Now that we have covered the Infernal Affiars and The Departed films, the influential Hong Kong classic Infernal Affairs gets the Korean comedy treatment this time, with City of Damnation. Choong-dong, a traffic officer who aspires to be a homicide detective, is recognized for his straight and honest nature and recruited into a case targeting gang leader Gwang-seop. Before long, he goes undercover as a member of Gwang-seop’s gang. Meanwhile, Joong-dae goes undercover in homicide to protect his boss.
City of Damnation is not exactly plot driven. Of course, things do get more action packed and violent later in the proceedings, when the tone swings wildly into seriousness with a particularly harsh twist that comes as a genuine shock. Still, such silliness is very much in keeping with the overall wackiness of the film, and this is a fine piece of Korean action comedy.
Despite the film’s rather chaotic feel the director generally manages to keep things tight, and his direction is energetic and stylish, with plenty of split screen work and freeze frames. This is certainly a fresh breathe of air in an otherwise stale Korean market. This is one of the few comedies I’ve seen thats hit the mark in the foreign film realm.
The finale itself is suitably macho and angst ridden, perhaps inevitably culminating in an Infernal Affairs style rooftop showdown, though even then the director can’t resist throwing in a few slapstick gags. As such, the film basically meanders from comedic set piece to set piece, with the focus being firmly on the gags for the most part. It was almost like a parody on its influential counterparts. This film in my opinion isn’t so much of a special piece of film, but it does come mildly recommended.