Car racing film is a drag



134 minutes/Now showing/3 stars

The story: Police detective Si-yeon (Gong Hyo-jin) gets demoted to the lowly hit-and-run squad when she mounts an unsuccessful attempt to expose a corrupt police commissioner. There, she meets Min-jae (Ryu Jun-yeol), a rookie police officer with a natural talent for racing. The pair team up to try and arrest rich and powerful businessman and race car driver Jae-chul (Cho Jung-seok), who is ruthless in his pursuit of fame, speed and power.

If Hit-And-Run Squad were a 90-minute movie, it would have been great. Unfortunately, the South Korean action flick runs about 40 minutes longer.

The film – about two cops trying to nab a corrupt police commissioner in cahoots with a ruthless Formula One race car driver – manages to be both gripping and entertaining for much of the first half.

While it is a hodgepodge of genres – a little action here, some undercover cop espionage scenes there, sprinkled with light romance and comedy – the plot progresses, thanks to the swift pace.

There is an exciting car chase, fight scene and showdown between two lead characters that leaves one breathless.

Too bad the movie does not wrap up there. It drags on, adding a sentimental father-son sub-plot to an already bloated story. There is also a bizarre ordinary-folks-save-the-day device which culminate in yet another extended car chase, fight scene and showdown between the same two characters.

The similar tropes mean the ending loses much of its impact.

And no matter how exciting, car chase scenes, when dragged for too long, turn tepid.

Thankfully, the star-studded cast give decent performances.

Gong pulls off a layered performance as a frustrated but tough-as-nails cop, who is at once cool and imposing but also jaded and vulnerable.

Ryu’s earnest, goofy performance creates a believable front for his character’s troubled past.

As the maniacal villain though, Cho, Gong’s co-star in television series Jealousy Incarnate (2016), comes off like an evil children’s cartoon character – more Mojo Jojo in The Powerpuff Girls than Batman’s Joker.

The rest of the cast, which features Key of K-pop boyband Shinee, are fun background characters, who have little to do but bring some colour to the story.

Ultimately, the second half of the film puts the brakes on an otherwise enjoyable work.

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