'Extreme Job': A finger-licking good time

Extreme Job stars (from left) Jin Seon-kyu, Lee Hanee, Ryu Seung-ryong, Lee Dong-hwi and Gong Myung.

What happens when a bunch of incompetent cops start a fried chicken business while keeping an eye on one of Korea’s most notorious gangsters?

As silly as it sounds, that’s the premise of Extreme Job, which recently became the second most-watched movie of all-time in South Korea, and the most watched comedy ever in that country.

The movie revolves around Captain Go (Ryu Seung-ryong), a hard-working but somewhat incompetent cop who leads a team of anti-narcotics detectives including the tough but unreliable Jang (Lee Hanee), surveillance expert Young-ho (Lee Dong-hwi), the inept and moronic Ma (Jin Seon-kyu), and the youngest and most enthusiastic member of the team, Jae-hoon (Gong Myung).

After screwing up yet another assignment, the merry band of misfits is in danger of being disbanded once and for all provided they can fulfil their final mission – stake out a dangerous gangster named Hong (Yang Hyun-min) and hope that he can lead them to drug kingpin Moo-bae (Shin Ha-Kyun).

Happening upon a fried chicken store opposite Hong’s hideout, the team soon realises that it is the perfect location to keep an eye on the gangsters.

Jin Seon-kyu steals the show as the surprisingly badass detective Ma.
Jin Seon-kyu steals the show as the surprisingly badass detective Ma.

One thing leads to another, and Go ends up using his retirement funds to take ownership of the store. He opens for business with Ma as the chief cook, and his parents’ secret recipe sauce.

Now the cops just have to wait for the gangsters to order takeout from the restaurant, enabling them to infiltrate the hideout.

However, before you can say “eleven secret herbs and spices”, the restaurant becomes a massive hit, and soon the team is up to their eyes in fried chicken and struggling to keep their attention on Hong.

The main highlight of the show comes from the chemistry among the members of Go’s team, as the five main actors have an easy-going camaraderie.

Ryu definitely deserves top billing with his jaded cop-turned-chicken-shop-owner, but it is Jin who steals the show with a hilarious performance as the seemingly useless but surprisingly badass Ma who can apparently fry a mean chicken while kicking butt at the same time.

While the show has its moments here and there, it does feel like a bit of a headless chicken at times. The premise is simple enough, but some of the problems, issues and important events seem to happen out of nowhere resulting in a story that is told way too haphazardly for my liking.

And don’t even get me started on just how conveniently the whole mess is tied up in the end.

We really need to get a bigger TV.
We really need to get a bigger TV.

Now, I’m not an avid follower of Korean films, so I went to watch Extreme Job without any expectations. I wasn’t even aware that it’s the second most-viewed film of all time in South Korea, selling more than 16.25 million tickets.

Had I known that beforehand, I would have gone into the cinema with much higher expectations, and would probably have been bitterly disappointed.

As it is, I went in blind and was actually pleasantly surprised by •Extreme Job•. Whether it deserves its status as one of South Korea’s most-watched movies is beside the point – it’s still a decent action comedy that manages to deliver a finger-licking good time.

Extreme Job

Director: Lee Byeong-heon

Cast: Ryu Seung-ryong, Lee Hanee, Jin Seon-kyu, Lee Dong-hwi, Gong Myung

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