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The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil (DVD) (Korea Version)
Kim Moo Yeol (Actor) | Lee Won Tae (Director) | Ma Dong Seok (Actor) | Kim Sung Gyu (Actor)
The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil (DVD) (Korea Version)
Since breaking out as an action star with Train to Busan, muscle man Ma Dong Seok has become so prolific that his films have become a genre unto itself. Though Ma does play against type once in a while – including comedies such as the recent Start-up and his amusing turn as a nerdy scientist in blockbuster Ashfall – his persona as the righteous, charismatic butt-kicker is so popular in Korea that it even earned him a major role in Marvel Studios' upcoming film The Eternals. Ma's post-Train to Busan output has been hit-and-miss, but The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil sees Ma in one of his best roles yet.

The second film by Lee Won Tae (Man of Will), The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil has already won half the battle with a logline so simple yet eye-catching that Sylvester Stallone's company bought its remake rights: After a serial killer (Kim Sung Gyu) makes a brutal attempt on his life, tough gang boss Jang Dong Su (Ma) saves his reputation in the crime world by teaming up with hardboiled cop and rival Jung Tae Suk (Kim Moo Yeol) to catch the killer.

However, Lee's script is anything but simple. To elevate the dramatic stakes, the story spends its first two acts detailing and derailing Jang and Jung's fragile alliance with underworld turf wars and internal police politics. The multiple plot strands border on convoluted, but seeing the anti-heroes go at each other's throats in various ways is all part of the fun. This is not a story about how two men on opposite sides of the law overcome their differences for a common goal; this is a tough, uncompromising thriller about how two enemies manage to achieve something in spite of their hate for each other.

Kim Sung Gyu is suitably creepy as the serial killer, and Kim Moo Yeol seems to be having fun as the Cop Who Doesn't Play by the Rules. However, neither of them is any match for the star attraction that is Ma Dong Seok. Whether he's pummeling a human punching bag or negotiating business deals in flashy suits, Ma has plenty of testosterone-injected charisma to spare. Dong Su may not be a particularly complex character, but seeing Ma unleash his fury on a wooden door is already a perfectly sufficient reason to see the film.

Lee also has an excellent eye for action. In addition to multiple group brawls, there are also brutal knife fights, foot chases through alleyways and even a car chase through city streets that decimates street stalls and trash bins. Viewers will barely have any time to breathe through the busy action sequences and exposition-packed story, but The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil is an energetic cat-and-mouse thriller that offers old-school genre fun with a twist.

by Kevin Ma

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  • Region & Language: Hong Kong United States - English
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