[DVD review]Third wife fails to give any pleasureThere is undeniably a guilty pleasure in turning off one’s brain and soaking up a mindless action/comedy, but sometimes a movie is so pointless, mind-numbing and idiotic that it not only makes you want to demand a refund, it also inspires the desire to somehow be reimbursed for the two hours of your life that were wasted.
“My Wife is a Gangster 3,” the third (yes, the THIRD) installment of this declining franchise, successfully evokes the latter emotion as it takes the thinnest of storylines and combines it with a cliched comic premise, to produce a painful-to-watch piece of cinematic trash that should have you running back to the video store in search of something that at least pretends to be a decent film.
This is an action movie in which the running time seems to be a lot longer than the plot, so thin is the premise. The film does have the undeniably striking triad gang member Aryong, played by Taiwanese actress Shu Qi (of 2002’s “The Transporter”), who is sent to Seoul from Hong Kong to avoid an all-but-unexplained gang war in which her gang-boss father is embroiled.
In Korea, she is left in the care of the pinheaded gangster Ki-chul (Lee Beom-soo of “Oh Brothers”).
Aryong has ostensibly chosen to lie low in Seoul to look for her long-lost Korean mother. This tacked-on side-plot provides an excuse for her to come to Korea, but little else.
The rest of the movie is left to rely on the supposedly hilarious concept that, although she is a woman, Aryong is perfectly capable of taking care of herself. This overly obvious notion inevitably leads to a series of scenes where Aryong deftly despatches mobs of fumbling gangsters, saving her bumbling male hosts from certain drubbings. In an excruciatingly inescapable role reversal, Aryong takes the position of control for which Ki-chul is clearly unsuited. If better managed, this well-trodden ground has the potential for a few minor laughs, but it is so badly done as to be insulting.
Another role reversal takes place with Yon-hi (played by the terminally grating Hyun Young of “Heroine 6”), whose job it is to translate for Aryong. Starting off as a constantly on-edge nervous wretch, she gains self-confidence in the world of men through her mistranslations of Aryong’s comments, which allow her to tap into the triad’s strength. The mine of prospective comedy available in these mistranslations is lost amid Hyun Young’s horrific over-acting. There is also the needling irritation caused by the antiquated assumption of women’s place as meek submissives and the mistaken belief in the humor that stems from them overcoming this role.
The tightly structured Confucianist hierarchy that is Korean gangsterdom also provides endless failed attempts at humor as it is broken by low-level henchmen speaking out of turn or using language that it is not their place to use.
Western viewers, relatively unfamiliar with the complexities of the Confucianism-based social system prevalent in Asian societies, can perhaps take their utter lack of amusement with a grain of cultural salt. However, Koreans who have the misfortune of watching this film will have no such luxury.
My Wife is a Gangster 3
Directed by Jo Jin-gyu
Starring: Shu Qi, Lee Beom-soo, Hyun Young
Running Time: 114 minutes
Subtitles: English, Korean
By Richard Scott-Ashe Contributing Writer