Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island (2015) KMovie Review #NowOnDVD

Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island (2015) or 조선명탐정: 사라진 놉의 (2015) Korean Movie Review

#KimMyungMin #LeeYeonHee #OhDalSu #DetectiveK #조선명탐정 #



Hello. This is Prof. Akia reviewing a Korean movie “Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island” (2015) which I got a chance to attend an early screening. sequal to Detective K: Secret Of Virtuous Widow” (2011).

Shanghai Knights” (2003)

In my review of the first movie in the so called “Detective K” Korean movie franchise, I said that “Detective K: Secret Of Virtuous Widow” (2011) was similar to “Shanghai Noon” (2000). I half-jokingly said that the sequel  “Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island” (2015) may be “Shanghai Knights” (2003). And, to my surprise, I was actually pretty on the point with this.

Detective K: Secret Of Virtuous Widow” (2011)

The difference between “Shanghai Noon” (2000) and “Shanghai Knights” (2003) is that the sequel had a slight genre change by incorporating spy genre elements to it. This means gadgets and outrageous plots for world domination. This similarity is also reflected in the “Detective K” Korean movie franchise.

Detective K: Secret Of Virtuous Widow” (2011) was action buddy comedy movie set in a not current Joseon period. There was a mystery element that needed detecting but it was basically just an excuse to string along buddy comedy skits between the “Detective” and his Side kick, Seo-Pil. To be frank, the buddy comedy skits were actually the best part of the movie since the plot was stitched together in a hurry and the ending was convoluted.

With the sequel, “Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island” (2015), a lot of the detective genre elements were replaced by the comedy spy genre elements. While I did mention “Shanghai Knights” (2003) previously in this vein, “Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island” (2015), goes further with the spy motif making it feel more like “Get Smart” (2008) than “Shanghai Knights” (2003) overall.

The Plot
In the previous movie, the plot was the least good part of the movie. This has not changed with the sequel. In a lot of ways, it has gotten worse with the introduction of the spy elements.

The movie opens with a cold open with the “Detective” and his Side kick, Seo-Pil, on a case involving counterfeit silver currency. You have a chase and then, as in all movies from the late 80s, there is a high cliff with steep water fall that our protagonists are up against.

It is time to insert any tired water fall gag here.

Then the “Detective” for some reason gets exiled to a small island. Seo-Pil comes to visit.

Insert some more tired old gags especially some steampunk gadget themed ones.

This is a spy comedy! You need gadgets. I think the movie spent a lot of its budget on miniature portable bombs. They come up in the movie like 7 or 8 times and it gets old fast.

Since this is a sequel, the early 90s formula requires the movie to have a kid in it. Thus, comes in an adorable young girl to develop a totally unnecessary to the plot pseudo father and daughter relationship with the “Detective”. This drags on for like 15 to 20 minutes.

The kid actress is okay but not great also.

And the first act ends with the “detective” and Seo-Pil going on to solve the case they did not solve in the cold open.

In the second act, there is some spying involving a Japanese free trade zone that does not make much logical sense. This is followed by awkward jokes which most I have seen in the 90s Hollywood movies. Then a beautiful woman, Hisako, comes into the picture about 50 minutes into the movie to distract the detective which works.

Same as the first movie!

The detective bumbles around some more to fill up the 115 minutes run time. Put in about 2 lack luster small scale action scenes mostly with our protagonist duo running around being chased.

The third act is about the villain’s secret island lair and the detective or “Bond, James  Bond” infiltrating it by sea and air. You have your generic rescue of the innocent, laying out bombs, having one on one fights with the generic villain.

Insert some other old jokes.

Then the detective has to run against a ticking clock regarding the bombs.

You know what I mean!

Being a by the Hollywood numbers movie sequel but from Korea
From the plot description, you would sense my feelings about this movie. “Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island” (2015) is very by the “Hollywood” numbers movie from the 90s imitated by a Korean writer.   I guess that the Korean writer just watched a ton of late 80s or early 90s comedy spy movies and just randomly copy and pasted plot elements from it.

Is this a sin?

For this type of movie, I am rather understanding about the whole generic thing. In comedies, it is really about the execution. You can have the same script but with different directors and the movie would differ drastically in quality.

For “Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island” (2015), its biggest sin is that it is Dull. For a movie which is basically an excuse to string along gags, it is simply not funny for the most part. All of the gags are tired old ones you have seen a ton of times. And they are not even well delivered.

With the first movie, I had the feeling that the joke delivery was one beat too slow. This made about 80 percent of the jokes not land well. In “Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island” (2015), this has gotten worse as the jokes now seemed to be delivered two beats too slow. Thus, 95 Percent of the jokes do not land. The jokes that do land mostly are old lowball sex jokes referencing the fact that the “Detective” is a pervert.

Yes I laughed at them.
Those old pervert jokes are classics!

The result of this is that there are huge sections of the movie that are very very boring. I have not watched Johnny Depp’sMortdecai” (2015) yet but I expect, from the terrible reviews, I will have a similar experience watching that movie that I had watching “Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island” (2015).

The Screenplay
If the screen play did not totally rely on the gags, the fact that the gags do not land would be less of a crippling weakness. However, the script is just an excuse for gags.

While the first movie had similar problems, the writer at least tried to do his job with that movie unlike the sequel. The script of “Detective K: Secret Of Virtuous Widow” (2011) just had the protagonists go from point A to point E via points B,C, and D. This in itself is not a serious issue for this type of movie. There were at least some logical progression through the points and the characters were at least relevant to the central plot.

With “Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island” (2015), most of the characters except for the main duo are unnecessary to the plot. The movie has this young girl bond with and thus motivate the “Detective”. However, according to the movie, the “Detective” was going to be on the case regardless of whether or not she existed. You could just cut her out and you could cut out 10 minutes from the movie.

Another example of this is the main female character, Hisako, in the movie. She is basically the same character as the one in the first movie. In regards to the female character from the first movie, she is just written out of the sequel via a one line joke like what was done in “Shanghai Knights” (2003).

Lots of similarities!

At least with the first movie, the main female character was actually integrated into the main plot. In “Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island” (2015), she is just tacked on and actually has no real function other than for some sex gags on the part of the “Detective”.

The most serious issue with the screenplay is that there is no logical progression from point A to point E via points B,C, and D. Rather after point A, the screen play meanders between star 1,2,3,4 to just insert unfunny gags until the writer forces the plot on to point D. The screen play does not have to a masterpiece but at least the process of the investigation or spying should add up. If you just cut out all the unnecessary stuff from the screen play, you can cut the movie down to an hour.

Also, the screenplay suffers from the fact that the basic setup of the first movie did not warrant a sequel. According to the ending of the first movie, there is no logical reason for the protagonist duo to remain a duo after the events of the first movie. “Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island” (2015) just ignores this fact. At least, “Shanghai Knights” (2003) tried to justify this aspect of the story.

The screen play of “Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island” (2015) is just lazy.

The action
Usually, this type of movie only has about an hour worth of plot and the rest is fill up with action or comedy set pieces. If the action or comedy is entertaining, this is good enough for the genre of movie that is being made. I talked about the comedy being dull. So let’s talk about the action.

The action in “Detective K: Secret Of Virtuous Widow” (2011) was not great. The choreography was not tight enough or imaginative enough to generate enough momentum. It was as if the action was a beat too slow. With “Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island” (2015), this has gotten worse.

The majority of the action scenes are just the protagonist duo running from villains and there is not even many of them until the third act spy genre climax. The first act has one scene of action while the second has about 3 small scale ones. As a result, there is simply nothing to fill in about 90 of a 115 minute movie.

Most of the action is rationed for the 3rd act. This makes the 3rd act less dull. However, the choreography is worse than the first movie as it relies too much on throwing portable bombs. In addition, the action tempo seems about two beats slower than it should be which is even one beat slower than the first movie.

The character of the Detective.
We have to talk about the character of the “Detective”. Even though Kim Myung-Min who plays him is a pretty good actor, his character never fully came together as a character in concept.  This is because he is made by combining steampunk “Sherlock Holmes” and “Austin Powers”  together. The result is that the movie was never sure why the “Detective” was good at his job.

In some points, he is able to save the day because he is a definite genius. In others, he simply lucks out and manages to live because of sheer luck given he acts as an idiot. This creates a tonal conflict regarding what the movie wants to be.

If it is an outright stupid comedy, surviving out of sheer luck works. On the other hand, if you want the audience to take the character at least somewhat seriously as an intellectual giant, most of the time the character has to survive because of this intellect.  Jack Sparrow from “Pirates of the Caribbean” or  “Sherlock Holmes” from Robert Downey Jr.’s “Sherlock Holmes” (2009) achieves a better balance in this regards.

In “Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island” (2015), this has actually gotten worse with the detective becoming this generous steampunk-ish inventor who will make Leonardo da Vinci jealous and also be a spy that survives gunshots and super explosions like a Hollywood action star. It becomes harder to reconcile the stupidity verging on “Inspector gadget” territory.

Before I end this review, let’s talk about the leading ladies.

Hisako played by Lee Yeon-Hee 

The leading ladies.
While Hisako played by Lee Yeon-Hee essentially has the same function as your typical bond girl and the leading lady in the first movie, she essentially has less to do in this movie. Her role is not required for the plot.

Han Ji-Min’s from the first movie

Considering this, it may be harsh to say that the Lee Yeon-Hee’s performance did not interest me compared to Han Ji-Min’s from the first movie. However, Han Ji-Min did bring more to her role even though she had not much to work with.

Leading ladies?

I did say leading ladies since the young girl in the first act has as much relevance to the plot as Hisako. In a lot of ways, the two female characters feel like the same character.  One is the younger while the other is the older version. One of the interesting things about her is that there is a slave liberation theme to her since she and Hisako were all daughters of slaves. This is where the original Korean title of this movie comes into play. It is “The Great detective of Joseon: The daughter of slaves”.

It is an interesting theme but does not really land because it is tacked on to this movie making it just an irritating background noise rather being respected as a proper theme.

Referring to  “Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island” (2015) as the Korean “Shanghai Knights” (2003) is actually an insult to that sequel which was not bad for a sequel. Even calling it a period “Get Smart” (2008) would be too generous.

Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island” (2015) is a by the numbers dull and poorly executed sequel to a not that great original movie. It commits the greatest sin for this type of movie which is to be not funny. I gave “Detective K: Secret Of Virtuous Widow” (2011) a lackluster score. But that movie was at least not as boring as its sequel. So, I give it a C-.

Score: C- or 3.75/10

This was Prof. AKIA and thanks for reading my review.
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Past Reviews. Click on the pictures

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Perfect Proposal / 은밀한 유혹 (2015) Review

The Shameless /무뢰한 (2015)  Review

The Treacherous (2015)  Review

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Coin Locker Girl / Chinatown 차이나타운 (2015) Review

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) Review

Revivre 화장 (2015) Review

Twenty (2015)  Review

The pictures and video used in this review are done for criticism purposes and are the properties of those copyright holders. This review is mine.
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