I first visited South Korea for the Olympics way back in 1988 and, while I had an amazing time there, I have always said that I love the country but hate the men. Sorry, guys, but you were too misogynistic for my taste. Thirty-one years later, I had assumed that Korean men had changed with the times but the film, MISS AND MRS. COPS, has shown me that they still have a very long way to go.
In MISS AND MRS. COPS (its Korean title is a homophone of “Girl Cops”), Park Mi-Young (Ra Mi-Ran/라미란) was once a high-kicking, no-nonsense detective investigating major crimes but after her marriage to a well-meaning loser and having a baby, she is shunted aside to work a front desk job in the public service center of a Seoul police station. Her sister-in-law, Ji-Hye (Lee Sung-Kyung/이성경), meanwhile, is a gung-ho rookie detective, but when she beats up a man in a case of mistaken identity, she gets assigned to the same office. When the women hear about a young woman who has tried to commit suicide after sexual photos of her were posted online, they take it upon themselves to bust the spycam porn crime ring that’s behind it. But they have to do it without the knowledge or approval of their dragon lady supervisor and Ji-Hye’s all-male former colleagues who are too busy doing nothing to care.
The second feature by writer-director Jung Da-Won/정다원 is a case of missed opportunity. MISS AND MRS. COPS has the makings of a half-decent procedural crime drama (think “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit — Seoul”) but perhaps Jung was worried that taking a serious tack on a serious matter wouldn’t sell movie tickets. Whatever his motivation was, it was just plain misguided. Some subjects don’t lend themselves to a comedy treatment and sexual abuse is one of them. Fans of the film, if there are any, may argue that most of the men in the film are portrayed as buffoons but that doesn’t make calling women an [expletive] “bitch” or “whore” right, even as a joke. Added to the film’s clumsiness are the ridiculous scenes of the women’s computer geek colleague, Yang Jang-Mi (Sooyoung/수영) typing on her keyboard like Elton John playing “Pinball Wizard” on the piano. Didn’t we see that about a dozen times in the ’90s? Two twists coming late in the film that are somehow meant to even the score are completely unbelievable and unearned.
With any luck and sooner rather than later, some competent Korean director will tackle the subjects of sex crimes and the endemic mistreatment of women in the manner that they deserve. MISS AND MRS. COPS does not.
Watch the review recorded on Facebook Live on Friday, July 12th at 8:30 am HK time!
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