Buddy film brings laughs to war-heavy box office

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Buddy film brings laughs to war-heavy box office

Period epics have dominated theaters over the past week, as evidenced by the blockbuster performances of “The Battleship Island” and “Dunkirk.”

But for those looking for something lighter amid the flood of grandiose war films, the upcoming film “Midnight Runners” may be a fine choice.

Starring Park Seo-jun and Kang Ha-neul, the movie revolves around two students Gi-jun (Park) and Hui-yeol (Kang) from Korean National Police University, who take a kidnapping case of a high school girl into their own hands.

Frustrated by the police’s slow-paced investigation, the two roll up their sleeves to track down the criminals, who are found to have been exploiting young girls by selling them off to an obstetrician who forcefully retrieves their eggs.

Park and Kang are portrayed as students with contrasting personalities - Park as instinctive and Kang as smart and careful - which often brings the laughs in the film.

“The most crucial point of the film was to depict the two stars like neighborhood friends,” said director Kim Ju-hwan during a press preview held earlier this week. “I let them act freely because I liked the pair’s natural chemistry more than the script I wrote for them.”

“Though the [story] seems very realistic, I think it also has fantasy elements that [helps audiences] to think about what kind of people are needed in society, and what youth and passion are. Perhaps the world could turn into a more reliable place to live in if there are young people [like the characters] in the real world,” the director explained.

The director developed the film’s main characters by observing Korean National Police University students over two years. “I wanted to show a different side of the police instead of trying to reveal the good or bad sides of public power.”

When Park first read the script, he found its humor to be different than what is commonly found in Korea.

“[The humor] more seemed to befit that of the U.S. But the director let us [improvise] after the mid-point of the shooting,” Park said.

“I think I am funnier [in the movie] than I actually am,” Kang said, attributing his performance to Park and the director.

The movie opens at theaters on Aug. 9, and is rated 15 and above.

BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]

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