“Charlie’s Korean, Medieval Angels”
During the Joseon era in Korea, a trio of bounty hunters, Jin-Ok (Ha Ji-Won), Hong-Dan (Gang Ye-Won) and Ga-Bi (Son Ga-In), work with their agent, Moo-Myung (Ko Chang-Seok), capturing wanted bandits. But they get a different task, after a King’s envoy carrying an encoded message is the latest courier to go missing, and are charged with bringing him in. Needless to say, it’s not a simple task, and they find themselves facing a host of players opposed to the King receiving the message, which would threaten the fragile relationship with the Chinese emperor. But there’s also a personal angle, as Jin-Ok finds herself face-to-face with the man she remembers as having killed her father.
Early on, it becomes abundantly clear that this is not intended to be taken entirely seriously, probably from the time one of the heroines whips out her yo-yo, and takes out an entire platoon of enemies, Sukeban Deka style. Indeed, it’s probably the comedic elements that work best, such as the constable who follows him around, convinced his camo skills will stop him being seen – in a rarity for the humour often seen in Eastern films, it’s a joke which could have been used more, rather than being driven into the ground as normal. However, it feels that this lack of seriousness was taken by the makers as a reason to slap together the story, which lurches from set-piece to set-piece without any sense of logic or narrative flow – and don’t even get me started on the whole “dramatic amnesia” suffered by Jin-Ok.
It’s also fairly obvious the actresses aren’t doing very much of their own action, putting them behind Drew Barrymore et al, and in another galaxy, far, far away, from the participants in another cinematic cousin, The Heroic Trio. Ha probably comes off the best of the three, but there’s an awful lot of scenes which consist largely of close-ups of the actresses flailing wildly, intercut with wide shots from behind of someone competent. However, it still passes the time easily, particularly after all the parties involved end up in the port city of Byeokrando – or, at least, a convincing CGI imitation thereof. This allows plenty of scope for some impressive bits of combat, regardless of who’s actually doing them, as well as exploding pagodas, and other chunks of mass destruction. It also helps that the performances are solid from just about everyone concerned, which shores up the flimsy constructs of the storyline. I’m informed that the Korean title translates as “Three Beautiful Musketeers of Joseon,” and that’s probably an accurate an overall summary as the preceding 400 words.
Dir: Park Je-Hyun
Star: Ha Ji-Won, Gang Ye-Won, Son Ga-In, Ko Chang-Seok