I really enjoyed Public Enemy director Woo-suk Kang's (Slimido) spirited, tough as nails cop flick, a film with good turns of police procedural, sparks of humor, and, most of all, a bravado lead performance by Kyung-gu Sol. One of the things I mention in my review for the film was how I loved the lead role and was glad there was a sequel so I could revisit the character. Not so fast, hombre.
Another Public Enemy (2005) is a quasi, but not really, kinda'-sequel to Pulbic Enemy. Same director. Same lead actor. Almost the same characters. Almost the same story. But not a remake. Not a sequel, either. Confused? I sure as hell was.
In Pulbic Enemy Kyung-gu Sol played Cheol-jong Kang, a scruffy, corrupted, worn-out cop who was more brains than brawn. He finds new invigoration for his job when he gets on the trail of a by all means wealthy and put-together serial killer who is murdering his way to more money and relishing in killing anyone who slights him. In Another Public Enemy Kyung-gu Sol plays Cheol-jong Kang, but not the same Cheol-jong Kang, a different Cheol-jong Kang. This time instead of being a detective, he's a prosecutor heading a task force. His current investigation is targeting an old school acquaintance, Sang-woo Han (Jun-ho Jeong). Prosecutor Kang believes that Sang-woo is responsible for the death of his father, the accident that put his brother into a coma, all so he could embezzle the families funds overseas. Again, the villain is a privileged upper class figure who has taken to homicidal means to get more fortunes. The twist is in Another Public Enemy the villain's motives are more Machiavellian rather than purely mentally twisted and homicidal.
Quite frankly, I am completely puzzled why they made this film the way they did. Why make a not-quite-a-sequel? I understand it being tagged as a sequel because there are so many blueprint similarities between the two films. But, it isn't like the entire story was reworked, only a handful of scenes and little lines of plotting are the same. So, if you are going to maintain a connection to the original, storywise, why change the main character which was the best part of the first film? If the lead character is different, why give him the same name? And, if you are going to change the lead character, why not rework the script a little, take out some of the copied plottings from the first movie and just make a new film altogether?
The only answer I have is this: They Were Lazy. The first film was hit. Woo-suk Kang and Kyung-gu Sol wanted to work together again. Instead of creating a new cop film, they re-worked ideas from the first Public Enemy and, in an attempt to keep things fresh, they changed the lead character's personality and profession. And they were wrong. Imagine if instead of using the popularity from Redford-Newman's Butch Cassidey and the Sundance Kid to make The Sting, the producers made Sundance Cassidey and the Butch Kid, reworking the same settings and plot threads and, to keep it from being a straight sequel, changed everything you loved about the characters.
While Another Public Enemy still works as a good old fashioned battle of black and white, good versus evil, corrupted power versus limited legalities, one cannot separate it from the first, superior film which was a better... good old fashioned... battle of black and white... good versus evil... corrupted power versus limited legalities. The first film had a tighter story that felt less protracted, better comedy, more vivacious characters, and better action. And the greatest flaw of all is that the most outstanding thing in the first film was our rough and tumble, bull-headed, anti-authority, loser of a hero, a characterization that lit of the screen and made actor Kyung-gu Sol look like a Korean Charles Bronson or Toshiro Mifune. Instead, they re-imaged (or should I say, less-imagined) the character as a straight and narrow, milquetoast do-gooder. He's gone from brow beating witnesses and dozing off instead of doing paperwork, to giving dry speeches and actually probably liking a good day of filing.
The DVD: Tartan
Picture: Anamorphic Widescreen. The image is okay, though the print/transfer doesn't quite sparkle. The contrast levels are not across the board perfect, particularly in a few night scenes which appear a tad too grayed. Some details are a tad rough, mainly the color and grain. The colors are a tad muted while the grain level appears a tad too high. Technically there are some minor instances of edge enhancement and shimmering.
Sound: Korean language DTS, 5.1, or 2.0 channels with optional English or Spanish subtitles. No problems here. The sound really pops especially the fx which in the films handful of action sequences gives the surround a decent workout. The subtitles appear well-translated and free from any severe grammatical errors.
Extras: Trailers--- Making of Another Public Enemy Featurette (35:52).--- Behind the Scenes ‟Car Crash‟ Stunt (10:37).--- Original Trailer, plus more Tartan release trailers.---Commentary by director Woo-suk Kang and actors Kyung-gu Sol and Shin-il Kang. The tone of the commentary is pretty light and fun. Despite the long running time, the trio don't seem slack off, though the comments are pretty much of the, ‟remember doing this, remember doing that?‟ variety. Amusing for Korean film fans due to their comments about Attack at the Gas Station & Kick the Moon director Sang-jin Kim, who directed Another Public Enemy's prelude sequence.
Conclusion: Now, I feel slightly guilty for doing this, but I have to say you are better off watching Public Enemy. The guilt comes not just because that DVD release is from a Tartan rival, ADV Films, but more so because Tartan clearly put more effort into their release of Another Public Enemy than ADV did for Public Enemy which is a barebones disc. But, fact of the matter is, while skimpy, Public Enemy is a far better flick and no amount of extras can cover up the fact that the semi-sequel pales in comparison. So, my advice is to seek out Public Enemy but stick to renting Another Public Enemy.