Parody sinks its teeth into cop moviesNa Do-yeol (Kim Su-ro) is a crooked cop who became a vampire after being bitten by a monstrous mosquito from a Transylvanian castle, brought by the caring people at DHL.
His Dracula instinct boils up whenever he sees a woman’s flesh in a closed space. His teeth sharpen when he is stuck in an elevator with a girl wearing a miniskirt. He stares at pictures of naked girls on digital broadcasts and his legs move as fast as a cheetah’s when he runs out to fight a group of mobster thugs.
“Vampire Cop Ricky” is something of a hybrid, mixing the superhero genre with comedy, action, romance and horror. But most of all, the film is a vibrant parody, deflating Hollywood superhero films through its deft use of absurdity and overacting that was popular in Korean comic gangster flicks during the late ’90s.
The film brims with ideas, most of which are fun and light forms of parody.
The film’s reference to the eroticness of vampires ― his amazing power surfaces whenever he gets turned on ― is like a cuter, horror version of the comic man-looking-at-beautiful-woman-turns-into-wolf routine.
The shabby paper mask, which Na wears whenever he is in superhero mode, is a brilliant prop; the scene in which Na is stuck to the ceiling, sweating while trying to crawl down to the floor (he hasn’t gotten used to his vampire bat form), shows the true beauty of the poor action hero who, while vampiric, is too human to save the world. The idea of a “vampire” in the film is also a playful metaphor for Na, a cop who sucks the blood of the illegal gambling giants by taking bribes from them.
Technically as well, the film’s lighting does a great job of presenting a dark, Gothic aura. The director, Lee Si-myeong, seems determined to avoid overdoing it on special effects.
Perhaps Lee learned his lesson after making “2009 Lost Memories,” an ambitious sci-fi film featuring the superstar Chang Dong-geun, about Seoul being absorbed as part of Japan. The movie was a cinematic and box-office failure three years ago.
The special edition of the DVD shows Kim Su-ro being made up in color contact lenses and fake teeth, hung upside down, with his veins sticking out of his skin on his neck. It’s the over-the-top performance by Kim, who was taking a leading role for the first time, that carries this movie. His portrayal of the humorous and melancholy outlook of the average Korean man, who in this case also happens to drink blood through fangs, gives “Vampire Cop Rocky” an undeniably Korean bite.
(Oddly enough, in the “making of” part of the DVD, Kim appears deathly serious, almost boring.)
One of the minor flaws of the film is its translation. In one dialogue between Na and a Catholic priest performing an exorcist, the phrase “You will have to be under my surveillance 24 hours a day” was mistranslated as, “You will have to thank me 24 hours.” Huh?
The word gamsi in Korean, “watch over,” must have been mistaken for gamsa, “thanks.”
Vampire Cop Ricky
Directed by Lee Si-myeong
Starring Kim Si-ro, Cheon Ho-jin
Running time: 110 minutes
Genre: Action/ Comedy
by Park Soo-mee