Brevity is a good thing. This is a fact that many of today’s bloated blockbusters should take to heart. There is a pretty good action movie buried somewhere in “Another Public Enemy” but any excitement or momentum the film manages to build up quickly dissipates during the drawn out police procedural sequences.
It’s not as if the plot is complicated enough to warrant extra attention. This is about as clear cut a case of good guy versus bad guy as you are likely to see. The good guy here is prosecutor Chul-Jung Kang, played with an understated cleverness by Kyung-Gu Sol. He is the most moral member of the police force but he’s not afraid to go against the book to do what he feels is right. He’s so good that he knows all the police charters and civil codes right down to word count and punctuation and he asks his men about their families before a dangerous police raid.
On the flip side we have Sang-Woo Han, an evil corporate man that has clawed his way to the top. We know he is bad because he runs over old men who warn him about littering and tries to kill his comatose brother.
These guys are as black and white as they come. They are complete one note characters who are the same at the beginning of the movie as they are at the end. Their conflict is likewise very simplistic. We are aware of what has been done and who has done it right from the beginning so we really don’t need the long investigation to explain it to us. This could have been a concise and engaging 90 minute crime flick but we get another hour of filler instead.
The plot is very familiar as well. The hero cop gets in trouble for stepping out of line while working a case. This results in a friend getting killed and the cop having to turn in his badge and fight for justice on his own terms. This may not be original but it works just fine here as the plot is just an excuse to set up some action scenes and to deal with social issues. The movie makes it a point to show that the truly evil people in the world are not the small time gangsters forced into a life of crime due to poverty but the people in power who hide behind a smile and a few charitable acts while doing all in their power to screw the less fortunate.
The action on display here is pretty thrilling which makes the long spaces in between all the more painful. The first two major scenes are giant brawls made impressive by the number of people involved. Dozens of people duke it out as the screen is filled with bodies, almost like the Agent Smith fight from “Matrix Reloaded” but without the CG. Towards the end the action switches from free for all fights to motorcycle chases. The motorcycle stuff doesn’t quite match the intensity of the earlier scenes but are well done in their own right.
You’ve seen this movie dozens of times before but if you have two and a half hours to spare you could certainly do worse.