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“[FILM REVIEW] Korean Film Festival 2015 in Singapore – Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island (2015)”

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Singapore, 30 October – The Korean Film Festival in Singapore is currently in full swing! No excuses for missing it – there was something for everyone, from action thrillers such as ‘Northern Limit Line’ and ‘Assassination’, to drama films such as ‘Ode To My Father’. Among the pickings was sageuk comedy film ‘Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island‘, which screened at Shaw Theatres Lido on Friday.

In the year 1795, the smelting and distribution of counterfeit silver by the Japanese is posing a serious threat to Korea’s economical stability. ‘Joseon’s top Detective’ K a.k.a. Kim Min (played by Kim Myung-min) sets out on an investigation together with his klutzy, trusty sidekick Seo-pil (Oh Dal-su). The duo spend a short time isolated in exile after a plan gone awry, until a slave’s daughter Da-hae (Lee Chae-eun) arrives at Kim Min’s house. Her sister went missing a fortnight ago, and she begs Kim Min to find her. Certain that there was no way for him to escape the island, he refused to accept her request. Nevertheless, Da-hae persisted and returned to his island every single day after that, hoping that he would finally agree to help her. Kim Min eventually absconds exile anyway, as he had received clues regarding the counterfeit silver scheme. He sneaks off to the mainland with Seo-pil, despite risking death by poison.

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While surreptitiously gathering information, Kim Min gets acquainted with Japanese-speaking geisha Hisako (Lee Yeon-hee). Hisako had been investigating the silver conspiracy as well, but on behalf of Japanese officials. The plot thickens with the discovery of a dead girl from the village who had floated ashore, and Kim Min discovers that the girl died of cyanide poisoning prior to being dumped into the water. As cyanide was a chemical used in the production of fake silver, he realizes that the girls were involved in the production of counterfeit silver. The number of deaths start to increase and is cause for further concern – will Detective K and Seo-pil be able to solve the crime before it’s too late?

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Despite being a sequel to 2011’s ‘Detective K: Secret of the Virtuous Widow‘, this movie can easily be watched as a standalone film. Kim Min and Seo-pil have a strong dynamic not unlike Sherlock Holmes and Watson, except in the Joseon era with a comedic twist. The detective is smart but conceited, and his sidekick swoops in at the right times to extricate them from sticky situations. Lee Yeon-hee is drop-dead gorgeous in her portrayal of a geisha, but does not offer much more in such a minor role. The plot moves at breakneck speed with a blend of action and slapstick, and the use of the green screen came across as a little too obvious and unrealistic at times – elements that might underwhelm a staunch film critic. Nonetheless, the average viewer would find the show a bundle of laughs and overall a pretty enjoyable watch.

Runtime: 124 minutes

For the full screening schedule and ticketing information, visit http://www.koreanfilmfestivalsg.com/!

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