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Private Eye

International Premiere

  • South korea 2009
  • 111 min
  • 35mm
  • Korean with English subtitles
International Premiere

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Director: Park Dae-min
Screenplay: Park Dae-min
Cast: Hwang Jung-min, Ryu Deok-hwa, Oh Dal-su, Eom Ji-won
Producers: Kim Ji-woon, Choi Jae-won
Distributor: CJ Entertainment


Itís 1910 and Korea is occupied by the colonial forces of Japan. Jin-ho, a small-time private investigator who makes his living photographing adulterous couples in the act, has figured out a way to up his payscale. Once heís confirmed the suspicions of jealous spouses, he turns around and sells the incriminating photos to sleazy tabloids. Jin-ho dreams of relocating to the United States and will soon have enough money to do so. But every dream is followed by a wake-up call and in this case, it comes in the form of Kwang-su, a young doctor with a serious problem. After discovering the body of a man who was quite clearly murdered in a wooded area, Kwang-su had the bright idea of bringing the cadaver home in order to practice his surgical skills. Thing is, the corpse hidden in his apartment is that of the son a high-ranking government official, and the police are actively seeking it, so the doctor must unmask the real killer before suspicion falls on him. To that end, he needs the help of a bold and clever detective, and Jin-ho is the dream candidate for the task. Given how much Kwang-su is prepared to pay, Jin-ho quickly drops his other contracts and agrees to seek out the killer. The two men, however, have little idea of just where this investigation will take themÖ

South Koreaís film industry has explored just about every cinematic genre over the last decade, but the classic detective story ŗ la Sherlock Holmes has been the exception. With PRIVATE EYEís distinctively Korean look at the genre, thatís been rectified. The debut feature from director Park Dae-min tackles it with heaps of humour, action and suspense while bringing a subtle and interesting historical context to the proceedings. The recreation of Korea at the dawn of the 20th century is simply superb, thanks to the skilled team that made THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD look so fantastic. The homage to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is unabashed, and Hwang Jung-min (BLACK HOUSE) and Ryu Deok-hwa (LIKE A VIRGIN) tackle their turns as the Holmes-and-Watson duo with gusto. Mixing socio-political observations with thrilling intrigue, topped off with a dash of mystery and fantasy, PRIVATE EYE succeeds where so many summer blockbusters fail, delivering both substantial food for thought and great entertainment.

—Nicolas Archambault (translated by Rupert Bottenberg)

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