Review: Nothing special about Korean crime comedy ‘Detective K: Secret of the Living Dead’
Through three films now, director Kim Suk-yoon’s “Detective K” series — based on Kim Tak-hwan’s novels — have had at least one reliably entertaining component. The give-and-take between the brilliant but bumbling hero (played by Kim Myung-min) and his dim sidekick Seo-pil (Oh Dai-su) is consistently charming and funny, at once parodying and paying homage to the classic Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson dynamic.
“Detective K: Secret of the Living Dead” rises and falls based on how focused it is on Detective Kim Min and Seo-pil. When the sleuth and his buddy are puzzling over clues, all deadpan and subtly silly, the movie’s quite charming. But when it starts seriously digging into Korean history — and vampires — the picture loses some luster.
This time out, the 18th century gumshoe is investigating a series of mysterious murders with a possibly supernatural origin, and gradually realizes that the crimes may be connected to a lovely amnesiac played by Kim Ji-won. What starts as a breezy goof gets more serious and less fun in its second hour — which also packs in more pro forma action sequences.
The tongue-in-cheek “Detective K” wit is still evident in “Secret of the Living Dead,” most notably in a brief fantasy sequence that parodies the classic Korean revenge thriller “Oldboy.” And K and Seo-pil are always a hoot, as they take themselves too seriously yet still stumble onto the right path. It’s a pity such memorable characters are stuck in a story so middling.
‘Detective K: Secret of the Living Dead’
In Korean with English subtitles
Running time: 1 hour, 59 minutes
Playing: CGV Cinema, Los Angeles; CGV Buena Park, Buena Park
Only good movies
Get the Indie Focus newsletter, Mark Olsen's weekly guide to the world of cinema.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.