thought to be possible. This is particularly surprising because retrospectively many elements won't fit together. But when the movie has found its pacing, which takes about 20-30 minutes, though, there are no real breathers anymore. The action scenes, which are mainly composed of chasing scenes and some not really spectacular, but pretty decent fights, have some astonishingly high kinetic energy about them. This is where director Oh manages to hide his low budget especially well. Things are different when it comes to technical aspects, though. The camera follows the protagonist around in fast motion or the hero wanders through town in front of a green-screen. Such gimmicks, with which Oh apparently wants to make fun of his lack of a real budget, are annoying and most importantly unnecessary.

Because Oh doesn't just use indoor shots, but also makes use of many outdoor shots, which are very convincing and give the movie a much bigger scale than you would have expected. Contrary to the indoor shots the lighting isn't as dark here either. Yeong Geon, who has already had some small roles or was used as an extra in "My Way" and "Secret Reunion" isn't really your typical pretty boy, but that's just why it's so easy to relate to him. Choi Song-hyeon ("Midnight FM") is at least as odd as the rest and this oddity is one of the strengths of "Young Gun in the Time". The characters are all a bit eccentric or outright wacky, making the film, despite surprisingly dark moments at times that remind you of a neo-noir flick, very colorful and entertaining throughout.

Young Gun in the Time - Film Screenshot 13

However, you can't be so lenient when it comes to the screenplay. That things are actually centering around a time traveling plot is irrelevant until the last third. But then you get confronted with scenes that create the most fundamental time traveling paradoxes. Ultimately, it's safe to say that because of this the movie doesn't make any sense in the end. At least not if you recapitulate what actually happened. If you check your brain at the door everything looks pretty consistent, though, and there is even a hint at a possible sequel. With his "Invasion of Alien Bikini", which had a 5.000 dollar budget, director Oh won the prize money of 25.000 dollar at the Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival. He added another 5.000 dollar and made a movie that looks almost a hundred times as expensive. However, because of that the poor screenplay and a few oddities, which simply look too amateurish, stand out even the more prominently. Nonetheless, you can look forward to the day when Oh actually gets a bigger budget.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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