Detective K tells about the adventures of Joseon’s top detective as he investigates, as ordered by the King, a series of mysterious murders plaguing the country. During his secret mission, he meets Han Seo Pil (Oh Dal-soo) who eventually becomes his sidekick, and Han Gaek Ju (Han Ji-min), an influential business woman who is a key figure in the case. As they dig deeper into the mystery, they uncover disturbing secrets and while watching this film I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Pink Panther. This is the story of how detective K solves the case while meeting all kinds of crazy characters along the way.
Unlike the domestic release of Sherlock Holmes that was released earlier, this film seems to find even middle ground in all the components that make up a good mystery film by infusing comedy, mystery, action and historical drama. Detective K is set in 7th century Korea, and revisits the military confrontation between the two ancient kingdoms of those times. It does a nice job of sucking the viewer in giving them an authentic feel of the setting. Showbox, the film’s international distributor is optimistic that Detective K will continue to ink deals at its next film market so to anyone who in interested, you might want to try and watch the film while you can online because it won’t be coming stateside.
In view of a crowded market of period films aiming at ancient China, the status quo is a bit disappointing because aesthetic fatigue makes audience pickier and pickier, plus a heavier budget could really hurt the investors. That aside, Detective K’s CGI is, for the most part, seamlessly integrated, such is the level of technical expertise of contemporary effects houses across Asia. Except that the ultimate mystery isn’t that compelling to start with. And partly this is because of the fantasy elements that are used to explain certain things. The only real charm comes from star Kim’s wry exchanges with the accompanying characters that makes for some comedic gold.
The scale of the film within its first ten minutes will win you over with its grandeur and ambition, and Guy Ritchie should take notes on films like these so his future movies don’t appear to be so muddled. Sure it doesn’t take a genius to guess who the culprit is, but it’s not always about the destination, but the journey in getting there. Since the corruption goes so high up in the King’s court the King uses the ruse of a demotion “the Virtuous Widow case” to plant Detective K right in the heart of things. In the end, it all wraps up nicely and I walked away quite satisfied. Thumbs up.