18th century sleuth Detective K (Kim Myung-min) and his dumb-ass Doctor Watson surrogate cum sidekick Seo-pil (Oh Dai-su) travel the Korean countryside investigating a series of monstrous murders that perhaps have a preternatural cause…namely, folks are convinced vampires are roaming the land lookin’ for a fang bang thanks to bite marks on the ever growing number of corpses turning up. As the duo continue their investigation they discover that a rather gorg amnesiac (Kim Ji-won) may have a large part in the ghoulish goings-on. Will our erstwhile (and ridiculous) be able to solve the case with their jugulars intact?
Let’s kick out the mother fuckin’ jams with the positives that Detective K: Secret of the Living Dead offers us. First of all, Kim Myung-min and Oh Dai-su as our bumbling heroes are one hell of a dynamic duo! They are charming, funny, and infinitely watchable…which is a good thing as you will see in our next putrid paragraph. Also of note is the excellent wire work evident in the film’s action sequences and the stylish and artful aesthetics of the film courtesy of the eye (two actually) of director Suk-Yoon Kim. Finally, this just so happens to be the third film in the Detective K series…and I totally had no idea while watching the film…in other words; this shizz is self-contained, and doesn’t require the viewer to check out the previous entries, which is good because they are currently unavailable in the good ol’ U.S.
On the flip-side; this film has some serious issues with tone. When the film is all silly sleuthin’ it’s a ton of frantic fun, but when it takes a plunge into Korean history, high flyin’ action tropes, and (and oh how this pains me) the vampy biz; things seem to falter a bit. It’s not that the mystery is uninteresting, or that the bloodsucker bits are boring, it just doesn’t gel as well as it should with the absolute gold of the interactions between Kim Myung-min and Oh Dai-su. I know the flick is based on a novel by Tak-Hwan Kim, and maybe some things were dropped from page to screen that would have made the bridging of the varying tones smoother…but at a leisurely two hour runtime I find it hard to believe that the balance couldn’t have been better struck.
All in all Detective K: Secret of the Living Dead is a nice slice of south Korean horror comedy gold…but in a rare turn ’round these parts, your’s cruelly actually preferred the comedy to anything else the film had to offer…but as uneven as the whole affair is; the dynamics between Kim Myung-min and Oh Dai-su make this a flick worthy of your time.