Tartan Video // 2005 // 143 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Mitchell Hattaway (Retired) // May 4th, 2006
No laws. No rules. No way out.
Dogged prosecutor Kang (Kyung-gu Sol) refuses to give up until he brings wealthy businessman Han (Joon-ho Jung) to justice. Kang believes Han, who stands to take complete control of his family's real estate holdings, is responsible for the murder of his own father and a botched hit on his brother, who now lies in a coma. There's just one problem: Han is Kang's old high school nemesis, and Kang's superiors think he is out to settle a personal score.
Depending on how you choose to look at it, Another Public Enemy is either a sequel to or a remake/reimagining of director Woo-suk Kang's 2002 Korean cop flick Public Enemy. Then again, it's quite possibly none of these things. See, the story here shares several themes and plot points with the earlier film, and Kyung-gu Sol is once again playing a character named Cheol-jong Kang, but it's not the same Cheol-jong Kang. Last time out Kang was a lowly cop looking to take down a prominent Korean citizen, while here he is a lowly prosecutor looking to take down a prominent Korean citizen. Last time out he was more determined than intelligent, while here he is both bright and resolute. Same name, but not the same character. Smart prosecutor rather than dumb cop, but once again hunting down a guy who thinks his position in society allows him to do whatever he pleases. Got it? Good. Now someone explain to me why the hell the director and star didn't just make a straight sequel.
This movie has one huge flaw: it's too damn long. There's a decent enough flick buried somewhere inside Another Public Enemy, but you would need to cut away forty minutes of flab in order to find it. There is absolutely no reason for this movie to run as long as it does. The story unfolds exactly as you expect it to, and the conclusion is never in doubt, so why stretch things out? It would be very easy to trim the movie, as there are several extraneous, repetitive scenes. This would also do wonders for the movie's energy, which wanes numerous times; just when you think the flick has really come alive, here comes another stretch during which nothing important or interesting happens. Sure, a better editing job would still leave you with a well-worn plot, but the movie would move fast enough to be at least entertaining. (It's worth noting that the two most dynamic scenes in the movie were not directed by Woo-suk Kang. The prologue, which is little more than a series of schoolyard brawls, was directed by Attack the Gas Station! mastermind Sang-jin Kim, while the inevitable car chase was staged by second unit director Yoon-hyun Jang.)
Another problem is Joon-ho Jung's performance, which is rather low-key and uninspired. Han isn't as charismatic, slimy, or smug as he should be. In Jung's hands, Han is just another spoiled rich kid who attains influence by throwing money around. There are people ready to lie, cheat, and steal for this guy, so there has to be more to him than his willingness to grease palms. There is also far too much unfunny comedic relief. For example, three dopey criminals keep popping up, repeatedly confessing to crimes they may or may not have committed. With each subsequent appearance, they come increasingly closer to venturing into Three Stooges territory, and finally cross the border during the movie's final scene. You could make this material funny and it would still be out of place.
The transfer is free of any major defects, but it's never quite as vibrant or dynamic as it should be. There is also a bit of edge enhancement and grain, but nothing too bad. The audio fares better, although both the Dolby Digital and DTS tracks are a bit more subdued than they should be. Dialogue drives most of the story, so surround action isn't abundant, but it's there when it should be, and when it is present, it's nicely integrated into the soundstage. There is a slightly more open, natural sound to the DTS option, but there isn't a world of difference between the tracks. As far as the subtitles go, there are a few spelling and grammatical errors, but nothing too egregious. The most noteworthy extra is a commentary from Woo-suk Kang, Kyung-Gu Sol, Joon-ho Jung, and Shin-il Kang, who plays Sol's boss in the movie. The participants seem to be enjoying themselves, but they spend too much time reminiscing or joking around and not enough time talking about the movie. You also get an unexceptional making-of featurette, a brief look at the filming of the aforementioned car chase, the movie's theatrical trailer, and a few previews for other Tartan releases.
Woo-suk Kang and Kyung-gu Sol have been unable to make this work on two occasions. Maybe the third time will be the charm.
Review content copyright © 2006 Mitchell Hattaway; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Tartan Video
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* DTS 5.1 Surround (Korean)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Korean)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Korean)
Running Time: 143 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* The Making of Another Public Enemy Featurette
* Behind the Scenes: Car Crash Featurette
* Theatrical Trailer
* Verdict Public Enemy Review