Saturday, June 30, 2007

My Wife is a Gangster 3 (Jopog Manura 3)

Nothing Beats A Catfight. Meow!

Director Cho Jin-gyu of the original action-comedy My Wife is a Gangster returns to direct this sequel. However, without the return of the titular Wife Cha Eun-jin (Shin Eun-Kyung), this movie is nothing more than just a namesake, but there's no stopping the linkage with the box office success of the earlier movies. The new Wife here (though she's actually a guest rather than a Wife) is none other than sultry looking Shu Qi, who plays Aryong, the daughter of a triad leader (what else) in Hong Kong, starring Ti Lung in a supporting role.

There are some bits shot in Hong Kong, and in the Cantonese language, which is all fine and dandy (given it's rare here to hear complete Cantonese dialogue in movies no thanks to the Speak Mandarin campaign), but what was bad in these scenes were the plenty of subtitles - in English, Mandarin and Korean, which cover almost 50% of the screen.

As the story goes, Aryong offends some gangsters in her homeland, and in a bid to ensure her safety, her father gets her packing overseas to take cover from the impending gangland war. She gets packed to where else, Korea (it's a Korean production after all), and becomes a guest to some Korean mafiaso, with Ki-Chul (Lee Beom-su) and his posse being the hosts and guardians of Aryong. But with the bumbling inept fools, you're quite certain who's the protector, and who's in need of protection here.

It's a fairly average movie with the usual lost in translation jokes, the clashing of cultures and of course, societal norms in a male dominated society. Mistaken intentions and deliberate translation errors to pursue individual character ends are the staple here, and some of them are genuinely funny, but like the adage, too much of a good thing cheapens it, especially when it continues to milk and replay scenes, such as over the dining table. You can see most of the jokes coming your way, and it depended very much on the actors' skill in delivery - that exaggerated body language, or that wide-eyed stare of disbelief and suspicion.

The action sequences are nothing much to wow about, especially with Shu Qi's superwoman Aryong character, who's almost only the character here who can fight. Given the number of goons thrown at her, you can't help but feel that many action scenes remind you of The Bride in Kill Bill, as she dispatches henchmen with so much ease, she rarely breaks into a sweat. And most times, with that deliberate long hair obscuring her face, you can bet your last dollar it's a stuntman taking over that lithe frame.

Some cheap shots were incorporated into the storyline, playing to Shu Qi's ex-vamp, slutty image of yesteryears. Guess you can't help it when you have some notoriety in your history, and scenes of boob grabs and woman-on-top staircase-induced gyrating scenes were in the movie quite unnecessarily, if nothing more for some juvenile laughs.

But all said, it's still a tad enjoyable, especially when you can't get tickets into the other blockbuster movies like Transformers and Die Hard 4.0 currently showing. Sometimes, movies like this when released at the same time of the expected sold-out movies, makes its cash by being the catch-all net from the expected overflow.

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