At the time of this review, The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil is just now making its way to the U.S. from South Korea. I’m pointing this out because there are apparently already plans for an American remake produced by Sylvester Stallone and starring Don Lee (who also stars in this) already in the works. Whenever this happens, that usually means the movie being made over is a pretty good one. And in the case, this one is no exception.
After barely surviving an attempt on his life, crime boss Jang Dong-Su (Don Lee) finds himself forming an unlikely partnership with a cop. The officer who stands as an unlikely ally is Jung Tae-seok (Kim Moo Yul), a local detective who’s a little reckless but also dedicated to his job. And “under the nose” of many in the police force, they make a pact and use all there resources to bring down a sadistic killer simply known as “K.”
The dynamic here is a dynamic that separates this film from other movies you’ll usually see about cops and gangsters. It’s kind of odd watching guys on both sides of the law working together in such a way. You’ll see it, but it’s rarely ever done with a cop who isn’t completely corrupt. The style in which it’s done here adds a unique twist to movies about these types of characters as it also manages to include the element of hunting down a serial killer.
One thing that you see consistently in this movie is that they kind of acknowledge the gray areas that exist in life. In fact, the characters we see here consciously work within them to get things done. However, they don’t fully invest in this part as far as turning this into a tale of morality like they possibly could have.
Approaching this from a moral position is typical in American cinema. That might be one of the changes in the planned remake if it happens, but in this picture, they just let the characters act as people without feeling the need to get us to judge them all that much. It’s almost as if they just want us to watch and analyze the actions and behaviors of all involved as two worlds blend together like they rarely do.
The story that we get is kind of a mystery but not one for us to solve. That’s left solely up to the characters who have been given the task of tracking down the killer. In a way, it’s unfortunate that we don’t get to play along as we’re purely positioned as observers. If you love trying to figure out who’s behind everything, this fact can be a negative since it could be less stimulating if the movie isn’t engaging enough.
The people who we’re following assist in not allowing this to falter much. They do enough to engage you as characters and we end up wanting to know more about them and see how they approach things. This is an underrated aspect of film that we need to see more of. Creating strong characters like this who have some type of charisma and/or personality can go a long way in making movies good or watchable at the very least.
The way it’s all structured could work for some viewers though, because it’s not too complicated or convoluted. Not having to figure things out gives you the ability to just follow along. Now, while you’re doing that, they’re still not giving away all the answers as soon as possible. There’s a build up to that, so it’s still captivating even if you’re not being challenged directly.
I don’t know how the remake would hold up to this version if and when it happens, but I guess that’s not really important right now. What matters is that The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil is one of the better movies I’ve seen so far in 2019. As of right now, it has a chance to finish as one of the top ten movies of the year for me. We’ll see where it finishes, but for now, I’ll just say that you should probably see it for yourself at some point.
Rating: No Rating
Director: Lee Won-tae
Ma Dong-seok (aka Don Lee)
Kim Mu-yeol (aka Kim Moo Yul)
Film Length: 109 minutes
Release Date: June 7th, 2019 (U.S.)
Distributor: Well Go USA
- Score - 7.5/107.5/10