Its another day on the job for narcotics squad captain Go (Ryoo Seong-ryong) and his team of badass detectives as they give chase to a low-level crook. For their exasper police superintendent, it’s another day of cashing in receipts once the damage is done and the bust goes, well, bust.
Go and his unit are on the verge of being disbanded after producing no results as he himself is long overdue for a promotion apart from other colleagues. What’s more, his wife has grown increasingly frustrated with his line of work over the years while doing his best to be a good father.
Alas, an opportune exchange of info regarding elusive crimeboss Lee Mubae (Shin Ha-kyun) becomes a potential olive branch for Go and team members Jang (Lee Ha-nee), Ma (Jin Seon-kyu), Young-ho (Lee Dong-hwi) and rookie Jae-hoon (Gong Myung) to redeem themselves. With reason to suspect something bigger is in the mix, and their stakeout op compromised by the sale of its out-of-work owner, the group digs into their own pockets to buy the location.
A not-so-elaborate masquerade begins as Go and his detective squad are forced to enhance their business acumen as the neighborhood’s sudden new hotspot for a delicious chicken dinner, balancing between their cop duties and the restaurant’s unforeseen success. A network producer’s hatchet job, a shady investor and a marriage on the brink soon help turn the tide as Go and his fellow makeshift fried chicken entrepreneurs find themselves drawn closer to Mubae’s intricate web of crime ahead of an explosive final stand.
Ryoo and the rest of the starring line-up bring a performance caliber that certainly enriches the film from start to finish, along with physicality that is sure to crank things up a notch; Han-nee and Seon-kyu exude pinches of charm in their sexual tension as Jang and Ma. Dong-hwi’s Young-ho is mostly outside the restuarant as he tries to tow the line between staking out one of Mubae’s hideouts and helping keep the charade up with the team.
There’s plenty of subtext to go around in Lee Byeong-hun’s Extreme Job that underscores each of our characters’ own torment; At least one introspective scene shows Ryoo’s character, Go, reflecting in the midst of a busy rush at the restaurant. It’s a poignant moment that lends some empathy to look through going forward, just as the film dives right back into its identity. We see more of it in the paradigm between Go and Mubae, outlining more than a battle between cop and villain at this juncture.
Go’s central arc paves the way for a little more laughter and touching drama with actress Kim Ji-young who plays his wife. Actress Jang Jin-hee plays Mubae’s bodyguard and right-hand woman, and it isn’t long before she reveals her hand as a key threatening character to root against, and it leaves a door open for viewers to be amply rewarded after watching the characters evolve.
Opening with a major set piece rife with calamity, and ending on a high note that only Korean cinema can achieve, Extreme Job is a fun-filled robust and upbeat cop comedy adventure, with a touch of heart. There are some noticeable little rooms for potential here, and so it’s easy to see why Universal Pictures would want to contend with its own remake as of last Spring. Since that’s the case, Extreme Job is a dish wholly worth every bite, and missing out just wouldn’t be sensible.